Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sex On Two Wheels: Marlon Brando as The Wild One

That young, meaty, leather-clad buck that was Marlon Brando in The Wild One is enough to arouse even the most dormant of feelings in even the straightest of men.  And what he does for the women.....damn!

Playing the rebellious Johnny, born leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club (ie. biker gang, and unapologetically so) in the Stanley Kramer produced 1953 film that had all of the newly christened Eisenhower America in varying stages of angst, fear and titillation, Brando was pure sex.  Perhaps it was a supposedly incognito kind of sex - the kind meant to stay just out of the always-prying eyes of the Hollywood censors and their self-righteous moral crusade - but there is no denying that every sweaty, dirty, filthy part of this movie is pure and unadulterated sex.  From the revving sex machines roaring loudly from between the legs of these bikers to the sneering anti-establishment growl of Brando's Johnny to the shiny phallic trophy that Johnny so wants to give to the sheriff's good little girl to that very same good little girl's lusting desire to be something not-so-good to rival gang leader Lee Marvin's beat-generation destruction of small town morals.  The movie is so filled with sex and sexual innuendo that you can almost smell it's stank wafting from the screen.

At one point Johnny is asked what he is rebelling against, and he responds with a lackadaisical yet cocksure, "whatchya got?"  And that is exactly what the movie itself is doing - railing against the conformity of middle America and the complacency of the nineteen-fifties.  Sure, it may seem a bit heavy-handed at times, while seeming quite silly at others, and it may very well have a rather immature idea about rebellion (the creative forces behind the writing, directing and producing of the film were well past the age of typical teen rebellion at the time - Kramer being the youngest at 39), and the film may seem to many an untrained eye to be quite outdated these days, but there is no doubt that the rebellion, no matter how sophomoric it may seem, is there throughout the movie - permeating its very pores - and first and foremost amongst that rebellion is sex sex and sex.

Banned in the UK until 1968 (supposedly they were not sure exactly why they were banning it, just that they knew something was not right)  and given an X rating when it finally was allowed to be shown, and thought of as subversive here in the states as well (our youth are running wild!!) the film still holds up (damn those who call it outdated!!) and Brando can still make all those deep-seeded feelings - the ones no one wants to talk about in public - come rushing up to the surface (and beyond!).  And while Brando plays the stoic bad boy that all the girls are as much afraid of as they are aroused by, (he takes what he wants!) Marvin plays Chino, the brash wild child that is a ticking time bomb of a character (and the head of The Beetles biker gang - a name that possibly, but never proven, would go on to inspire and name another rather famous group of rebellious troublemakers).  These two opposing forces, these two sides of sexual power as it were, clash in what can only be meant as metaphor.

Perhaps in the end, as the cavalry as it were, rushes in and sends the two gangs packing, the so-called establishment wins, but The Wild One is as much a damnation of the typical fifties way of life as it is of the sexually provocative youth rebelling against whatever you got.  With the small town's lynch mob mentality and Robert Keith's portrayal of the outmoded and ineffectual lawman, even though they "win" and the rebellion is quashed, it is the bikers, and their wanton carnality, that remain in our subconscious and in our dreams.  It is Brando's animalistic, yet strangely calming, glare that will forever be remembered.   In all, to end on a pun, it is a triumph of a movie.  Get it, they ride Triumph motorcycles.  Seriously though, the film is pure pure sex and that is what makes it so hot hot hot.

*This article was inspired by the lovely and talented Kim Morgan.  Miss Morgan's look at The Wild One a few weeks back (at her always entertaining and just as always informative blog Sunset Gun), inspired me to immediately purchase the DVD from Amazon and, having never seen it before (I know, fucking blasphemy!!), play it on the big screen of Midtown Cinema (the arthouse cinema my wife and I run in Harrisburg PA for those uninitiated among you).  Obviously it made quite the impression on me, and for that, I would like to thank you Miss Morgan for all that you have done.  And please excuse me for using the same still as you (the last one) but c'mon, you can't talk about the overt sexuality of The Wild One and NOT have that picture included.

