Sunday, July 17, 2011

140 Character Reviews

 Or something like that. As I start my blog up again, I feel the compulsive need to clear out and comment on some of my back catalog (many more where these come from). Real reviews to follow soon...

The Tree of Life (2011)

Malick's spiritual and philosophical indulgences reach their apogee in this strange metaphysical journey. Often stunning, never transcendent. 7.9

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Allen's European travelogue continues. He's much happier in Paris than he was in London or Barcelona. Lots of charm, but still not as much life as his vintage stuff. 7.6

Essential Killing (2011)

Jerzy Skilomowski has bearded terrorist Vincent Gallo running barefoot through snow and violating a fat lady to drink her breast milk. Ludicrous yet awesome. 8.1

Animal Kingdom (2010)

Brooding Australian crime drama doesn't reinvent the game, but has more then enough in the way of chills and bloodsoaked energy to warrant spending time with these beasts. 8.0

Snabba Cash (2010)

Brooding Swedish crime drama has most of the right parts, but uses them to churn out something that's tedious and unconvincing. 6.7

Le Gamin au Velo (2011)

Dardenne brothers took Cannes by a storm with harmless 400 coups/Bicycle Theives hybrid. Needs more air in its tires. 7.4

La Chinoise (1967)

Godard's most political movie is pretty insufferable. But why is he making fun of the jeunes Marxistes; I thought he was one? 6.9

Zabriskie Point (1970)

Now that I think about it, Antonio's (seemingly) most political movie might have more to it than violent hippie radicals and mass dessert sex. Sublimely ridiculous. 8.0

Une femme mariee (1964)

Likeable Godard. Lots of dulcet bedroom conversations influenced by Hiroshima mon amour. Has cinematic tricks as well as warmth and compassion. 8.0

Bande a part (1964)

Similar in style to Femme mariee, but Godard draws from the crime thriller this time. Better because it's more original and iconic (great dancing scene!) 8.4

Vivre sa vie (1962)

More idosyncratic Godard genre hopping; amour, existentialism, shootings, Sartre, Hegel, dancing, prostitution. Interesting, but somewhat superficial. 7.9

Accattone (1961)

Same theme (prostitution), same time (early sixties). Passonlini's take on pimps and the women who love them is gritty, funny, sad, beautiful; a true masterpiece. 9.2

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

Matthew McCounoughey plays a sleazy and cunning defense lawyer with a heart of gold in this effective courtroom thriller. 7.5

Rabbit Hole (2010)

Two hours of straight up grief, but James Cameron Mitchell directs with subtlety and grace and Kidman and Eckhart deliver astounding performances. 8.2

Short Cuts (1993)

Hyperlink cinema at it's finest. Altman's three hour L.A opus is a hilarious and dark affair that achieves ramshackle perfection. 9.0

The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

Why did the atheistic Passolini make tell the story of Christ and dedicate it to the Pope? Whatever the reason, there's something ethereal and timeless here. 8.3

Norwiegian Wood (2010)

Lots of sex, crying and melodrama in this adaptation of the eponymous Japanese literary classic from Vietnamese director Anh Hung Trang. Poetic and moving. 7.9

Thor (2011)

Servicable and forgettable summer fun with the Marvel comic adaptation from Kenneth Branagh.Thor not a very compelling lead. 7.2

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Depp's Jack Sparrow is in fine form. Along with a straightforward story, Penelope Cruz, and some nice supporting characters, he more than keeps the franchise afloat. 7.4

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Matthew Vaughn puts some stylish touches on this summer franchise, but he gives us glossy fakeness more than any real substance. 6.8

Source Code (2011)

Intricate and ambitious in a way that few Hollywood films are. The chronology and twisted plot rattle the mind, but this is one smooth ride. 7.8

Fox and his friends (1975)

The usually insightful Fassbinder tries too hard to prove a point and delivers a good looking but heavy handed morality play. 7.5

Lola (1981)

Fassbinder's familiar themes of decadence, dependence, business, unbalanced relationships, and suffering for love. Has a welcome liveliness to it. 8.2

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979)

Same. Rises slightly above the more straightforward Lola due to greater narrative complexity, greater focus aftermath of WWII, and an even more intriguing female lead. 8.3

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2011)

Legendary martial arts director Tsui Hark dials up the campy kung fu action along with some spectacularly bad digital effects. 6.9

Fast Five (2011)

Adrenaline soaked mechanical ballet. Car crashes, hot babes, and a fight between The Rock and Vin Diesel. What more could you want? 7.3

The Beaver (2011)

How much can you do with the story of a man who talks to a hand puppet? Gibson does a hell of a lot but Foster falls prey to cliche and ham handed attempts at profundity. 5.8

The Servant (1963)

Dynamic, volatile, and visually stunning, it's a pleasure to watch the drama unfold and the balance of power shift in this Losey classic. 9.2

Play Misty for Me (1971)

As an actor, Clint Eastwood's manly grunts are convincing, and he shows a fine touch for atmospheric action in his first movie as a director. 7.7

Buffalo 66 (1998)

Vincent Gallo gets his Godard on in a story that's just sweet and just dirty enough. Since the Americana here is genuine and not just New Wave affect, this is the real deal. 8.1

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Incoherent, rambling, sentimental snoozefest from Spielberg. At least you get to see a young Christian Bale at work. 5.6

The Strange Case of Angelica (2010)

102 year old Manoel Olivieras gives us a very odd and intelligent fable that plays with death and dreams. Might have been even stronger if it were less opaque. 7.6

The Last Detail (1973)

Hal Ashby, in this deceptively simple and unassuming masterpiece, has a way of making us laugh, feel for, and identify with the eccentrics he so lovingly depicts. 8.5

Odd Man Out (1947)

Dutch camera angles have their virtues, but Carol Reed tries too hard in this somber thriller set in dreary looking Belfast, Ireland. 6.9

Man Hunt (1941)

Fritz Lang fares better over in England with this implausible and silly, but charming, man-on-the run story, which is also a piece of good, fun war propaganda. 7.5

The Big Heat (1953)

And when Lang gets dark and violent, it gets really good. What starts out wholesome becomes gloriously unhinged once the blood lust sets in. 8.8