Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Ice Harvest (2005)

I loved The Ice Harvest when I saw it in the theater. Taking a look at it on DVD a year+ later, the broader stuff that didn't come from the novel seemed more obviously grafted on.
But, even with some of the seams showing, it's still a pretty dark little treat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

The closest anyone has come to re-animating the spirit of the great unsentimental romantic comedies of Hollywood past: the leads, and not some wiseguy sidekicks, actually get the heartlessly funny lines, and we think nothing less of them for it.
Of course, this is a Coen Bros. film, so they purposely fuck things up.
Still, it's a sharp script, and if you ignore all the postmodern bullshit, an agreeably funny movie, and I think Zeta-Jones has never been this good in anything else.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

John Huston likes actors better than stories, so his criminals end up too colorful by half, and his noir goes on and on and on.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Serenity (2005)

Serenity really gets going after a shooting that plays at first like action-movie sick-joke (e.g. Schwarzenegger using innocents to shield himself from gunfire in Total Recall) then becomes the linchpin of all that follows; it's a tale of moral reckoning -- meaning an American Western -- that happens to be set in outer space, and it's better than I could have imagined.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pickpocket (1959)

In Night Moves, Gene Hackman's soon-to-be ex-wife asks him to see a movie with her.

"Bresson?" he says. "No thanks. I'd rather watch paint dry."

Who am I to argue with Hackman?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lucky # Slevin (2006)

I have a new term for movies like this one, with scripts that keep you in the dark for so long it's hard to care when they finally tell you what's really happening, and angering when they then expect you to get excited about 3 or 4 more "twists".
I call a movie like that a bullshit pretzel.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Grindhouse (2007)

Planet Terror is the movie I always hoped for when I went to the drive-in; Death Proof is the movie I usually got.

Two criticisms: see the girl in the poster? Showing us how she got that way is a bad idea. It's just a letdown.

Also, the eight or ten female characters in a film should not all talk exactly like the film's infamously motormouthed director.

That said, the whole package was a hoot and a half, and if another installment came out every month...I'd probably never see a respectable film in the cineplex again.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Grindhouse Friday

*A word on Grindhouse: I’m going to see it but -- Good Lord, 3+ hours?

**The bulk of my hopes for the film rested on the assumption that it would be about 90 minutes long, thereby giving Rodriguez only 40 minutes or so (wasn’t his best film, El Mariachi, about an hour long?)

***And weren’t most grindhouse bills triple features?


The DVDs reviewed on this here site are, with few exceptions, loaned from a public library; true grindhouse is hard to come by at the library, but I’ve borrowed a few films in the past year that meet the criteria –

Boxcar Bertha (1972)

the casual nudity no longer found in American films

Prime Cut (1972)

casual misogyny, genuine nihilism;

Vanishing Point (1971)

and the lurching rhythms, from lethargy

Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)

to riveting action, amateurish to inspired, sometimes within a single scene

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Constantine (2005)

I should have Keanu Reeves' troubles.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Lookout (2007)

Zodiac is the best movie I’ve seen this year, but The Lookout is my favorite.

Thank God for neo-noir: In the past few years, Out of Time, The Ice Harvest and now The Lookout are the only pure examples I can point to that suggest someone still thinks there are grown-up Americans still going to the cinema in search of entertainment.

All three are flawed, but they get so many things right, and provide so much pleasure, that you’ll never read about their flaws here.