Jonathan Levine, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, 2006
No they don't. I'm with Rex Reed (for once) on this one http://observer.com/2013/10/oh-mandy-al ... -than-one/ The characters aren't believable, the script and acting is awful, the camerawork and editing try to be arty and hip but just look sloppy. Plot twist? Give me a break.
Woody Allen, Irrational Man, 2015
Ugh. Isn't it time for him to retire gracefully and play his clarinet? Is this supposed to be set in 2015, or have I just slipped back through time some 40 years? It wants to be Dostoyevsky or Patricia Highsmith but just sounds like.. mid-70s Woody Allen. Every line in the script sounds like Woody speaking, and it's not even funny any more. The only time I laughed was when Abe fell down the lift shaft - but are we supposed to laugh? Certainly the rave reviews of Phoenix and Emma Stone raise a smile, but he does little more than recycle his Doc Sportello groans and she looks like a lemur and can't act as well as one.
Raoul Ruiz, Les âmes fortes, 2001
A very fine debut (in serious cinema that is - Astérix et Obélix contre César doesn't quite cut it) from Laetitia Casta, and another sensational adaptation of a difficult novel. Sure, the Jean Giono book of the same name, which has just joined the teetering pile of Books To Read This Summer, is another mighty headscratcher and itself contains numerous contradictions and anomalies, which makes it perfect fodder for a director who likes to make things difficult. That said, this is, along with Mysteries of Lisbon, relatively straightforward as far as Ruiz films go. Forget Amber Heard, try la Casta instead.
Stuck in Love (Boone, 2012)
Nat Wolff and Lily Collins (pictured here) are the only good things about this awful film. He's very natural and likeable (and looks like the young Bob Dylan), and she has a very nice smile. Otherwise, dialogue, acting, plot, all terrible. Supposed to be about writing and relationships, but neither resemble reality in any respect. Along these lines: "My favorite book is Raymond Carver's X, yours is John Cheever's Y, his is Stephen King's Z." The daughter is hyper-cynical, the son is romantic--but they're both published before they're 20--with no help from their famous daddy (played by Greg Kinnear in his customary slightly odd manner).
OK, got it.
STAR TREK BEYOND (2016) -- Lots of action and nostalgia, great visuals. Secret weapon is playing Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage' really loud to jam enemy communications. Some snappy patter, but most of the dialogue is flat. Pretty good, but nothing that will stay.
"Time is the school in which we learn,/ Time is the fire in which we burn."
Alas, it doesn't seem to have been, but that's just after a cursory look through Amazon. I'll scout around and report back if I find anything.dialectics of shit wrote:Has Les âmes fortes the novel been translated in English? I thought it was a solid film. Doesn't seem to have gotten much critical attention.
Darren Aronofsky, Pi, 1998
I don't know why so many commentators feel the need to compare it to Eraserhead - apart from good sound design and grainy black and white, I can't see any common points myself. It's an entertaining debut feature though, with its math geek stumbling across the meaning of life (216, not 42 ), nasty Wall Street thugs and gematria-obsessed Jews, disembodied brains squelching in deserted subway stations (ha, maybe an Eraserhead link there after all) and self-inflicted trepanation (sorry, I guess the pic above is something of a spoiler). More fun than Requiem for a Dream, too.
Óskar Thór Axelsson, Svartur á leik ("Black's Game"), 2012
Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson gets to play quite a few villains - he was a vicious thug in Reykjavik Rotterdam and also plays Cain in Aronofsky's Noah (which I haven't seen yet - should I?) - but even he's almost likeable compared the diabolical Bruno (Damon Younger). But the hero is Þorvaldur Davið Kristjánsson's Stebbi, who gets drawn into Iceland's seedy underworld when he runs into childhood pal Toti (Jóhannesson) at the police station after a fight in a nightclub. Filmwise, it wears its influences on its sleeve: Trainspotting and Snatch (opening titles), the Pusher trilogy and particularly Goodfellas, but that's not a problem as far as I'm concerned. It builds nicely and ends well. Well, not for everybody.
