Saturday, February 06, 2010

Going To The Movies












































Unfunny. I wish I could understand the appeal of Adam Sandler and why this guy is a movie star. He's not a very good actor, all one note, and God knows he's not attractive and I for one just don't find him funny. I got the movie "Funny People" from the library (I would never pay good money for this crap) because I kind of enjoyed Knocked Up which was also directed by Judd Apatow, and I do like Seth Rogen with his silly putty face and charming laugh. That said this film is a failure. The plot concerns a big time comedian played by a big time comedian who gets bad medical news that he's about to die. Funny ha ha. Along the way Sandler hires Rogen who is a struggling stand up comic who shares an apartment with Jonah Hill & Jason Schwartzman who are also comic actors, (both by the way are very good in the film) to write jokes for him. Their relationship grows with Rogen more or less acting as a paid patsy and gofor for Sandler who is generally abusive and nasty to him. Apatow it seems never tires of off color jokes about sexual organs, but I do, and this stale fluff is nearly 2 1/2 hours long with storylines within storylines, and cutesy little cameos by real life comedians. This movie just doesn't know when to quit. Easily one of the worst films of 2009.

The House of the Devil gives away too much in the title, but for most of its short running time is a creepy little horror movie and I don't know if I’ll ever eat a pizza again. Set in some small college town in the early 80’s the plot is the one about the attractive college student who needs money and takes a job babysitting for a creepy couple who live far out in the countryside in a creepy house. And oh yes there is going to be a total eclipse of the moon that night, so you know its not going to be a quiet night for our little babysitter. As is usual with this genre, it falls apart at the end, and left me with a big? It was fun to see Mary Woronov, who was one of Andy Warhol’s superstars back in the early 60’s and a great beauty in her youth doing a nasty turn.

I'm still scratching my head over this film. Revenge of a Kabuki Actor or as it is known in this country An Actor's Revenge. Made in 1963 by the great Japanese director Kon Ichikawa the movie set in the 1830's is about a kabuki actor who seeks deep dish revenge on the three people who caused his parents to take their own lives. The actor in the Kabuki company is a female impersonator who is played by the renowned Japanese actor Kazuo Hasegawa, who also plays a thief in the film. Filmed in beautiful color with some really nice set pieces that Ichikawa mixes up with stylized and realistic sets, and wait till you hear the contemporary jazz score that Ichikawa uses.

I was very pleased with the sci-fi film District 9, especially since I wasn't expecting much. The reviews for it last summer were very good, and please if you are at all squeamish do not put this on your Netflix queue. It's a quirky and very original take on the aliens from outer space coming to earth thing. They wind up in South Africa of all places where they are cruelly treated. Nothing new about immigrants (which the aliens turn out to be) being mistreated but this take on the genre is indeed new and different and the lead actor Sharlto Copley gives one of the best performances I've seen this year. Surprisingly the film is nominated for a Best Picture and best original screenplay Oscar.

A few weeks ago I went to the Film Forum to see The White Ribbon directed with his usual complexity by Michael Haneke. Although nearly 2 1/2 hours I was totally engrossed by it story that is set in a village in Germany just before World War I where terrible things keep happening to the people of the town. The village doctor who has lots of dark secrets is thrown from his horse because of a trip wire that is stretched between two trees and is badly hurt, the wife of a farm worker is killed when she falls through a rotted barn floor, a young boy is beaten and tied upside down, the son of the Doctor's housekeeper and mistress, who has Down syndrome, is blinded in a horrible attack and a Baron's barn is set on fire. At times the film feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone or a remake of Village Of The Damned what with all those strange children lurking around. Haneke sprinkles the film with a political crust, but does not supply us with any easy answers or pat solutions instead he leaves it up to the viewer to connect the dots. Beautifully photographed in black and white, this is not a film for the Avatar crowd.

I can easily recommend a nice unclean little B noir movie from 1958, Murder By Contract. Directed by Irving Lerner who was mainly known as a television director, and starring the strangely handsome Vince Edwards as a hapless hit man who hates women. I mention this fact this because it figures prominently in the plot that is also laced with some 1950’s Noir homoeroticism. This take on homo lust can be seen in several noir thrillers of the 1950‘s including The Big Combo & The Line-Up. Ironically in one scene Edwards gets disguised as a doctor and of course 3 years later he would gain world wide fame by playing the doctor Ben Casey on the tube. Also Lerner directed 13 episodes of the show. With cinematography by the great Lucien Ballard and an unusual (and sometimes annoying) score by Perry Botkin played entirely on guitar.

2 Comments:

Blogger AlexG said...

agree with you on Sandler. but then there are so many "stars" today I just don't get.

been a couple of years since I saw "M by C" but I recall some stark b&w photography that elevates it.

6:49 AM  
Blogger cinemage books said...

He's one of several who I can't stand, Ben Stiller gets me sick, but I love his parents, also sickening is owen wilson, and vince vaughan all are most unappealing.

1:55 PM  

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