The Cinematheque Reviews: The Lincoln Lawyer

One of my favourite fellow critics, the always astute Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, writes, quite tongue-in-cheek, in her review of The Lincoln Lawyer, of Matthew McConaughey's sudden awakening and decision to finally "do something decent."  I could not agree more.  My review of said film, mentioning both its blatant flaws and its equally as blatant good points (the aforementioned Mr. McConaughey being first and foremost amongst the latter), is now up and running over at The Cinematheque.  The movie is also coming (after an inexplicable two week-wait) to Midtown Cinema - for all of those readers of the more "local" variety.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farley Granger, 1925-2011

Farley Granger on making movies: "I love to see them. I just don't like to make them."  We will miss you dear Farley.
The first time I remember seeing Farley Granger was in the film that most people first saw Farley Granger.  The young actor had done two films prior to starring in Alfred Hitchcock's experimental suspense thriller Rope, but it was his portrayal of the reluctant murderer Phillip Morgan in Hitchcock's classic (inspired by Leopold and Loeb) that brought him to the attention of the public - or at the very least, the critics.  Granger's fame actually is predicated on just four movies - the aforementioned Rope, the tense film noir They Live by Night (the directorial debut of Nicholas Ray), Hitchcock's (again) Strangers on a Train and the gorgeous Visconti epic, Senso.  I suppose one could include the often wrongly overlooked Side Street in there as well (for those more die hard among us), but his film career was sadly short-lived, and he never reached the heights of stardom his ability should have granted him.
The always intensely grounded Granger would concentrate more on the stage (and TV) later in his career (perhaps the stage was more welcoming for an openly gay actor in the fifties and sixties than Hollywood), but for all those cinephiles all over the world (your humble narrator included), his roles as the doe-eyed youth gone bad (usually by circumstance, not character) will forever be in our minds.  The image of him asleep on Cathy O'Donnell's shoulder in They Live By Night (my personal favourite Granger performance) and enjoying, albeit unknowingly, one of the few moments of peace his troubled forgotten youth receives in the film, will always be first and foremost in this particular cinephile's mind.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Quest to See the 1000 Greatest:
Laura (1944)

Laura is #580 in  
My Quest to watch the 1000 Greatest Films

Screened 02/01/11 on DVD

Ranked #310 on TSPDT

*There be spoilers ahead for those who care about such things.
Otto Preminger's Laura is not your typical film noir - if it even is a film noir at all.  The main difference from others of its so-called genre, is in the form of its requisite femme fatale.    This titular fatale is played by the drop-dead gorgeous Gene Tierney in the role that would make her a star, but that is not the odd part (how could the lovely eye-piercing Miss Tierney be considered the odd part of anything!?).  The oddity comes in the fact that Miss Tierney's Laura is actually first seen as the portrait of a dead woman.  A dead woman that haunts Dana Andrews' police detective while he is investigating her murder.   Whether it is the allure of her portrait drawing Andrews in (and how can Tierney do anything but draw you in!?) or perhaps something much more sinister, only the tale of the film will tell.

Neither Andrews nor Tierney were at the height of their eventual popularity in 1944, though they were both in the early stages of stardom (he in The Ox-Bow Incident, and to a lesser degree, Ball of Fire and she, a somewhat bigger name, hence her top billing, in The Shanghai Gesture and Heaven Can Wait), but this film made sure that changed for both of them, for the better.  I suppose neither can really be considered a great actor (though not many can do cold and calculating bitch better than Tierney) but both are nearly always fun to watch - Andrews for his sly smile and kinda slimy bad boys and Tierney for her luscious lips and conniving bad girls (a thing that would come through in both of them even when they were playing good).

As for Preminger, he too was on the cusp of greatness when he made Laura - even if that greatness seemed like just an offshoot (at the time) of what Hitchcock was already doing for nearly two decades by this point.  Preminger weaves this - let's go ahead and say it, Hitchcockian - web of lies and deceit with a rather broad series of strokes, but it all comes together in a fascinating way.  Preminger would go on to make greater films (Anatomy of a Murder, Advise and Consent, Bonjour Tristesse) but in this early - and somewhat silly - film noir, we could already see those things of greatness yet to come.
Now contrary to some of the allusions I have made above, I actually quite enjoyed Laura.  Sure, it's silly and rather overly-complicated (yet deceptively simplistic) but some of the nuances Preminger puts into his direction, and the fun one gets from watching Tierney and Andrews (as well as a young buck Vincent Price - also more and enjoyable-to-watch actor than actually a great actor) make for an intriguing film.  The silly pretension of it all, the rather comical last-minute rescue from the o-so-obvious "surprise" villain, Price's hamming it up, Andrews' rather lackluster desire for our intrepid "dead girl".  It is all quite ridiculous (other noirs perhaps have some of the same silliness, but the great ones manage to outweigh such with the gravity of their respective situations) but it is still a lot of fun.  In fact the silly pretension and actors' hamming make it even more enjoyable for me (think about that for a while!).

