Monday, November 29, 2010

Me and Orson Welles (2009)

Wonderful movie about a (fictional) high school senior (Zac Efron) who falls in with Welles' Mercury theater on the eve of their legendary production of Julius Caesar. Zac Efron is a little glassy, but still better than expected. The real show here are the impersonations of the real life Mercury players: Ben Chaplin as George Colouris, Leo Bill as Norman Lloyd, and Christian McKay as Welles are particularly excellent and totally uncanny. A perfect depiction of the creative process (and the egos of creative people) to the point where I had a lump in my throat when the curtain rose on opening night. A vivid recreation of a time when artists mattered and the staging of a play could change the world.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010)

Rather long-winded and dispiriting documentary about Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Despite director Alex Gibney's attempts to infuse this with Michael Moore style touches (sarcastic song choices, ironic film clips of other movies) this feels as dry as a senate hearing. At one point, an interview subject says something that indeed sums up this film: "Jack's life was an action movie that turned into a dreary documentary."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Solitary Man (2010)

Michael Douglas in what is a bit of a departure for him: playing a slick, reptilian jerk. Oh, wait. Starts off with him getting grim news from a doctor...a scene that's a little hard to watch, considering. It then jumps forward six years, after he's alienated every friend and family member being the world's biggest asshole. He spends ninety-five percent of the movie being a dumb, selfish twat, only to have scenes of him finally being a "swell guy" tacked on at the end. Every couple of years there is a movie like this. I guess it's wish fulfillment for middle aged men. They can be the pricks they want to be, yet they can toss out some breadcrumbs of kindness and bullshit about being a man and all is forgiven. ("No, honey, you're wrong, I wasn't fucking chicks behind your back because I didn't love you, I did it because I was hurting, couldn't you see that?") This is very similar to the vastly superior "Wonder Boys", watch that instead.

The Square (2009)

Australian neo-noir about a married guy who's having an affair with the married hottie across the way. She finds a bag full of money that her husband has hidden in their attic and devises a plan to run off blah, blah, blah. It's yet another variation of "Double Indemnity". And every time some other young filmmaker wants to make their "Double Indemnity" or "Blood Simple" it gets more tired and boring. We've all seen this before: femme fatale, boorish husband, blackmailers popping up here and there, and some chump who gets the shaft all because he pointed his dick in the wrong direction. It proves what I've said, that heterosexuality just doesn't work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Red Riding Trilogy: 1974, 1980, 1983. (2008)

British crime saga that spans nine years and is loosely based on the real-life "Yorkshire Ripper" case. The first film (1974) is about a young reporter who's assigned to cover the story of a child murderer on the loose. The second film (1980) tells the story of the mishandling of the Yorkshire ripper case (It seems Yorkshire county had cornered the British serial killer market around this time) and the outside investigator brought in to take over the investigation. The last part (You guessed it, 1983) has a lawyer returning to his boyhood hometown to handle the appeal of the man convicted of the murders in part one.
Pretty great but rather confusing at times, trying to keep track of all the players. I recommend watching all three in succession. Not many films have captured the shitty smell of corruption so vividly. While watching this I kept wondering how deep the rot would go. The rot itself was rotted. Not recommended for someone wishing to feel comfortable.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009)

Neat idea and a great lesson on how effective the power of suggestion can be. Sure, it's got an evil German doctor, bimbo actresses who can't act, and plenty of gore. But what really makes this slightly better than your average horror film is the welcome addition of camp humor, a mainstay of 70s horror. That, and the thought of facial disfigurement, anal tearing, and shit eating.