Thursday, June 28, 2007

Black Snake Moan

I can't get over how incredibly silly this movie was. It was so ridiculous that it makes me question whether or not I actually liked Brewer's last film, Hustle & Flow.

The film is about a skanky nymphomaniac played by a starved looking Christina Ricci. Her boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, ships out with the army and she goes nuts. After getting beaten up and left on the side of the road, an old bluesman, Sam Jackson, offers her salvation by chaining her to his radiator and teaching her lessons about right and wrong. The film is even more ridiculous than it sounds if you can imagine that.

You see, not only does Jackson help Ricci find out more about herself and become a better person but she helps him out too! At the beginning of the film, his wife had dumped him and he was too fucked up to play his guitar in front of anyone. By the end, Ricci had changed him and he was jamming in front of a packed crowd at the local juke joint AND he had a new girlfriend! The scenes of Jackson playing his guitar are so clumsily shot as they alternate between shots of someone else's hands and Jackson singing. All around poorly made.

Another ludicrous moment was when Jackson also helped calm the demons of Timberlake in one scene that involved a gun and a Trapped in the Closet vibe.

Ricci and Timberlake get married and now she's at a place emotionally (thanks to being chained to the radiator) that she can help him with his war anxiety. The whole thing plays like a Lifetime movie made for the Dirty Dirty. No, that actually makes it sound good. Hmmmm... now that I think about it in those terms, maybe I did like this movie.

The Son House clips are the only worthwhile reasons to sit through this crap. I'd suggest that you youtube those and clear of this movie.

Cool poster though.

Directed by Craig Brewer
2007
DVD

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Little Dieter Needs to Fly

Why haven't I seen all of Herzog's documentaries at this point? They are all so damn good.

This one is about Dieter Dengler, who decided as a boy as his town in Germany was getting bombed during World War II that he wanted to grow up to be a fighter pilot. He later immigrated to the U.S. and was able to fulfill his wish.

However, during his first mission in the Vietnam War, he was shot down and taken prisoner. For the film, Dengler went back to Laos where he was kept prisoner to retrace his steps. Accompanying him are Laotian guerillas. It is never explained who these people are.
Considering that the film was made 30 years after he was shot down and most of the armed men are 25 and under, they are clearly not the people who kept him prisoner. Being a Herzog film, it doesn't really matter that this is never explained, in fact, it adds to the whole thing.

Herzog has remade this film as a feature called Rescue Dawn with Christian Bale as Dieter. It comes out in the U.S. later in the summer and from what I can tell, it is being marketed as a big budget adventure film. I have no idea what to expect but I look forward to seeing it.

As great as this movie was, I was a little disappointed that there weren't any scenes of Dieter and the armed men playing a little pétanque.

Directed by Werner Herzog
1997
DVD

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Brand Upon the Brain

This film was more of a spectacle than anything else. Guy Madden continues to make interesting cinema. His obsession with silent cinema flirted with in all of his films including his most well known, The Saddest Music in the World, could only lead to one thing - a real true to life silent film.

Jim and I went to go see this at the Village East and I'm glad that I did. On the night that Jim and I saw it, Crispin Glover was the narrator. There was an orchestra and live sound effects. I found myself watching the effects being created and Glover a lot and the whole thing added to the experience while at the same somewhat distracting me from the movie itself.

The movie itself is probably my least favorite of the ones I've seen. It isn't bad or anything. It just doesn't make any sense at all. I had a difficult time following it but no matter. But then again plot isn't why I go see Guy Madden films. I go to see them because they are unlike any other films I've ever seen and this film definitely follows that trend. The movie has something to do with a mysterious head wounds on kids. Brand upon the brain!

Supposedly this is semi-autobiographical. Maybe this film would have made more sense to me if I hadn't been so distracted by the creation of the sound around me. I'm curious to see the theatrical release with Isabella Rosellini as the narrator.

Directed by Guy Madden
2007
Village East

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Little Children

Like Field's last film, In the Bedroom, I almost really liked this movie. Field has a strong visual sense but then his movies kind of lose steam by the end that I get to the point that I just don't really care about the the outcome. Granted, this film is an adaptation of a novel so I guess I can't fault Field for the source material.

