Posts tagged #cinema

A Woman In Trouble

Inland EmpireDavid Lynch insists that his new film, INLAND EMPIRE, is simply about “a woman in touble.” I’ll say. It’s hard to describe what Laura Dern’s character goes through over the course of this fantastic and initially grueling three-hour experience, but none of it is anything you ever want to experience yourself, that’s for sure. It’s like imagining yourself living the life of Henry, the doomed protagonist of Lynch’s first feature, Eraserhead. You shudder at the thought.

Lynch has also said that his new film is “a mystery.” More like a whole bundle of ‘em. There is a murder—except, no, the victim doesn’t seem to die—while elsewhere, flung far afield in space and time, in grainy, black and white scenes with scratchy sound, there’s another killing—no, make that two—but we can’t quite make out (at least, not on first viewing) who was killed or who did the killing, because … read full post…

Rainy Sunday Movie Review

This is the time of year for rainy Sunday afternoons at matinees, so today I took in The Fountain. I have been waiting for this film for quite some time. The writer-director is Darren Aronofsky, who previously brought us Pi and Requiem For a Dream. The former is completely bizarre and unsettling, the latter about as harsh and brutal and nightmarish a time as I’ve ever had at the movies. But both proved that Aronofsky is the real deal. He can write, and he can shoot. The Fountain proves that like any artist, Aronofsky can also aim very high, and misfire.

The story we’re told spans a thousand years. Five hundred years ago, Hugh Jackman is Spanish conquistador Tomas, and Rachel Weisz his Queen Isabella. She sends him off to New Spain in search of the Fountain of Youth. After much toil and bloodletting, atop a Mayan pyramid … read full post…

I Review This New “Foreign” Filming. Yeeesssssssss!

If you haven’t yet been exposed to Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedic dynamo behind Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, it’s either because you don’t have HBO (where his material airs here in the States), or you don’t know anyone British who foisted upon you years ago (before Cohen was known in the States at all) a third-generation VHS copy of several BBC productions by one Ali G, one of Cohen’s characters. (I’m in that latter category, myself.) Ali G is a wannabe-gangsta who somehow cons “important people” into interviews; he positions himself as a means for Power to speak to Youth, but instead repeatedly serves as a means for Power to display its own ludicrous shortcomings. (I love the clip of Ali G “interviewing” professional curmudgeon Andy Rooney. In three minutes, Cohen proves Rooney isn’t just a curmudgeon, but a genuine asshole.) … read full post…

The Force Will Be With Us

The important reviews are in. Roger Ebert gives Revenge of the Sith three and a half stars, and his review contains this non-spoiler gem:
Because the story leads up to where the original “Star Wars” began, we get to use the immemorial movie phrase, “This is where we came in.”
Over in the New York Times, A.O. Scott also has praise for the film, including some interesting notes on the political message (!) it carries. And lastly, in the New Yorker, Anthony Lane does his typical routine of trying to impress you with a snarky and somewhat mean-spirited dismissal of the film. (Lane’s work is and has long been that of a complete ass, and the only thing that saves film criticism in the New Yorker these days is that Lane shares his duties with David Denby, who actually writes intelligent, non-spoiler reviews that are often a … read full post…

Before Swooning

It has taken me a few days to decide exactly what it is I have to say about Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, a pair of films by Richard Linklater that absolutely blew my mind this past weekend and immediately landed on my “all-time favorites” list.

Before Sunrise was made in 1995, and may be the best date movie of all time. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy star as Jesse and Celine, two beautiful early-twentysomethings who meet on a European train. Jesse is headed to Vienna; Celine is traveling onward to Paris, where she is a student. But Jesse persuades Celine to disembark in Vienna and while the night away with him before he catches a morning flight home to the States. They kill time mostly by wandering around the city, talking. And falling in love.

Linklater films are not for everyone. They are driven not by plot but … read full post…

Help Is On the Way!”

