Anyone else think that FC missed an opportunity when they opted not to call this event Prick Up Your Frears? No? Just me?
Why haven't I seen The Dark Knight yet? Because I hate America. Duh.
Anyone else think that FC missed an opportunity when they opted not to call this event Prick Up Your Frears? No? Just me?
Why haven't I seen The Dark Knight yet? Because I hate America. Duh.
We think there is genius in simplicity, and that said, have launched our very own Baghead contest. Click the thumbnail below to view the official flyer, but we’re basically looking for a photo or video of the most creative Baghead you can think of. Wear one to work, shop at the grocery store, recite a poem about your groceries - whatever you want to do. Just remember, we can’t be held responsible for any less-than-desirable reactions! Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59pm on Thursday, August 7th for a chance to win, and become an Angelika blog star! (Albeit, if you’re following the contest rules, no one will know who you are…)
Now, the cinetrix had absolutely no time for The Puffy Chair, but she's pretty confident that even the Duplass boys deserve better.
This week, Hizzoner weeps for the Italians.
Days and Clouds
This film moved me emotionally. Although it takes place in Italy, it could be a snapshot of what is currently happening across America.
The central characters are Michele (Antonio Albanese) and his beautiful wife, Elsa (Margherita Buy). The couple, who appear to be in their 50s and very much in love, have a 20-year-old daughter, Alice (Alba Rohrwacher). Because Alice's boyfriend is unacceptable to papa, she moves out of the parental home.
One evening Michele confesses to Elsa that he has lost his job. He was forced out of the company by two other partners and has not worked for the past two months. Since Michele cannot pay their mortgage, the couple will have to sell their home and small cabin cruiser to pay their expenses. Elsa, who restores frescos in ancient buildings as a hobby, states that she will find a good-paying job. Indeed, she secures two jobs, the second of which involves sexual advances from her boss.
How the couple copes with their financial issues will move you. Seeing Michele slip into a state of depression as a result of his job loss was very difficult to watch, especially when he seeks to collect a debt owed to him by a friend who claims he has already repaid the loan. I wept for a moment witnessing one particular scene. The movie doesn't have a final resolution with a satisfying ending, but it is an honest-to-God display of what can happen to people.
Last week former Texas Senator Phil Gramm referred to America's economic slowdown as "a mental recession," and called its citizens "a nation of whiners." He went on to say, "You just hear this constant whining, complaining, about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline. We’ve never been more dominant; we've never had more natural advantages than we have today." What a dope. Regrettably, millions of people in the U.S. today are worried about how they will manage financially in their retirement years. (In Italian, with English subtitles.)
But when it comes to Gotham, Koch is a contrarian.
The Dark Knight
I may be the only moviegoer in America who has seen the current Batman film and thinks it is ridiculous.
The theater was packed when we arrived for a 12:30 p.m. show on Sunday afternoon and only a few seats were available in the front row. Afraid of getting reverse vertigo from looking up at the screen, I searched a little longer and located a seat further back. Once settled, I looked forward to seeing the movie which has received so many favorable reviews. I was disappointed when it finally ended, however, and wondered if the media blitz and ensuing frenzy compelled people to say they enjoyed the film.
I like movies that display some violence and enjoy watching blood and guts being spilled on the big screen. If you feel that way, you won't be disappointed in this one, especially the scenes involving fires and explosions. In the end, however, it adds up to nothing. As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
The story is the same old, same old of Batman saving Gotham City from vile criminals led by the super villain, the Joker. I violate no confidence when I tell you he does so once again. All the characters, especially Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) and his love, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), are stick figures. Gyllenhaal is a fine actress but her performance in this film is nothing to write home about. Other characters include Bruce Wayne's faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Wayne's factotum who is as delicious as ever.
Much as been made of Heath Ledger's over-the-top performance as the Joker. It has been touted as extraordinary and worthy of a posthumous Oscar. Absurd. Jack Nicholson who played the Joker in the 1989 "Batman" film was better. Ledger was a fine actor, but this picture did not provide him with a role worthy of his talents. I believe he will be best remembered for his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain," and his delivery of the plaintive line, "I wish I could quit you."
