Monday, April 2, 2007

April 2007 mini-reviews

4/29- /The Grifters (1990, Stephen Frears)/ [***1/2] {A seriously nasty piece of work, in the best way. Much as love Cusack being Cusack making Cusack movies, I do wish he'd crawl outside his comfort zone once in a while and do darker stuff like this. The final ten minutes of this may be the highlight of his career.}

4/29- /Georgy Girl (1966, Silvio Narizzano)/ [***1/2] {People who only know this movie because of the silly song will be a little taken aback by the hard truths it traffics in at various points. I know I was the first time I saw it.}

4/29- The Long Day Closes (1992, Terence Davies) [***1/2] {Gorgeous. Wish I could see this on the big screen. Hey Wexner buds, Davies retro, s'il vous plait.)

4/25- Thieves Like Us (1974, Robert Altman) [***1/2] {Pretty amazing stuff. MCCABE aside, perhaps the most beautiful film Altman made. And John Schuck is so goddamn scary in this.}
%$ Puce Moment (1949, Kenneth Anger)

4/21- La Belle Noiseuse (1991, Jacques Rivette) [****] {Hell yeah. I'll write more on this at a later time, but two random thoughts until then. (1) I always feel a twinge of disappointment when Frenhofer paints over the old painting of Liz. Not only is it a cold gesture, but it's also a really fucking good painting of Liz. (2) Emmanuelle Beart could never not be hot, but I especially like her in this. I think part of it is that Rivette asked her to put on some weight so she'd look more like a regular person and less like a movie star, and oh man did it ever work. Being as genetically blessed as she obviously is, the weight change manifested itself in all the right places. Also, Rivette doesn't even try to hide her freckles, and you know how I am about freckles.}

4/19- Hot Fuzz (2007, Edgar Wright) [8] {Sweet jesus this is funny. Also Wright does action better than most Hollywood dudes who play it completely straight. And that supporting cast- Broadbent, Considine, Dalton, Nighy, Freeman, Peter Wight, Billie Whitelaw, Stuart Wilson, Edward Woodward, Ron Cook- yowza. Also holy shit is this ever hilarious. Can't stress this enough.}

4/12- Paris Belongs to Us (1961, Jacques Rivette) [***] {Pretty compelling, and very much a first film, providing an early glimpse into what Rivette would become. He was obviously still finding his voice as filmmaker, and it shows. But some scenes really sing- the stuff with the economist and his "ward," especially- and the film on a whole feels a lot like a dry run for OUT 1. And that's OK, since OUT 1 is a film you need to work up to.}

4/11- The Dead Girl (2006, Karen Moncrieff) [5] {Formally it's more NINE LIVES than CRASH, which I appreciated. The multiple storylines schtick's wearing thin, but this is a decent example of it. Nice to see Mary Beth Hurt working again, as well as Brittany Murphy making an effort for once.}

4/7- /Up Down Fragile (1995, Jacques Rivette)/ [***1/2] {Yes, it's a lightweight lark, but I'd only call it minor compared to CELINE AND JULIE, JOAN THE MAID, LA BELLE NOISEUSE and OUT 1. If nothing else, this finds Rivette's direction at its most supple, especially in those dance scenes at the Backstage club. And dig the awesome sound and production design- as good as in anything Rivette's ever done. I also appreciated how much Nathalie Richard danced like an old high school girlfriend, all about keeping limbs in motion, heedless of what she might have looked like.}

4/5- The Hoax (2007, Lasse Hallstrom) [4] {Diverting in a CATCH ME IF YOU CAN sort of way, but like Spielberg's film this gets bogged down toward the end, Spielberg with his requisite Daddy issues, Hallstrom & Co. by having Irving hallucinate Howard Hughes' top advisors guiding and/or threatening him. It's a bold gambit, but ultimately unsuccessful, and what's worse it basically lets the guy off the hook. If the guy wasn't in his right mind, how could he be held accountable? It's no better than an old-school shyster angling for an insanity plea. Plus while Richard Gere looks the part, he's too inclined towards soft-pedaling Irving to make him really convincing as the slick con-man he was.}

4/2- Quadrophenia (1979, Franc Roddam) [***] {though it's actually borderline-***1/2 up until the point when the great Ray Winstone unceremoniously disappears from the film. That said, it's hard to argue with the music.}

4/2- The Namesake (2006, Mira Nair) [6] {Once again, Nair is most in her element with the culture-clash elements of the story. Gogol's character trajectory is sketchy and kind of cartoonish, especially during his high school years. But the story of his parents rings of emotional truth, thanks in no small part to the performances by Tabu and especially Irfan Khan.}


Steve said...

I'd agree that Zombie's trailer is the weakest of the batch (it's one of those things that sounded funnier in concept), but I thought Machete nailed it just as well as Don't. Thanksgiving almost got it as well, but Roth's too much of a tool to disinclude all the money shots. Real early-slasher trailers (i.e. The Slumber Party Massacre) gave away enough to get you into the theater but saved the nastiest stuff for later. Still a great, sick joke, but not much of a trailer. Though I am impressed with how stock-footagey the parade looked.

Also, I thought Planet Terror was pretty awesome, simply because all it delivers is action. Which is the only thing Rodriguez is good for. Tarantino's was immeasurably the better film, but Rodriguez's was more in the lunatic spirit of the kind of super-sleaze gorefest that would occasionally rise from the 42nd Street muck and become a minor classic(k).

Interesting point about the narrative longueurs in Death Proof being in the spirit of the grindhouse, though -- even though I eat films like this for breakfast, I didn't make that connection. You are, of course, right on the money. The difference is that Tarantino's dialogue isn't awful and isn't delievered by wooden no-talents.

Steve said...

Everything Will Be OK? OOOH! My brain hurts from too much envy!

Paul C. said...

EVERYTHING was a damn sight more than OK, dude. I'd say it's DH's best yet- combining the thematic depth of MEANING OF LIFE with the humor present in his early stuff. Although the tone of the humor feels closer to LILY AND JIM than to any of his others.