Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Week-end at the Beach

I won't be saying much this week-end (notice the Godardian spelling) due to spending it at the beach.  Ocean City, MD to be exact.  I will return next week with new reviews of Winter's Bone, Wild Grass, Ondine, City of Your Final Destination, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Coco & Igor, Life During Wartime & The Killer Inside Me.

Until then, here is a pic from Eric Rohmer's Pauline at the Beach.  Enjoy.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Reviewed at The Cinematheque

I was already pissed (but not surprised) about Disney transforming their wonderful Fantasia episode into a live-action big budget picture, and thus, I had no intention of seeing it.  Granted, I do often skip the cheesier looking franchises anyway (for fear of wasting my time that could be well-spent watching more important films than these) but this one seemed even cheesier than most.   Yet something kept nudging my thoughts back to seeing it (probably my on again, off again relationship with Nic Cage and his acting career) so alas, I went and saw the damned thing.

There is something to be said about seeing Nic Cage and Alfred Molina going mano y mano in full-out sword & sorcery mode.  Of course, since the movie is from Disney (and rated a safe n sudsy  PG-13) and Jon "median strip" Turtletaub is the director (and Jerry "formula film" Bruckheimer is the producer), that something ends up being a rather bland something.  Yet, in amongst all that boiler plate banter, is a film that is quite surprisingly entertaining - to a point.

Cage & Molina do their best (though Cage is much better when left out of his, um, cage and allowed to go all batshitcrazy - a la Wild at Heart, Vampire's Kiss, Bad Lieutenant) but the film falters due to its (obvious and not the least bit startling) franchise-forming, product-placement ordinariness.  In other words, like much of modern mainstream moviemaking, it is dumbed down for the masses, and made into a safe (and quite predictable) product of Hollywood - taking no chances at all.  Then again, I suppose that is just what the reality-TV-obsessed mass audience wants.

Ah well, there are worse movies out there (much worse!) and worse ways to kick off an inevitable Hollywood franchise (much worse). Unlike most of them (the ones I have deigned to see) The Sorcerer's Apprentice held my interest - at least half-heartedly - for most of the time I sat there in the theater.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Am Love
Reviewed at The Cinematheque

I first saw Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love at a little arthouse cinema just outside of Philly, called The Ambler Theater.  The Ambler first opened its doors on the last day of 1928 (owned by Warner Brothers at the time) by showing the Harry Beaumont directed, Joan Crawford vehicle, Our Dancing Daughters.  After closing down in 1970 (as many classic cinemas were forced to do) and becoming a christian theater (specializing in showing 16mm prints of movies like The Robe) the Ambler began to deteriorate and finally shut down for good - well almost.  In 2003, The Ambler opened its doors again and to this day shows both new releases and classic cinema inside its fully renovated doors.

The reason I go on about the cinema itself is because it is a classic movie house in modern times and this is exactly what I Am Love is.  The whole complaint about how they no longer make 'em like they used to is put to rest with this beautiful, delectable new work of Italian cinema.  Go inside my review (linked just below) and read much more loving, gushing hyperbole on this film.  And if you ever find yourself in or around Philadelphia, check out the Ambler Theater.  I know I for one, am going back to see Lawrence of Arabia on 35mm next month!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shutter Island
Reviewed at The Cinematheque (!?)

The reason for the parenthetical interrobang in the title of this post is because I am just now posting my review of Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island.  (the link to said review posting can be found at the end of my rambling)  

Although I had originally seen it waaaay back in late February (and wrote my review in early March) for some strange reason I never posted it.  I realize I was on a sabbatical of sorts during this time, but even once getting caught up on those lost reviews from that time period, I still missed posting this one - which is especially odd considering it was then, and still is, my favourite film of the year (so far!).  

I suppose this is as good a time as any, since Chris Nolan's Inception has just been released (and reviewed right here, one post down!) and both films deal with DiCaprio and some pretty weighty marital issues.

