Friday, September 07, 2007

Day 1 Grades

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg) 74 [This London-set Russian mafia movie is clearly a step down from Cronenberg's last two films, and it feels like more of a work for hire than usual, but at the same time it's thematically coherent, making it feel like an obvious entry in his body of work. Too plotty for my tastes, it also lacks the broad iconography that made A History of Violence so powerful, yet it's filled with one intelligent directorial choice after another. I suspect it will be more successful than most of Cronenberg's films with the mainstream, but that doesn't really imply that it's a betrayal of his values. In any case, one action scene, late into the film, is destined for classic status.]

Starting Out in the Evening (Andrew Wagner) 38 [With its character-driven plot, its unattractive digital photography, and its spare, sad musical cues, this literary May/December romance film is clearly in Sundance territory. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the actors fail to generate much from the script they're given, and the third act is a hopelessly extended series of catharses. The occasional good line does slip out (e.g. "I can accept that he's going to die... I just can't accept that he'll be dead forever."), but, really, it's slim pickings.]

The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento) 64 [The best thing Argento's done in years, which isn't saying much, this finds him sacrificing most of his artistic pretensions, and shifting into balls-out entertainment mode. The plot, which features Asia Argento as a reluctant white witch battling evil in a Rome gone mad, is clearly an excuse for a series of imaginative, gruesome set pieces. Extremely gory, and extremely fun (especially with the Midnight Madness crowd), it's closer to a return to form than I would have suspected.]

1 comment:

RBurton said...

I'll ask what we're all wondering. How much nudity and homoeroticism can we expect from Eastern Promises?