Laura, instead of reaching the grand heights of a Double Indemnity or an Out of the Past or a Big Sleep, is in that same realm as The Woman in the Window, The Hitch-Hiker, Detour, Scarlet Street, The Big Heat, D.O.A., Kansas City Confidential and all those other good (but, not too good) noirs of the era.  It is surely a film I would watch again and again (it is THAT fun - even Godard paid homage to it through Jean-Pierre Leaud's toy-tinkling thug in Made in U.S.A.) and a film that would make my own personal Top 1000 (to reference the reason behind this post).  Perhaps I seem a bit too critical of the film (looking back I suppose I am) but after all is said and done, Laura is no sillier (and no worse) than many of its mid-level genre compatriots (a genre, incidentally that is one of my favourites - high, mid or even low level).

I suppose, above and beyond the somewhat contrived plot, the reason I like Laura as much as I do, is because of it being, at its very basest core, a movie about obsession.  Whether it is Dana Andrews' detective, Clifton Webb's cocksure yet charming gadfly or Price's notorious womanizer and money hound, Preminger's film verily drips with obsession - and who doesn't love a film about obsession!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Keep it on the QT...He's 48 Today

"I Steal from every movie ever made."

Happy Birthday My Brother From Another Mother.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids is a stupid movie, but in a good kind of way - if that makes any sense (other than to me).  There is not much else to say other than what is in my (somewhat late) review over at The Cinematheque.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews: Paul

I am a sucker for a good Star Wars reference and Paul gives us a buttload of them so I suppose it was preordained that I would enjoy this movie.  And I did.  Sure, it has its flaws and it has its moments of stupidity (as most movies do) but when all is said and done, and all the proverbial smoke clears, it is quite the enjoyable little film.

Read my review of Paul at The Cinematheque.

 Here is our intrepid titular alien doing one of his many alien probing jokes.

Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011

"I've been through it all, baby, I'm mother courage." - Ms. Taylor

Monday, March 21, 2011

366 Weird Movies Guest Review:
Amer (Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani)

My fifth Guest Review for the fine folks over at 366 Weird Movies has just been posted over at their site.  It is for a strange little thing called Amer - a movie I am still not really sure if I liked or not.  I know several fellow critics who actually despise the damned thing.  I originally posted a review (in a slightly altered state) of the film back in January over at my site, The Cinematheque.  So in case you missed that one, or just want to check out 366 Weird Movies (it is a fun review site full of all the requisite oddities - and some non-requisite ones) go on over now.

Future guest reviews for 366 Weird Movies will include Zhang Yimou's A Woman, A Gun & A Noodle Shop and a series of pieces on Jess Franco.  See ya in the funny papers...

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Take Me Home Tonight

I saw this movie two weeks ago and I posted my review over at The Cinematheque, but somehow forgot to post a link here at my blog.  Well, better late than never as they say.  Of course the film is somewhat forgettable so perhaps that is why.  Whatever the case, here is my take on a film that takes place at a time where I would have been the same age as the movie's characters - the film is set in 1988 and they graduated in 1984 (I myself am the Class of '85).  Nostalgic or not (and I am usually a sucker for nostalgia) the film wasn't really all that good.

Here is a shot of Topher Grace wondering why since the end of That 70's Show has he only managed to leap one decade.  Perhaps for your next movie you can play some failed dot-commer somewhere in the late 90's.

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Battle: Los Angeles

My review of a ridiculous movie called Battle: Los Angeles is now up and running over at The Cinematheque.  It should come as no surprise whatsoever that said review is a pan of said movie.   It would seem as if I am in the (vast!) majority with my (not-so-humble!) opinion on the thing in question.  Go on and read it if you still have any doubts.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews: Biutiful

While I was sitting there watching Alejandro González Iñárritu's fourth film, the strangely titled Biutiful (the title comes from a misspelling by the protag's nine year old daughter), I couldn't help thinking how much I loved his first film (released more than a decade ago now) Amores perros, and how much this film is not that film.  Visually as audacious as always but now seemingly bloated from some sort of apparent self-righteous pretension (closer to his turgid Oscar-bait Babel than to his first two films, the aforementioned and 21 Grams).  Still a well-acted thing, so we have that.  Anyway, before I go and ruin my own review, I will shut up and allow you to go over to my review site (aka, The Cinematheque - but you already knew that) and read it for yourself.

