A combination of big screen, small screen and boob tube viewing over the past couple of weeks:
1. Nazi Love Camp 27 (1977)- Released as a titillating grindhouse flick in the early 70's, I can usually roll or have fun with Nazisploitation efforts, but this one is a tepid experience. Inter cutting full penetration, lesbianism, sadism and really bad acting (plus a story about human genetics engineering a baby for Hitler), the film probably should stay unreleased in the U.S. A bootleg classic now though.
2. The Skin I Live In (2011)- Almodovar just never really connects with me, finally catching up with his praised film from last year. The way he mixes up Spanish melodrama, queer cinema and basic thriller tenants is all very well done, but I just didn't care for anyone in this film.
3. Premium Rush (2012)- Yes, this is probably the first terrible Michael Shannon performance of his career, but I'll be damned if David Koepp's fast paced, straightforward actioner isn't involving and downright fun even if we know how everything works out. Gordon-Levitt is terrific again, ex-Sopranos actress Dania Ramirez (Blanca) breathes great energy into her supporting role and I was pulling for everyone to end up ok.
4. Kill List (2012)- Ben Wheatley's cocktail mix of a film tries its hand at three different genres, each one more terrifying and disturbing than the next, and establishes him as a great talent to watch. The less one knows about this film, the better. One of the year's best films.
5. The Wall (1983) Turkish director Yilmaz Guney's final film, and certainly an angry one in his long line of autobiographical films about his country and the political/civilian unrest. If one hasn't seen "Yol", I urge them to track down a copy if possible. I have 4 more hard to find Gilmay films lined up to watch in the coming months, and I look forward to exploring his stuff. This one, about life inside a sprawling prison inhabited by children, women and men segregated from each other, is uncompromising and surprising in the way gentleness and violence exists in the same very small space.
6. Snowtown (2011)- Right from the start, I felt imprisoned and claustrophobic from this film- about an Australian serial killer- that never waned. There's nothing inherently wrong with "Snowtown"... in fact it's scenes of violence and murder are quite harrowing in the way they unflinchingly present their crimes and all involved give realized performances. I just felt like I've seen this whole thing before, right down to the washed out 70's cinematography.
7. Lovely Molly (2012)- Film Comment editor Gavin Smith and I usually agree on our horror film vices (we both seem to be the only people who really, really loved "Insidious"), but here we differ. Sorry Gavin. Eduardo Sanchez ("Blair Witch Project") returns to the genre with a shallow exploration of insanity and atmospheric chiller. When a woman moves back into her childhood home, her mental state blurs between reality and fiction. Low-fi horror it is, but the film relies on video camcorder footage just a bit much.
8. Fanny and Alexander (1983)- The 5 hour television cut, something close to a masterpiece by Ingmar Bergman. My God, the colors and interiors of this film are mesmerizing. The story, which takes its time weaving a tale about one family's ups and downs during the early 1900's is a knockout of narrative, infusing character and grace into every member of the family. While eventually settling on the young children and their hardships after their father's death, Bergman never loses his way in a mammoth event that ranks up there with the best of them.
9. Too Big To Fail (2011)- There's one scene in Curtis Hanson's razor sharp exploration of the 2008 financial crisis that explains the mortgage company meltdown better than anything I've seen or read in the last three years. Probably liberaled up and Hollywood-ized, of course, the HBO tv event is still a terrific and clear eyed expose.