A few random thoughts:

This is also one of those films where a beautiful person (Kate Winslet) is supposed to be plain. Bah!

The scenes at the pool are all very good.

Jackie Earle Haley is a scary looking dude.

That scene where he jerks off in the car is really really creepy.

The nightime park scenes looked great.

I liked the whole skater aspect.

Didn't Patrick Wilson leave the note for his wife in the house? How did he have it on him after wrecking on the skateboard?

Kate Winslet's husband's character was not believable and detracted from the movie.

Jennifer Connelly looked weird.

Directed by Todd Field
2006
DVD

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ocean's 13

What does it say about me that the last non-Ocean's Soderbergh movie I've seen is 2002's Solaris? While the guy is intent on making one for the studio and two for himself, I keep plugging away like the rest of the artless slobs in the country going to see these movies and refusing to see his labor of loves?

Am I getting old or are the tepid reviews of all his other films these days simply scaring me away? For now, I'm going with the latter hypotheses.

Now don't get me wrong, I really liked this movie. Maybe not as much as Balgavy who proclaimed that this movie was downright perfect and that every movie ever made should be just like this.

It was much better than Ocean's 12 which was a big waste of time. Lucky for me, I didn't remember about much of Ocean's 11 because apparently this was kind of a remake of that one.

SHR enjoyed this as well but was a little upset that Clooney only had a moustache for about a minute.

Ellen Barkin was perfectly cast - very very scary.

The movie was lacking in a strong female presence. Kind of lame in that regard.

Loved the Clooney and Pitt crying during Oprah bits.

Soderbergh and Co. definitely decided to try a little harder than the last one. If you're going to make tons of money to finance the next art film, might as well have fun making it. And what's more fun than a fun Ocean's movie when it works?

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
2007
Court St. 12

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Once

I have read countless breathless reviews of this film. The usually reliable Onion wrote this: "Imagine Belle And Sebastian remaking In The Mood For Love as a heartbreaking low-fi musical, and you have a fair approximation of the film's melancholy, unexpected genius."

Um -- I don't think so.

This movie wasn't bad by any stretch. But it was not some amazing breakthrough in the world of musicals. It was a crappy looking movie shot on cheap DV that had a few catchy songs and an appealing hangdog cast.

Most people I know hate musicals because they seem so silly and the songs tend to break up any sort of drama that is being developed. This film gets around that by having it be about a musician who falls in love with a woman, asks her to record with him, and then they record. Problem solved. All of the songs make sense because the film is about musicians playing music, get it? Whatever.

Enjoy this movie, just don't get caught up in the hype.

Directed by John Carney
2007
Sunshine Cinemas

Monday, June 04, 2007

Knocked Up

Fresh from seeing Roky Erikson outdoors, SHR, Mooney, Paul and I headed to a 10:45 showing of Knocked Up. I never go to movies this late anymore and I was worried that it would mess with my enjoyment of the film. It might have because I was a little bit tired by the end, but no matter, I really liked it anyway.

Apatow is on a roll. I can't believe how many movies he has in the pipeline. Is this really the same guy that couldn't get a TV show to its second season? Everything he touches turns to gold these days.

What's not to like about this movie? It has amazing one-liners but it also has many great scenes that are built on the awkward. Apatow is the king of awkward moments that don't make you feel too icky. Unlike another Freaks and Geeks alum Mike White who is the king of awkward moments that make you feel too icky, Apatow strikes just the right balance. The characters aren't as developed as I'd like them to be and some of the scenes feel forced but these are small complaints. Basically, nothing will ever touch Freaks and Geeks in its mix of character development, comedy, and pathos. But why am I comparing an 18 episode show to a 2 hour movie anyway?

There are some amazingly real moments in this film that come out of nowhere and they are that much more searing because of it. The 40-Year-Old Virgin might have been more of a straight up comedy but I like this film more. I loved Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann's interaction. I loved Apatow and Mann's kids as actresses. I loved all the scenes with Rogen (am I silly for watching him get interviewed on both Letterman and Conan last week?) and the Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared posse. I loved the E Channel bits. This movie is damn good.

And, of course, how could I not like the fantasy baseball scene?

By the way, Letterman's interview was atrocious, Conan's was good, and Leno's is on tonight.

Directed by Judd Apatow
2007
Battery Park Cinemas