Jean-Pierre Mocky, L'ibis rouge, 1975
Hats off to the KG punter who snatched this HD from French TV recently - shame he didn't get the subtitles to go with it, because if you're not fluent in French, you're screwed, basically - it's a great rip. This is vintage Mocky black humour, the anarchic missing link between the slapstick of Tati and Etaix and the colourful villains of the cinéma du look, with a healthy dose of 70s Café de la Gare anarchy thrown in for good measure. Every character is at one and the same time likeable and utterly depraved, from Serrault's sex-crazed strangler to Galabru's gambling-addicted booze salesman to Le Poulain's nasty scheming café owner to Michel Simon's cranky newspaper vendor, who's so obsessed with "being somebody" he gets himself arrested as the strangler and then goes on to do it for real, before he's released without charge (!) - needless to say, the police are totally useless and as rotten as the villains they're supposed to protect us from. It all rattles along at breakneck speed - just 75 minutes - with colourful sets, wild costumes and some very smart camera moves.
Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (Bailey/Barbato, 2016)
Man, did I feel underendowed after seeing this flick. I had to apologize to my wife and wish her better luck in her next life.
It ain't the size of the ship, it's da motion in da oceanwalto wrote:Man, did I feel underendowed after seeing this flick. I had to apologize to my wife and wish her better luck in her next life.
Cristian Mungiu, Occident, 2002
The idea of chopping up the timeline of the narrative isn't new any more - QT's been doing it for a couple of decades already, and on a more ambitious scale Lucas Belvaux's trilogy (Un couple épatant, Cavale, Après la vie), which was made in the same year as this one, was a striking example of how the same shot seen from a different POV can lead the story along many different directions. By and large, Occident is a comedy, or what the French would call a comédie dramatique, three intertwined tales of folks trying to get out of Romania to a better life elsewhere in Europe (topical, huh), either by marriage or by floating themselves across the Danube on an inflatable sex doll. No shit. It's very entertaining, and well acted, but the director has to resort to too much spoken word in the third part of the film, without which we wouldn't understand the back story. Still, worth a look, another good example of the excellent Romanian nou val. I guess if I had to earn my living by dressing up as a giant cellphone or a beer bottle I'd want to git the hell out of Romania too
INTO THE FOREST (2015) -- A film based on the best selling book by one of the members of my Shakespeare group, Jean Hegland. Dystopian tale of two sisters surviving in their remote Canadian home following a worldwide collapse of electrical power and the economy, dealing with rape, disease, starvation and many of the other problems that an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it would bring. Ellen Page is superb and Evan Rachel Wood is almost as good, beautifully filmed, moves along quickly and satisfies emotionally. Also features a very cool cover of an old Johnny Mathis song by Cat Power:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJE0GufdRvI
"Time is the school in which we learn,/ Time is the fire in which we burn."
Rounders - John Dahl
This knows exactly what it's doing - underachiever male identification fantasy - and it doesn't shirk from that for a second. Men playing cards with men! Men turning their back on their sanctioned potential to walk their own path, alone! Men made hero in the mastery and refocusing of their aggression! Men up against it, against the too-civilised and the barbarous! Men!
It is a totally ridiculous film, and in not caring that it is ridiculous it is a great deal of fun.
Matt Damon gets to do what he does best - plays the likeable decent guy, doing enough to hold your eye while remaining blank enough to serve as the perfect vessel for projection. The women here really do nothing except flatter and orbit Damon (aka you, the young male viewer), and occasionally stand as prurient material to flag the baser, unconstrained aggression and appetites of the lesser men who you are not. Gretchen Mol is perfectly cast in this respect as the symbol of civilisation and your/Damon's prize and would-be virtuous domesticator. LIke Damon's, her character is thinly written enough that she can serve to hold the latent energy of whatever relationship you most recently fucked up for yourself.
None of this gender stuff is in the least subtle - I'm not virtue flagging here, and if I were I would not admit to enjoying this film as much as I did. Really, the masculinity of this film is to such a degree that I think there is probably little space for a female-identifying viewer. (I'm genuinely interested to know if any women enjoyed this - though this is probably not the place to ask that!) And that's obviously a problem. But honestly, when did you last see a major studio film that didn't do all this at some level? I'd far rather see this done straightforwardly, so we all know where we stand, than have writers do all this anyway, but insert patronising demographically correct female characters. Better this than the current generation of man-boy vs sensible woman romcom/caper/grossout. As it stands the enjoyment is janus-faced. You get to enjoy the identification at the same time as laughing at it, and yourself for participating in it.
