Monday, March 27, 2006

A Hole In My Heart

A Hole In My Heart (Lukas Moodysson, 2005) [3]
Personally speaking, I’m a person that enjoys a certain amount of cynicism and darkness in their cinema. But there is definitely a distinction between cynicism and a total lack of humanity, and this film has no humanity to be found. It is an ugly film, in terms of aesthetics as well as what actually goes on. I knew going in to this that it had some grotesque scenes, and yet they didn’t have as negative as an effect as I was expecting. I think that Irreversible is still a much more reprehensible film (I bring this up because Sicinski makes a point of comparing the two in terms of critical response, which I see as valid). Both films have no redeeming qualities to them, but what bothers me about this film is that Moodysson wants to make a moral stand even though his film is void of any human qualities. OK, I see that pornography is bad but do you really have to degrade your actors to such an extent? There’s one scene in particular I’m thinking of but I won’t give it away but you’ll know it when you see it. It’s not so much what I see that is unsettling to me; the problem is that someone would actually allow themselves to be subjected to Moodysson’s cruelness. Plus, I don’t even know what you’re trying to say exactly besides pornography is ugly. People can say that Lars Von Trier is cruel and manipulative, but Moodysson makes him look like Mr. Rogers.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monthly Listening Post - March

It's nearing the end of the month, so I have to find a fresh bash of five albums y'all should be listening to. So here it goes:

1) Neko Case -
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
2) The Secret Machines - Ten Silver Drops (this isn't available for commercial retail yet but you can download it at
3) The Thrills -
So Much For the City (I bought this album when it first came out, forgot about it, and recently rediscovered it and am digging it.)
4) Ray Lamontagne - Live From Bonnaroo Ep (for some reason you can't buy this at amazon but you can get it at Ray's
website. I was there and it was without a doubt the best set of the festival.)
5) The Magic Numbers -
The Magic Numbers

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Where the Truth Lies

Where the Truth Lies (Atom Egoyan, 2005) [6]
I really don’t have much to say about this except that this wasn’t what I would call an Atom Egoyan film. That could be a bad thing, but it can also be a good thing in that the story of this film is not as psychological as Exotica or The Sweet Hereafter. Egoyan does a good job of re-creating the different eras of the film, and the film has some really nice images. The performances are a little hit and miss; Kevin Bacon is outstanding but Alison Lohman is a little too shrill and chirpy for a role needs some more steeliness. The one problem I have is that the film gets buried beneath its own intentions. What we have here is a murder mystery but it gets so muddled that it washes over the entire film. From watching this I get frustrated with the way the uncovering of the murder happens. But what works is that Egoyan creates a great representation of a way the world was for two successful entertainers that happened to have underlying tragic circumstances.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

In the Mood For Love/2046

In the Mood For Love/2046 (Wong Kar-Wai, 2001, 2005) [10]
I feel it's best to review these two films together, not just because they are loosely related but becuase they have the same form and occupy a certain space. Both of these are right in my wheelhouse when it comes what I like. These are two of the most visually stunning films I've seen outside of Terrence Malick. That alone makes it hard to give any less than a ten. But the strength of these films comes not just from the visuals, but how they are used in a form to suit each film. I love how Wong plays with the speed of the frame, creating an emphasis on studying the images. Both films center around the character of Mr. Chow, who is two distinct characters in each film. Each film, however deals with Chow's relationships with women, in the first, with quiet longing, and in the second as a dashing playboy. Through each film we get the feeling that Chow is doomed to repeat the same situation in each relationship, and that what woman he is with is never that important. The women in 2046 come and go and that's the way it is. Chow ends up the same as In the Mood for Love, alone. With these two films, Wong Kar-Wai has proven to be a master of the fleeting love story from a male perspective. Plus, he is a master craftsman at creating some beautiful images.

Tournament Time

The Wong Kar-Wai reviews are coming a little later this afternoon but first, it's March Madness. If there's one sporting event that allows even people with no knowledge of it to participate in prediciting winners, it would be the NCAA college basketball tournament. And while many cineastes, if any actually read this site, detest any form of sports, I'm partial to college basketball. So let me indulge myself and bore you with my picks for this years tournament.

Atlanta Region winner: Duke (even though I hate their guts and somebody [Syracuse] beats them)
Atlanta Upset Special: Nothing. I got chalk almost all the way through.

