Sunday, June 30, 2013

Midnight Cowboy (1969)***
Gritty and harsh view of life in The Big Apple for a couple of determined low life drifters desperate for a free ride to Miami. Hoffman is terrific.
8 1/2 (1963)****
There's almost too much to like in this tale of a film director suddenly feeling bereft of inspiration. Many fine set pieces, some more successful than others, but always with a great visual sense. It is too long and repetitive at times, yet a lot of influential and beautiful scenes.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Bling Ring (2013)***
Almost documentary style look at a group of young house burglars who target celebrities. Subtle and relentless with Sofia Coppola's trademark soundtrack touch and eye for human behavior.
Sorcerer (1977)***
Gritty adventure yarn about desperate men in a desperate situation. Becomes more surreal as it goes along but always with interesting visuals, production design.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Upstream Color (2013)***
Thought provoking, disturbing, meticulously designed and shot, original and no super heroes! Paced at breakneck speed which tends to distance the viewer from the already challenging material and will leave most film-goers cold.
Lulu on the Bridge (1998)***
Incredible cast in a strange tale of a musician who has his life changed by mysterious events. Mira Sorvino is exceptional in this offbeat, well written but cautiously directed film.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985)****
Superb "claymation" film based upon the writings of Mark Twain, particularly his later, darker period. Fine voice work, literate and focused script, colorful, fantastical animation.
The Last Wave (1977)***
Aboriginal dreamtime seems to merge with real time in this well made Australian thriller.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Assassination Bureau (1969)**
Alternative history of a turn of the 20th century group of wealthy murderers-for-hire played for laughs. Well, the genteel Ealing sort of laughs. Colorful and well shot, with a lovely Diana Rigg.
Margaret (2011)***
Thoughtful, meditative, somewhat oblique drama mainly, but not entirely, about an upper middle class NYC teen girl coming to terms with mortality and guilt. Very long but plays like it should be longer. Many riveting performances of a superb script, but teenage angst, no matter how well played, isn't my idea of great entertainment.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)*
Are they still making these? Whatever for?
The Day of the Locust (1975)**
Terrific final 15-20 minutes, but the l-o-n-g road to get there hardly seems worth it or even connected, logically, to it. Nobody to care about, nothing particularly interesting visually, no transcendent performance. Just that ending really.
Cannery Row (1982)**
If you've read the novel Cannery Row be advised that this move is actually based more on its sequel Sweet Thursday. It has some very good actors, and some good atmosphere, but fails to really bring the characters to life like the novels did. They remain cardboard cutouts in the film.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002)**
All-star comedy cast in a deadpan satire of elites on "retreat". Sharply written, but there's nobody to root for in this uber-cynical world. Plays more as a documentary than comedy.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Center of the World (2001)*
Another disappointing feature from director Wayne Wang who hasn't really yet made a film as good as his first. Maybe if Catherine Breillat had seen this film first she wouldn't have attempted this with which it has a lot, unfortunately, in common. Forgettable, despite a very good performance by Molly Parker.
Re-Animator (1985)**
Pretty good gross-out/zort-of-zombie flick which pioneered "R" rated mainstream horror. Top notch makeup work, a lovely Barbara Crampton and a desire for "realism" makes this one interesting, and a good choice for Halloween viewing.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Going Places (1974)*
I suppose it is supposed to be a biting social satire but the director plays it way too straight and all we end up with is one scene of misogynistic humiliation after another. I guess I just didn't get the joke.
Witness (1985)****
A double rarity: a very good '80's film and a very good Harrison Ford film. Terrific supporting turn by Jan Rubes as the Amish farmer.