Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tabloid (2010)

Errol Morris documentary about an ex-beauty queen who kidnaps and "rapes" this mormon guy. It was okay, this woman was really annoying. I'm getting a little sick of Morris and his cutesy-poo approach to gussying up the talking head documentary. I'm actually getting a little sick of writing this blog. I've written nearly two hundred of these things and cast them into the ether, I feel like I'm talking to myself. I have no aspirations to be a writer, and maybe five people ever bother to read this. I'm just another one of those assholes spouting his opinion on the internet. No one gives a shit. Henceforth I shall limit sharing my opinion of movies and various other things to the few people I share a drink and a smoke with. The End.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Withnail & I (1987)

I managed to avoid this at age sixteen when it played the art houses here in Chicago. I've since delayed seeing it due to my intense dislike of actor Richard E. Grant, to call him "hammy" would be an understatement. Since its release, it has become sort of a British Big Lebowski, with a rabid cult following (another reason not to see it). Imagine my shock and pleasure when I finally sat down to watch it and really enjoyed the damn thing.

It stars Grant (Withnail) and Paul McGann (I) as English out of work actors, years after graduating drama school, living in extreme poverty and battling bitterness. They are more likely to spend their last pounds on whiskey and a pack of smokes than food. When hunger, disillusionment, and booze start to take a serious toll on their sanity, they opt to get out of London for a weekend in the countryside, courtesy of Withnail's swishy, well-to-do Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths, who with this movie and The History Boys, is British film's definitive elderly pervert).

The comedy is broad, but spot-on (either Grant was perfect casting as a puffed-up, prancing actor, or he became Withnail and has been ever since). This is also about the dreaded realization that you may not have talent, and the film is permeated with dashed dreams and lost ambition. Writer/director Bruce Robinson manages what the Coen brothers often attempt but rarely achieve: A film that is at once wildly funny and terribly serious, with an absurd tone that isn't at the expense of humanity or character. Unlike Lebowski, this deserves its cult.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Downright bizarre Finnish film written and directed by Jalmari Helander about a top secret archeological dig that frees the real, monstrous, horned Santa Claus after he/it had been buried in ice for hundreds of years. Santa's evil little helpers soon are kidnapping and torturing "naughty" children, and the only thing that can stop them is a small boy who happens to be one of the only "nice" ones in the world. Not quite sure what to make of this. It's vaguely disturbing and vaguely funny, and by the time you're wrapping your mind around the proceedings, it's abruptly over (72 minutes!). Interesting, but not neccessarily exciting...with lots and lots of full frontal elf nudity.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Le Quattro Volte (2010)

A film about, and told from the perspective of, a goat herder, a goat, and a tree. Without any dialog, and without any thundery bullshit, it effectively conveys how every living thing is connected. Beautiful to look at and surprisingly deep, writer/director Michelangelo Frammartino stages elaborate long takes, each one serene yet packed with visual details. And at 90 minutes, it left me wanting more, a rare occurrence (I've noticed that running times have been getting mercifully shorter lately). This will either bore you or mesmerize you, depending on your nature. I thought it was lovely.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

Romantic comedy starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone. There were some scenes I loved, then it got crazy and stupid. Considering what passes for a romantic comedy these days, this is for sure a cut above. With the annual Garry Marshall cavalcade of crap and Katherine Heigl releasing turds into the water supply, it has been rough times for people like me who happen to like romantic comedies AND like movies. I was relieved it wasn't moronic and insincere. However, if rom-coms aren't your thing, this is skippable.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Margin Call (2011)

Ensemble drama written and directed by J.C. Chandor, based on the financial collapse of 2008. I don't know a goddamed thing about finance (and apparently neither do most of the characters in this movie) so I won't go into plot specifics. The whole cast (well, except for maybe Demi Moore, who just seems to be standing around a lot) is pretty phenomenal. Particularly Kevin Spacey (a relief to see him in a quality movie, although he does revert to his half-assed Jack Lemmon impersonation at times) Paul Bettany, and Jeremy Irons (who comes off over-the-top at first, but by the end of the film has racked up some of the best scenes). Chandor stuffs his script with crackling, Dalton Trumbo-esque dialog, everyone's making speeches in this. The actors utter these lines with such glee you can forget you're watching a film about derivatives, and occasionally even tune out the lame music score. This is a good one. Also starring that guy from The Mentalist (don't know his name and don't feel like opening another tab to find out), Stanley Tucci, Penn Badgley, and Zachary Quinto's eyebrows.