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To the Wonder (2012)
Malick's first utter failure
Sexy scenes at the beginning do little to engage us or show us characters. Affleck looks like he'd like more oral sex under the fold down table on a train. The the lovers experience the sensuality of their love by fondling each other in the cloistered garden of a convent. Beautiful but in questionable taste. Then, they go to America together. Oh and she has a daughter and he doesn't have any intention to marry her. But the Earth is being poisoned, maybe by the man. Nobody in the film has any furniture. (It's the first failure I've seen from production designer Jack Fisk, too.) Characters show up out of nowhere. Has Rachel MacAdams ever SEEN a horse? She's no ranch woman, that's for sure. A wedding, finally, but obscured faces. Is it in a prison? Then an Italian friend shows up, gets loud, disappears. The friend's visit inspires Kurylenko's woman to tease at showing her breast to Affleck in an empty supermarket but apparently that'd be too scandalous. Javier Bardem talks about not feeling God. Kurylenko doesn't feel loved. Eventually it ends with a whimper. I won't see this again. It is vague, dull and surprisingly distasteful.
Anticipation was the ONLY fun
Oooh exciting! FFC working in 3D or the first time! He doesn't do anything that Scorsese didn't already do better ( and in focus!) in HUGO. There are only two brief scenes in 3D and the effect works about half of the time. The whole film is vaguely focused both visually and conceptually. VAL KILMER working with his ex- Joanne Whalley in what might be come back roles! Except they only talk by Skype and he's got a dreadful pony tail that isn't making a comeback, either. Francis is making a "personal" horror film. Unfortunately, he trades on his own tragedy, detailing the death of his son, without getting anything of value for himself, his sad little video or his audience. This is really dreary stuff. I never saw JACK but I don't think I've ever liked a Copolla film less, ever found any work of his so dishonest or unworthy of mention. You've been warned.
Chun sing gai bei (2010)
Unreleasable schlock smearing a film festival near you
If you LOVE lots of exposition with "Characters" trying to define themselves through talk and slow, sloppy action sequences and long drawn out everything, by all means rush to see this. Much was made of the stunts by people involved in THE MATRIX but that also had an editor, a script writer and other professionals doing a good job. This piece makes any Russ Meyer pic look like Eugene O'neill. I kept trying to find something to like about it but finally left during what I hope was the last sloppy set piece. It's like a public access cable station spoof of the kind of dreck that used to be on Saturday afternoons when no one who had legs would watch. This is really awful without anything to commend it.
Youth Without Youth (2007)
Coppola's Powell/Pressberger fantasy
If you are the sort who must have their films make any sort of sense or stick doggedly to one genre, this is NOT a film for you. There are worm holes through the plot big enough to send Jodie Foster through. This time they sent a poet and this is a real art film! It is also a tribute to the great work of Michael Powell and Emil(?) Pressberger who made THE RED SHOES, STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, THIEF of BAGDAD et al. The plot felt like the genie from THIEF of BAGDAD picked me up by my pants leg and dipped me repeatedly into a blender of all the episodes of TWILIGHT ZONE and a few Borges stories. Time Travel? Yep! Parallel realities? Absolutely! Nazis? Uh Huh! Mind Control? Why not? Manual book scanning, reincarnation, automatic writing, possession, reincarnation, sudden aging? Well, why the heck not? Bad puns about THE MALTESE FALCON? What kind of birds did you expect to see in Malta? Of course they go to Malta! To the best of my knowledge, there are no wolverines, werewolves or vampires. I hope that doesn't stop you seeing a ridiculous, beautiful and confounding film. There is a beautiful score by Golijov and wonderful sound design by Walter Murch. FFC has made some great movies. I hope he'll make many more. It was a joy to indulge in this flight of egocentric fancy!
46-okunen no koi (2006)
Porn? Action? Character study? Useless!
This poorly focused exercise may reference Genet's UN CHANT D'AMOUR but even fifty years on is MUCH less explicit and features badly drawn symbols instead of characters. They are SO badly drawn in fact that it was difficult for me to even tell them apart. The picture is mostly murky with occasional laughable CG intrusions. The soundtrack is shrill and echoey. This is not the work of a professional, is it? Miike has made other whacked out films that pushed boundaries of taste, genre, style or narrative. This time, he just struck out. It's such a mess that it was "a hit at the Berlin Film Festival"- always a cautionary note!
