Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Last 10 Films I've Seen

I do apologize for my movie critiques looking more and more like Twitter feeds, but I've got to do something to get off the snide here with posting. General life (and mainly baseball season) has kept me away from the theater for over 4 weeks now.. which has to be some type of personal record. Regardless, the last ten films I've seen with a few brief comments (and again, thanks "Film Comment" for the rip-off here):

1. Figures In A Landscape (1970), Joseph Losey- Like the existential car movies of the early 70's (especially "Two Lane Blacktop"), Losey's film about two escapees on the run from a menacing black helicopter is less a literal chase movie and something more sinister and psychological.
2. Kaboom (2011), Gregg Arakki- I keep telling myself this is one of the worst filmmakers post 1990, and yet I still keep watching his movies. Not as bad as, say, "Nowhere" or "The Doom Generation", but still emo-punk zaniness at its most precocious.
3. Chelsea On the Rocks, (2009), Abel Ferrera- I love me some Ferrera, but this rambling, stuttering and self-absorbed documentary about the free willed residents of the infamous New York hotel doesn't teach or explain anything.
4. Black Death (2011), Christopher Smith- A big fan of direct to video auteur Christopher Smith ("Creep", "Severance", "Triangle") and "Black Death" may be his best film yet as traveling knights led by Sean Bean confront a town possibly controlled by a witch during the black plague. It looks amazing, stars this one guy that's a dead ringer for a young Klaus Kinski, and controls its atmosphere well.
5. On the Silver Globe (1987), Andrezj Zulawski- I've seen two films by Polish mad-man Zulawski now and my stomach churned through both of them. They're not gory in any sense of the word, but his camera swings wildly, his characters all speak in shrieking tones and the overall madness of his work infuses itself into your brain... and not in a good way. This two and half hour sci-fi film is also relentless, maddening and downright challenging.
6. The Dilemma (2011), Ron Howard- A very weird film... part male bromance and part dark drama about infidelity, its tonal shifts are suspect and acting by Vince Vaughn and Kevin James feel like retreads from all their previous gigs. I still love "Swingers" and "Made", but honestly, Vaughn's shtick is getting redundant.
7. The Phenix City Story (1955), Phil Karlson- Moral tale of greed and small town corruption telestrated like an after school special, but still effective. Director Phil Karlson is an interesting genre director whose flat narrative style is always engrossing. See "Kansas City Confidential" for an under appreciated gem.
8. Red, White and Blue (2010) Simon Rumley- Awful, violent mess of a movie that looks terrible and never justifies its intense torture porn narrative spiral no matter how long it tries to establish 'emotional' connections to its three various leads. Props for its Austin, Texas filming locations.... but it even makes those places look like the gutter.
9. The Mechanic (2011), Simon West- Did we really need a remake of this so-so Charles Bronson vehicle?
10. Somewhere (2010), Sofia Coppola- More lethargic ennui by a burned out actor (Stephen Dorff) who has something vital (daughter Elle Fanning) injected into his life, timed to the lulling music of Phoenix and The Strokes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Coppola's slow camera really hits a nerve with its patience and I loved every second of it.

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