Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two New Reviews on MovieZeal

I have another new outlet to publish my reviews.  The place is called MovieZeal and it is a great site full of reviews of both new theatrical releases and DVD releases.  The site is run by Luke Harrington who does a wonderful job with it.  Both the design and the actual critical input look and feel great.

My first two reviews for MovieZeal are both in the aforementioned DVD category.   They are also two reviews that due to my seemingly eternal procrastination, never actually made it onto my own site (you know it, The Cinematheque) when I originally saw them months and months ago.  Well, here they are now.

The first film (posted 09/27) is Greg Mottola's quite surprisingly wry and witty (and highly underrated by many fellow critics imho) Adventureland.  Who would have ever thought that the man who brought us the ugly, nasty (and highly overrated by many fellow critics imho) Superbad could give us anything close to Adventureland.  Sure Jesse Eisenberg may be playing his same old schtick again and Kristen Stewart may not be able to act her way out of the proverbial paper bag, but neither thing stops Adventureland from being a smartly written anti-rom-com with an edge.  My MovieZeal review of Adventureland can be read here.

The second film (posted 09/30) is Sam Mendes seeming distraction between real projects, Away We Go.  This is a film filled with talented comedic actors (SNL's Maya Rudolph, The Office's John Krasisnki, Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jim Gaffigan etc.) and a somewhat capable director (uneven perhapos but capable indeed) but with the most solipsistic of screenplays by the husband & wife team of Dave Eggers & Vandela Vida.  I call the film a two-headed bipolar beast in my review and I believe this describes Away We Go better than any other descriptive I give in said review.  My MovieZeal review of Away We Go can be read here

After these two introductory reviews (as I said, basically two reviews I just never got around to writing) my next critique will be Michael Moore's derisive Capitalism: A Love Story.  It should be up on MovieZeal by the week-end.  After that I will be a regular contributor to the site.  Though I of course will still be posting the majority of my reviews over at The Cinematheque, I will be posting at least one review (if not two) each and every week over at MovieZeal.  I am glad to be aboard.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Zabriskie Point(less)

Just finished watching Antonioni's Zabriskie Point at the cinema.  Once maligned as a disaster - the auteur's worst film!? - it has since become a bit more regarded in critical circles as, if not a great work of cinematic art, at least an interesting portrait of what Antonioni thought of America and its then-current counter culture.  A cultural artifact if you so wish, but nothing more relevant than that.  I remember (sort of) watching this film (on VHS of all things!) about twenty years ago.  I was still pretty young - a cocky yet naive youth of 22 or so - and I probably didn't get what Antonioni was going for with the film.  Cut to twenty years later and a supposed more wiser 42 and I'm still not sure I know.

Antonioni never has been a filmmaker with an extensive need for narrative.  Most of his best films start out with a somewhat structured narrative - something to get your teeth into so to speak - but as the film progresses, the story becomes of less interest - of less importance - to Antonioni and in its place is usually a series of visual conceptions that may or may not have anything to do with the now lost story.   In L'avventura - arguably the director's greatest masterpiece - we watch as the actors search for their lost friend and lover only to eventually drop even the pretense of looking.  The story is dropped, so to speak, for the sake of Antonioni's artistic temperament.  The beauty of the image is never lost, though often his films will become something even greater than what they were before.  Just watch the stunningly melancholy ending of L'eclisse to witness this.  This is the case too with Zabriskie Point.

Opening with a group of student radicals (or at least wannabe radicals) debating what needs to be done about an unspecified protest/strike.  A possible revolution if you will.  It never needs to be specified though as eventually Zabriskie Point will no longer be about any sort of specified revolution but instead, about the very essence of revolution itself.  A conceptual revolution that happens through some of Antonioni's most striking images, the most notable of which are the desert orgy scene (again, conceptualization in the form of abstract imagery) and the penultimate shot(s) of metaphorical explosive rage.     

