Monday, September 3, 2007

September 2007 mini-reviews

9/29- Feast of Love (2007, Robert Benton) [w/o] {Now that I'm paying to watch movies, you'll probably see more of these than before. Between Freeman on autopilot, Kinnear as the world's most oblivious man, and the vapid kids, I found absolutely nothing to latch on to here. I bailed just after Fred Ward threatened his son's girlfriend with a knife. No compelling reason to stick around- even the musical choices are lazy. I hope I never hear the Jeff Buckley cover of "Hallelujah" again in my life, and the Frames song just made me wish I was watching Once instead.}

9/23- Inferno (1980, Dario Argento) [***] {Bugfuck and nonsensical, but not in a bad way. Definitely suffers with home viewing (I saw it dubbed onto VHS from a DVD), will need to catch this on the big screen. Only real quibble is how dated the Keith Emerson (of ...Lake, and Palmer fame) score is, although it also contributes to the crazy otherworldliness of it all. And the scene with Kazanian and the rats is pretty goddamn incredible.}

9/23- Phantom Lady (1944, Robert Siodmak) [***1/2] {What she said, basically. Ella Raines- whoa. Raines aside, what really makes this cook is that it's a scruffy, seedy noir, but it's also at its heart a love story. Raines isn't a goody-goody, but she's not a femme fatale. She's a smart, resourceful woman who will do whatever it takes to free the man she loves. In a genre full of double-crosses and friends who are really users, this kind of unconditional devotion is rare and special.}

9/16- The Crying Game (1992, Neil Jordan) [***1/2] {What more can be said? Jordan's knack for switching gears both tone-wise and narratively is uncanny here. Jaye Davidson gives one of the great one-off performances in cinema history, but it never feels like a stunt. And Stephen Rea is of course a treasure.}

9/15- No End in Sight (2007, Charles Ferguson) [7] {The perfect film to pair with Redacted for your why-Iraq-is-a-clusterfuck double feature. Still mainly a talking-heads-and-stock-footage affair, but the talking heads are so well-chosen and insightful that I didn't really mind.}

9/14- The Italian Job (1969, Peter Collinson) [***] {It's illustrative to compare this to the 2003 version, which added a revenge plotline and the father issue, while subtracting the very specific British humor and setting the main heist in L.A. instead of Turin. Also, I like Wahlberg, but he can't match Caine at his most caddish, plus there's no Noel Coward or Benny Hill ("I like 'em biiiiiiiiiig!") equivalent. I think the chase is actually more exciting in the original, and certainly more intentive. Also, LOVE the ending.}

9/12- Wojaczek (1999, Lech Majewski) [**1/2] {If Aki Kaurismaki made a biopic, it'd probably look something like this. Worth seeing, but lacks the rigor of Van Sant's Last Days and doesn't give much insight into what made the title character a compelling poet. But then, that may be the point- he drank and screwed, he threw himself out of windows, he finally OD'd on pills, but before that he wrote some poems. It's almost an afterthought.}

9/6-9/11- Toronto International Film Festival

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