HS said: "The litany of murders by various means, explosions, defenestrations, assassinations a la Anwar Sadat, strangulation and garden variety GSWs (gun shot wounds) leaves nothing to the imagination. The problem is that the plot becomes so twisted no one can keep track of it, and the movie turns into a simple platform for the grotesque, which the viewer may or may not savor.
I thought Heath Ledger was excellent as the demented psychopath.
I would recommend you see the movie, hoping some profits will go to Ledger's two-year-old daughter. It is also slightly cooler to boast that you saw it rather than that you did not see it. And those of you who are interested in the geography of Gotham will find the picture informative. There is enough swinging from roofs and windows to make Batman an urban Tarzan, but capable of an extended dialogue with the Joker as the crime fighter dangles from a ledge by his fingerprints. Not to worry, no hero or anti-hero is killed off, they will be needed for the inevitable sequel."
Cinetrix here, with a confession. I kinda don't want to see The Dark Knight. I know that's wrong and it's a cinematic achievement so magnificent it'll also do my taxes. [Not that I have my receipts together anyway.] But our old pal HS makes some interesting claims. Is, it in fact, slightly cooler to boast that I've seen it, and, if so, would it only count if I made this information known on Twitter sent from my iPhone? I find HS charmingly naive about how studio accounting works, and according to the tabs Matilda wasn't mentioned in a will, but the cinetrix might could just do it for the kid. Maybe.
A quick note to point you in the direction of FOC Mark Olsen's LAT article on the promotional campaign for Nanette Burstein's irresponsible, disingenous, and wildly entertaining [my words, not his] DOCUMENTARY, American Teen. [Extra bonus: adorable Hannah Bailey's guest blog]
Oh, and did anyone else think this item announcing the new co-hosts for At the Movies reads like one of those wedding announcements for the zygotic, unaccomplished offspring of famous people that run in the Times? You know, the type that devotes column inches to their ancestors' accomplishments? The cinetrix still can't decide whether Lyons or Mankiewicz is the one with a degree from the Bank Street College of Education, can you? But what the hell: Let's hear it for meritocracy!UPDATED: Ty Burr opts for the noun.
Last night I met two Oscar winners on a porch of an apartment on Belmont Ave. It happens. To me, anyway.
Howard and Tami are in town building protheses for some Bruce Willis movie. [Can someone please tell me when Boston became South Carolina or Toronto with all the tax-break-happy productions shooting here?] Anyway, they won for Best Achievement in Makeup for the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia, but you should really check out their credits. Crazy.
The porch belongs to a woman the cinetrix last saw almost ten years ago, when we both worked at a video store. Now she's teaching at Harvard.
Oh, and, a propos of nothing, I have a raging crush on WALL*E. Just wanted to get that out there before the tsunami of Batman coverage drowns the Internets completely.
Appearances to the contrary, pullquote has not become a mouthpiece for the film criticism of Ed Koch to the exclusion of all other content. However, Hizzoner has been much better than the cinetrix about getting to movies this summer. Until this past weekend, that is.
On Friday night, I lured the 'Fesser along to the HOP, where Mahatmet-Saleh Haroun was receiving the Dartmouth Film Award, and his 2006 film Daratt was being shown. Like the director of the HOP film department, Bill Pence, I'd been fortunate enough to see Haroun's movie last summer at the Flaherty Seminar. Bill confirmed that screening was directly responsible for the Chadian director's presence in New Hampshire that evening.
The tale unfolds at a stately pace. After a general amnesty for civil war criminals is announced, an old man sends his grandson to avenge the murder of his father. The boy, Atim, travels to the city in search of the killer. He finds Nassara, now a baker with a pregnant young bride, but cannot bring himself to shoot the man right away. Instead, he begins to work in the bakery alongside his father's murderer as he awaits the right moment to take revenge.
The world shrinks to the bakery and the yard outside as the silences between the furious, fatherless boy and Nassara grow larger. Over time, Atim develops an unlikely relationship with the baker, who shocks the boy by asking to adopt him. He insists on traveling home with Atim "to ask his father's permission." What happens next is shocking and should be seen, not spoiled. Let's just say that it haunted me for a year and led me back to the theatre to see it again.