And speaking of that ending.  Wow is all I can utter at its sheer exuberant brilliance as both cathartic closing and decadent showmanship.  All in all, the movie works on so many levels at once that it is not a surprise to hear of its detractor's protests of inaccessibility and blurred artistic pretension while at the same time acting as dirty, pinko leftist cinema aimed at the government of a country its director could barely speak the language of.  As for me?   I think the whole thing - from its angry protesting beginning through its sharp decisive imagery to the abstract batshitcrazy ending - is one of the sexiest (at least in cinephiliac terms) movies ever made about nothing more than mere concept. 

It is of interest to mention that only a few years after making Zabriskie Point, the lead in the film, a non-actor who was handpicked for the role by Antonioni after being seen throwing a tantrum at the construction site he had been working at, would die in prison after attempting to rob a bank with the cult he had thrown in with.  Now how's that for conceptual revolution?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cold Souls Reviewed at The Cinematheque

Now that I am finally out of my (yet another) procrastination phase, I am starting to post new reviews (and those that are not so new).  My latest review (posted over at The Cinematheque) is for the Being John Malkovichesque, Paul Giamatti vehicle Cold Souls (for those local readers, now playing at Harrisburg's Midtown Cinema by the way).  

Overall, Cold Souls has been getting fair to middling responses from the critical landscape as it were, so my (very) positive review (at least I meant it as positive even though I do find some beginners faults in some of the director's choices) is something out of Johnny Damon's left field.  But then when have I ever taken others' opinions seriously?  

The film drips with a giddy sadness not easily measured in cinema today.  Perhaps not to the level of Being John Malkovich (its most oft cited comparable) and no one should expect it to, first-time feature director Sophie Barthes still makes her film vibrate (humming in a lower key than Jonze's picture though) with a sort of anticipatory delusional quality, without ever stumping to the level of indie quirkiness so rampant in today's Gen X & Y filmic culture.  It is enough to make this critic bite his nails in his own anticipatory delusional expectations of feature film number two.

My 1st Review for The Vigilant Monkey: Ponyo on the Cliff

Not to blow my own horn again (but after all, this is my blog and I'll cry if I want to dammit!) but I wanted to mention that I am branching out once again.  Writingly speaking that is.  Joining Plume-Noire as my occasional contributary outlet, I can now call The Vigilant Monkey my home away from home.

My first review for the new online magazine (not just a film site but encompassing all of culture and media) is for the latest Hayao Miyazaki anime, Ponyo on the Cliff.  My review can be read over at The Vigilant Monkey right now.  I will be doing some more reviews for VM in the future (I suppose I am the critic-in-residence of sorts for the new zine).  My next one will probably be for the undead comedy du jour, Zombieland (I'll let you know when the time is right).

NYFF 2009: Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective

Although the expected screening of Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers was canceled on Wednesday, I was able to attend the (surprise) screening of the latest from the (supposed) Romanian New Wave - or Black Wave if you will - Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective.  While Korine's latest was promising to be more than aptly titled (more shock than cinema, much like the arrogantly negative Gummo which acts as precursor of sorts) Porumboiu promised something much much more.  At least that was the idea - and the idea was right on the mark.

Akin to the Eastern European school of cinema (perhaps it should have been Porumboiu who dedicated to Tarkovsky and not von Trier?), Police, Adjective (a title that doesn't become apparent until the penultimate scene) is a film done in long takes and meandering shots and often wordless introspection via methodical, monotonous police procedural.  All this is a good thing by the way.

Porumboiu's second feature, after the hilariously moribund 12:08 East of Bucharest, Police, Adjective turns on its proverbial head the idea of police drama.  In an age of Law & Order, The Shield, The Wire, Police, Adjective goes the other way (at least by westernized genre action standards) showing the more mundane aspects of police work (much of the film involves the main detective standing around waiting for someone to do something - to do anything.  Again, this is all good with me.  

