Monday, June 30, 2014

The Lego Movie


Very fast, colorful, loud, silly. Perfect for 8 year olds.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hard Candy

amerindie   Ellen Page

Another cinematic ordeal. This time a crazy teenage girl tortures a possible paedophile for 1 1/2 hours while we get to watch. They finesse the script toward the end to convince us that maybe he really did do a bad thing but what she did in this film was horrible so evaluating morality in this one is problematic.

Is there an audience for this kind of material? If there is we're in worse shape than I thought. Think I'll take a shower. EP was great. Small consolation.


The Snowtown Murders


Sleazy, extremely unpleasant tour through the places not recommended by the tourist bureau. We follow a psychotic homophobe as he recruits trailer trash into his vigilante scheme to kill all the undesirables in the area.

We even get to watch him chop off the limbs of a roo...not something you see every day. Why do I do these to myself?


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Post Mortem


Another misfire from the director of Tony Manero. This focused on a nearly mute mortuary assistant with a silly haircut who stalks his stripper neighbor and conducts one of the most ludicrous courtships ever put on screen. They meet for a meal, cry together for a really long time and then fuck, also for a really long time.

Meanwhile the country is undergoing the Allende murder and the establishment of Pinochet's military dictatorship.

Every scene, every reaction here was done very the point of being soporific. This guy needs to find another way to make a living. His films truly suck.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Black Moon

Louis Malle

Malle's venture into surrealistic filmmaking is, as usual, well produced and shot with his considerable skill...but...

It's impossible to care about characters who are treated as abstractions, as pawns moved around an eerie landscape filled with unexplained hazards. Once it is clear that these aren't meant to be real people they're no better than toons...and who cares if you hurt a toon?

I guess he felt he had to do this. Oh well...later in his sterling career he produced several first-class gems like Atlantic City, My Dinner with Andre, Au Revois, Mes we'll forgive him just this once.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Tales of the Night

France    Michel Ocelot

Portmanteau film consisting of six clever, original, shadow-drawn stories...all set in various exotic locations/times.

Remarkably effective animation. Each of the stories was immediately engaging and the look held my interest throughout. This guy is someone to watch.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Angel's Share

Scotland    d/ Ken Loach

Done with his signature charm, this was nonetheless another scathing examination of the incredibly violent milieu surrounding young males in Scotland. What in the world is wrong there? Constant threat of beatings or worse dog these characters. The reason given here is that their fathers fought each other so...   So what?

Loach did what he could to sweeten the story and even provided a hollywood ending but it came across as delusional. How many of these young men are going to live happily ever after?


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tales From Earthsea


Animated treatment of stories by Ursula K LeGuin.

For an hour or so the very high quality of the drawn animation was captivating...landscapes, gothic interiors, noirish touches, fabulous use of color in general. In particular the careful sound design was effective in creating the illusion of reality. But when the meat of the story kicked in it became just more children's cartoon crash-bang indistinguishable from saturday morning fare.

Too bad. For a while I thought this was going to be the breakthrough for animation I've been waiting for.


Friday, June 20, 2014

La Dolce Vita

Italy   d/ Fellini

His magnum opus from 1960. Marcello Mastroianni is a cynical, jaded reporter who hangs around with rich and nouveau riche fools and writes about them. We follow him from party to party whilst they all drink, fight and make disgusting fools of themselves...why?...because they can.

There were several sequences that shone...most notably the madonna scenes with the two small children...but mostly this was a good example of a wildly creative director at the peak of his abilities with no adult around to stop his excesses. At three hours this was an hour and a half too long and by the time it ended I was so sick of ALL these people I felt physically ill.

A grueling ordeal...much better done in last year's The Great Beauty.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Silent Running

Bruce Dern

I had remembered this as pretty silly...but that was mostly due to the Joan Baez warbling whilst watching camera pans of the world's last forest. The save-the-trees, save-the-whales message was front and center but other than those two musical interludes the film still worked well.

Dern gave a strong performance mostly talking to himself. The set design was wonderfully retro-futuristic. The project holds up, barely, as a relic of the time when the establishment of Earth Day was seen as evidence mankind could actually survive the fouling of its own nest. Yeah...right...


Friday, June 13, 2014

Escape From Tomorrow


This was the notorious opus filmed surreptitiously at Disney World in Florida. It looked it.

I was willing to go with the Iphone-level look but the story was asinine. Dad, fortyish, is fixated on two giggling 13 year old girls and contrives to follow them around...hoping for what? He gets a quick poke from a crazy woman while wifey is elsewhere but never stops chasing the teenies. At some point it became clear to me that this wasn't going to get any better...did I really care how this shithead's kiddie-fetish resolved?

Very poor.


The Rocket


Primitive film about a young boy, displaced with his family by a dam project, who lives in a temporary camp. He was born a twin (sibling died at birth) which meant he should have been killed too...a quaint, idiotic folk belief. But the people around him see him as an agent of the devil, etc etc.

This was meant to be charming but was too stupid to engage me...I gave up after an hour.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Our Beloved Month of August

Portugal   d/ Miguel Gomes

Gomes and his film crew drive around a resort area in August and record what the people do there during their vacations. Sounds stupid (and some is) but there are moments in this film which were startling, brilliant, head-snapping...