Daratt (Dry Season) tells us a story that is distinct to Chad and yet, sadly, timeless and universal. Haroun never lets the viewer forget the danger that casts a constant shadow over this landscape, sunbaked, sere, but shot through with bolts of turquoise and chartreuse. Among any people scarred by civil conflict, violence erupts suddenly, and justice is a state with ever-shifting boundaries.
Saturday the cinetrix shifted herself, setting off for a week-long house-sitting stint in Somerville. Sunday, after an afternoon spent sailing on a choppy Charles, I did what moviegoers across the nation did: I went to see Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.
Somehow I skipped the first Hellboy, and I was a little leery of the lurid imagination of director Guillermo del Toro after Pan's Labyrinth, but my fanboy pals assured me it'd be fine. Indeed. What a fuckin' foolish delight.
When I last saw Ron Perlman, he was sparring with some God-complexed grad students in belief-straining indie The Last Supper. [I don't doubt Cameron Diaz would excel at the dope-smoking aspects of post-graduate work, but the rest not so much.] Red--and "Red"--suits him much better. He battles demons, bickers with his incendiary lady friend Liz, and swills Tecate. He also chases publicity and vexes Jeffrey Tambor. There's a riff on Woo's Hard Boiled and a giant, angry plant. What's not to love?
Oh, okay, the evil elf prince and his twin sister could look a little less like gelflings. And the CGI Hellboy-as-a-boy opening may have delighted origin-story superfans, but his visible lack of heft I found distracting. But these are quibbles. It'd been so long since I went into a big movie completely blind and came out grinning like a fool that I forgive Hellboy 2 all its lovable flaws.
Would that I could say the same of Indy 4, a "movie" I was planning on boycotting it altogether until I got the call from the sister-in-law--en route with the new nephew to a mommy screening--and the IM from the brother announcing he was leaving work midday to join them. How could the cinetrix skip a child's second-ever trip to a movie theatre?
Have you ever been to a baby-friendly screening? The house lights are kept a bit up and the volume is turned low. And there are tons of babies. Not necessarily the conditions under which I'd opt to see every movie, but they were a mitzvah when it came to watching Messers Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford's tired cinematic equivalent of the old guy in the club. Plus, it's never to early to teach the youth about knee-jerk national stereotypes and celluloid colonialism!
A few questions, aside from the obvious "why bother?" one. Do you think somewhere Elina Lowensohn is bitter about Cate Blanchett biting her shtick? Could the editing have been any sloppier? I'm not sure if there's a nice name for "sort-of match-on-action" shots and a seeming indifference to continuity--mit out montage?--but given the vaunted technical chops of the parties involved, it felt as grating as listening to a Steely Dan song covered by a garage band. And could we lose the constant, cutesy winks to other flicks in the corpus, fellas? Yeah, it was fun to see the E.T. delegation in that Jar-Jar abomination, but do we need to see the Ark housed in Area 51 and the nuclear annihilation of a Spielberg suburb and mugging prairie dogs? Homey, please.
There were a few things I did like. Namely, Karen Allen's body and Karen Allen's face. That someone in the prop department was charged with making a painting and a statue of Denholm Elliott. The shout out to the U of C. Yeah, that about covers it.
Don't know about you, but after watching this flick I miss those days when it actually took Indy a moment or two to puzzle out ancient maps and cryptic riddles. In Kingdom, there's no mystery, only movement. He--and we--can see the next plot point coming from a mile away.
This week, Hizzoner loves French films noir, and faithful sidekick HK approves of pro-semitic content.
Tell No One
An outstanding French thriller. The movie opens with a loving couple, Dr. Alex Beck (Francois Cluzet) and his wife, Margot (Marie-Josee Croze), going for a late-night skinny dip in the lake near their country retreat. After their swim, Margot returns to the shore. When Alex hears her scream he swims back to the beach, where he is assaulted and passes out. Waking from a coma three days later, he learns that his wife was murdered and her body was identified by his father-in law, Jacques (Andre Dussollier), a retired police officer. Alex is the prime suspect but is never prosecuted due to insufficient evidence.