The film is getting a US release in December, though I do not see a large audience for the film.   The film is packed with too much procedure and not enough punctuation so to speak.  Though never as powerful as fellow Romanian films of late (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days) it is definitely worthy of a strong audience.   Yet, much like David Fincher's somewhat maligned (or more aptly, overlooked) Zodiac, Porumboiu's film is most likely to go nowhere when it comes to critical standing.  A few top ten list twinklings come year's end, but probably not much more.  I could be wrong though, so in case that happens, allow me now to quote the late great Miss Emily Litella, by closing with "never mind".

Friday, September 25, 2009

NYFF 2009: Samuel Maoz's Lebanon

To call Samuel Maoz's Lebanon an Israeli Hurt Locker is selling both films far too short.  Yet here I am saying just that.  Actually the films are only comparable on the surface - an intense movie about a 3-man bomb disposal unit in the Middle East vs. an intense movie about a 4-man tank squad in the Middle East - and Lebanon never quite reaches the lyrical qualities that make up Kathryn Bigelow's film, nor the emotional resonance of the situations, but the comparison hath been made.  Perhaps it is merely the timing of the two films being out relatively contemporarily.  Whatever the case, as I watched Lebanon I was reminded of The Hurt Locker on several occasions.  I was also reminded of another film - the massive Das Boot.

Filmed almost entirely inside the tank (or rather Maoz's recreation of said tank) and with exterior shots made only through the tank's gun sights, Lebanon is a claustrophobic film - much like Das Boot and that film's enclosed submarine reality - and in being so, creates its own filmic space in which to reside (something The Hurt Locker does but on a much less gutty level) - and again, like Das Boot, its own form of reality.  This tightness - this I-can't-breathe-get-me-the-hell-outta-here headspace - makes for a raised level of intensity (much like The Hurt Locker's tantalizing bomb defusing set pieces did) and when the men in that tank are screaming and reacting (or in one case, not reacting) we too can become lost in their reality.

As I already stated, Lebanon never reaches the lyricism of The Hurt Locker (where Bigelow's film is cerebral, Maoz's is guttural) nor would we expect it to, and my comparison is probably unfair to both films (why did I not call The Hurt Locker the American Lebanon?) but as a film on its own - without the comparisons made inevitable by the lore of film history (and T.S. Eliot's quote about comparing the living artist with those gone before him) - Lebanon is a remarkably engulfing, agonizing, if not cinematically poetic, look at those first days of the Lebanon War (all of which is based on director Maoz's real-life encounter in said war).  It must have hit some nerves (and how could it not really?) since the screening was stone quiet as the film ended and we critics wandered out into the lobby of Walter Reade.

It was announced a few days ago that Lebanon was picked up by Sony Classics so it will get a US release (after winning the Golden Lion at Venice and getting 10 nominations for the Israeli Academy Awards, a US deal was certainly inevitable) but no firm date has been set yet.  My best guess is late December followed by an early 2010 rollout.  Whatever the case, I will have a review coming at that time.  Up next in my NYFF 2009 ongoing reports will be Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective.  (ed. note: the film will be released in the US on 08/06/2010)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

R.I.P. Roberta Hill (and the Crazed Cinephile That She Was)

The film world lost one of its most avid fans recently.  Roberta Hill, a staple of New York screenings - as well as the nemesis to some theatre employees - died on July 18, finally succumbing to the cancer that had been fighting her (I actually did not find out about it until I read her obit in the new Film Comment - lovingly written by fellow cinephile Jack Angstreich).  Roberta, who was one of five cinephiles highlighted in the 2002 doc Cinemania (along with the aforementioned Angstreich), was liked by some, hated by some and feared by some (scared to death is a more apt term I suppose) but one thing is for sure - the lady loved movies.  All movies.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  I never actually met Roberta - I had seen her at a few movies, but never actually deigned to talk with her (I was one of those that were scared to death of the woman) - but I could see, in both her attitude and fortitude, that she loved going to the movies more than anything else in the world - many times seeing as many as five or six a day (a thing yours truly has been known to do on many an occasion).  For those who liked her, hated her or were scared to death of her, she will be missed.  Hopefully she is watching movies wherever she may be now - just don't strangle the ticket taker Roberta.