Some scenes were was difficult telling which...but that didn't matter. Fascinating portrait of a people of a certain class at a certain time. Tons of banal pop/karaoke by a shifting, mind-bending cast of musicians who looked suspiciously alike. Also scenes which break the fourth wall showing the problems making a film in public, players grousing about the shoot, wannabees trying to join in...

Unique, oddly satisfying. This guy is someone to watch.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Scotland   d/  Peter Mullan

Yet another hard-to-watch film about a sensitive, intelligent young man subjected to the apparently unrestrained savagery which is the world on Scotland's mean streets. Is this the reality of life for adolescent males there? Constant physical threats, beatings...some of the least creative but ubiquitous swearing in all of Christendom?

Why on earth would the Scot arts councils sponsor films like this? Are they daft? Who the hell would go there after seeing a bunch of these? Who knew Scotland was a hive of barbarism? What would David Hume think of this?

I'm tired of these. Make them stop. Wash their mouths with soap.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Poland   d/ Pawel Pawilkowski

Set in the 1950's, a young novice learns her parents were jews killed in the nazi era and sets out with her aunt to find her parents' grave. The aunt is a powerful figure in the new communist regime who drowns her demons in alcohol and men.

Along the way Ida sees a bit of the outside world, including music and a handsome sax player...and is tempted to taste a world so far forbidden to her. She also sees the coarse and bitter hatred still extant in that time.

Film was exquisitely photographed in shimmering b/w. Many compositions looked like fine art stills. This visual splendor helped make up for the pat, frankly simple-minded resolution. The lead -  - was perfect, radiating a sense of stillness, calm that belied her character's age.

Another winner for this director.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Lucky Number Slevin

Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu

This was an uncomfortable attempt to meld comedy into a gangster film...but it wasn't at all funny and because they were trying to make it so there was no sense of menace in the gangsters either. So the film failed completely.

It didn't help that the main villains were played by Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley. These two guys have become way too familiar to take seriously anymore as cartoon bad guys. They even managed to shoehorn Bruce Willis in as a hit man/superman which made the production even more ludicrous.

Not worth it.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Whore's Glory

documentary   Michael Glawogger

Close-up examination of the lives of prostitutes in Bangkok, Bangla Desh and Mexico.

The Thais seemed fine...their set-up was clean and appealing, there was someone to watch over the needs, safety and emotional, all the girls were young and attractive. The Indians were in a more squalid environment, their lives seemed awful with the filth and constant squabbling, physically fighting for johns.

The Mexicans were the worst by far...unattractive women in a filthy environment...nothing about their lives was tolerable.

So this is how the other half lives...


Friday, June 6, 2014

Little Sparrows

Australia   w/d  Yu-Hsiu Camille Chen

Fine, sensitive film about a family of affluent's an actor, often away, mom has cancer and is dying, and there are three grown sisters, each with her own is a widow with two children, one an actress messing up her life and the third is a nascent lesbian medical student coming to terms with her sexuality.

Most of life's struggles are presented in this film...with grace, intelligence and understanding. The scenes between the mother and each of her three daughters on her deathbed are marvels of humanism at its most profound. Actors were first rate.

A rare and precious gem.


Thursday, June 5, 2014


Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning

Silly action/adventure film about some young people with super powers who frab around Hong Kong, get beaten continuously, and eventually out-smart and emerge triumphant over the institutional bad guys.

Cartoon level material carried along by its fast pace and skilled use of tech effects. I suppose there will always be an audience for rubbish like this. After all...I watched it...


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Boy A

England   Andrew Garfield, Peter Mullan

Fine film fictionalized from a real incident. Here a young man was involved in killing a little girl as a grade schooler and now has been released from prison at 22 or so, secretly, with a keeper. He secures a job, gets a girlfriend, a mate and starts to live a real life before his past catches up with him.

I thought AG over-played a bit...a little too hesitant to speak, even when he was asked a simple question. And was there a reason for him having his mouth open all the time like a retarded kid? He often affected that deer-in-the headlights look. Still his scenes with PM crackled, the overall structure of the story was well done. Reminded me of the kitchen-sink dramas Britain did so well in the 50's and 60's.

A sad story which pointed out the unending reverberations emanating from acts committed when you are too young to realize their impact.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Michael Cera

This was intended for an audience decades younger than me. Thrash-type music was a very bad way to start and then it went downhill. I wonder why I even know the title of this film...someone must have liked it.

Does anybody really like watching this guy? He reminds me of Arnold Stang without the humor.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mona Lisa

England   Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson    d/ Neal Jordan

Recent ex-con gets hooked up as a driver for a high-priced call girl...he is a real dimwit, coarse and crass, quick to violence; they have a rocky time for a bit but he warms up to her and we end up with a twisted love story.

Pretty unpleasant film. Hoskins is an idiot with a good heart but socially inept and ruins nearly every scene they get into. It was hard to root for these people although I did care about their fate. It resolves in an unexpected way.

Worth it...I will remember these characters...just not favorably.