The story resumes eight years later when the case is reopened. Two more bodies have been discovered near the site where Margot was killed, along with items linking Alex to her death. Several subplots begin to unfold involving numerous characters, including Alex's lawyer, Elysabeth (Nathalie Baye), and his closest friend, Helene (Kristin Scott Thomas), who is the lover of his sister, Anne (Marian Hands). One colorful character is Bruno (Gilles Lellouche), whose hemophiliac son Alex treated at the hospital. When Alex is chased through crowded streets and across congested highways by the police, he is rescued by Bruno and his friends, most of whom appear to be young Muslims living in Paris housing projects who are unable to find employment. Two additional characters are Gilbert Neuville (Jean Rochefort), a wealthy member of the French gentry, and his son, Philippe (Guillaume Canet), who is a pedophile attracted to both boys and girls.
I love French films noir, and this one is no exception. Tell No One is based on a novel by an American author, Harlan Coben, the setting of which is the United States. If the movie had been filmed in an American city and the characters spoke English, I probably would have found it less captivating. I might have said there are too many holes in the plot, too many subplots and that it would have been better if the mystery had unraveled itself on the screen rather than be explained at the end by one of the characters. The fact that the movie takes place in the suburbs of France made it more intriguing for me and, as a result, I am probably less critical of its flaws. Overall, it is well done and the acting is superb. Be sure to see it. (In French, with English subtitles.)
HS said: Having lured EIK to see Wall-E, which he loathed and I admired, I could not resist his determination to see Tell No One, which he described as a French film noir. I think of films noir as being shot in dark cellars late at night, with indistinguishable subtitles. I was pleasantly surprised by this film, shot in color, mostly in daylight, with fine cinematography. I liked the fact that the protagonist was a pediatrician; so is my wife and my son the doctor. The picture works better once you suspend judgment on the totally contrived and bizarre plot. Admire the characters, the hero's stamina at running, the view of a Muslim banlieue (comparable to a housing project mainly inhabited by immigrants). Don't count on seeing the young couple skinny dipping, the screen was almost as dark as the evening. Tell No One is a visual feast, a guided tour and a French lesson. It also depicts Jews favorably, which is unusual today. How early can you figure out who the bad guy is?
Not all French flicks are created equal. EIK draws the line at boring sex.
The Last Mistress
This film is a bore. When I arrived at the theater, I met an old friend from city government who had just seen the movie. In response to my question about the picture she grinned and replied, "It is a very dirty movie," and then shrugged her shoulders. The "very dirty" was a reference to the intimate scenes and the shrug indicated to me that it was not very good. The film does indeed contain a number of explicit sexual scenes, but they are totally passionless, uninvolving and, sin of all sins, boring.
So what’s the plot? A young handsome Frenchman of the gentry, Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Ait Aattou), is a well-known lover with many conquests. On the eve of his wedding to a wealthy, demure girl, Hermangarde (Roxane Mesquida), he is asked by her grandmother, the Marquis de Flers (Claude Sarraute), to tell her of his life which, incomprehensibly, he does in great detail.
Through flashbacks, we learn that Ryno was told of a young Spanish passionate beauty, La Vellini (Asia Argento), married to an older man, Sir Reginald (Nicholas Hawtrey). When first pointed out to him in her coach, he commented that she was ugly, but in quick time, they became infatuated with one another and their fiery relationship began.
Believe me, the touted sensuality is totally missing, notwithstanding the many coupling positions depicted. The most entertaining part of the film involves an amusing, elderly couple, the Comtesse d'Artelles (Yolande Morequ) and the Vicomte de Prony (Michael Lonsdale). Like a Greek chorus, they comment on the acts of the lovers, and their performances and droll dialogue are very amusing. The Last Mistress had great possibilities, but those looking for entertainment and vicarious thrills will have to look elsewhere. (In French, with English subtitles).
Ed Koch doesn't like anything this week, and it's all--or at least mostly--the fault of HS.
Another animated film: another fiasco. It was certainly not my decision to see this picture but that of HS, so I went along. As I have said before about this type of movie, never again. This time I mean it.
The story concerns the demise of the planet Earth after becoming toxic and polluted. Al Gore's vision comes true: the greenhouse effect, etc. The inhabitants of Earth, living on a spaceship where they have become indolent, obese creatures, are led by a Captain (voice of Jeff Garlin). Garlin is a star on the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which is light years ahead of this movie in terms of intelligence, humor and pure enjoyment.
