Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

This proved to be a pleasant surprise, a well-made space opera with good performances by Thandie Newton (channeling Eartha Kitt), Judy Densch (channeling Patrick Stewart) and - absolutely - Vin Diesel (channeling Elliot Gould).

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Number 23 (2007)

the Hollywood remake of Pi

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Winter Kills (1979)

When Jeff Bridges, son of one of the richest men in America and much-younger brother to an assassinated President, ventures to the estate of crazy miltary-industrialist Sterling Hayden to ask a few questions, Hayden and his cronies surround Bridges' car with tanks, and fire mortars at his Pinto when he slips away.

Yes, the son of one of the richest men in America is driving a Pinto.

The whole movie's like that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

With A Friend Like Harry...(2001)

A French take on possibly my favorite thriller sub-genre: a friendly stranger insinuates their way into the protagonist's life and proceeds -through questionable means that implicate the protagonist in all that will follow - to make everything better, just prior to wreaking total havoc.

Rarely done better than here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Pauline Kael on "The Warriors"(1979)

Walter Hill’s spectacle takes its story from Xenophon’s “Anabasis” and its style from the taste of the modern urban dispossessed—in neon signs, graffiti, and the thrill of gaudiness. The film enters into the spirit of urban-male tribalism and the feelings of kids who believe that they own the streets because they keep other kids out of them. In this vision, cops and kids are all there is, and the worst crime is to be chicken. It has—in visual terms—the kind of impact that “Rock Around the Clock” had when it was played behind the titles of “Blackboard Jungle.” It’s like visual rock, and it’s bursting with energy. The action runs from night until dawn, and most of it is in crisp, bright Day-Glo colors against the terrifying New York blackness; the figures stand out like a jukebox in a dark bar. There’s a night-blooming, psychedelic shine to the whole baroque movie. Adapted from the Sol Yurick novel. Released in 1979.
—Pauline Kael

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sexy Beast (2001)

Ben Kingsley’s fearsome gangster is given one of the great entrances in film: he’s absent from the picture the first twenty minutes, but the very mention of his name repeatedly causes conversations to stop dead, culminating in a scene where news of his imminent arrival ruins a dinner party, the guests pushing their plates of untouched food away and sitting in silent dread – then a jump cut, set to jarring techno, to a dolly shot fixed on the back of Kingsley’s bald head as he walks through the airport.

Released in Japan as Savage Garden.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kicking and Screaming (1995)

Eric Stoltz and Parker Posey are in Noah Baumbach's first feature, but Chris Eigeman (above left) and Carlos Jacott (at top) steal the show.

Eigeman plays the same character he played in Whit Stillman's films from the same era; he would be a great foil for Vince Vaughn.
Jacott has mostly worked in television - but on the Criterion DVD extras he appears in a short film by Baumbach, Conrad and Butler Take A Vacation, in which he is fucking hysterical.
New agents for both, immediately.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Black Christmas (1974)

Proto-holiday-slasher with Margot Kidder (always whorish, in the best sense), John Saxon (always welcome, usually wasted), pre-Halloween killer POV and a generally creepy vibe.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Children of Men (2006)

The cinema verite style ambush scene is enough to recommend the movie.

How'd they do that?

Hard Candy (2005)

Soft in the head.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)

As every last critic has undoubtedly already pointed out, this documentary is fascinating regardless your feelings about heavy metal and/or Metallica.

I know that some of you (*cough* Kevin *cough*) prefer Megadeth, but don't let that deter you either.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Dumplings (2004)

This is one J-horror that will not be remade in the U.S.

Not ever.

To say much more would be to give away the game, but I will say that there was a certain amount of restraint and even charm brought to bear on this ghastly enterprise.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Keane (2005)

Lodge Kerrigan's earlier film Clean, Shaven was also about a schizophrenic man searching for his daughter, but Keane is different enough to stand on its own, and Kerrigan has my blessing to shoot the same story once every decade - which is about how often I could stand to watch it - for however long he chooses.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Emperor of the North (1973)

I remember being disappointed by this movie when I was a kid, because the print ads had led me to believe it would be non-stop action - Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine, armed with hammers, chasing each other across the top of a moving train - and it turned out to be mostly talk.

Perhaps I'd missed out on the many nuances, and a viewing as an adult would reveal a film full of keen sociopolitical insight into the Great Depression, or a Cormac McCarthy-style study of what passes for honor among human trash, rural division.

But no. My pre-adolescent verdict stands: Not enough hammer fights.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Slow zombies still scarier than fast zombies - sorry, kids.