Apr 29 2011

Jesus of Montreal (1990)

Smart, engaging, funny, thoughtful, and doesn't collapse under its own weight. 4 out of 4.

There is a scene early on in Jesus of Montreal in which one of the characters performs a voiceover to a video depicting the Big Bang, and the inevitable end of the universe.  The presentation is both scientific and philosophical, and all in all, quite moving.  After he is done, the voice over artist turns to the sound technician and says, “Leaves a lot unanswered,” a question that not only addresses the cosmology at hand, but the nature of the human experience betwixt the beginning and the end.  In many ways, the scene sums up the film: curious, introspective, and reverent towards scientific explanations and religious experiences.

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Mar 31 2011

Sucker Punch

Yes, you will be unprepared... about how terrible this movie is. No stars- see anything else.

sucker punch (suk’r puh-nch) v.  1. A blow or assault made without warning.  2. A harmful act that comes as a surprise and without provocation.  3. A bitch move.

Oddly enough, this aptly describes the experience of watching Sucker Punch.  Who would have thought that the film’s title was more of a summation of the how one was going to feel over the course of 109 minutes?

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Feb 3 2011

Diva (1981)

Dazzling and Thrilling. 3 1/2 out of 4.

The 1980’s was a time when style superseded substance; music, fashion, television and film all seemed more concerned about the way they looked- which is does not mean they had nothing to say.  Granted, while some mediums of pop culture in this era were superficial, others used visuals to tell the story, but most were a little of both, and unabashedly so.

The “cinema du look” movement in France was a response to the French New Wave, in which filmmakers like Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax favored experimenting with visual spectacle rather than with a film’s narrative.  The result was the creative use of primary colors, lighting and mise en scene to create a world that spoke for itself.  Amongst the first cinema du look films was Beineix’s Diva, which was made at the beginning of the decade and set the bar for the rest of the movement.

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Jan 22 2011

The Mechanic (1972)

Though it lacks some hard-hitting, Bronson-approved violence, it is oddly thought provoking. 3 out of 4

Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner are most famous for their work on the Death Wish series, which set the tone for shoot ‘em up revenge movies for years to come.  The Mechanic, in which Bronson plays a hit man for a criminal organization, may carry similar bang-bang expectations, but many will be surprised that the film is a bit slower and more clever than anything the two did in Death Wish.

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Jan 7 2011

Black Swan

Dark, infectious, and one hell of a ride. One of the year's best. Deal with it. 4/4

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is something of a hallucinogenic fairy tale about madness, transformation, and the ballet.  Being an Aronofsky film, however, the film is less sweet and fluffy, and more akin to the Brothers Grimm style: dark, creepy, and grotesque.

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Dec 1 2010

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Ambitious, but unfocused. 2.5 out of 4 stars.

How does one even begin to describe the living conundrum that was William S. Burroughs?   Writer, artist, cat lover, homosexual, junkie, gun enthusiast, godfather of punk rock, yet he never really fit into those molds either.  William S. Buroughs: A Man Within attempts to answer these questions, and although it offers an insight into who Burroughs was, it focuses too much time on the legend and less on the man himself.

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Nov 17 2010

Catfish

One of the most natural and engaging documentaries I've seen. 3.5 out of 4

It is interesting that Catfish be released soon after The Social Network, as both films present some insightful portrayals of the Facebook generation.  While Social Network traced Facebook’s less-than humble beginnings, Catfish captures a real piece of the culture that followed soon after.

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Oct 27 2010

Never Let Me Go

Understated, tender and resonate. 3 1/2 out of 4 Stars

Never Let Me Go is not the first film about cloning and organ harvesting, yet it’s the first film to do so seriously, and in the subtlest of forms.  In fact, the film is less about cloning and more about the human condition, which makes it truly original and effective.

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Jul 21 2010

Living in Oblivion

As sharp and perfectly executed as they come. 4/4.

Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion is a labor love about a labor love.  Making a film, especially an independent film, isn’t easy.  With all the various problems that collide with one another on set, it’s a miracle anything ever gets finished.  It’s no wonder that everyone in the film industry is borderline, if not certifiably insane.

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Jul 7 2010

Micmacs: A Tire-Larigot

Light-hearted fun, but not much else. 2.5 out of 4

“Micmacs” is a French word similar to “knick-knacks”, as in “a little of this, a little of that.”  In many ways, this describes Jean Pierre Jeunet’s latest film pretty well, as its made up of charming little ideas, yet doesn’t add up to anything all-too substantial.

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