Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Chic lesbo vampire flick starring French legend Delphine Seyrig. A pair of newlyweds check into a Belle Epoque seaside hotel during off-season and find the only other guests at the hotel are a mysterious countess (Seyrig) and her timid secretary. As the couple get to know each other, the husband's shady past and sadistic tendencies start to bubble to the surface. They soon find the countess is getting quite chummy and might have something more in mind for them than polite conversation. This moves at a very slow pace, but in an intriguing way. It draws you in with it's languidness. This could have been an exploitation film (there are moments of cheese), but it has restraint, looks expensive, and relies heavily on Seyrig's considerable acting abilities and electrifying screen presence (her wardrobe in the film is delicious). Tony Scott's The Hunger (1983) owes this film plenty. It is ridiculously similar in style and content.

The Tillman Story (2010)

Documentary about the professional football player who quit the NFL to enlist, and ended up being killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Tillman suspected from the outset that he'd be a poster child for the war, and that's exactly what happened. Then the obfuscation perpetuated by the army brass surrounding the circumstances of his death, all to avoid bad publicity. War is hell, the army is inept, good publicity sells wars...no big revelations here. The movie is no big deal, except for his little brother's drunken appearance at his televised funeral. In front of hordes of generals and politicians, he punctures all the pomp of a military funeral in just a few sentences. One of the best eulogies.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Let Me In (2010)

American/British remake of the Swedish horror film Let The Right One In about a bullied 12-year-old boy who befriends a young girl who turns out to be a vampire. The original was quite good and, surprisingly, the remake is just as good. At times, it is a little too similar (long stretches are shot-for-shot identical to Tomas Alfredson's original) but writer-director Matt Reeves subtly plays up key moments and tones down others. It's like the experience you'd have listening to the same piece of music led by two different conductors. Kodi Smit-McPhee is perfect as the shy lead. He can cry effortlessly and, as in The Road, is called upon here to do so often. Indeed, he may be our generation's Margaret O'Brien, except more feminine. Oh, and Chloe Grace-Moretz as the vampire.

Ondine (2010)

We live in such a cynical time, that it's hard for filmmakers to get audiences to swallow a pure fairy tale. I mean no "tongue-in-cheek" stuff, fairy tale played straight. The last time a major director attempted an honest to goodness fairy tale (that I can think of) was Jacques Demy's "The Magic Donkey" (1970), and even he couldn't get it right, it seemed forced and precious. Writer-director Neil Jordan now gives it a try, and succeeds beautifully. Colin Farrell is a lonely fisherman with a critically ill daughter and an alcoholic ex-wife, who pulls in his net one day and finds a beautiful girl in it. Is she a water nymph/mermaid type thingy? Is she lying? See the movie, no one else did. This lovely film came and went, which means I'll probably have to wait another forty years for a director to have the assurance and vision to give this kind of thing a go.