Oakland Region winner: Gonzaga
Oakland upset Special: San Diego State over Indiana

Washington Region winner: Connecticut
Washington Upset Special: Wichita State over Seton Hall & Tennessee

Minneapolis Region Winner: Florida
Minneapolis Upset Special: Arizona over Villanova, Georgetown over Ohio State

Final Four: Gonzaga over Duke
Connecticut over Florida

National Championship: Connecticut over Gonzaga

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats (Paul Provenza, 2005) [3]
To put it plain and simple, this is probably the worst film, in terms of form and structure, which I have seen in a long time. It’s completely awful. Provenza doesn’t let a shot last more than 10 seconds before he has to switch to a different angle, sometimes in the middle of a sentence. It is one of the most annoying, amateurish looking devices I have seen in a film, possibly ever. Add to that the fact that he hardly ever lets a comedian finish his or her version of the joke, needing to think he has to cut to others to keep it interesting; it’s a disaster. And it really isn’t that funny. Sure, Bob Saget and Gilbert Gottfried steal the show but it wasn’t as funny as I was led to believe. The repetition makes the joke deadens the impact and only the comedians that step outside the original form (Martin Mull and Kevin Pollock doing a hilarious Christopher Walken) enliven this boring film.

I said a Wong Kar-Wai In The Mood For Love/2046 review was on the way and it will be, hopefully by Monday.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I'm Mad as Hell and I'm Not Going to Take it Any More!

It turns out my sickening hunch was right as Crash hijacked Best Picture. Yesterday I wrote that if it won, I would boycott watching the Oscars for all eternity. A promise is a promise so I'm through with the Oscars. What is wrong with Hollywood? How can the best film of the year be a film about "paint-by-numbers racism" (not my words, I stole 'em) that offers nothing new or insightful to say about the subject? That Crash can be considered some kind of revolutionary, insightful, or important film is crazy. It has nothing thematically or asethetically that makes it any different from most middle-of-the-road crap that comes out of Hollywood that tacks on manipulative emotional baggage (I'm looking your way, A Beautiful Mind).

Another worrisome factor was the brainwashing cult surrounding the film that is making others believe Haggis's retarded logic. I wholeheartedly respect Roger Ebert's opinion, but in this case he is dead wrong in his assesment of this film. Plus, Oprah got all her mindless lemmings to fall in line behind her in Crash's support. It's incredibly dangerous to have people in a place of influence to come out and say this film knows what it's talking about in terms of race. All Crash really is a guilt trip for what passes as a liberal these days. As a liberal myself, this film is insulting to me in that Haggis seems he can pin down race relations to a series of emotionally manipulative moments disguised as something important when they actually offer nothing new or of substance.

As for the Oscars, the show itself was the most enjoyable I can remember in some time. Jon Stewart did a bang-up job and I hope he gets invited to host again. But I won't be watching. If films like Titantic, Chicago, A Beautiful Mind, Shakespeare In Love, Dances With Wolves, and Crash continue to win best picture, I have no interest. And it pisses me off.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Oscar Menace

The floors at our house are being refinished which has seriously messed up my viewing and posting of reviews but we should have a Wong Kar-Wai restrospective coming up. Anyway, the Oscars are tonight and I feel like playing prognosticator. Even though I have only seen one of the Best Picture nominees, I know that film should have no business winning ANYTHING. All this talk of Crash creeping up on Brokeback Mountain and pulling off an upset is truly troubling. As you could tell from my review of Crash, I thought it was a reckless, manipulative, and a shortsighted film. That Hollywood thinks that this film has something meaningful to offer up about race just shows how shallow and vapid these people really are. Yet somehow they and a good majority of critics think that this is an important and powerful film. This makes me want to puke. I haven't agreed much with the latest batch of Best Picture Winners, basically everything since 2000, and if Crash does win Best Picture, I will boycott the Oscars for eternity. Here are my random picks:

Best Supporting Actreess: The only one I've seen was Rachel Weisz and I thought it was underwhelming. I'm jumping on the Brokeback bandwagon - MICHELLE WILLIAMS

Best Supporting Actor: Dillon's character is the main problem with Crash, so he's gone. I've haven't seen any others so I'll go with the consensus - GEORGE CLOONEY

Best Cinematography: If a Terrence Malick film is nominated here, it should win - THE NEW WORLD

Best Actress: Nothing here seems like performances that were exceptionally strong. I have feelings that Walk the Line isn't that good, so I'll go with FELICITY HUFFMAN

Best Actor: Plain and simple I'll go for the upset - DAVID STRATHAIRN

Best Director: I've finally come around to the fact that Ang Lee can make just about any kind of film (except blockbusters) and make it quality - ANG LEE

Best Picutre: No to Crash. With all this talk about Brokeback Mountain being a revolutionary film, all I see is a standard romance picture with two men instead of a man and a woman. Capote is overrated. Munich has no support. All this leads to something that should never happen in my mind, the director/picture split. But I have to go with GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK.

Also, Paradise Now and Murderball for best foreign film and documentary.