Ten Skies (2004)
This film is made up of ten 10 minute shots with camera on tripod and sound of skies in various parts of (mostly) Northern California. If you are a painter and get a chance to see this at a museum, by all means go. Just don't take anyone who needs a love story or explosions or any plot at all. I thought it was magnificent and would happily watch it again tonight. It makes me realize what a beautiful world this is, on it's own pace without the manipulating trivializing of quick cuts and eye directing. Gorgeous. The sound recording is sometimes excellent but never reaches the level of the picture. This film is suggested to lovers of "Days of Heaven" or maybe Tarkovsky. There are no characters, voices, story- just beautiful vistas changing over a ten minute span. WOW!
13 Lakes (2004)
Great film for a museum!
This film is highly recommended for painters, Buddhists and zen meditators. It is NOT for general audiences. There is no story, no camera movement, just 13 beautifully composed shots of lakes over a ten minute period, most with sound-I'd guess recorded at the time of shooting. It's certainly an an unusual experience -and one which I found quite rewarding- to see how much a body of water can change in a short period of time. This was a deeply contemplative experience, probably not one easily replicated at home with all the daily distractions around. I loved it and would happily see more work by this artist. Not for everyone, though.
The New World (2005)
Rafel Film Center Preview 142 minutes of bliss!
I didn't see the version that opened on Christmas in LA + NYC. The print I saw on Sunday Jan 8, 2006 ran 142 minutes by my watch. A lot of people had to get up and use the restroom but all of them came back. I found the movie ravishing in it's deep and mysterious beauty. This is not just pictorial attractiveness (like MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA) but a splendid meditation which gives grown up people a chance to reflect on their own loves, lives, choices and gives them room to have their own feelings if they are so inclined. It's a novel experience these days when most films badger, cajole and manipulate shamelessly to less effect. This is a surprising and delicious movie FOR GROWN UPS. Of course, I wish I could see it at only private screenings and an intermission would be nice in any movie over 2 hours. These are minor considerations. I will be seeing this film several times in the theatre. I hope the audiences will be quiet! There is no bass hum to let you know when things are getting exciting and the film itself is rather quiet. p.s.As with the AWFUL "Titanic"- Any young man smart enough to take his romantically inclined sweetheart to this film will be very lucky indeed! This is swoon inducing romantic delight!
Until I Hear from You (1998)
Painful! Irritating! Hysterically FUNNY!
This bit of nastiness is not for people who think that (in Gore Vidal's words) Gay literature should only feature people who "are just like everyone else but just a little bit nicer." The people in this movie are MEAN, selfish and morally blind. They DRINK...a lot! and smoke, like, CIGARETTES! They also do drugs, have promiscuous sex, become defensive, vindictive, cajoling. They love deeply and none too well. How pathetic! The straight people are just as bad and there are a couple evil drag queens who stand by their man and kick the s**t out of anyone else who might try to. Recovery programs offer slight hope. The redeeming power of LOVE is trotted out, a lame horse in a doomed race over the abyss. I laughed to keep from crying, then have more people over to watch my BAD dupe and laugh harder as they cover their eyes or gasp like they just saw a bad car accident!
This is one of few videos that use the technical shortcomings of the medium to tell about it's characters and their lives. The songs by Canadians David Alcorn and Laura Borealis are just too wonderful. (sample lyric- "we don't have to talk because I'm psychic!")
I've contacted the producer to ask for a DVD but so far it's not available. Do you have it? If so contact me firstname.lastname@example.org My Fifth generation VHS is about to give up the ghost. This is a movie that will always make me feel better. Weird.
Without CELINE & JULIE they go boating anyway!
This is a pretty, stylish, spooky, sexy film from France which is the serious version of Jacques Rivette's "Celine and Julie Go Boating" Without those two whimsical psychic sleuths, the mysterious hauntings proceed unhampered by the silly intrusion of physical comedy. Surprisingly, Marie France Pisier and Bulle Ogier- reprising their roles as slinky shades from that previous film, get through this repetition in just under 90 minutes! Corin Redgrave is excellent in this film (and very handsome!) Production quality is high Euro art film style. Especially recommended to fans of Rivette's film and the lovely Bulle Ogier!