Now Playing: Catching up in a rather half-assed manner
Let's try one sentence apiece for everything I've seen since I last updated. I'll understand if you don't stick around. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother, which kind of sucks considering I'm doing this for the fun of it. But I also feel obligated, lest I lose both of you for good.
COOL HAND LUKE- vivid depiction of a charismatic con who refuses to stay within the system; Newman and George Kennedy are both excellent, and the film never portrays Luke as an outsize hero or a martyr, which keeps the story grounded. Rating: ***.
TURNING GATE- I love how Hong only gradually reveals what a dumbass his protagonist is, particularly in his relationships with women; the "do you like my move?" routine in bed is hilarious. Rating: ***1/2.
CASINO- better than I remembered, but still third-rate Scorsese; Pesci is surprisingly subdued when he's not beating the crap out of people; all the voiceover is overkill, but great layered sound track, and the music of course is killer. Rating: **1/2.
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES- pure cinematic heaven, and surely the final word on the Monroe persona; almost incendiary from a thematic standpoint- as long as men rule the world, women must take advantage of their allure while they can, lest they be overlooked entirely- but there's hardly time to sweat the heavy stuff since you're having so much fun. Rating: ****.
THE TRIAL- still awesome. Rating: ****.
COME DRINK WITH ME- highly enjoyable, particularly the interplay between Cheng Pei-Pei and Yueh Hua; lots of ass-kicking in the film's first half, but gradually becomes more elegant until the final fight scene. Rating: ***1/2.
BROKEN FLOWERS- as low-key as Jarmusch and latter-day Murray are, it's a wonder this thing isn't catatonic, but it's not, courtesy of lovely performances (take a bow, Jeffrey Wright) and kid-gloved treatment of a potentially mawkish storyline; also, one doesn't expect female nudity in Jarmusch, not that I'm complaining... Rating: ***.
MURDERBALL- honestly, I wanted more about the sport- history, rules, non-sped-up game footage- and even the relatively small amount of "the disabled are people too" scenes still felt out of place in a movie that's allegedly about guys in wheelchairs beating the tar out of each other; I would've loved a movie just about Zupan. Rating: **1/2.
CALENDAR GIRLS- I wasn't that big a fan of THE FULL MONTY, and this gender-flipped variation did even less for me; Mirren's good, as usual. Rating: *1/2.
SKY HIGH- fun family-friendly junior-superhero comedy is also a twist on the John Hughes high-school movie template (heroes are popular, sidekicks are outcasts); dig Kurt Russell's Adam West routine as the Commander and Kids in the Hall alums Dave Foley and Kevin MacDonald as teachers. Rating: **1/2.
DICK TRACY- awesome stylized visuals, undercooked story; Beatty tries, but can't make Tracy into an interesting character, and Madonna is even less successful with Breathless; Pacino's Big Boy is actually a better Richard III than his performance in LOOKING FOR RICHARD, oddly enough. Rating: **1/2.
RED EYE- standard-issue suspense film is distinguished by the leads, both of whom dive in head-first; Rachel McAdams is wholly convincing as a victim who must think on her feet to survive, and Cillian Murphy is even better as her kidnapper; love his "sea breeze" hissy fit. Rating: **1/2.
THE IMMORTAL STORY- a near-masterpiece in miniature, with Welles giving a wonderfully theatrical performance as an old man who seeks to make real an old sailor's legend; many Wellesian tropes on display here- the lonely rich man, the obsession with storytelling, the decaying opulence; the dinner scene, as Welles and the sailor eat in a room lined with plush purple curtains, feels like the wellspring for a hundred Lynchian dreams. Rating: ***1/2.
THE SEA HAWK- rousing as all hell, but also as much of a rallying call as Olivier's HENRY V (Queen Elizabeth's final monologue makes this plain); having associated him almost entirely with CASABLANCA, I had forgotten Curtiz had such filmmaking panache, but he handles the derring-do magnificently. Rating: ***1/2.
JOUR DE FETE- disappointing only by Tati standards; here he foregrounds himself more than in his later work, and Francois the mailman engages in too much slapstick for my taste (though Tati is good at it); the old woman describing the goings-on is a bit much too; still, it's Tati, and so it's still quite entertaining. Rating: ***.
GRIZZLY MAN- Tim Treadwell was a fool, but he was Herzog's kind of fool, and sensational story aside, that's what the movie is about- a guy on an impossible and illogical (call it quixotic) journey; sequences like Herzog listening to the audio of Treadwell's killing and the coroner's description of the remains are indelible. Rating: ***1/2.
KINGPIN- still my favorite early "bad taste" Farelly movie, even if it's not quite as hilarious as I'd remembered; if nothing else, could be the last hurrah for the wacky Bill Murray. Rating: **1/2.