Read my review of Biutiful at The Cinematheque. 

Instead of going with my normal shot from the film in question, here is a shot of the director doing an impersonation of how his film is supposed to make you feel - for better or for worse.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Red Riding Hood

Let's face it, no one over the age of Twilight-lovers (tweens, teens and insipid adults who never got past the reading level of a ninth grader) thought that Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood was going to be any good - and guess what, we were right.  It is actually just as bad, just as bland, just as pandering as I expected it to be.  My review of said film is now up and running over at The Cinematheque.   I suppose you don't have to be a genius to figure out that it is not a rave by any stretch of the imagination.

Here is Amanda Seyfried trying to run away from a bad movie.  I suppose she has had to do that quite often by now.

The Cinematheque Reviews:
I Love You Phillip Morris

It took nearly two years to make it to US screens (after its 2009 Sundance debut) but it is finally here.  We had a woman come out of I Love You Phillip Morris (at Midtown Cinema, run by my wife and I) and complain that we should warn people that it is a gay movie.  First of all, assuming the poster with two men in a heart shaped formation did not already tip this woman off, just the fact that she needs to be "warned" about homosexuality is, well it is kind of ridiculous - not to mention quite homophobic.  Anyway, this is part of the reason the film took so long to find a distributor (even though it is quite funny throughout), so I suppose we as a society are not as forward thinking as many of the more idealistic amongst us would have you think.  Whatever the case may be, my review is up and running over at The Cinematheque.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole is one of the final Oscar films getting released nationwide (only about three months after its initial, Oscar-eligible NY/LA release) and therefore, with me not making any of the press screenings, opting instead to wait for it's eventual wide(ish) release, one of the last ones being reviewed at The Cinematheque.  Biutiful and I Love You Phillip Morris being the only ones that will debut later (reviews of each coming very soon). The film is surprisingly well-done and doesn't (much) wallow in that typical mainstream maudlin mood such a storyline would more oft than not entail.  The acting of course, is superb (and that is not surprising at all considering the cast).

My Quest to See the 1000 Greatest:
Some Came Running (1958)

Some Came Running is #579 in  
My Quest to watch the 1000 Greatest Films

Screened 01/31/11 on DVD

Ranked #412 on TSPDT

*There be spoilers ahead for those who care about such things.

Besides being historically noteworthy as being the first film to put Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin together on film, Vincente Minnelli's Some Came Running is a swirling, decadent masterpiece of Cinemascope moviemaking.  And I am not alone on this, as Martin Scorsese, in his doc My Personal Journey Through American Cinema, calls the final carnival scene one of the best uses of Cinemascope he has ever seen.   I concur Mr. Scorsese (in case you needed my validation).

I got a copy of this film on DVD well over a year ago, but kept putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, deciding instead to watch many other movies in the meantime (probably a good 500 in the interim).  I know at least one of my critical compatriots, Glenn Kenny, whose great blog is named after the Minnelli film and whom I must assume likes said film quite a bit, would probably be disappointed by my procrastination on this movie (if he actually knew I had procrastinated) but I do believe the wait was, as they say, well worth the wait.

Coming across as subtly as can be at first glance (beautiful but quietly disarming) and climbing higher and higher as the film progresses, like the crescendo of Bolero or White Rabbit (to use two vastly different yet surprising similar cultural references), finally leading to the aforementioned Scorsese-liked Cinemascopic finale, where are the intricate threads and weaving microcosms of the plot come crashing together in a heady, metrocolor boom.  A scene homaged by (of course) Brian De Palma in Blow Out.
And as for the acting, we already knew Sinatra could act (his performance in both From Here to Eternity and The Man With the Golden Arm proved that) but this was the one that proved it about his Rat Pack pal Dino as well.  With this and his followup, Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo (one of this critic's favourite films), Martin proved how good of an actor he could be.  Unfortunately he never - to my knowledge - did any other great acting work.  This performance, and the character's insistence on never removing his hat, was enough to inspire Godard's similar take in Le Mepris.

