Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prodigal Sons (2010)

I've never, nor will I ever understand the transgendered. You are born with the body you are born with, period. And this documentary hasn't changed my opinion. Paul/Kim was the captain of his football team and is now returning to her small Montana hometown for her twentieth high school reunion. Unfortunately, so is his adopted older brother Marc (they were in the same class, he was held back) who, thanks to a myriad of head injuries after graduation, is now violently, mentally ill. Marc does some searching for his birth parents. He discovers he's the grandchild of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth! Kim and Marc are invited by Welles' partner, Oja Kodar, to Croatia, where two documentaries converge (Laurent Prevale is there filming "Looking For Orson Welles"). Kim, while pretty convincing as a female, has a creepy speaking voice that sounds like Michael Jackson slowed down. And Marc, who takes up much of the film, is one of the scariest, most irritating shit kickers I've ever seen. Constantly threatening to kill himself, the movie would have been much more satisfying had he done so. Well meaning and rather lame.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Boy A (2008)

A somber British film about a young boy who commits a gruesome murder. The film begins when he is released as a rehabilitated adult with a new identity. He struggles to adjust to society and keep his secret, all while coming to terms with what he's done. Starring the elfin Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker in the new Spider Man) and a cast of actors with Manchester accents so thick I had to resort to English subtitles at times. Garfield was a little irritating. He mugged a lot and gave a very mannered performance. The film as a whole is not terrible, but it's heavy as lead.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lola Montes (1955)

I rented this because I'd only seen a handful of director Max Ophuls' movies: The gorgeous "Letter From an Unknown Woman," the interesting "The Reckless Moment," the less interesting "The Earrings of Madame..." and the fantastic "Caught." Actually, that seems like more than a handful. Criterion recently restored and released his final film "Lola Montes," about the famous dancer and, well, slut, who now must act-out all the scandals of her life at a circus for money. This is unlike any movie I have ever seen. Incredibly romantic and incredibly sad, shot in vivid color and CinemaScope, with a resonant stereo soundtrack. Martine Carol is not compelling in the title role, but she is almost irrelevant, the real star here is Ophuls, who composes an intoxicating blend of light, movement, and color. The only film that comes close in texture is Powell and Pressberger's "The Red Shoes," and even that film seems timid by comparison. I thought it was tremendous. A word of caution: many who will read this will probably dislike it, it certainly will not be everyone's cup of tea. Even today, Ophuls is viewed as a frilly camera fidget in some circles. Excuse me...I'm getting a bit of a chill thinking of the final shot.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mother (2009)

A phenomenal Korean film about a simpleton who's accused of murder and his possessive mother who goes to hell and back to prove his innocence. Starring the astounding Kim Hye-Ja as mother, and directed by Bong Joon-Ho, who's also responsible for the hit monster movie "The Host." I feel as if I've been shaken and slapped around for two hours. There is, well, so much stuff going on, all the time, that I was grateful I didn't see this in the theater and that I could hit pause when nature called. The perfect blend of comedy and drama, all staged, acted, filmed, and pieced together with ease and elegance, without ever being pretentious. The amount of fun and heartbreak in any given scene could fill an entire movie, and there is so much cinematic detail it could make your head spin. This isn't for everybody, the characters are not people you'd ever want to be in actual contact with. But for all that, who's to say my mother, or yours, wouldn't do the same, or more? Fucking great.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

So many of you have already seen this, what's the point? I thought it was a wee bit overrated. It was mildly amusing, I laughed twice. Now that I think of it, two laughs is pretty good. Even if a movie is quite funny I don't find myself laughing out loud too much. It took nearly an hour for John Cusack to register ANY emotion (besides fatigue) on his face. What the fuck is wrong with him?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jennifer's Body (2009)

I hope Diablo Cody was a better stripper than she is a writer. This high school zombie movie was wallpapered with her brand of clunky teen slang, the same moronic and unnatural dialog that caused me to walk out of the theater ten minutes into "Juno." It's all so smug and cutesy-poo, and would immediately sound dated if teenagers ever actually talked like that. If taken as a standard horror film, it falls short. As social commentary or satire, it falls way short. It's Cody's stab at a movie like "Heathers," a goal far beyond her capabilities. And for all the disembowelings and demons, this was rather boring.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Eclipse (2010)

One of the best ghost movies I have ever seen. An Irish film written and directed by acclaimed playwright Conor McPherson. Starring Ciaran Hinds as a widower who starts getting visited by...well, not by his dead wife, I won't say any more than that. This had the same effect as "The Uninvited" or "Don't Look Now." A rare ghost story that actually has a brain and doesn't rely on atmosphere alone. There are a few jolts in this the likes of which I've not experienced in a very long time. You know, those rare moments when a hot shower of tingles surges through your body. The performances are unusually excellent, particularly Hinds. Also terrific is Aiden Quinn, who plays one of the biggest jerks in recent memory, and (admirably) without a trace of likability. At the beginning of this, Andrew and I were on opposite sides of the couch. By the halfway mark, we were huddled together in the middle.