New Reviews

marchmovies

From the best movie of the year so far to the baldfaced atrocity that was Watchmen, here’s a roundup of recent reviews, in order of preference:

Adventureland. Greg Mottola, 2009. *****
Mesrine. Jean-François Richet, 2009. **** 1/2
Tokyo Sonata. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2009. ****
Sin Nombre. Cary Fukunaga, 2009. *** 1/2
Tokyo! Leos Carax, Bong Joon-ho, and Michel Gondry, 2009. ***
The Education of Charlie Banks. Fred Durst, 2009. ***
Duplicity. Tony Gilroy, 2009. **
Watchmen. Zach Snyder, 2009. *

Quantum of Black Speed Flash Gonzo Truth Strain Boogie Racer

Awards screeners are starting to come in hard & fast now, so here’s a hectic (and almost certainly incomplete) roundup of movies I’ve watched these last few weeks. In order of preference!

My Mother, My Bride, and I/Die Zweite Frau
Another cross-cultural love story from Europe, this time bridging Bavaria and Romania. Erwin Kobarek (Matthias Brandt) picks Irina (Maria Popistasu) out of a catalog, but his mother (Monica Bleibtreu) disapproves. One of my favorites at the Hamptons Film Fest. Hans Steinbichler, 2008. ****

Speed Racer
I’m still kicking myself for missing this in the theater. Delirious, demented, delicious. Andy & Larry Wachowski, 2008. ****

Black Ice/Musta jää
I liked this twisted Finnish thriller in Berlin, and it got even better on second viewing in the Hamptons. Let’s hope it doesn’t just get remade, but also released in the U.S. Petri Kotwica, 2007. ****

Werther
This punk rock adaptation of Goethe’s classic is either a pretentious disaster or wildly romantic triumph. Possibly both. Either way, Hannah Herzsprung is out of this world. HIFF. Uwe Janson, 2008. ***

Dunya & Desie
Movie version of a long-running Dutch TV show about two teenage friends. Dunya (Maryam Hassouni), the daughter of Muslim immigrants, returns to Marocco, and her bubbly friend Desie follows. Thoroughly sweet & enjoyable. HIFF. Dana Nechushtan, 2008. ***

Boogie
Bogdan’s on vacation with his wife and child when he runs into his old buddies who still call him Boogie and insist to take him out on a wild night. Perceptive and unassumingly real, Boogie snuck up on me. More from Danny Kasman. HIFF. Radu Muntean, 2008. ***

Troubled Water/DeUsynlige
This gripping redemption story starring Trine Dyrholm won Best Narrative Feature and the audience award at the Hampton’s Film Fest. Marcy reviews. Erik Poppe, 2008. ***

Nothing But the Truth
Reasonably amusing fun-house mirror version of the Miller/Plame case. Could’ve used more Vera Farmiga — but that’s true of every movie. Rod Lurie, 2008. ***

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
I love the man as much as anyone, but the only HST movie I really need to see at this point is The Rum Diaries. Alex Gibney, 2008. ***

The Bad and the Beautiful
Kirk Douglas as selfish Hollywood producer who screws over Lana Turner. Highly entertaining until the wimp-out ending. Vincente Minnelli, 1952. ***

Barocco
Curiously surreal crime/love story starring Isabelle Adjani and Gerard Depardieu in two roles. Andre Techine, 1976. ***

Flash Gordon
Ornella Muti! Mike Hodges, 1980. ***

Quantum of Solace
Seems like I was entertained. The editing blew. That’s all I remember. Marc Foster, 2008. **

Dancers/Dansen
Annika (Trine Dyrholm) falls in love with a rapist. Dyrholm is terrific but the movie pales compared to Der Freie Wille. HIFF. Pernille Fischer Christensen, 2008. **

’77
As a major Star Wars geek, I tried my best to like this sci-fi coming-of-age story. But you know what the man says: there is no try. More from Karina Longworth. HIFF. Patrick Read Johnson, 2007. **

Shadowboxer
So lurid and godawful, we couldn’t stop. Cuba Gooding Jr. bonks Helen Mirren — with a gun! Lee Daniels, 2005. **

The Andromeda Strain
A long time ago, I was sent to bed after the first 15 minutes. Finally finished it. Dull science procedural was not worth the wait. More from Glenn Erickson. Robert Wise, 1971. **

What Just Happend
Rough going, but we held out until Bruce Willis shows up in wooly beard. Barry Levinson, 2008. N/R.