The only working machine left on the planet is a cute little robot named Wall-E (voice of Ben Burtt). Wall-E (an acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class) has been cleaning up the garbage on Earth since the space vehicle left 700 years ago. Love comes to him when the spacecraft sends out probes, one of which named Eve (voice of Elissa Knight), reaches Earth. Eve stands for Extra-Terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator.
Let me cite some favorable comments about Wall-E made by two renowned film critics: Joe Morgenstern wrote in his Wall Street Journal review, "This magnificent animated feature from Pixar starts on such a high plane of aspiration, and achievement, that you wonder whether the wonder can be sustained. But yes, it can." In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott wrote, "It is, undoubtedly, an earnest (though far from simplistic) ecological parable, but it is also a disarmingly sweet and simple love story, Chaplinesque in its emotional purity."
Ridiculous. "This is your Captain speaking. Take cover, take cover. Don't leave your home to see this flick. It is toxic."
HS said: This is one film about which EIK and I have a major difference of opinion. The movie is animated, but that should not doom it. There is little or no dialogue for the first half-hour, but there are changing images on the screen which you can watch. The tale picks up as we get into the far-fetched story, but we are watching events 700 years from now, so there must be a "willing suspension of disbelief." The film is not environmentally radical. It's just that Earth has become one vast junk-heap, consequently abandoned by humans.
The love story between two machines with human sentiments is beautifully done, once you figure out what they are croaking. For me, the first test of a movie is: "Is it boring?" I don’t like paying to sit through a film while hoping for it to end. This movie had some slow parts but basically held my interest. Wall-E required craftsmanship, sophistication and ingenuity to come out so well. Think of the magnificent motion pictures we can produce, while at the same time we can't keep our planet green and clean. To get personal, the film carries a powerful visual message for you: Do not overeat.
Hizzoner has no love for nebbish Matthew Broderick, either.
I have come to the conclusion that Matthew Broderick, husband of Sarah Jessica Parker, is losing his ability to act and entertain. His performance in this worthless movie pales in comparison to that of his costar, Brittany Snow.
Taylor (Matthew Broderick), who claims he has overcome his drug use and alcoholism, is currently struggling with a gambling addiction. His wife, Lorraine (Maura Tierney), is fed up with his lies that he has left those vices behind and is about to leave him. The comedy show for which Taylor writes is going to be canceled, and he will probably lose his job as well.
About the same time, Taylor's 29-year-old niece, Amanda (Brittany Snow), leaves home for Las Vegas, where she is a dancer/hooker. Asked by her mother to locate the young woman, Taylor finds her in a casino picking up a John and endeavors to take her to a therapeutic center which she adamantly opposes. Taylor's adventures in Las Vegas range from puerile to the obscene, notwithstanding an occasional humorous line. The plot had possibilities but the dialogue is awful and fails miserably. Very explicit language by Amanda explaining how she services her customers does little to remedy the emptiness of the film and, in fact, just adds to its coarseness. Avoid like a plague.
All hail the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre for this genius bit of programming:
Wednesday, July 9 – 7:30 PM
VALLEY GIRL, 1983, MGM Repertory, 99 min. Dir. Martha Coolidge. Perky teenage Valley girl Deborah Foreman falls for unkempt punk rocker Nicolas Cage, and the young lovers struggle to stay together amidst the disapproval of their peers and their own cultural prejudices. In director Martha Coolidge’s hands, what could have been just another teen exploitation film becomes a winning romantic comedy with charming heroes and a gallery of beautifully drawn supporting characters (Frederic Forrest and Colleen Camp are particular standouts as Foreman’s parents.)
REAL GENIUS, 1985, Sony Repertory, 108 min. Dir. Martha Coolidge. After their pompous professor takes advantage of their skills, a pair of brilliant science students (Gabe Jarret and Val Kilmer) decide to use their knowledge to get revenge in this irresistible comedy. Once again director Coolidge demonstrates her flair for simple but expressive gestures that define character, and her ability to capture the social insecurities of adolescence is evident in Jarret’s subtle, endearing performance.