Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

My Photo
Location: milwaukee, wi

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wanted (Timur Bekmambetov, 2008)

My summary review of Wanted (which managed to pull in over $50 million at the box office this weekend -- pretty darn good for a hard R-rated action movie): the first half is truly awesome. Woah! pretty much sums it up. Shootings! Angelina Jolie's butt! Car chases! Way more shootings! The second half greatly loses momentum when it starts taking itself seriously -- the kiss of death for any over-the-top action movie about killing. It starts to drag, gets a conscience (of sorts), and becomes a little too ridiculous, in a boring way (RAT BOMBS?!). But altogether, definitely worth seeing. It just reminded me how much I loved Shoot Em Up. Oh, and if this movie does a lot to raise James McAvoy's profile in this country, I wouldn't be mad -- he does a really great job.


Labels: ,

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Greencine's list of 8 most disturbing French horror films

Hat tip to Dreaming at 24 Frames Per Second on this one: Netflix alternative Green Cine has released a list of the 8 Most Disturbing Films of the New Wave of French Horror. Quite a mouthful, but they couldn't be more right on when they spotlight France as the new center of global horror. I've see all the movies on the list but a few -- Sheitan (which I'd never even heard of!), Frontier(s) (which I have at home right now), and Inside (which is coming soon!). Ordeal is one of the creepiest films I've ever seen, with a truly amazing performance by Laurent Lucas. Of course, Gaspar Noe is probably in my ten top directors -- his films are so raw and painful, and while I wouldn't classify them as horror films, they are really terrifying. So move over, Japan -- France has got the market on truly disturbing stuff now.


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gods of the Plague (RW Fassbinder, 1970)

With Gods of the Plague, RW Fassbinder's sequel to his Love is Colder Than Death, the director showed that he was more than a master storyteller and atmospheric director; this is one of the first (chronologically) Fassbinder films that is absolutely gorgeous. I'm sure you could pause the film at almost any moment and have a still that's worthy of any photography exhibition.

Franz is out of jail, but instead of returning to his life with Joanna, he hooks up with a beautiful young waitress he met in a cafe and goes back into a life in petty crime. Although Joanna (Hannah Schygulla, luminous as always in Fassbinder films) is the scorned lover, it's hard to feel any sympathy for her, because Franz does not try to deceive her about their relationship, yet she actively tries to destroy him anyway. The cast of petty thieves and gamblers that populate the film are at once repulsive and compelling, such is Fassbinder's gift at portraying the lower class of criminal.

But Gods of the Plague is so much more than just its plot. Every scene is a tableau of sorts, a visual playing field from which Fassbinder seems to take inspiration for the plot actions. Characters sit around in silence, walk around, stare at nothing for extended periods of time -- so much, in fact, that it seems the term ennui was derived from these aimless characters. But, as in the first scene, where Franz walks in front of a brick wall after leaving jail, it's almost hypnotic. There's nothing not visually stunning (in its own quiet way) in this film.

Gunther Kaufman, playing a fried of Franz's with whom he goes back into crime, has a beautiful line near the end of the film, as things are going totally wrong: "Life is precious, even right now." This could be the final line in every Fassbinder film; his recurring theme about the importance of even the smallest, pettiest life perhaps began in this film. Reccommended for those at all interested in Fassbinder's films.


Labels: ,

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Watchmen news

There's very little that makes me want to return to regular blogging than Watchmen news. Apparently, a trailer will be attached to The Dark Knight. Now, I'm as excited for The Dark Knight as just about anyone (except my brother, who is almost unfathomably excited), but this makes me certain to go first day. And Nite Owl's ship landing at Comicon?! Oh Zack Snyder, you really know how to treat a fangirl right.

Labels: , ,

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski, 1992)

For Roman Polanski apparently being a well-respected director (he is, isn't he?), I don't think I've ever seen a film of his that I've really liked. Bitter Moon was not to be that film, either. The story of an incredibly stereotypical upper-crust British couple Nigel and Fiona (Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott-Thomas) who are taking a cruise to India to save their marriage (apparently?) and meet wheelchair-bound Oscar (Peter Coyote) and his young, sexy wife Mimi (Emmanuelle Segnier). Oscar notices that Nigel really wants to screw Mimi, and begins telling the couple's long, sordid tale. Oscar apparently is a "writer," but one who was never published or accomplished anything, so he revels in telling this staid, polite man the at times disgusting tale of how he and Mimi arrived on this ship.

In short: on a Parisian bus, Oscar passes Mimi a ticket when she doesn't have one, and gets kicked off the bus. He puts it in one of his trite novels, as getting a piece of heaven and then losing it immediately. After searching for her, they find each other and fall madly in lust. They fuck. A lot. Eventually, they get tired of each others' bodies and start doing increasingly extreme things, starting with BDSM, up to golden showers and an incredibly weird, uncomfortable scene where Oscar pretends to be a pig. Yep. Even after all that, Oscar gets tired of Mimi, and tries to dump her; she, being a young girl who is blindly in love for some God knows reason, begs him to stay, so he lets her, but also decides to make her life as miserable as possible in order to make her leave.

The scenes where Oscar is deliberately torturing Mimi, making fun of her in front of their friends, to the ultimate test he puts her through, made me incredibly uncomfortable to watch. And not the good kind of "My boundaries are being tested" uncomfortable, but more like the "Ohmygod this is so misogynistic and disgusting" uncomfortable. Even when Mimi reenters his life and exacts revenge, I never once felt the same disgust for her that I had for Oscar, nor did I ever have an ounce of pity for him (although he is pitiful). Not to say that Coyote and Segnier don't deliver good performances, because they do, especially Segnier (Polanski's lover at the time), who, although she isn't given much to do other than be sexy, really commands your attention every time she is onscreen.

For a film that is apparently supposed to push boundaries and be about (sexual) ethics and fidelity, it really is a bore. No characters are really anything more than easily predictable stereotypes, especially Nigel and Fiona, for whom I found nothing to care about. And then there's the ending (spoiler ahead, in case you want to tackle this beast); Mimi and Fiona find themselves, obviously, making love with one another. Because, according to Polanski, that's what unfulfilled wives will do, lesbian out with one another! It's a disgusting ending to a male gaze-filled film that was just Polanski's wet dream about his lover put to celluloid. Even the poster above is filled with men looking at Mimi; she might as well not be a woman, just a pair of legs and a vagina. This movie never should have been made, at least in this sloppy form. It's pseudo-intellectual, incredibly sexist crap that wasn't worth almost three hours of my life.


Labels: ,

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!