NYFF08: Che Guevara and Debussy to a Disco Beat



As the 46th New York Film Festival slouches towards its final weekend — one more movie, one more party, and Catherine Deneuve in the flesh — it’s time for a little roundup. I’ve mainly posted capsules to Worldfilm, with the exception of Che, which is on track for my favorite of the year and required something lengthier.

Here’s an overview of what I’ve seen, with a few movies that still deserve reviews, including The Wrestler, Agnes Jaoui’s wonderful Let It Rain, and — not at the fest — Charlie Kaufman’s absolutely wretched Synecdoche, New York. In order of preference:

Che. Steven Soderbergh, 2008. ****
Let It Rain. Agnes Jaoui, 2008. ****
Tony Manero. Pablo Larrain, 2008. ****
Waltz with Bashir. Ari Folman, 2008. ****
Summer Hours. Olivier Assays. 2008. ***
The Wrestler. Darren Aronofsky, 2008. ***
Serbis. Brillante Mendoza, 2008. ***
24 City. Jia Zhangke, 2008. ***
The Headless Woman. Lucrecia Martel, 2008. ***
Chouga. Darezhan Omirbaev, 2007. ***
Gomorrah. Matteo Garrone, 2008. ***
Wendy and Lucy. Kelly Reichardt, 2008. **
Ashes of Time Redux. Wong Kar-Wei, 2008. **
Bullet in the Head. Jaime Rosales, 2008. **
Four Nights with Anna. Jerzy Skolimowski, 2008. *
Synecdoche, New York. Charlie Kaufman, 2008. *

Marcy also saw Changeling (*), The Class (***), and Happy-Go-Lucky (****). Photos soon.

I was faced with a choice at a difficult age…

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7hdS_qaGIQ

Extreme Viewing






You may think of film criticism as a rather sedate pursuit, involving a lot of sitting around in the dark and scratching one’s beard. But in truth, the trenches of cinemania are treacherous ground. Never mind the blogger infighting and hordes of rabid fanboys waiting for you after you post — I’m talking about the real dangers that lurk in the space between the screen and your eyes, where auteur loyalty means nothing, empty buzz can finish you off before the opening credits, and the blood of the gullible is spilled by the bucket. Or at least, their patience.

What am I on about? Last week’s two major disappointments, the Flaming Lips’ bizarrely sluggish Christmas on Mars and the Coen Brothers’ vile Burn After Reading, which left me quaking with anger. Both reviews are now up on About.com.

It took two confirmed classics — and multiple viewings — to restore my faith: Antonioni’s endlessly baffling and beautiful The Passenger and the magical The Thief of Baghdad, one of the first movies I remember seeing. Not a bad way to lick your wounds and shore up resolve for the New York Film Festival, which begins screening for critics on Monday.

Christmas on Mars. Wayne Coyne, 2008. * (Review)
Burn After Reading. Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008. * (Review)
The Passenger. Michaelangelo Antonioni, 1975. *****
The Thief of Baghdad. Michael Powell, 1940. *****

The Week in Moving Pictures











Wild Reeds/Les Roseaux sauvages. André Téchiné, 1994. ****
It Happened One Night. Frank Capra, 1934. ****
Recount. Jay Roach, 2008. ****
The Long Good Friday. John Mackenzie, 1980. ****
Ikiru. Akira Kurosawa, 1952. ****
Hamlet 2. Andrew Fleming, 2008. ***
Autumn/Automne. Ra’up McGee, 2004. ***
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, 2008. ***
Mildred Pierce. Michael Curtiz, 1945. ***
Choke. Clark Gregg, 2008. **
Sukiyaki Western Django. Takashi Miike, 2007. N/R