Here we are, up to the waist in the award’s season, but almost no one honors the truly terrible misfires. We’re not going after the obvious, just-barely-there flicks–like The Human Centipede, for instance–but the high profile, often star-driven vehicles like The Green Hornet, an unparalleled yick-fest.
Film Review / We get so few dramas about real culture icons, we should rejoice when an eccentric director like David Cronenberg gives us such a fascinating one: the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The film examines the friendship, and then falling out, between the two indisputable titans of psychology and psychoanalytical methods, revolutionary in all sort of implications, even when incomplete or wrongheaded.
Film Review / Four years after 9/11, Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was published. Still fresh in the wake of the tragedy, it utilizes harrowing images from the day in an inventive way, enlisting experimental typography and a flip-book of the iconic The Falling Man photo in reverse.
The Doris Duke Theatre offers up a month of luvin’ movies in “Dangerously Romantic: Films to Fall in Love With.” Comedies, dramas, fantasies all make an appearance these next two weeks, one with a complete real-life dinner, in celebration of Cupid’s month. The Weekly, lovers ourselves, checked out a few of them, and comments on the whole batch.
Superbly acted, elliptically-plotted and visually candid, Shame, starring the priapic Michael Fassbender and a surprising Carey Mulligan (Drive), is getting all the world’s press because of Fassbender’s sometimes nudity and portrayal of sex-as-Hell. That is to say, it’s about the hellish world of a sex addict, New York division.
Set during the 1937 Japanese siege of Nanking, The Flowers of War pivots around two groups of very different Chinese women who must rely on the stereotypical drunken Western rogue male, played by Christian Bale, to rescue them from a fate worse than death. Given that one group is a band of famous whores, the Ladies of the Qin Huai River’s Jade Paradise, and the second consists of a dozen helpless convent girls, you might think we’re in for some mildly titillating banter, a scary moment or two, sealed by a chaste kiss.
My first, and pretty much only experience riding a horse took place on a cloudy day on a worn-down dirt road outside a tiny French village called Borderune. I rode alongside my girlfriend and a small posse of old French ladies, taking in the beautiful countryside, when our guide began galloping ahead of us, causing all of our horses to do the same.
In Young Adult, Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, one of the most loathsome human beings to ever walk the Earth in couture high heels. She’s a semi-successful young adult novelist renowned for a series of books written for teenage girls about high school society, a franchise that is on its last legs.
Sober up from the cray shenanigans of Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol with the much less hyper, but still thoroughly absorbing, chess game of a thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Adapted from John le Carré’s classic ‘60s Cold War thriller, the film follows secret agents who conduct dry, British espionage/cat-and-mouse games without shiny BMW prototypes or gravity-defying glue gloves.
I have a special spot in my heart for Cameron Crowe. Over the years, he’s taught me how to be one of many messy teens (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), woo someone with a stereo (Say Anything), be a directionless twenty-something (Singles), question your job and its purpose (Jerry Maguire), all while belting every word to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” (Almost Famous).
Until its last quarter hour, you won’t find a better, more beautifully realized, more intricate film than helmer David Fincher’s English-language version of writer Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo–the runaway best-seller pulp potboiler made into a Swedish film (also excellent) two years ago. The first hour is near-perfection in laying out Larsson’s rather old-fashioned plot in terms of 2lst-century cinematic techniques–which this film buff, anyway, thinks are well-nigh breathtaking.
After what, surprisingly, has been over a decade, it’s become a movie theater comfort to see Tom Cruise determinedly jumping off tall heights and just plain running as quickly as his almost 50-year-old legs will take him. (Can you believe he’s freaking 49?!) Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol is the fourth in the franchise, and, although much has been made about co-star Jeremy Renner taking over the leading action figure man reins, it’s still Cruise’s show all the way.
Film Review / Based on a duo of memoirs by Colin Clark, My Week with Marilyn is a breezy 99-minute look behind the behind-the-scenes making of 1957 picture The Prince and the Showgirl, in which a young Clark lands a tiny assistant job on the highly anticipated Sir Laurence Olivier comedy and an unexpected glimpse into a Hollywood icon’s psyche. But before seeing, don’t forget that just three seconds ago at the box office you asked for a ticket to My Week with Marilyn, not My Entire Life Spent From Beginning to End Forever and Ever Until Eternity with Marilyn.
Film Review / If you know the name Lars von Trier, and his often determinedly baffling work, then you know what you might be in for, both good (brilliant insights) and bad (deep cynicism) in Melancholia, a pan-Nordic feature in English. If you don’t know von Trier, proceed with caution: This director doesn’t let anyone, audience included, off the hook.
Adapted, but deviating from, the cult novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the newest film–a well-done debut venture into 3-D by movie-lover Martin Scorsese–has given us the most handsome, technically adept “holiday” production of the year. It is both an emotionally satisfying story and a colorful discourse on the invention of movies.