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Film Dribble
Monday, 10 October 2005
Hello... is there anybody out there?
Now Playing: Catch-up mini-reviews for the few people still around.
First, some spoiler-ridden remarks on A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (***1/2) and MANDERLAY (***).

And now, a bunch of comments about movies I've watched since we last got together, which was almost a month or so ago. I can't say they'll be all that useful, but there will be plenty of them. It's like a church pancake breakfast- the food isn't that great, but you get a lot and the price is right.

THE NAVIGATOR (1924, Buster Keaton and Donald Crisp)
Good: Keaton the performer and Keaton the director, obviously. He's one of my absolute faves.
Bad: Not QUITE one of Keaton's true masterpieces, mostly because it's not quite as clever as, say, SEVEN CHANCES. Which is really the worst I can say about it.
Moment Out of Time: When Keaton and the girl first search for each other on the ship, it's a wonderfully sustained bit of visual comedy.
Rating: ***1/2.

SICK (1997, Kirby Dick)
Good: Bob Flanagan, a quixotic subject who is too caustic too be a "hero." Luckily, the film is smart enough to take its cue from him.
Bad: If anything, it's too short. I wanted more Flanagan. Can't remember my other objections- should probably update more often.
Moment Out of Time: Whe obvious choice is "Hammer of Love," but I keep thinking back to Bob's girlfriend holding up a jar of fluid, saying "this was in Bob's lungs." Harrowing stuff.
Rating: ***.

THE FOG (1980, John Carpenter)
Good: The Carpenter-ness of it all, attempting to craft a supernatural thriller out of fog machines, some shadowy stunt men, and some rather prosaic shock devices (car alarms, etc.)
Bad: Not really all that scary, and feels fairly thin.
Moment Out of Time: John Houseman's opening story really sets the tone for the story, a kind of cinematic campfire spook tale.
Rating: **1/2.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM (2005, Terry Gilliam)
Good: The visuals, naturally. Ledger just gets better and better, and Damon's having lots of fun too.
Bad: Doesn't really get cooking for nearly an hour. Stormare and Pryce overdo the ethnic comedy.
Moment Out of Time: Having trouble choosing between the cat scene (you'll know it if you saw it) and the mud-beast.
Rating: **1/2.

Good: Kickass music, foxy babes, heaps of melodrama, and verve to spare.
Bad: Gets a bit rushed toward the end, but the real tragedy is that the psychedelic rock camp melodrama never became a full-fledged genre.
Moment Out of Time: The Carrie Nations' disastrous talk show appearance springs to mind, as well as Z-Man's immortal "black sperm" line.
Rating: ***1/2.

TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE (2005, Tim Burton and Mike Johnson)
Good: Delightful stop-motion. Animation feels much more accomodating to Burton than live-action, in which the people seem to hamstring him.
Bad: Simplistic characterizations (good= pointy chins; bad= fat chins). Forgettable musical numbers.
Moment Out of Time: Mayhew's demise- the film's most successful attempt at gallows humor.
Rating: **1/2.

THE ERRAND BOY (1961, Jerry Lewis)
Good: Occasional inventiveness- when it's on, it's great.
Bad: WILDLY inconsistent. Grabs at sentimentality fall flat (e.g. the puppets). I prefer Lewis-as-na?f (LADIES' MAN) to the idiot Lewis here.
Moment Out of Time: Jerry mimes to Count Basie's "Blues in Hoss Flat" while alone in the studio's boardroom.
Rating: **.

2046 (2004, Wong Kar-wai)
Good: The highly-awaited return of idiosyncratic Wong, riffing on In the Mood for Love. (Heresy alert!) I think I actually prefer this one. Gorgeous cinematography, iconic Tony Leung, jumbled chronology, and a seemingly endless array of hot Asian babes (Gong Li, Faye Wong, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, and Ziyi Zhang playing an adult for once).
Bad: The Zhang Ziyi storyline was a tad conventional compared to the rest.
Moment Out of Time: Either the scene of foxy Robot Faye gazing out the window of the train, or the part when the title card flashed up on the screen before the Gong Li flashback and the old ladies behind me exasperatedly sighed "Jesus, there's MORE???"
Rating: ***1/2.

LADY VENGEANCE (2005, Chan-wook Park)
Good: Park's visual style gets more elegant with each film. Choi Min-sik rules, obviously.
Bad: Park claims to problematize revenge here, but I found very little evidence thereof within the film itself until the final ten minutes or so. Making Choi an irredeemably evil villain was a miscalculation, considering Park finds time to humanize everyone else.
Moment Out of Time: Nothing springs to mind, considering this was the first film of a long weekend at NYFF.
Rating: **.

A VISIT TO THE LOUVRE (x2) (2004, Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet)
Good: Great art is always a pleasure to see, even if it's on a movie screen. I'm curious to see more Straub-Huillet. Since there are two different versions, part of the fun is finding differences.
Bad: No subtitles, so I had to rely on handouts given to the audience and my limited memory of French.
Moment Out of Time: Narrator (reading Paul Cezanne) getting audibly pissed off at the end of version #2.
Rating: *** for both.