Then there is Shirley MacLaine.  One of her first films (just two years before her standout turn in Billy Wilder's The Apartment) MacLaine would garner her first Oscar nomination for the role, but only after Sinatra (and here be the spoilers and hence your final warning of such) told Minnelli to "Let the kid take the bullet.  Maybe she'll get an Oscar out of it."  She would have to wait another twenty-five years to finally win that Oscar (for a much lesser film btw), but it did draw her the first of her eventual five Best Actress nominations.

A film well worth my completely happenstance wait, Some Came Running is a wonder to behold, both for its visual succulence and classic storytelling - and for that remarkable crash boom bang ending.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Quest To See the 1000 Greatest: The Lusty Men (1952)

The Lusty Men is #578 in  
My Quest to watch the 1000 Greatest Films

Screened 01/30/11 on DVD

Ranked #788 on TSPDT

*There be spoilers ahead for those who care about such things.

"A Fast Buck... A Fast Bronc... A Fast Thrill!" 

Judging from the title (and the film's tagline above), one could reasonably think this to be a somewhat homoerotic movie, and since it is directed by the bisexual Nick Ray, such reasonability is given that much more credence.  In all reality though, unless one were to dig deep for such things (and some will certainly dig), The Lusty Men is not all that homoerotic.  Much less so than that other Ray film, the deeply and quite obvious Rebel Without A Cause.  Anyway, this is neither here nor there when it comes to talking about the film, so I will just drop such thoughts now, and get on with the show.

Actually, this is the story of an aging (at least aging for his business) rodeo man, played with the usual macho sensitivity by the great Robert Mitchum and his befriending of a wouldbe rodeo newbie played by Arthur Kennedy, with his typical snarky charm, and (to keep the aforementioned homoeroticism at bay) the woman that is stuck in the middle - the beautiful, sad-eyed Susan Hayward.  We watch as Mitchum's Jeff McCloud teaches the insistent Wes Merritt (Kennedy) the ways (and dangers) of the rodeo world - much to the dismay of Hayward's Louise Merritt (Kennedy's suffering but faithful movie-wife) - only to fall into (an inevitably unrequited) love with Hayward.

Once Kennedy's cocksure cowboy surpasses his teacher and begins to believe the sudden hype of his newfound rodeo circuit fame (another inevitability), Mitchum begins to question what he wants out of live - or actually deepens his already questioning attitude from frame one.  What he wants (not surprisingly) is Hayward.  Of course, this being a Nick Ray film, do not waste your time hoping for the ending anyone wants - though we do get the ending that is most deserving of drama - and in a way, a happy ending for some.

"There never was a bronc that couldn't be rode, there never a cowboy that couldn't be throwed. Guys like me last forever."
- Robert Mitchum as Jeff McCloud in The Lusty Men

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Certified Copy

Yesterday was Juliette Binoche's birthday, and as promised I have posted my review of her new film (as well as Opera singer-turned-actor William Shimell), Certified Copy.  It is not only Ms. Binoche's first time working with Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami, but also M. Kiarostami's first venture into international filmmaking.  Simply put, the film is marvelous.  The director's best work since The Wind Will Carry Us in 1999, perhaps even since his existential masterpiece Taste of Cherry in 1997 (though it isn't so good as to surpass that phenomenal work).  Anyway, I first saw the film at last year's NYFF and am posting my review upon its US release (which happens tomorrow in New York).  The rest, as they say, is history.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews: Rango

What do you get when you mix a cinephiliac freak like Johnny Depp, a boys-will-be-boys director like Gore Verbinski, the down-and-dirty Spaghetti West of yesteryear, a story blatantly stolen/homaged from Chinatown, the services of the epic Roger Deakins as visual go-to guy, a menagerie of gorgeously animated critters of the desert and an iconic Gonzoesque Hawaiian shirt?  Well, you get just pretty much the gosh-darnedest best movie this side of the Pecos (read: Best damned film of 2011, so far).  Seriously, Rango is a surprisingly well-conceived work of animated art-cum-cinematic homage - and this from a noted Pixar-hater (or at least a noted Pixar-indiferencer!?) and self-admitted fuddy-duddy fan of hand-drawn animation (call me a relic, call me what you will, say I'm old-fashioned, say I'm over the hill).  I surprised even myself with my instant love for this film.

Happy Birthday Ms. Juliette Binoche

The lovely French thespian turns 47 today and is as beautiful, maybe even more beautiful than ever.  The only thing that matches this ageless Gallic beauty is the talent that exudes from every metaphorical pore.  Her latest great performance can be see in Abbas Kiarostami's first film outside of Iran, Certified Copy (in big city theaters now and actually coming to Harrisburg's Midtown Cinema in April).