NYFF 2009: Lars von Trier's Antichrist

Perhaps this post should be subtitled, "In Defense of" or possibly even "in RABID Defense of".  Nonetheless, here it is.

Okay, let me begin by saying that yesterday's NYFF press screening for Lars von Trier's Antichrist waas met by giggles, guffaws and a general malaise of what the!? get-this-over-with shuffling about in the seats.   The film even received a bevy of cat calls when everyone saw the film was dedicated to Andrei Tarkovsky.  Okay, the Tarkovsky thing was a bit out-of-the-blue but as far as everything else goes and/or went, I must say - with more than a great deal of arrogant pride for some reason - that for better of for worse I liked the damned thing.  In fact I think I could even go a stretch further and say I loved the damned thing - genital-mutilation and all!

So what I am saying here is, send me off to cinephilia purgatory if you want, I don't give a damn.  I (arrogantly again?) pronounce LvT's Antichrist as the second best film of 2009 (second only to another ballyhooed mixed mataphor movie, QT's both beloved and bemoaned Basterds).  Well at least in my opinion it is, as for everyone else - not so much.  So no matter how many belittle the film (the impression I got after overhearing post-coital, er I mean post-screening comments at Walter Reade yeasterday) or just plain were not happy with what the director was doing with it (though others did like it for what it was) while at the same time being bothered by it still (and isn't this merely falling into the provocateur's grubby little Danish hands?) and no matter how many people begin to uncontrollably snicker and chuckle when the blood-drenched fox tells Willem Dafoe that chaos reigns (perhaps instead of Tarkovsky, LvT should have dedicated his film to Chris Noonan and/or George Miller!?) and no matter how many claim all von Trier is doing is satiating his own misogynistic wet dreams, I stand by this film with a furious dedication to defending its rather precarious (if it has any at all) honour.

Simply put, I loved this big steaming pile of pretentious cinematic garbage for whatever it is worth.  And by "steaming pile of pretentious cinematic garbage" I mean to compliment the film in not only the best way I can think of but also in the most apprpriate way to praise a film made by a director who when informed (via his Skype Q&A after yesterday's screening) that no one had walked out of the screening, replied with a wink-and-a-nod "then I have failed".  A sidenote: one critic sitting in the back (did not see who it was) was heard saying that he had wanted to walk out.  Too bad von Trier didn't hear him, it may have made the bastard's day.

Oh yeah, with all this defending of the film's character (or lack thereof) from those I perceived to be my enemies due to their obvious distaste for what is certainly a distasteful movie I forgot to talk about the actual film.  That is a wink-and-a-nod comment too by the way - I am sure no one even cares that I loved a film that they hated, but its kinda fun to provoke (oh now I get it).

The film itself starts off with a title card which reads (in scribbled crayon-coloured handwriting) - no make that boasts the director's name.  This was the moment the snickers first began.   Aside from obviously finally letting go of at least some of his dogme hang-ups, all this boast does is let us know who made the damned film.  Would these snickers have met Capra when his name-before-the-title movies played?  Perhaps he should have dedicated the film to Capra then.  But I digress.

Antichrist opens with a silky black and white slo-mo (for slo-mo's sake perhaps?) of He and She (Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as the unnamed but for He and She couple) doing the proverbial nasty from shower to sink to bedroom, all the while, their toddler toddling his way from crib to open window to snowy ground several floors down (teddy bear in tow).  Is this prologue pretentious?  Hells yea, but who would have expected any less - von Trier is no less pretentious than say, Welles or Kubrick or Bergman or Antonioni or Lynch or Tarantino or Godard (I can go on ya know).  I think this is actually the very reason I like the filmmaker so much - his proud pretentiousness in the face of cinematic art.

Anyway, to go on with the film, after this the movie turns to colour (and I think even its many detractors cannot say much against the gorgeous cinematography throught) and the therapist He decides to take the fractured, grief-striken She to their cabin in the woods.  Did I mention the aforementioned cabin in the woods is called Eden?  So yes, after the fall the couple goes back to Eden.  Maybe instead of Antichrist, LvT could have called his film Eden II: The Revenge of the Serpant (or talking fox). 

