Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A few comments I missed the first time...

No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers) 68 [Crackerjack action scenes (doubly effective because there's no music during them) are the main attraction here, with the world-weary profundity and sudden craving for self-importance striking me as somewhat irksome and half-formed (what, exactly, is being referred to by the "dismal tide"?). Suddenly, the thematic material that's powered so many of the Coen's work (i.e. tounge-clucking at the moral decay in the world) is laid bare here in a few scenes so straightforward, that I found it tough to take them at face value, given the Coens' track record as ironists extraordinaire...

Highlight of the film for me was this: Brolin's Texan loses his hat and boots in a gunfight. Two scenes later, he's getting his costume back, once again sinking in to the Coen Bros. world where people are defined by their grotesque outfits as much as anything they say or do.]

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik) 54 [All day, I've had people coming up to me shocked at this rating. Sorry, dudes, but I just don't get what y'all are responding to here. For the most part, there's little here that's bad, but I have just as hard a time finding anything that I really love either. One or two shots are gorgeous (e.g. the shot of the masked bandits standing in the trees on the night of the last train robbery), but there's so little here that feels fresh. I've seen better Jesse James movies (such as Sam Fuller's), and many po-mo westerns which were less restrained by self-conscious artistry. Not even the acting particularly impressed, I'm afraid, with the two leads giving performances filled with mannerisms and tics. Someone, please explain the hype... Until then, I'll stick with something like Penn's The Left-Handed Gun, which covered all of this ground, 50 years ago, much more thoroughly, in much less time.]

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy) 51 [The mix of '70s-era "realism" and current-day movie gloss never comes off here, I'm afraid. The movie tries to be downbeat and morally murky, but it's bitten off more than it can chew. Nothing particularly impressive on any level, as far as I'm concerned, though it goes down easy enough.]

The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin) 62 [I am really glad I caught this, partially because it goes right in so many places where The Visitor went disastrously wrong. I've heard a lot of complaints about the contrivances and coincidences in the script, but they're kind of the point behind the thing. I think I read the thought somewhere that Akin is inventing new narrative forms that reflect the new kinds of relationships that are emerging in our globalized, cross-cultural world. Whoever said that is dead on... This is unabashedly melodramatic, but it's, refreshingly, not very stupid at all.]

Erik Nietzsche The Early Years (Jacob Thuesen) 29 [The fictionalized autobiography of Lars von Trier's film school years sounded good on paper, but in practice it's categorically awful. I mean, I can appreciate how the movie charts an innocent artist turning into a confirmed cynic, but nothing about the movie feels particularly honest. It was clearly written by the cynic, and not that young idealist. At least there were a few snippets of homemade shorts that von Trier directed as a child to keep it from being a total wash.]

Nothing is Private (Alan Ball) 7 [I guess this is touchy subject matter, but I wasn't offended on any level, except perhaps an aesthetic one. Seriously, this film, which plays like an equally misguided, comic version of Crash, is the most horribly miscalculated thing I've seen in recent memory. Two hours of pubic hair shaving, menstrual jokes, and child molestation, capped off by a completely unquestioning attitude toward the characters who most need to be criticized. If nothing else it demonstrates how good a director Sam Mendes must have been to turn American Beauty into something watchable.]

Ex Drummer (Koen Mortier) 46 [I guess this is basically a third-rate version of Trainspotting, but it's pretty inventive throughout, and it's not afraid to indulge in its extreme side. I didn't find it funny, per se, but I kind of appreciated how gleefully misogynist and nihilistic it was willing to be for its own sake.]

Les Chasons d'amour (Christophe Honore) 43 [I don't even like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, so I sure as hell am not going to dig a half-assed homage with arbitrary gender swapping and a wretched score. The last 30 seconds were nice and mature, though. "Love me less, just love me a long time".]

Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway) 64 [I'm sure at least half of the jokes (or "jokes"... it's Greenaway directing, after all) flew over my puny little mind, but this biopic of Rembrandt seemed more approachable than usual for the director. He's showing the construction and deconstruction of one of the great painter's greatest works, explaining the hidden symbols that dot the work, turning the investigation into a fairly compelling mystery plot. Definitely enjoyable if you're at all predisposed toward the guy's work, but probably equally torturous if you're averse.]

Chaotic Ana (Julio Medem) 39 [In the last scene of this, that crazy Ana poops in someone's face, so she can taunt him into bashing her head in with a lamp, thereby fulfilling a 2000 year old destiny. That didn't make much sense to me until I remembered the first scene, in which a dove poops in the eye of a hawk, only to be torn to shreds.

Then I remembered the second scene, in which that oh-so-chaotic Ana is dancing at a rave, and suddenly reaches out into a crowd, only to find a giant horse penis, which begins ejaculating all over her.

No fucking clue here, either, folks...]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Left-Handed Gun was about Billy the Kid, not Jesse James.