Slashdot alerted me to the fact that George Lucas’s amazing first film, THX 1138, is finally going to be released on DVD come September. Four days prior, it will hit the big screens in selected cities, and thank the lord, the city I work in has been selected. Unfortunately, the excellent trailer for this release shows that Lucas has done his usual thing and added a whole bunch of CGI imagery, and even entirely new shots. I hope he hasn’t screwed things up, but in case he has, I’m glad I have my bootleg disc of the original version of the film.

The official site is kinda confusing to navigate, but is a lot of fun experience-wise if you’re familiar with the film.

The Return of the Demonic (Angelic?) Rabbit

Turns out there is a new version of Donnie Darko, one of my favorite films, in the works. The “Director’s Cut” will feature scenes cut from the original version — some that were on the DVD, some that were not. There will also be more eighties music, because now Writer-Director Richard Kelly has more money to buy song rights with. There is something a little weird about a director doing a “Director’s Cut” of his first film just a couple years after it came out, and I will approach the new version with some apprehension because I think the original is so nearly perfect (and some of the cut scenes on the DVD were really bad). But I cannot wait to return to Donnie’s world and see it from new angles. One thing I am certain will not change is the ending, for it’s built into the … read full post…

Upgraded

I never much liked The Matrix overall. Two stars. Great look, but weak characters spouting horrible dialog. Nifty Philip K. Dickian concept, but poorly executed. Still, there was enough in it that I liked to make me hope that the sequel would be an improvement.

The Matrix Reloaded gets three stars on your standard Ebertlike scale, and has me rooting for the forthcoming third and final chapter, Revolutions. The acting is still mostly flat, but what are you going to do when Keanu is the star? The man has a not-quite-there look that is apparently contagious. We’re not here for the acting, anyway; we’re here for the look, which is mostly great, the special effects, which are mostly fantastic, and the trippy what-is-reality theme, which gets a few new layers added to it this time around.

The characters in Reloaded spout fewer sentences that sound high-minded but are ultimately … read full post…

Sexy Beast Connection #2

Sexy Beast is one of two movies released in 2001 to feature a human-sized, demonic-looking rabbit. The other is Donnie Darko. Both these films are worth seeing, but the latter is one of my favorite films. Friday night, I watched it for the third or perhaps fourth time.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays troubled teen Donnie Darko — a ninth grader, I’m guessing. Donnie’s older sister is played by, well, Jake’s older sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, whom you will never, ever forget once you’ve seen Secretary. Chief amongst Donnie’s woes is a bad sleepwalking trend. He frequently finds himself far afield in the morning. At one point, we see him waking up on a golf course. The previous night, he had a conference on the putting green with his six-foot rabbit-demon, Frank. It’s that kind of movie. (It was released in October and its story ends on Halloween.)

But it’s also … read full post…

A Quick Oscar Thought

Michael Moore won an Oscar, and, as expected, let fly with a political speech that ended up garnering more boos than cheers. Which is appropriate: He chose not to deliver an anti-war message, but an anti-Bush message, which, no matter your politics, was inappropriate for the moment. The man is a gifted filmmaker, but let’s face it, he is also a clod.

Adrien Brody, on the other hand, is a class act. When he won for Best Actor, he did three things that kicked ass, pure and simple: (1) He gave presenter Halle Berry one hell of an unexpected, full-on-the-lips kiss that left the woman stunned, (2) when the orchestra started playing before he was finished, he very forcefully (and successfully!) told them to knock it off, and (3) he delivered a beautiful pro-peace message that was everything Michael Moore’s speech was not: inclusive, noble, heartfelt, touching. Well done indeed.

Time Destroys All Things

I spent the first half of my day trying to figure out if I was really going to drive up to Berkeley and watch Irréversible. This film has spawned quite a stir among critics and cinephiles: It is artfully and skillfully made; its narrative structure is unusual (unfolding backwards, a la Memento); its central theme is a universal truth; however, that theme is explored through some of the most horrifying violence to ever grace the big screen.

I was torn. I like difficult films. I like dark films. But I don’t like watching terrible things happen to innocent people, and I’m in a period in my life right now where I don’t need any help feeling awful about how life sometimes works. I ultimately decided that my interest in the film was strong enough that I’d go anyway.

Before the film’s first quarter-hour is complete, we watch one … read full post…