Friday, April 27, 2012

Stroszek (1977)***
A case of Werner Herzog's off-the-cuff film making style paying off. Shattering, unflinching look at the conflict of hopes and reality as played out in the bleak Wisconsin midwinter. Final sequence is unique and memorable.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cactus Flower (1969)**
I realize the premise of the plot is preposterous and exists only to set up the "sophisticated" comedic situation, but it is appallingly misogynistic and distracting especially in a film rescued by the performances and appeal of its two leading ladies.
Bullying the Nuns by Garry Wills | The New York Review of Books:
"It is typical of the pope’s sense of priorities that, at the very time when he is quashing an independent spirit in the church’s women, he is negotiating a welcome back to priests who left the church in protest at the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. These men, with their own dissident bishop, Marcel Lefebvre, formed the Society of Saint Pius X—the Pius whose Secretariat of State had a monsignor (Umberto Benigni) who promoted the Protocols of the Elder of Zion. Pope Benedict has already lifted the excommunication of four bishops in the Society of Saint Pius X, including that of Richard Williamson, who is a holocaust denier. Now a return of the whole body is being negotiated."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Play Dirty (1969)***
Well done WWII actioner, sort of a British Dirty Half Dozen. Sharp script, enough eccentricities to push it above the average.
Rififi (1955)**
Nicely directed French noir and one of the first heist flicks.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

George W. Bush and torture: America’s highest officials are responsible for the “enhanced interrogation” of prisoners. - Slate Magazine:
"That the United States operated secret prisons anywhere on earth just so we could place our prisoners and jailors outside the reach of U.S. laws prohibiting torture is outrageous, of course. But there’s something especially perverse about basing one of these facilities in a country whose 'bitter recent experiences' include first Nazi occupation and extermination camps and then four decades of communist oppression. Out of those experiences, the people of Poland created a state that embraces, without reservation, the absolute ban on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and the first thing the United States does is degrade that state by setting up and running a secret torture chamber on Polish soil."

And that in itself was illegal, right? Hello? Is this thing on? Anybody there? Anyone at all?

via @theharryshearer

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Do (2006)**
So-so French rom-com that plays like a Hollywood rom-com which is not a good thing. Watchable for the two leads, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Alain Chabat.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)****
Werner Herzog makes serious films, there is no doubt about that, and that deserves respect and admiration. However, his style of direction is so minimal, so matter-of-fact, it tends to minimize the impact of the what is taking place on the screen. You can read the script and be very moved by the story but you watch the film and it lays there flat. Restraint is one thing, but overwhelming lifelessness is quite another.

UPDATE 11/09/15: Second viewing experience is much improved. The casting is superb, the images quite impressive and once you know the story and the "enigma", the nuances and subtleties in the film come to life and are quite moving.
Scoop (2006)**
Enjoyable "minor" Woody Allen comedy with the director performing as a magician who could have been in Broadway Danny Rose. Top notch cast, lots of good one-liners, light, breezy and fairly forgettable.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Metropolitan (1990)***
Enjoyable Jane Austen-meets-Woody Allen light comedy about modern Manhattan young elites. Another way to describe it would be "Pretty In Pink" among the 1%-ers. Literate script, concise direction, nicely shot, appealingly cast.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Chase (1966)***
Bizarre flick about a small Texas town that apparently goes berserk every Saturday night, fueled by an unending flow of alcohol, sex and violence. All-star cast and crew undermined by an overzealous producer. Still the film holds interest and closes with some real power.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Office Space (1999)***
Hilariously accurate depiction of the life of a modern office drone with exceptional supporting characterizations. The lead character however is vacuous and not very interesting and this weakens the film a lot. A better actor as the lead may have helped.
My Best Fiend - Klaus Kinski (1999)**
Essential viewing for movie buffs, but the casual moviegoer will be nonplussed. At the start, Kinski seems to appear insane but by film's end it is clear Herzog has the real problems.