Cache (Michael Haneke, 2006) 
I’m pretty unfamiliar with Haneke’s work, but from what I hear, this is supposed to be his most accessible film to date. It’s a nicely constructed thriller with some taut moments but it doesn’t have anything that really pushes the boundaries of the genre. What Haneke does do is create his suspense in creative ways. For me, there was nothing that put me more on edge than the opening scene, where it looks like nothing is happening and the viewer can’t tell what exactly is going on. Things get a little bogged down when political and racial history are thrown in, but Haneke is smart in that he doesn’t let it take over the film. It’s mostly the means to an end if that makes any sense. I’m not quite sure why I liked this so much considering the main characters are Euro Yuppies who are wracked by guilt, which doesn’t sound that appealing to my tastes. However, it all comes together to make an interesting film. Definitely a contender for best of 2006.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The World (Zhang Ke Jia, 2005) 
I really don’t have much to say of any consequence about this film. It kind of just went through me and when it was over, that was that. There’s no doubt that there’s something in the visuals here that is appealing but the narrative encased in this visual world is so shallow for me that I’m grasping for anything to define what it is I just saw. Zhang is clearly interested in what China has become and what it will be, in terms of its economic development and the effect it has on the people. I can’t think of any better place that could be a microcosm of this than World Park, a world based both on capitalism and globalization. What Zhang seems to be saying is that people and their relationships still exist in this ever expanding global power, but it feels to me that the two main characters’ relationship is dwarfed by the big societal ideas that are being presented. The film may look good, but it seems to be an empty shell, and whatever was inside it leaked out just before I got to it. And I still can’t figure out why there are animated segments in the film. They don’t look bad, but it’s still jarring.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Not much too report in regards to film reviews. My work schedule hasn't allowed for time to watch anything. Summer means concerts however. I'm off to Scranton for Phil Lesh & Friends with Trey and Mike with the Duo tonight. I got seats five rows from the stage so it should be great. Phil & Friends were really on at Bonnaroo but I didn't get to see the SuperJam which was Trey, Mike, the Duo with a special appearance by Phil. My friend and I went over to see who was in the SuperJam but it was already 12:30 and they hadn't started yet. We were exhausted and left and must have missed the start by about five minutes. Anyway, tonight will make up for it. As for next week, Little Feat returns to the glorious Magic City Music Hall in Johnson City, NY. I went when they came last year and was suprisingly impressed, considering I thought Little Feat without Lowell George would pretty much stink. They proved me wrong, and I hope they do the same next tuesday. And Magic City better have their AC working this time.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005) 
Really just Traffic except oil has replaced drugs. Gaghan, while he may be a credible screenwriter, doesn’t do much as a director. The aesthetic style of this film is so close to Soderbergh’s style in Traffic that it borders on ripping that film off. The story is so complex and interwoven that even the characters in the film don’t have a complete picture of what is going on, let alone the viewer. That’s part of the point of the script, but still, trying to decipher the details of the story becomes the main focus of the film. I can say that it took me out of focusing on the visual aspects of the film. It ends up being a film where the story overtakes the film; by film I mean all the story and visual aspects that define film. The script does make some solid political points, and truly has some depth of knowledge about the situation in the Middle East, so it redeems itself for that. But there’s nothing striking in anything here that makes me think that one of the best films of 2005.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Palindromes (Todd Solondz, 2005) 
I can’t really give a much better review than here, which states everything that I feel about this film. Solondz is a mean-spirited filmmaker that uses cheap provocation and tries to disguise it as intelligent discourse. The entire essence of the storyline here is beyond my comprehension. What exactly is he trying to say; obviously it’s nothing that important because I can’t figure it out. Just some cheap shots at how shitty suburbia is (again) and picking on Jesus freaks (way too easy). Plus, the way multiple actors are used here makes it a gimmick, unlike in That Obscure Object of Desire, in which it has a real important and innovative purpose. That Solondz continues to get any credit as a filmmaker of substance boggles my mind.