Saturday, May 21, 2016
THE END OF THE TOUR(directed by James Ponsoldt) offers a glimpse into world of journalism, literary culture, and celebrity
This engaging film is built on contradictions. A 'serious' writer works for Rolling Stone magazine devoted to Pop Music. He is assigned to interview a 'reclusive' writer of a 1000 pg novel who has the physical presence of a hulk, the personality of a dork. David Foster Wallace is a one-man cat-and-mouse game. A passive-aggressive internal drama queen(beauty-in-the-beast) who seems to both seek out and run from celebrity. Too philosophical for the dominant pop sensibility, too juvenile to rise above hipsterism. Done without sentimentalism and sensationalism. It is also about clever Jew and messed-up Aryan and might make an interesting double-feature to A DANGEROUS METHOD. Solid film.
Sort of imaginative in the way of Tim-Burton-Terry-Gilliam that I care for not. Mostly fast-forwarded through this lousy movie. Given the degeneration of Christmas into Black-Friday-Walmart-Riots, maybe Krampus the monster better represents the spirit of our age than Santy does. But what might have been a cute 20 minute short film slogs on for feature length, and there simply isn't enough material or talent to hold our interest.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
This is reportedly Ted Cruz's favorite movie, of which he can quote every line. I can see why. If ever a movie was made for dufuses, this is it. But it is a very fun and entertaining movie for dufuses, and it has at least two or three very inspired scenes: The first duel, the battle of wits, and the rescue at the end when the romantic hero summons a weird combo of skill, strength, and wits amidst his semi-paralyzed state to overcome the evil prince's plot and save his damsel in distress. Not a pretty movie except for the romantic leads. One wonders which character Cruz identifies with most. The dashing hero? Or the cunning and conniving villains. Or one of many freaks? Probably all of them.
What is it about the Spielberg touch? Even when you know he's making schmaltz, it can be irresistible as it is here. This movie is a bridge between genre cliches and grim realities. It ventures just beyond the comfort zone to feel the freeze but steps back inside to avoid frostbite. It's that ingenious balance of warm glow and frigid winds that makes Spielberg's 'serious films' appealing to middlebrow sensibilities. There's something that passes for ambiguity, but it's ambiguity 101, an introductory course accessible to all willing to make a modicum of effort. At any rate, Spielberg's mastery is such that everything he does now looks effortless. You won't learn much about real history, but BRIDGE is still more intelligent than most movies out there. And certainly more entertaining.
Monday, May 16, 2016
This movie sucks for the same reason the new STAR WARS movie does. The wonder is gone. Magic is just an afterthought. The first JURASSIC movie was full of surprises in vision and technology. Already, the second one had little more to add and soon turned into parody. Third one wasn't even directed by Spielberg. It was T-Rex on the loose once more to snatch up some more dough into its jaws.
So, what does the latest installment have to offer? Only more advanced computer graphics. So, we have tons of dinosaurs stampeding and flying all over the place. The whole thing looks like a video-game with characters who only register as pairs of legs. The tasteless 'Trevor Lynch' of Counter-Currents defends JURASSIC WORLD because it has lots of white heroes(while denouncing the new STAR WARS for diversity-mongering), but both movies are terrible to the bone as cynical exercises in purse-snatching.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
A SPECIAL DAY(with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni) Is a Special Film. Directed by Ettore Scola.
The kind of intelligent humanist film we almost don't see anymore. Mastroinni plays a fruitkin leftist preparing to be exiled by Fascist authorities on the day Hitler arrives in Italy. The entire film takes place in a tenement complex and uses some of the devices made famous by Hitchcock in REAR WINDOW. It makes us think about history as heroic vision(as promulgated by propaganda and myth) and as private lives with weaknesses and vulnerabilities that makes people what they really are.
This overblown movie cannot make up its mind. It tries to be art film, fashion statement, Hollywood spectacle, faithful adaptation, free-flowing visual feast, etc. It is at once too faithful and too licentious. The result is a confused mess. It has some impressive cinematography, but the images do not rise about chicness, prettiness, and obviousness.
The general rule for film-makers should be, If you don't have a clear idea(or ample talent), just stick to the spirit and substance of the material. Don't bet on lots of gratuitous style and razzle-dazzle making up for lack of focus and vision. A lot of talent went into this production, but it went to waste in the hands of a hack trying to be an auteur. Justin Kurzel is to art film what J.J. Abrams is to the blockbuster. Mere shadows of real talents.
This is surely the worst STAR WARS movie, if indeed it could be included in the 'canon'. The sense of wonderment is gone. In what is now an all-too-familiar universe, there is nothing left but more chases and explosions. J.J. Abrams the director treats the material like bowling. Scene after scene, he sets up the pieces, rolls the ball, and watches things fall apart. He makes Michael Bay look like a genius.
The characters are so thin and the plot thinner that they make Lucas' treatment seem Shakespearean in comparison. The fact that so many critics and moviegoers fell for this junk(for reasons of PC or sheer stupidity) is proof that morons rule the world. Genuinely impressive sci-fi films like ENDER'S GAME and TOMORROWLAND failed at the box office. Hype trumps honest talent.
The only nice scene is when Han Solo and Chewy make their entrance. Like the saying goes, "In the land of the blind, one-eyed man is king." In a culture where everything is one-dimensional, two-dimensional heroes are next to godliness. There is more intelligence and intelligibility in Chewy's bawl than in all the jabbering among the insipid characters. Btw, why does Han Solo's kid look like a Jewish John Travolta?
I knew this would be bad, but I had no idea it would be this bad. It's up there with BATTLEFIELD EARTH.