I’m baaaaaaaack!

6 July, 2008

Boy I missed this blog. But I did enjoy myself in Fire Island despite the outrageous cost of EVERYTHING on that fucking rock. Ah well, c’est la vie. Saw a bunch of films since my last entry so here are my brief reviews of them all (Reviews out of 5 stars.)

Duck, You Sucker! (1973, dir. Sergio Leone): Second viewing. I was disappointed the first time because I was expecting an adventure story more along the lines of the Dollars trilogy. I appreciated it much more this time around, even though the last act drags a bit. It’s fascinating to look at Leone’s filmography in order because of how much he matured with each passing picture. The violence is still exciting but is no longer mindless. The heroes are badasses but now have a purpose behind their actions. The haunting epigraph by Chairman Mao of all people is what the film is really about. Smart and fun, the best combination. ****

The Klansman (1974, dir. Terence Young): I’m still trying to get over the fact that this is from the same director of Dr. No, Thunderball, and the best of Connery’s Bond films, From Russia with Love. I saw this because any movie starring Richard Burton, Lee Marvin and O.J. Simpson has camp value written all over it. But this was just BAD. All of O.J.’s scenes were hysterical but they barely make up 5 minutes. And this film runs at an interminable 112. Marvin phones the entire thing in as you would expect (Who wouldn’t?) and doesn’t get to kill anyone for ages. I’ve seen Burton be bad but entertaining at the same time (see Villain) but this performance was diabolical. What a sad legacy for such a talented man. *

Alpha Dog (2006, dir. Nick Cassavetes): I didn’t like this film at all but somehow I enjoyed watching it. After John Q, The Notebook and now this, I’m surprised anyone wants to hire this hack except to hear anecdotes about his infinitely better father. The man has never come across a cliche he didn’t like. The acting is embarrassing on all fronts except for Emile Hirsch. Justin Timberlake plays himself throughout; Sharon Stone’s big moment is wearing a fat suit and hamming up a storm at the end; Bruce Willis just yells a lot. I think I just wanted to learn the story, which is true, but I’d have been better off with a TV documentary. **

The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part I: The Moab Story (2003, dir. Peter Greenaway): I stand by my opinion that Peter Greenaway is the best British director still working. That said, like David Lynch in the States, he’s permanently moved into the land of self-parody. I saw all the Tulse Luper Suitcases pictures a few years ago at Tribeca; I was disappointed then and my reaction to the first film at least was even less enthusiastic on the second viewing. The definition of style-over-substance, and not in the cool way that marked his early films, especially The Falls which this is basically a remake Parts II and III are coming up on Sundance in the coming weeks. I’ll give them another go but I’m sure I’ll feel the same. **1/2

The Incredible Hulk (2008, dir. Louis Leterrier): I thought it was good where it counted — the action scenes — but an entertaining popcorn flick does not a good film make. Especially when Iron Man proved that a film of this ilk could be satisfying on ALL levels: writing, acting, storyline, etc, so I’m not letting the “It’s just a movie” excuse slide this time. This was as cheesy as one could imagine and then some. Edward Norton is always good and this was no exception. Tim Roth was solid when he wasn’t mumbling every word out of his mouth, which wasn’t often. William Hurt and Liv Tyler were lousy as usual. But the worst performance of all was from Delmar– I’m sorry, Tim Blake-Nelson. He clearly can’t act his way out of a paper bag unless he has a funny voice to hang his hat on. I don’t care if it entertained me, it was still “meh.” **1/2

In Bruges (2008, dir. Martin McDonagh): My favorite film of the year so far. The trailer misleads you into thinking it’s a British slapstick crime caper in the vein of Guy Ritchie. While I have no problem with that, McDonagh’s film is dryer and wittier with the kind of heavy dose of drama one can expect from his plays. His directing is confident and sophisticated; it reminded me of the Coen Brothers and not just because of Carter Burwell’s music. The acting is excellent as well (Colin Farrell’s best performance). Highly recommended. ****1/2

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