Sure, the film has its haters (or off-putters?) and I suppose they have their own personal reasons for such, but in this critic's (and, to get all my cards on the table, admitted Scorsese worshipper's) not-so-humble opinion, I would rank Shutter Island somewhere between Cape Fear (also oft-maligned) and Gangs of New York (again, oft-maligned in the Scorsese oeuvre). 

In fact, since I do love me a good list, here are my top Scorseses.

1. Taxi Driver
2. Raging Bull
3. Goodfellas
4. Mean Streets
5. King of Comedy
6. Cape Fear
7. Shutter Island
8. Gangs of New York
9. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
10. Boxcar Bertha

I left out his docs/concert films and kept with the feature fiction thing.  I also left out New York, New York because I have only ever seen the film once and It was about twenty years ago (when I was but a young early twenty-something!) and I need to see it again to fairly judge its greatness.

Anyway, I suppose I am done rambling now and can finally leave you alone to peruse my aforementioned Shutter Island review (the link salivating for your click just below!) at your leisure.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reviewed at The Cinematheque

Without further ado (I saw the damned movie three days ago already!) here is my take on a certain Christopher Nolan directed Summer blockbuster-to-be - but a blockbuster of a more artistic bent than most.  It may not be the so-called "game-changer" so many are hoping or calling for, but it is a damn fun ride to take.  A popcorn flick thrill ride one could say if one were so inclined.  See, when you read between the pretentious lines, I am capable of thoroughly enjoying a big budget modern Hollywood blockbuster.  That proves I'm not a film snob.  Well, not really, since I am still quite the film snob (and used the term popcorn flick thrill ride with tongue firmly in cheek!)... but I digress...and give you the following...

...along w/ a bonus pic of the utterly gorgeous Ms. Cotillard, whose mere presence (and what a presence it is!) makes the movie in question sizzle just that much more.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Solitary Man
Reviewed at The Cinematheque

I am on the road this week-end (the Godardian spelling!?) but wanted to post this review as filler of sorts until I get back home and post my reviews of I Am Love, Winter's Bone and Inception - three movies I thoroughly enjoyed.  The review in question here though, is for Solitary Man - and this was a film I rather did not enjoy (thoroughly or not).  It does have that great (and obvious) title song though.  Anyway, until I get back go ahead and read my review of this very middle-of-the-road indie mediocrity (the link is just fingertips away).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Catching Up on Some Reviews (Finally)

I got behind there for a while, but I'm back baby!  Over at The Cinematheque I have finally posted my reviews of Please Give, Mid-August Lunch, Bluebeard and the waaaay overdue Fish Tank, The Ghost Writer and Clash of the Titans.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Last Airbender Reviewed (and M. Night Shyamalan gleefully attacked) at The Cinematheque

By now, anyone who knows me well enough will surely be privy to the fact that I am huge M. Night Shyamalan hater.  Huge!  The Sixth Sense was okay at best and Unbreakable had some good performances, but everything after that is pure unadulterated crapola.  With each successive film, Shyamalamadingding gets worse and worse and worse and worse and worse.  From the silly Signs to the stupefied The Village to the ludicrous Lady in the Water to the preposterous The Happening to the unfathomable god-awfulness of The Last Airbender.  The crap pile gets higher and higher with each project.  In fact (as I make mention to in my review) I would be sorely disappointed if Shyamalan were to finally make a great, or even good, film.  I went into this movie knowing full well it was going to be mind-numbingly bad and was actually hoping for it to be so.  I can honestly tell you, I was not disappointed.  I take a perverse delight in watching the man fail over and over and over again, ad nauseum. In a strange way, this makes the film a better film for me, than it actually deserves to be.

Perhaps it is this perverse delight that made me jump up on my critical soapbox and blather on for 1000+ words about just how god-awful The Last Airbender is - even if this is exactly what I was hoping for.  Cheap and low base an attack it is, but once and awhile one needs to take the low road and blow off some critical steam, lest it eat away at him.  I suppose this means I am pretty good until, well, until the next M. Night Shyamalamadingdong movie comes out.  Anyway, click on the link below and see just how cheap and low base I can actually get when cornered with a beyond bad film such as this.