Friday, December 02, 2011

The Last Ten Films I've Seen, November Edition

1. Horrible Bosses (2011), Seth Gordon- I'm really tired of the modern comedy, and this miserable excuse only compounds my feelings. Nasty, snark.... full of non sequiter humor that is the love child of so many Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler movies.

2. J Edgar (2011), Clint Eastwood- Probably Eastwood's most generic film in years. Not only do we learn next to nothing about J. Edgar Hoover that wasn't already present in tabloid fodder, the male-on-male relationship between he and Armie Hammer is as blunt as a sledgehammer. Maybe the RIP Ken Russell could have enlivened the wrestling match.

3. A Very Private Affair (1962), Louis Malle- One of the Malle films I've been searching after for years finally got a humble TCM run. My God Bardot is stunning, but the film was a bit lackluster, too early to register as a nouvelle vague masterpiece and too shallow to exist on the same movie-movie overdose as early 60's Fellini and Godard. Did I mention Bardot looks good?

4. The Burning (1981), Tony Maylam- It features a young Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter! That's about all I can say for this cheap attempt to cash in on the marginal success of "Friday the 13th".

5. The Robber (2011), Benjamin Heisenberg- A chase film for the cool intellect. A man (Andreas Lust) is released from prison and immediately begins robbing banks again. In his spare time, he runs marathons, becomes involved with an old flame (Franziska Weisz) and stashes his money. The second half of the film is austere and quiet... a characteristic even more remarkable because it deals with a breath taking run/escape from the police. Watch this with "Drive" for a neat double feature. Heisenberg is a major talent to watch.

6. Melancholia (2011), Lars Von Trier- Somewhere around "Manderlay", Von Trier kinda lost me. With "Melancholia", he has pushed me off the cliff. Painfully dull with an exorbitant running time, I searched and listened for the metaphor to this chamber piece about depression and the end of the world for a long time and never found it. Wholly unpleasant to sit through, with no redeemable characters, this may be the first time I rooted for the end of the world.

7. The Descendants (2011), Alexander Payne- Another high profile, critical-proof film with a well respected auteur that landed with a big thud. Middlebrow beyond belief, its a film that deals in about as much sadness as Von Trier's punishing effort with a little more lightheartedness. Payne obviously takes heed in having a situation work out a little more messily than in ordinary fiction, yet I could sense every flip of the script in "The Descendants". And that damn cloying soundtrack did nothing to help its cause.

8. Take Shelter (2011), Jeff Nichols- I still can't shake some of this film's energy.... especially the unbearable ten minute scene in a storm shelter towards the end. Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain both deserve some kind of award here and Austin director Jeff Nichols delivers another astonishing, slow-burn portrait of nowhere America. See it immediately.

9. Tierra (1996), Julio Medem- Re watched Julio Medem's magical collision of love, pesticide and the wind burned plains in which his film is set. Available on bit torrents out there, I highly recommend discovering this terrific director and his works.

10. Terri (2011), Azazel Jacobs- Amateur actor Jacob Wysocki embodies the overweight, culturally ostracized lead character well, and John C. Reilly is very good as the school principal who takes an active interest in his well being. The tone of the film, as Terri befriends a pretty girl ("Rescue Me's" Olivia Crocicchia) and a troubled peer, wavers in the end.

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