Saturday, October 30, 2010

Taxidermia (2006)

A comedy of horrors from Hungary about a farm hand who shoots fire from his penis, has sex with the farmer's wife, who in turn gives birth to a half human/half pig baby who grows up to be a champion speed eater, who falls in love with another speed eater who gives birth to a renowned taxidermist who embalms freakishly enormous house cats. You can judge by this synopsis whether or not this is your type of movie. Guess what category I fall into?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Torture Garden (1967)

This looked good on paper. Jack Palance, Peter Cushing, and Burgess Meredith in a British horror film directed by acclaimed cinematographer Freddie Francis. How bad can it be? I got my answer. I didn't think it possible to have those players all together and have the movie turn out dull. Like watching someone tend their garden for two hours.

The Collector (2009)

An absurd, depressing, unpleasant, flashy, far-fetched piece of shit. This kind of noisy garbage is what passes for horror nowadays. I lost eighty minutes of my life and I'm sure as hell not gonna spend any more time recounting the experience.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vincere (2009)

The kick-ass Italian film "Vincere" (Win) is the best movie I've seen in months. Something like opera on crack, full of visual and aural bombast. The kind of film Baz Luhrmann would direct if he had taste. Written and directed by Marco Bellocchio, it tells the story Mussolini's secret mistress (played by the incredible Giovanna Mezzogiornio, who could give Meryl a run for her money). The more powerful and notorious Mussolini becomes, the more he ignores her. The more he ignores her, the more desperate she gets for his attention (she flashes her pussy at him during a photo op). He then proceeds to erase his dirty little secret by throwing her in an asylum and whisking their illegitimate son to a military school. Big moments and tiny details flood the screen. Powerful as an advancing army and as convincing as propaganda. I couldn't open my eyes wide enough.

La Mission (2009)

Benjamin Bratt stars as a tough-ass Latino ex-con who freaks out after discovering his teenage son is gay. This follows the predictable pattern, and I suppose if it didn't, it wouldn't work. What prevents this from being an after school special is the acting, which is wonderful. I shit you not, all the leads are tremendous. The script is pretty good, too. Writer/director Peter Bratt (Benji's brother) seems to have taken care to write simplistic yet effective dialog and to steer his actors toward very naturalistic performances. If taken scene by scene, it's highly satisfying, so you don't really care that you can guess where this is going.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Greenberg (2009)

Another misanthropic, smart-alecky comedy/drama from Noah Baumbach. Just when this thing starts to meander, it's suddenly lit up with sour, penetrating dialog. Ben Stiller does a good job in the title role and Greta Gerwig (who reminds me of Zooey Deschanel, except talented) gives a touching performance. Might not be worth a rental. Tivo it instead and save it for a dreary afternoon, preferably when hung over.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ghost Writer (2010)

Ewan MacGregor plays a ghost writer employed to write ex-British Prime Minister Pierce Brosnan's memoirs in rapist/director Roman Polanski's political thriller. It looks great, in a kind of ersatz way, and reeks with paranoia, in a Polanski way. The acting, despite an impressive cast, is a mixed bag. MacGregor looks bored out of his mind, and Kim Cattrall sticks out like a sore bimbo. Surprisingly, Jim Belushi, of all people, does a great cameo. Quite a feat, because usually the mere sight of him makes me vomit.
Again, another just okay film from this guy. Polanski seems a shadow of his former self, as if fatigue has set in and his talent is slipping away. It's a great loss, in the sixties and seventies he made every film unmistakably his own, Ghost Writer could have been directed by almost anyone.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Late Show (1977)

Comedy/mystery from writer/director Robert Benton. Art Carney is an over-the hill private detective who teams up with scatterbrained washed-up actress Lily Tomlin to uncover who murdered his ex-partner. Very, well, "seventies", reveling in 1940s nostalgia that was so fashionable in 1977. It resembles Howard Hawks' "The Big Sleep", with snappy dialog, treacherous dames, and a confusing plot. A very nice way to pass ninety-three minutes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Art Of The Steal. (2009)

Interesting documentary...a little long...but interesting, about the massive art collection of Dr. Albert Barnes and all the entitled vultures who couldn't wait to get their grubby little hands on it when he passed away without an heir. The doctor, a colorful character who amassed a collection that would make the Louvre squirt (181 Renoirs, 20 Modiglianis, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, 12 Van Goghs, the list goes on) made it perfectly clear that the phony elite would never get their hands on it. The Philadelphia art establishment systematically dismantles his estate, closes the school he established, breaks up the collection, and wipes their asses with his last will and testament. There are bigger tragedies, but it's a little disturbing to know that the government can seize anyone's private property, and that a will isn't worth the paper on which it's written.