Yeah yeah, I know.  The whole thing reeks of a wild abandon of indulgence.  But in the strangest of ways (similar to QT's Basterds and just about every goddamned JLG film!) this is what makes the film work for me.  Its self-arrogance.  Its buzzing hindrance.  Its ugly, nasty self-indulgent nature.  Its Strindbergian theory if you will.  And I haven't even mentioned the parts where He ejaculates blood and She takes a pair of scissors to her, well let's just leave it at that.  She did win Best Actress at Cannes for this, so what does that say about Cannes?  It says a lot I think, but as I said, lets leave it at that.  The fox, the scissors, the Omen-esque overtones, the Lynchian white noise, the Tarkovsky rhetoric, the scissors, the snicker-inducing arrogance, the closing credit that reads "Misogyny Researcher" (and yes, it is a woman), the scissors.  The film is nowhere shy of batshitcrazy and I suppose I like that in my cinema, which definitely explains by fist-in-the-air defense of LvT's latest provocacation.  Anyway, I said I would leave it at that so leave it at that I will - for now.

I will be posting a full length review on the film (over at The Cinematheque) closer to the release date of the film (which is Oct. 23 at IFC Center in NYC to start).  As for now, I'm going to leave it at this.  Did I mention the scissors?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NYFF 2009.....

In just a day's time, I will be heading to the New York Film Festival.  It will be my sixth visit to the festival and my fourth as part of the press corps.  Unfortunately, like year's past, I will not be able to attend the entire fest.  Due to having to hold down a regular job (regular so to speak, I run, with my lovely wife, Midtown Cinema, a 3-screen arthouse here in Harrisburg PA) and not being overly wealthy (each trip costs about $90 when adding in gas, parking and tolls), I must satisfy myself with a mere two (measly) visits to this year's NYFF.

My itinerary does consist of as many films as I can humanly squeeze in.  The films I will be catching and thus reviewing here are von Trier's Antichrist, Haneke's White Ribbon, Maoz's Lebanon, Korine's Trash Humpers, Almadovar's Broken Embraces, The Red Riding Trilogy and a doc look at Henri-Georges Clouzot's L'enfer.  

Several anticipated films will be missed.  They include films from Breillat, Denis, Solondz, Rivette and Costa.   My most glaring miss will be Resnais' Wild Grass. Alas, what is a boy to do?  At least I will (hopefully) see some of my online critic buds at some of the screenings I do make it to.

As far as posting festival updates and reviews, in the past I have posted my festival reports at my main site, The Cinematheque, but this year my fest reports will appear here at The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World.  Full reviews of the films (once they open - Antichrist coming first on 10/23) will still be appearing at The Cinematheque.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Soft? Me? No Way Man!

Ya know, perhaps I'm getting a bit soft in my old age.  Okay, I'm only 42 but I still feel as if my critical sting may be lessoning.  Over at The Cinematheque I rank all the movies I review with a number set somewhere between 1 and 100 (though I have never given anything higher than a 99).  I know the idea of assigning a semi-random number to evaluate a film's greatness (or non-greatness) is a rather arbitrary thing to do, but hey, I love lists.  The only way to know what one truly thinks about a certain movie one must read what one wrote on said film.  Numbers are merely window dressing.  But I digress.

I began talking about getting soft in my critical rendering.  You see, I was recently checking out a few fellow sites that also arbitrarily rank films by the same numbering system as I do and wow are they all a lot tougher than I.  Mike D'Angelo has only 5 films listed with a score of over 80 and just 1 over 90.  Jason Overbeck, over at Bent Clouds, has a mere 4 films in the 80's and 1 in the 90's.  Meanwhile, Theo Panadiyas doesn't have a single film ranked above a 77.

Me?  Well I have 16 films ranked over 80 and another 3 over 90.  Is this softness or just a different way of evaluating cinema?  I suppose its all just smoke and mirrors anyway.  I am still pretty damn hard on many films (recent examples include Adam, The Stoning of Soraya M., Away We Go, Cheri, The Answer Man, Year One).