BLUE MOVIE (1968, Andy Warhol)
Good: The sex is certainly notable, not least because it's presented in one continuous shot, without the insert shots common to today's porno. Often visually beautiful, and the pillow talk that comes before and after is sometimes entertaining...
Bad:... and being Warhol, it's often indulgent as well. There's a reason most adult movies are short, and I don't think Jack Horner would see this as his dream project.
Moment Out of Time: The sex, obviously, but also a gorgeous shot of the backlit stars sitting in by the window as the sun sets. Plus Viva is a real character in person.
No rating. BLUE MOVIE transcends "good" and "bad," and simply exists as an object.

BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (2005, Neil Jordan)
Good: Cillian Murphy is ideal for this role, and he doesn't disappoint. Stephen Rea and Brendan Gleeson are awesome in their supporting roles. Cool 70s-era music.
Bad: "Troubles" subplot doesn't feel organic as it did in THE CRYING GAME. Kitten's search for mother is less than compelling.
Moment Out of Time: Murphy and Gleeson's misadventures in theme-park employment.
Rating: **.

A TALE OF CINEMA (2005, Hong Sang-soo)
Good: The film's bifurcated structure is highly effective, with the second "real" half simultaneously contrasting, problematizing, and correcting the first. Nobody writes self-important dufuses like Hong.
Bad: Nothing much, really.
Moment Out of Time: The final scene, which calls into question exactly how "real" the second story actually was.
Rating: ***1/2.

THROUGH THE FOREST (2005, Jean-Paul Civeyrac)
Good: Impressive in the formal sense, with Civeyrac crafting a successful narrative film from only ten self-contained shots. Fascinating acting debut by Camille Berthomier.
Bad: Again, nothing much. The ambiguity of the film wasn't so much bad as another compelling reason to see the film again.
Moment Out of Time: Civeyrac uses camera movements and theatrical-style colored lighting to turn a single shot into a kind of modified montage that encompasses a number of weeks.
Rating: ***1/2.

CAPOTE (2005, Bennett Miller)
Good: Hoffman's accolades are justified in my opinion, and Keener (as Harper Lee, the film's conscience) is very good too. The film's limiting itself to the IN COLD BLOOD years was a wise decision, eliminating the need for many biopic clich?s...
Bad:... which make the ones that are used (text at the end, the one-dimensional concerned significant other played by Bruce Greenwood) all the more glaring.
Moment Out of Time: Capote drunkenly revealing his agenda to Harper at the TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD premiere.
Rating: ***.

SCARECROW (1973, Jerry Schatzberg)
Good: Hackman and Pacino, obviously. More importantly, Hackman and Pacino together, giving their characters a unique rapport that makes the journey memorable. A classic for the first 45 minutes or so, as we mostly just follow them on the road.
Bad: Once they get sent to jail, the plot kicks in, which is invariably disappointing in a film that depends so largely on the comic interplay between the stars.
Moment Out of Time: The fellow travelers' first breakfast together.
Rating: ***.

GO WEST (1925, Buster Keaton)
Good: Keaton again, of course.
Bad: Probably the least of the Keaton features I've seen, though still lots of fun. Final cattle rampage through LA goes on entirely too long.
Moment Out of Time: Keaton finds a way to lure two escaped cattle back into the pen.
Rating: ***.

DARK STAR (1974, John Carpenter)
Good: Carpenter wouldn't be this gleefully cheesy again until THEY LIVE. That his "alien" is obviously a giant beach ball with hands and feet is one more reason to dig this movie.
Bad: Carpenter can't quite sustain the madness, even over 80-some minutes.
Moment Out of Time: Doolittle trying to talk sense to Smart Bomb #20.
Rating: ***.

A TOUT DE SUITE (2004, Benoit Jacquot)
Good: The middle third, in which our heroine (Islid Le Besco) is marooned in Greece and has to find her way. A fair amount of female nudity, for those so inclined. Based on a true story, which adds emotional specificity to the narrative.
Bad: The first and final thirds of the film aren't as good as the middle. Digital video gets distracting after a while. Le Besco's performance gets repetitive after a while.
Moment Out of Time: The four fugitives (two male, two female) put on pantyhose in which to hide their stolen loot.
Rating: **1/2.

THUMBSUCKER (2005, Mike Mills)
Good: Solid performances, not only from lead Lou Pucci but also from Vincent D'Onofrio and Tilda Swinton- he as Pucci's dad (afflicted with low self-esteem) and she as his mom (immature and star-struck). Not as quirky as I'd feared- the weirdness mostly feels in character with the story rather than being tacked on for quirkiness' sake. The first film I've seen recently that takes the issue of Ritalin seriously, here as part of a larger examination of a symptom-seeking self-help culture.
Bad: Ends about two scenes after it should. Storyline with Keanu Reeves feels too resolved, and the one with Vince Vaughn not resolved enough. Plus I hate the Polyphonic Spree, which makes the fact that their song from this movie has been stuck in my head all day all the more annoying.
Moment Out of Time: Pucci and the debate team party in the hotel room.
Rating: **1/2.

Posted by hkoreeda at 1:45 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005 1:46 AM EDT

Tuesday, 11 October 2005 - 6:06 AM EDT

Name: Jason
Home Page: http://www.xanga.com/jason_alley

Cool, man! Glad you had a good time in NYC and saw lots of good stuff.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005 - 3:22 PM EDT

Name: PhineasBg (Jay)

I have a lot of catching up to do! Fortunately the ones I've seen, I agree with you 100%.

Don't worry, you've got your readers!

Keep up the great work!

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