Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Video Views: October 6, 2009

This week offers two solid choices, and one that you wouldn't want to watch even if it meant the difference between life and death. Also this week, there are two cerified classics, and one cult classic coming out with yet another version of themselves.

The Brothers Bloom ***
Rian Johnson’s follow-up to his amazing debut Brick, was this Wes Anderson inspired comedy about two brothers who are con men (Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo) and their final job – tricking an eccentric heiress (Rachel Weisz) out of a few million dollars. Things get complicated when Brody and Weisz fall in love. The movie is clever and entertaining throughout, with great performances (particularly the near silent Rinko Kikuchi who is hilarious as the brothers’ sidekick Bam Bam), but I couldn’t help but think that Johnson was too talented to simply make a Wes Anderson clone. Never mind though, this is still very entertaining. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/05/movie-review-brothers-bloom.html

Three Monkeys ***
This is a Turkish film noir, mixed with a realist drama. A rich man hits and kills a young woman in his car, and pays his driver to take the rap for him. While in jail, the man’s son and wife struggle with their own morality, and the choices they make. Nuri Blige Ceylon’s latest film has one of the most distinctive visual looks of the year, and is quietly moving. It is perhaps a little on the slow side, but overall this is a fine film. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/05/movie-review-three-monkeys.html

Year One ½ *
Jack Black and Michael Cera are both hilarious actors, and director Harold Ramis is responsible for some of the best comedies in the last 30 years – but Year One is a complete and utter laugh free void of a movie. Black and Cera play two members of a Hunter/Gatherer tribe who are cast out and wander around the titular year meeting people out of the bible and other historical sources. The movie is a confused, jumbled up mess of ideas and jokes that simply are not funny. This is one of the year’s worst films. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/06/movie-review-year-one.html

Older Releases
Audition (Takhasi Miike) ****
A few weeks ago, I recommend Miike’s Visitor Q as a curiousity piece for adventuresome film fans. Now comes what is most likely Miike’s masterpiece. A middle aged cop falls for a much younger woman, and for the first 45 minutes or so, we think we maybe watching some sort of romantic drama. Then one day when the two are on the phone, we hear a thump for her end. As the camera switches to her, we find out where the thump is coming from – a sack in the background, which obviously has a still alive human inside. Then the action really kicks in on one of the best psychological thrillers of the decade. By the time we get to the climax (“Deeper, deeper”) we are gripped to the edge of our seats.

Chinatown (Roman Polanski) ****
Since Polanski got arrest last week, perhaps it is a good time to remember that he is more than a child rapist. Whatever Polanski ends up getting in terms of jail time, it will not change the fact that he is one of the best directors in history, and Chinatown is not only his best film, but one of the best ever made. Jack Nicholson gives a superb performance as Private Eye JJ Giddes, who gets in deeper and deeper into a mess he does not fully comprehend. Great supporting work from Faye Dunaway, John Huston and Polanski himself, in his most memorable role as an actor (“You know what happens to nosy people? They lose their noses!”), this is a must see film for everyone.

My Fair Lady (George Cukor) ***
Call me a curmudgeon if you like, but while I enjoy My Fair Lady, I do not think it is the musical masterwork many claim it is. For one thing, Rex Harrison sing talks his way through his Oscar winning role as Henry Higgins, and for my money, if you’re going to do a musical, than damn, you better be able to sing! For another, Audrey Hepburn does none of her own singing, and the result, while pleasant, is a little disconcerting. For another, the film is way too long. And finally, the inherent sexism in the play keeps me from fully enjoying the movie. Still a fine film – certainly one of the best examples of the road show type musicals that Hollywood never makes anymore, but hardly a masterpiece.

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