Well, I guess over analyzing such a silly thing is never going to get me nowhere. I should just shut the hell up and work on my reviews for Cold Souls and The Informant!.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of the Last Quarter of 2009

With the end of the year just around the corner (and it really is - I saw Christmas decorations at a local dollar store the other day!?) I wanted to take a look at the films I consider to be the most anticipated of the final quarter.  At least highly anticipated in my eccentric/cinemacentric world.  But before I delve into my list let me start off with a pair of films that get special billing here.  That said special billing is due mainly to the fact that one has already opened and the other is a film I have already seen, so neither one is necessarily anticipated - sorta.  

Claire Denis' latest, 35 shots of Rum, which opened on September 16th at Film Forum in NYC, is already being called her best film by many a critic and cinephile.  I will be seeing Denis' film this coming Wednesday when I travel to the city for the first of my (unfortunately truncated) two trips to the NYFF.  As long as I can make my way from Walter Reade to Film Forum in about 17 minutes that is (I can do it!!).

The film I have already seen (and which opens Oct 2) is that giddy bloody popcorn funfest called Zombieland.   Maybe not as deep of social commentary as Romero's Dead series nor as rapid in dialogue as Shaun of the Dead (Zombieland's most frequently cited brethren) but it is pure unadulterated multiplex fun.  I suppose that's a good thing in some ways, at least it can be with certain movies.  Zombieland does have quite a lot of cinematic flair going though so it's not all just mindless zombie-killing fun.  It smacks of Zack Snyder at times.  That's a good thing, right?

There are a few other upcoming films that somewhat pique my interest (for good or for bad) that I guess should be mentioned here.  They are (and try to figure out which ones I think are for good or for bad) Capitalism: A Love Story, An Education, Men Who Stare at Goats, 2012, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Pirate Radio, Brothers, Sherlock Holmes, The Box, Lovely Bones and Invictus.  More on those as the year progresses.

Anyway, let's get on with the list of the 10 most anticipated films of the last quarter of 2009.

1. Antichrist (Lars von Trier) - Actually this was one of my most anticipated films of the whole year (along w/ QT's Inglourious Basterds of course) and could be the one film that tops my list come New Year's Day (which means it would knock Basterds out of that top spot).  Lucky for me that I will get to see this film in just four days at an NYFF press screening.  Its subject matter, not to mention the fact of who is directing (read: mr. provocateur!) will most likely lead this film to become the most derisive movie of the year, everyone either loving or hating it.  My love (or possibly lust) of von Trier and his cinema make it almost a foregone conclusion that I will be in that loving it crowd.

2. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke) - I am going to get to see this at NYFF soon as well (on my second trip) and from the stills I've seen so far it looks to be an amazingly visual spectacle of auteurism.  Again, much like von Trier, Haneke's reputation precedes him and thus The White Ribbon could end up being nearly as derisive as Antichrist.  Okay, maybe not that bad.

3. Nine (Rob Marshall) - Daniel Day-Lewis!  Nicole Kidman!  Marion Cotillard!  Penelope Cruz!  Judi Dench!  Sophia Loren!  A musical remake of Fellini's 8 1/2!!  Okay, it may be Rob Marshall and his problematic way of filming musical numbers (the songs were great in Chicago but could you show us a little more than Hollywood close-ups required by the publicists?) but everything else seems to be in perfect sync.  Did I mention Daniel Day-Lewis and Sophia Loren!?

4. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Terry Gilliam) - Forget The Dark Knight, this is really Heath Ledger's final film (dying halfway through filming).  Replaced by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law in what might be a forced-hand Todd Haynesian deconstruction of the film.  Whatever it ends up being, since Gilliam is at the helm, chances are it will look and feel freakingly amazing.

5. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze) - Although my lovely wife claims to have been too busy reading Jane Eyre to find time to read this beloved (yea I said it!) book as a young girl, I have nothing but fond memories of the thing.  Now put that together with Spike Jonze and you get, get probably the strangest adaptation of a children's book since Leonard Nimoy sang about good ole Bilbo Baggins.  All I know is the film will surely be fascinating for many aspects of cinematic giddiness.

