Coming-of-age drama set in 1961, when a British teen is swept off her feet by a sophisticated older man. The first half of the film is a charming as it celebrates art and culture through the eyes of a young girl who is experiencing it for the first time. Newcomer Carey Mulligan who plays our heroine, Jenny, has a sweet innocence that recalls Audrey Hepburn at times. Raises some interesting questions about the value of education, before it culminates in a moralizing finale.
Archive for October, 2009
Unnerving exploration of the psyche follows a controversial therapist who is treating the ex-wife of a husband who seeks to take custody of their daughter. Eerie, deliberately paced rumination on rage and its manifestations culminates in a memorable climax that is truly horrific. The graphic degeneration of the human body is a common theme in director David Cronenberg’s work and this film is no exception. His script is clearly influenced by the messy real life divorce from his first wife and the subsequent custody battle for their daughter.
Sorority house is terrorized by obscene phone caller. Then people start disappearing. Early slasher film is an influential slice of horror which actually predates Halloween by 4 years. Doesn’t seem particularly innovative today because of the hundreds of horror films that came after it. However this film does have some dramatically menacing scenes. Exploitative in the way most slasher films are, but it is particularly notable for the way it treats the murders with more gravity. A good horror film, just not a great one.
Fictional rock biopic follows the life of musician Brian Slade, based upon the life of David Bowie. Stylish period film beautifully recreates the British glam rock scene of the early ’70s. Sountrack features a pulsating score with dozens of performances of both new songs written for the film as well as actual compositions from the period. It all can get a bit MTV-style-over-substance at times, but visually striking film is so lavish and decadent, it succeeds in spite of itself. Director Todd Haynes clearly has a real love for the material that makes the film captivating. Sandy Powell rightfully received an Oscar nomination for her outstanding costumes.
Bleak does not even begin to describe Larry Gopnik’s existence, a professor who seeks advice from three different rabbis after his rather unexceptional life unravels in every possible way. Undeniably well crafted film with some nuanced acting, is completely undone by the barrage of misanthropic characters that populate the film. This dark, dark comedy is difficult to endure . An exercise in torture, it presents one oppressive event after another. Our feckless protagonist enjoys a few bright spots, but mostly his life, like this film, is a punishing chore.
Melancholy tale about a boy who, after misbehaving, imagines sailing away to an island inhabited by wild creatures. Author Maurice Sendak’s almost wordless book (it contained ten sentences) was memorable for its gorgeous pictures. Director Spike Jonze beautifully captures the look of the book and for that reason, the film is successful. However, the original children’s story had a sense of awe. In the film, his attempts to flesh out the story cause the creatures to come off as more depressing than wonderful. Although the film is visually stunning, the thematically dark tone will not please fans of the original book.
Satirical horror tale in the style of a comic book, interweaves four tales concerning Halloween night. Ensemble film is somewhat disjointed, however the script is surprisingly intelligent and has some very amusing scenes (as well as scares). Film’s lush, superior production values contradict its direct-to-video roots. Why was this release delayed for two years? A real Halloween gem.
Bizarre film noir about a jazz saxophonist and his wife who begin receiving mysterious video tapes from someone who appears to be filming them while they sleep. Typically Lynchian, surrealist film kicks off with one of the creepiest set ups ever filmed, then trashes that story and completely falls apart. Fascinating first half gives way to a narratively baffling second half. Identities change, characters disappear and sexual encounters occur without even a trace of eroticism. A deeply flawed film, but the initial neo-noir mood is so hypnotic and spooky, it cannot be dismissed.
Hilariously wacky black comedy about a department store salesman whose comfortable life is turned upside down after he is passed over for a promotion. A modern, hip sensibility is beautifully integrated with deeply serious events, in this thoroughly winning Spanish farce. Indeed his life spins so wildly out of control, the results are delightfully ridiculous. Actress Mónica Cervera is particularly effective as Lourdes, a co-worker he would rather have nothing to do with.
Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is a light coming-of-age drama about “being yourself”. The message is not particularly earth shattering. In fact, it’s rather clichéd. Setting all of the action within the world of roller derby, does go a long way in making the story more interesting, however. And let’s not forget that cast, brimming with sincere and honest performances. The eclectic soundtrack is pretty nifty as well. A pleasant enough diversion, just not an especially memorable one.