Fucky Film Review!

Archive for June, 2009

Shape of Things

Posted by Web Manager on June 29, 2009

Neil LaBute 2003

Very shapely film about things. My favorite scene was the one in Phillip and Jenny’s apartment where Phillip ( Fred Weller, who was awesome) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) get into a spat. The prosthetics on Paul Rudd were ridiculous, but PR has more chops as an actor than he usually gets credit for, and he uses them in SHAPE OF THINGS.  The movie was adapted from LaBute’s play, and the writing is sharp all the way through. LaBute is interested in the profound distrust and misunderstanding that arises in relationships between men and women, and the basic dramatic structure of this story (something is very wrong, but we’re just not sure what) delivers the message poignantly. Good flick.

Posted in 2000's, American Films, Movies | Leave a Comment »

Mad Men (First Season) [TV]

Posted by Web Manager on June 27, 2009

2007, American Movie Classics, created by Matthew Weiner

Spent 13 of the last 48 hours watching this series. The casting director should be given a medal of valor. And yes, the art, costumes, lighting, everything in its place – perfect. The story is interesting enough – not exactly a Russian novel, but engaging enough to keep me up past my bedtime and make me seriously reconsider leaving the house in anything other than a gray suit with a pocket square. Protagonist Don Draper is one of the least interesting characters in the show – not at all unlike Ayn Rand’s Henry Rearden, whom the show never misses an opportunity to compare Draper to. The thematic structure of the individual episodes comes off a little heavy handed at times, but I get that it’s intentional – everyone is thinking of the same thing at the same time. Advertising. Deep. And if the writing seems forced well they can write that off too –  in 1960, they will have us believe, people loved to speak in platitude. But for all its problems it is still so well made and played that I will probably watch the second season and hope for whatever minor improvements are necessary to put this puppy over the top.

Posted in 2000's, Television | Leave a Comment »

Russian Dolls

Posted by Web Manager on June 25, 2009

Cedric Klapisch 2005

Watching this was kind of a half-assed homework assignment meant to stimulate my stated interest in pan-European cinema. His earlier film with the same characters, L’AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE, was one I avoided because it looked kind of annoying. DOLLS’ story, which follows a French “writer” from one impossibly luxurious living arrangement to the next, is textbook French: an affable if not impudent young man with no income doesn’t know how to choose among the endless number of beautiful women who want him and tries to get his head around the idea of the perfect woman.  Light fare, but better than I expected (not unlike the salad I ate for lunch) partly because of a few well-placed interesting visual escapes from the narrative thread, like the shot of the woman walking down Petersburg’s perfect street.

Posted in 2000's, French Films, Movies | Leave a Comment »

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Posted by Web Manager on June 20, 2009

Martin Scorsese 1974

I liked this but it’s hard to say why. It’s more Ellen Burstyn’s movie than Martin Scorcese, which makes sense – not just in terms of how the film got made and where each of them were in their respective careers, but also in terms of the movie itself. If it was to be directed by a man, it needed to be done with a very soft touch.  The story, when seen in 2009, feels a little dated, forced, or naive – none of which was probably true of it in 1974 – but despite this, the spirit of the film is what keeps it accessible and interesting.  Alice, as it turns out, is a timeless character that people of both sexes can identify with.

Posted in 1970's, American Films, Movies | Leave a Comment »

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Posted by Web Manager on June 18, 2009

Woody Allen 2001

Caught this on cable the other night. Pretty damn good, for one of his more disposable films. When he wants to he can scoot a plot right along — in a totally obvious but effective way (see also the opening narration to VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA). JADE SCORPION has such a simple hook – we know everything and the characters know nothing. Mice in a maze.  And yet it works. Even though I really hate Helen Hunt. Partly because I hate Helen Hunt, actually – her casting is right on. I like the crazy gypsy music that comes in every time Voltan sends them on their way. And Dan Aykroyd.

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Synecdoche, New York

Posted by Web Manager on June 14, 2009

Charlie Kaufman 2008

A complicated, intricate, and surreal film – more so, perhaps, than any of Kaufman’s previous films – SYNECDOCHE unfolds organically; it becomes. This was the first time Kaufman directed, but Kaufman was directing even when someone else was sitting in the chair – I don’t think MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION and ETERNAL SUNSHINE would have been much different had Kaufman directed those himself, nor, by the same turn, would SYNECDOCHE have been were it directed by Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze.  Kaufman’s films are borne of his storytelling and savant-like understanding of the medium – its conventions, limitations and possibilities. Despite being such a fantastical and surreal visual concept, SYNECDOCHE stands on its characters.  They move the story along over forty years with fierce, intuitive, dream-like logic that regales the impressively byzantine architecture of the film to a supporting, rather than leading, element of the story.

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The Brothers Bloom

Posted by Web Manager on June 7, 2009

Rian Johnson 2009

Here’s what I think happened. It took RJ years to raise the money for BRICK; during which time, he rewrote rehearsed and re-thougt, until everything marinated just right.  By the time the money came through the script was nearly perfect, the debut, “brilliant”.  [Insert your big shot producers] loved BRICK because it was so “brilliant,” and booya, Johnson has a deal for his next picture.  Much bigger budget.  Maybe some pressure, maybe more people whispering in his ears, maybe less time to write.  THE BROTHERS BLOOM is a disappointment.  Probably a mistake to re-use one of  the more successful gags from BRICK – the punch launched from off-screen – in the opening sequence of BLOOM.  Maybe spectacle just got the better of the film. RJ has a masterful eye and an intuitive understanding of cinema he is definitely in the right line of work – there are some mouthwatering shots in BLOOM, stitched together in a consistent and engaging visual language.  But the plot, weak from the start, and often developed in dialogue badly out of tune, became so tiring by the end of the film that I found myself waiting for it to end.

Posted in 2000's, American Films, Movies | 2 Comments »

** ** AYO! ** **

Posted by Web Manager on June 5, 2009

AYO!

What’s happening to A.O. Scott?  He used to be a glass is half full kind of reviewer, but no longer.  He’s mad as all hell and I don’t know why. He’s not dissing good movies or being unfair (check out  his dead-on review of Sam Mendes’ new film AWAY WE GO in which Scott pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong about Sam Mendes (not to mention Dave Eggers)), but something’s got his goat.  Get well soon old sport!

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* * * The Echo Maker * * *

Posted by Web Manager on June 5, 2009

I just finished this novel by Richard Powers, who it turns out, is a fellow Illini.   ECHO MAKER is pretty awesome – I read it in like three days.  It takes place in Nebraska.  Peace.

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