6. The Road (John Hillcott) - Adapted from Cormac McCarthy and starring Viggo Mortensen, this post-apocalyptic social horror story is directed by ne of the most underrated director's working today.  Now this praise is based on just one film, the Leone-meets-Peckinpah Australian western, The Proposition, but what a film it was.

7. Broken Embraces (Pedro Almadovar) - Another film I will be seeing on my second trip to the NYFF.  The film looks as luscious as we are used to from the Spaniard.  And it's Penelope Cruz again.  Hopefully my experience with this film will be better than my last Almadovar press screening in the city.  Running late (mainly due to me thinking I could walk forty some blocks in a half hour instead of doing the smart thing and taking the subway) I swept into the Sony Screening Room to see Volver covered in sweat and way too out of breath (I ran the last few blocks) for my own good.  I did enjoy the movie though, even if it is one of Almadovar's lesser work.

8. Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater) - I know, I know, the film stars Zac Efron but I have been waiting for the new Linklater for nearly a year now and I am not about to let some High School musician ruin it for me.

9. A Serious Man (Joel & Ethan Coen) - In the recently acquired context as arthouse cinema manager, I have seen the trailer for this film about a thousand times (replete with its thumping back track) and I've gotta be honest - it doesn't look like it will be in the brothers' higher shelf of films.  But hey, it's the Coens.

10. The Invention of Lying (Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson) - Part Jacques Tati, part Jerry Lewis, part Bob Hope, part Laurel AND Hardy, part Abbot AND Costello, part Jack Benny, Ricky Gervais may very well be the funniest bloke on the whole planet.  'nuff said?

Well that's it for the list but I do want to mention one final film before I go.  That film is Alan Resnais' Wild Grass.  I won't have the chance to catch this one at NYFF and there seems to be no set release date as of yet (it may end up getting a 2010 US release) but it still deserves mention.  Glenn Kenny has (unashamedly) gushed about the film recently, calling it's final shot on par with the final shot of 2001 and/or the final note in A Day in the Life.  As far as I can see, the film looks drop dead gorgeous (just take a look to your left).  Hopefully we ugly Americans will get a chance to see the great master's latest work eventually.

Well, that's the end (for now) and (hello) I must be going.  The Yankees game is just about over anyway (bottom of 8th and 8-1 over Seattle!!) and the cats need fed.  Good night and good luck.  Talk to ya soon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cold Souls (first thoughts and all)

Just came out of Cold Souls and I must say, I don't give a wit about all those nagging mediocre reviews, I liked it - liked it a lot.  Sure, it may not be Being John Malkovich, which it most closely resembles in nature if not nurture - that film was a near masterpiece (if not an actual one!) - but Barthes' film ideas on camerawork and art direction, and Giamatti's hunkering performance (as himself) are enough to sell this darkly comic picture to this critic.  But what do I know, I was one of the (very) few who gave a strong review to Woody Allen's latest, Whatever Works.  Anyway, that's it for right now.  I'll be back with my full review of the film tomorrow or the next, as well as one on the giddy bloodplay popcorn splatterfest Zombieland, which I caught last night.

Two (new) Reviews and a Promise of Much Much More...

To paraphrase the White Rabbit, I'm freakin' late.   Ever in backlog mode over at The Cinematheque, I have finally (read: FINALLY!) posted a couple of really late (read: LATE!!) reviews.  Oddly enough (or perhaps not really all that odd at all) both films are British comedies.   One a comedy of manners the other a comedy of errors.  The first one, the comedy of manners one, is Easy Virtue (my review can be read here), the Noel Coward play turned film farce.   It's quite good actually - a thing that surprised me a bit considering my assumption that Jessica Biel was never anything more than a great ass and a set of blow-me lips to die for.