A Revamping of 2011 Goals

Earlier this year, around New Year's resolution time, I made the declaration that I would see 366 movies in the year 2011.  Well here we are 67 days into the year and I am up to 92 (as of Rango this afternoon) films seen.  At my current pace I will have seen 501 movies come December 31st.  This pace now makes me reconfigure my original goal and thus declare 500+ movies seen in 2011.  It will be done.  Now enjoy this great (and somewhat random) shot from one of the more recent of the aforementioned 92 films seen so far this year.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Film Poll: Fritz Lang, American Style

There is a new poll in town and it is all about the great one-eyed auteur Friedrich Christian Anton Lang, aka Fritz Lang.  The twist here is, that none of his great German-made work is eligible.  No M.  No Metropolis.  No Dr. Mabuse.  This is purely American Fritz Lang.  The German (Austrian born actually - Austria-Hungary born to be even more exact) director came to the states in 1934 (after a year in Paris, fleeing the now Nazi-controlled Germany) and a year and a half later released the first of his twenty-two films in Hollywood, before returning to Germany in the late fifties.

Your mission, if you decide to take it, is to go over to the lefthand sidebar and pick your favourite among M. Lang's twenty-two American films.  Simple as that.  The poll will go until April 8th at midnight, so if you have not seen all of Lang's American films (Film Forum just had a great retrospective on this very same subject, which is where I got the idea, the thief I am) you have a whole month to catch up - a fun thing for any self-respecting cinephile to do (I still have a few more to catch up on myself).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau, ostensibly the story of the clerical side of religion (but in an actiony, Jason Bourney kinda way), is a fun enough movie - its fun chase scenes (spanning all of New York in mere minutes!), its philosophical ponderings (even if they are the most basic of ponderings), its use of Terence Stamp (and how can a movie not be brought up in stature with the inclusion of Mr. Stamp?) - but still, once we get to the crumbling final act, we are just ready to go home.  I must admit though, the poster (below) is one of the better designs around these days.  My rambling critique of said movie, with its pretentious Proustian-wannabe 200+ word sentences and overabundance of hyperbole (yea, I can admit it!), is up and running over at my companion site, The Cinematheque.  Take a look, if you dare.

Friday, March 4, 2011

These Go To Eleven

Bringing back memories of the great Christopher Guest in This is Spinal Tap, the new LAMB Leaderboard was posted last night (you regular readers know what I'm talkin' 'bout), and yours truly has moved back up the charts to, you guessed it, number eleven.  So to celebrate, here is one of the funniest scenes in an already hilarious motion picture.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews: Uncle Boonmee, Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Once upon a time there was a filmmaker from Thailand named Apichatpong Weerasethakul, but this was a very difficult name for many to grasp and speak out loud (though it is very easy if you just read it and pronounce it the way it is spelled) so everyone knew him as I mean, Joe (the Beatles fan in me snuck out).  Joe was educated in Chicago (Hog Butcher to the World!  The City of Big Shoulders!) bjt went back home to make his movies.  His movies started out as experimental creatures, but he would eventually go more toward the narrative - though still quite avant-garde to say the least.  Many of Joe's films were praised by critics (this one included) but not many got past the festival circuit to play in the states - other than a few brief stints in the city of the Big Apples.  Okay, so Joe isn't exactly the multiplex kinda filmmaker, but even by arthouse standards, not many people have seen his movies - and that, coming here as the moral to our little story, is a downright Goddamned shame.  

The reason I am even telling this little tale is because Joe - let us say his name in full, Apichatpong Weerasethakul - has been given one of those brief stints in New York City with his latest film (get ready for a mouthful) Uncle Boonmee, Who Can Recall His Past Lives.  I was lucky enough to see it as part of the press corps at last year's New York Film Festival (and I wrote a bit on it HERE) but had to wait five months for a proper US release, and a proper US film review.  Incidentally, a somewhat shortened review of the one linked below was published as part of my Guest Review stint over at 366 Weird Movies (which can be viewed HERE).  After these two precursors, as it were (sneak peeks if you will), I am finally able to publish my full-length review at The Cinematheque.  Now your job is to go see this movie while you can (it will also be on demand for those unable to make the trek to NYC) because once the year is over and you see this film on my Best of 2011 List, you will want to go back and see it anyway (because my opinion matters, right!?).