Monthly archives of “May 2011

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I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino (2009)

I suppose opera is an early form of the music video, right? Similarly, this is a sort of music video for some lovely pre-existing John Adams pieces, and if you’re a fan of his carefully nailed-down chaos, you may be the sort who will enjoy this. As in opera and music videos, plot here runs a distant second in importance to mood and tone. While we are tempted at times to read the story here as an indictment of the inbred and isolated bourgeoisie, any such avenue of thought very quickly runs into trouble, as visual style trumps substance over and over again. I’d go so far as to say that Guadagnino makes Antonioni’s La Notte look like a Marxist tract.

Thus not exactly my cup of prosecco, but I can’t claim not to have enjoyed it. It’s an exact replica of what we used to call “art-house” pictures, and you don’t see too many of them any more.

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Ketchup

Zeitoun, Dave Eggers (2009). Eggers tells the story of a remarkable family in a very easy-going and simple voice.

Animal Kingdom, David Michôd (2010). Stark, crisp, finally melodramatic.

Restrepo, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington (2010). They should show this as a curtain-raiser before every war movie. War isn’t hell, or glory, or dramatic; it’s tedious, confusing, and random.

The Town, Ben Affleck (2010). I’ve never much cared for Affleck, but this is twice now that he’s turned in some really fine work as a director.

Howl, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman (2010). Wow, totally unwatchable! I made it up to the part where they’re on drugs and everything turns into an undersea cartoon or something.

Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy (2010). Sly and fun.

Friday Night Lights (2006-). Has there ever been a more emotionally manipulative show? This thing constantly makes me cry, even though there are precious few characters I really have any sympathy with. It’s weird.

The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998). I got weirdly hooked on this for a while there. Shandling is on the one hand hard to watch and on the other I can’t turn away.

Four Lions, Chris Morris (2010). This seemed like a bad idea. I had to check. It was.

The Next Three Days, Paul Haggis (2010). This was tight and gripping. Haggis knows what he’s doing.

The American, Anton Corbjin (2010). Lifeless.

The Social Network, David Fincher (2010). Eh.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Stanley Kubrick (1964). Every other year or so.

Marwencol, Jeff Malmberg (2010). Very nicely done.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Jean-Francois Richet (2008). Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, Jean-Francois Richet (2008). The French are so easily seduced by even the most caricatured image of the outlaw. Richet thinks he’s showing us Mesrine’s pathos but all that really comes across is how much he worships the man. Still, this is super entertaining and great to look at.

The Way Back, Peter Weir (2010). Almost absurdly epic. Absolutely worth the afternoon.

Colonel Chabert, Honore de Balzac (1832). Superb.

Salt, Phillip Noyce (2010). I can’t remember anything about this now.

Cold Souls, Sophie Barthes (2009). Anything with Paul Giamatti is worth a look, in this case only barely.

The Tourist, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (2010). The Green Hornet, Michel Gondry (2011). Two incoherent and atrocious payday films from relatively interesting directors. It’s almost like they’re trying to be as contemptuous of you for watching this dreck as they can be.

Fair Game, Doug Liman (2010). This is the dramatization of the Plame affair and one of the best films I’ve seen about the Bush administration’s post-9/11 rush to judgment. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are both terrific. Highly recommended.

Even the Rain, Icíar Bollaín (2010). Nice conceit, nice try, but it turns out a muddle.

Etc. etc. etc.