The second film, the comedy of errors, is In the Loop (my review can be read here), a profane screwball poli-com based on a Brit TV show called The Thick of It.   The film is that so-called (almost) proverbial laugh-out-loud funny kind of thing, but never does it pull any punches.  Biting, acerbic, brash and electric.   I do punctuate the profane moniker not just because the F(uck) bomb is dropped more than enough times to give Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and The South Park Movie a fucking run for their money, but because of the reaction it is getting from some of the customers at Midtown Cinema, the 3-screen arthouse that I run with my lovely wife (You're not the only one with a lovely wife Mr. Kenny!).   Most have enjoyed the film but a few have walked out in complete disgust at the language used.  One gentleman even told me he has never heard so much cursing before in his life - and he was in the navy (!?).   Nevertheless, my review is up, fucking curse-riddled or not.

As far as other reviews go, as I more than alluded to earlier, I seem to be on perpetual backlog mode these days.  Among the other quite late reviews I need to post are Julie & Julia (the first film based on a blog?), Adam (a moderately well-acted bore), Beeswax (a mumblecore delight), Il Divo (a brash and bold Kubrickian Italian biopic), Three Monkeys (Nuri Bilge Ceylon's latest failed attempt at becoming Tarkovsky), Tetro (Coppola's comeback to end all comebacks!) and Mein Fuhrer (a German comedy about Hitler and his Jewish mentor of sorts!?).  Many of these are already written in longhand just not transposed to that there intranet thingee.

Another three films to write about are the 9's.  District 9 (an anti-Apartheid sci-fi thriller), Cloud 9 (that German movie about old people having sex) and just plain 9 (which is somewhat plainer than I expected).  But that mother of 'em all - the one review I am most ashamed at not having posted yet - is the most talked about film online right now.   That is of course, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.  Of course by this point (I've already seen it twice and am preparing a third time around!) what could I possibly say about the film that hasn't already been said here, here, here, here, here, here, here and (especially) here and here?  Well, whatever that is, I hope to be posting it soon.  I suppose I don't have to worry about spoilers in my review since pretty much anyone who wants to see the film has already seen it.  That's a bingo!

Well, that's it for now.  I promise to be back with all these aforementioned reviews as soon as possible.   And now I have to add Zombieland to that list I suppose.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yeah, It's Another Freakin' New Blog

Hello and welcome to what is the very first post of the companion blog to my main site,  I know, I know, just what we need - another freakin' blog.   But I don't care - here it is, so get used to it or just go away.   Now that the niceties are out of the way, a bit of introduction.

As some of you may already know, my name is Kevyn Knox and I write about cinema.   My reviews can normally be seen over at my main site (as well as some other places you can be led to from that aforementioned site).   I have no reason to stop writing my reviews over there (and elsewhere) and they will continue ad infinitum.   This blog however will act as a sidebar of sorts - a critical cinematic aside if you will.   Over there are my reviews of all the new films coming out (mainly art cinema, foreign films and indies, but some mainstreamy stuff as well) as well as feeding my hunger for making as many lists as humanly (or inhumanly) possible - Top 10's for each year, my all-time favourites and so on.   Over here will be all those other ideas, theories, rants, raves, soapboxings, delusions, stream-of-consciousness blatherings and general pretentions.

Over here will be thoughts on older films I watch.  Over here will be links to all my new reviews as well.   Over here will be try-outs for articles.   Over here will be pontificating on the auteur theory.   Over here will be blatant fanboy gushing over such things as the latest work from Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-wai.   Over here will be thoughts on what it's like to run a 3-screen art cinema (as I do with my lovely wife) and why I feel like a cross between Shosanna from Inglourious Basterds and the Phantom of the Cinematheque.   Over here will be all things cinematic.   Over here will be...well, it'll just be everything else.   Kitchen sink cinema and all.

That's it for now.   It's nearly 1 am and I still have two reviews to finish before going to bed.  I will be back with new posts soon (including links to the two reviews I just mentioned).   Believe me (to go with the obvious Arnie reference) I'll be back.  I really don't know how to shut up.  Really, I don't.   Really.  Be back soon.  Fin, for now.  Really.