Friday, January 29, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Dennis Stock 1928-2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Small Burnt Forest In A Box 1970
Monday, January 11, 2010
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Monday, January 04, 2010
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
Recently Seen and Noted
I wish I could understand why the hack M. Night Shyamalan keeps getting lots of money to make his crap movies. This latest piece of doo doo is very bad, and is even worse than his last few bombs. This one is lacking in suspense, thrills or just plain sense. The plot (now get this) is about plants (nature) going berserk and for some reason people start killing themselves in all sorts of nasty ways. Starring the out of place Mark Wahlberg as a science teacher (yah right, Marky Mark as a science teacher) and a embarrassingly lost in space looking Zooey Deschanel. The only relief is when the great Broadway diva Betty Buckley pops up as a looney rural country gal who puts her head through a window. I felt like doing the same thing.
Another film to keep at a long arms length is the bad taste in my mouth Chapter 27. This is a cheap, boring exploitative movie about Mark David Chapman the nut job who killed John Lennon and is Played by Jared Leto who gained lots of pounds for this role, (hey Jared putting on weight does not a performance make). Also in the cast is the very lovely Lindsay Lohan. And no I didn't pay good moola to see these 2 turkeys I got them for free from the library. I wonder if I can sue.
Although not a great or even special movie "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" has some very nice moments and a slew of fine performances by some of my favorite actors. Is there a better actor than Jim Broadbent around? I doubt it. The movie is based on the memoirs of Blake Morrison who is played by Colin Firth, with Broadbent playing his father in a complex touching performance. Also in the cast is one of my favorite actresses Juliet Stevenson as his put upon wife, and look for Cary Mulligan in a tiny part before she took off big in "An Education".
Sonny is as nasty a piece of work as you're ever likely to see. Directed
by Nicholas Cage this little sack of dirt is the story of a young man
(James Franco) who is raised to be a male prostitute by his lovely
Mom played by Brenda Blethyn who gives another one of her over the
top lousy performances this one with a bad southern accent. Blethyn who runs
a small brothel in New Orleans wants to keep her Sonny boy in the
business, but Franco would like to get out of the game. Also in the cast is the usually good Harry Dean Stanton who plays his usual down on his luck loser and Mena Suvari, who for 25 cents I would stomp on her face, she is that bad and annoying. Mr. Cage also has a little cameo as a gay pimp who is not feeling so well. This is 1981 get it, and a sorry looking Brenda Vaccaro who still thinks its 1969 and the movie she's in is Midnight Cowboy. Same role, only its 40 years later and she's about 200 pounds heavier. You do get to see Franco’s small little butt several times, so I guess for some it would be worth while to sit through this piece of garbage.
Broken Embraces is a wonderful beautifully wrapped present from one of my favorite directors Pedro Almodóvar. Although not on the level of All About My Mother or Talk To Her, its still a complex multi layered film with lots of twists and turns, a wicked sense of coincidences and his usual visual flair for decor and objects. Movie references abound in this film about a young beauty played by the young beauty Penélope Cruz who is a whore by night when she needs money to help her family out, but by day works for a very wealthy but very old and unattractive corporate type who falls madly in love with her and wants to take care of her, which he does. Penelope desires to be a movie actress and of course becomes one, falling in love on the way to stardom with her director. It all moves fast and furious and as I said has enough twists, turns and wit for 3 films.
Up In The Air that darling of the critics and award givers is as smart and funny in parts as any American movie has the right to be, but still falls apart at the seams about half way into its short running time. It's the kind of film Frank Capra or Leo McCarey might be making if they were alive today, you know snappy dialogue, characters who you hate one minute and love the next. George Clooney as usual is debonair assured and easy on the eyes, a real movie star in the Cary Grant mold and I especially enjoyed the performances of Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga two eccentric actresses who thankfully are not of the Hollywood princess school of acting. Written and directed by the smart ass Jason Reitman privileged son of Ivan,Jason can mix uncomfortable laughs and pathos with the best of them, but his direction still falls short of marvelous and his use of songs over scenes intrudes and doesn’t add anything to the film’s movement or style. I hate when directors use this cheap trick. Also the revelations at the end are so off the wall and unrealistic, but I can't go into details without giving away the plot.
Another crap movie-is the overblown and very disappointing Public Enemies. Directed by Michael Mann who has made some really terrific films like Heat, Manhunter & The Last of The Mohicans, but this latest addition to the gangster genre is not one of them. It's dull, dank and very dark but not in a good or interesting way. It’s literally dark because Mann shot it high-definition digital, and you can barely make out anything in the night scenes, and there are a lot of those. I couldn't tell who was shooting who, or who was who and to be honest after a while I couldn‘t give a shit. And if I never see Marion Cotillard again in another film that will be ok with me. Little French miss cupie doll, another princess with an Oscar. Ugh. I want my gangster movies lean and mean so after brushing my teeth and taking a shower to get the stink of the Mann film out of my mouth and off my skin I checked out the 1945 B version of the Dillinger legend which is a 70 minute fast paced cheapo poverty row little noir gem with a sexy scary lead performance by Lawrence Tierney in his first major performance. After this he did a few other tough guy roles, but because he was such a difficult tough fuck in real life his career took a big nosedive. Directed by the German director Max Nosseck in no nonsense no budget style this film really shakes, rattles and rolls. This is what Woolworth's would look like if it were a movie. It helps that the supporting cast is so great what with Marc Lawrence, Eduardo Ciannelli and the incomparable Elisha Cook Jr. in it how could it not be great. The film has a beg borrowed or steal look with images lost and then found and edited together and its a wonder to me that all the actors managed to fit into a scene, the film is so tight and full it almost bulges out over you. Loaded with great scenes, like the Christmas eve piece with a remorseful and sad Tierney looking out his window as street kids sing Silent Night while a creepy mask wearing Santa Claus looks on, or the opening with Dillinger's dad telling his story to a mesmerized movie audience. The film actually got an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay for 1945. See this one.
I hated A Single Man the minute the titles came on, and I knew I was deep in shallow water. So what we have here is an adaptation of a small novel by Christopher Isherwood about the day in the life of a grieving gay man circa 1962. I recall really liking the novel when I read it 40 years ago, but the only scene that stands out for me from the book is when the main character goes to the gym, and this scene is not even in the movie. It's all so pretty in an annoying fashionista way, but why would I even think that a movie made by Tom Ford would be otherwise. I know that the film is getting positive feedback and all I can do is shake my head wonder why. Its so brittle and dry I thought it would crumble before my eyes and yet its so heavy (for so short a movie it weighs a ton) and obvious with references and tags all over the place to other films and much better filmmakers. Sure Colin Firth gives a very good performance, (I actually thought that Colin Farrell was doing the lead, now that would have been interesting) and Julianne Moore is almost perfect, even though her British accent comes and goes in a short role as his impossible best friend and one time lover. But the screenplay is stacked against them and so it‘s all veneer and oh so vogue.