Maybe the best example of the janus-faced enjoyment in this film is Malkovich's "Teddy KGB". This is a masterclass in the correct deployment of bad acting; he breaks the frame every time he steps into it. Everybody else is in a neo-noir, Malkovich is the baddy in a Will Ferrell film. But all his scenery chewing, prancing and horrible over-enunciation is a genuine pleasure. At root this is a fantasy hero-quest film in neo-noir clothing, and Malkovic is the Grendel of that hero-quest. Nobody wants a subtle Grendel - we want our Grendels to beam in from *somewhere else*, channel excessiveness. So it works inside the logic of the film, and at the same time you never forget (and get to enjoy) that it is John Malkovich, enjoying himself a bit more than is decent.
Alain Resnais, L'année dernière à Marienbad, 1961
It's still something of a Holy Grail for art cinema buffs, and still a tough nut to crack. Not meaning to figure out what's going on, and whether these folks really did meet at Marienbad last year - there's no way of knowing, and no point in finding out anyway - but trying to decide whether it really does live up to the hype. Pauline Kael hated it, of course - she was just about the only major league critic who did, lumping it together with La Dolce Vita and La Notte as the kind of movie that really rubbed her up the wrong way, "the no-fun party for non-people" (that, after enthusing over L'Avventura too, and adoring Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim later.. go figure). Nobody I've read (and I've just trawled through one of the BFI guides devoted to the film) has mentioned what annoys me the most: Delphine Seyrig's brother's bloody organ music. OK, sure, you guys all know I hate organs anyway (pipe organs I mean - Hammond B3s are cool with me), but I agree with Robbe-Grillet who himself said he'd have preferred something more violent. He made good use Michel Fano's music in his own films, so he has a point. It's intriguing to read how Resnais and Robbe-Grillet managed to disagree / contradict each other on numerous small points. But is it, after all, "the greatest film ever made" (Jacques Brunius, 1962)? That's like asking if Pierrot Lunaire or Le marteau sans maître or 4'33" are the greatest compositions of the 20th century, or whether Finnegans Wake or The Death of Virgil or L'innomable are the greatest novels. All these works are seminal masterpieces of modernism, but none (with the possible exception of the Boulez, imo, and the Cage, which can be anything you want it to be) is particularly enjoyable. I've never met anyone who ever made it to the end of the Joyce, and I only managed to get through the Beckett once. The Broch took three attempts, and I can't remember a bloody thing about it. As for Marienbad, I might go back to it again in a couple of years, but I find myself more drawn to Muriel and Je t'aime je t'aime. Any thoughts, modernistas?
Nicholas Winding Refn - Only God Forgives
Struggling to find anything interesting to say about this. Just a boring, confused, thin, gratuitous film. A tour of the unimaginative fetishes of a middle of the road guy with an eye for advert-industry gloss. Doesn't even feel like Refn's that invested in the themes himself. It doesn't seem to have the oddity and hinterland that comes with someone orbiting their sincere tics and neuroses. Just a bad and slightly unpleasant film.
Mario Bava, Lisa and the Devil, 1973
The devil, by the way, is Telly Savalas - and I'm wondering if this might be the origin of the famous Kojak lollipop.. according to Wiki "cigarette commercials were banned from American television in 1971, and trying to quit smoking became common in the 1970s. To cut down on his own habit, Kojak began using lollipops as a substitute. The lollipop made its debut in the Season 1 episode 'Dark Sunday', broadcast on December 12, 1973." But Bava shot his film between September and November 1972. Why am I banging on about Telly's lolly? Because there's not much else worth mentioning - sets and lighting 10/10, photography and editing 9/10, actors 5/10 (4 of those points go to Savalas and one to Alida Valli), intelligent/intelligible plot 0/10. Oh yes, that's Elke Sommer above.
Jean Epstein, La chute de la Maison Usher, 1928
There's a huge market out there for decent and intelligent new music soundtracks to silent films - Text of Light, Loren Connors, Otomo and Bill Frisell have all done good work - most of the time, these fantastically weird 20s horror movies come with some godawful sub-Hindemith chamber music, or a tinkly piano (that's mainly for comedies, though, which this is not). Or, worse, an overblown orchestral wankfest by Carl Davis. Do yourselves a favour if you have this and haven't seen it yet: KILL THE SOUND. The amazing quality of the images - looks more like something by Philippe Grandrieux at times - and the spectacular editing will blow you away.
Karen Moncrieff, The Dead Girl, 2006
It's elegantly put together, this tale in five chapters piecing together the last day in the aforementioned girl's life, as viewed from several different perspectives, and for the most part well-acted (though did we need Piper Laurie playing another Mother From Hell?) and well-filmed to boot.. but pretty miserable, and, in a curious way, rather predictable. Very.. American.