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That famous heterosexual panic
I know of a situation very similar to the one presented in the film. This two guys challenge the other about having sex with each other without changing their own perceptions about who they were. It became a big joke because although they got very near, apparently, never ever happened. Funnily enough they both had, separately, an homosexual experience with a stranger. It is absurd to think that two human beings could not make love if there is a minimum of attraction, physical, intellectual, emotional. We have been brain washed about this factor. Homosexuals have no fear, not really, about straight sex but heterosexuals have an irrational fear of gay sex because, I believe, they are terrified of the fact they may like it or feel comfortable with it and then a flood of insecurities will follow. Under that umbrella "Humpday" gets it absolutely right. They don't get to it because of fear of themselves, plain and simple. But the whole thing could have been told in 30 minutes. Improvisations are fun if one has the sense to administrate and cut. Edit, edit and edit leaving the surprises alive and "Humpday" spends an inordinate amount of time saying the same things. However I had fun and the three leads are terrific.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Just What The Doctor Ordered
An exhilarating realistic fairy tale that will make you feel like flying. I certainly felt it. Rewarding without being opportunistic. This tale of two orphan brothers in a slum of Bombay is a mixture of heart wrenching and uplifting emotions. I didn't know anything about the film other that what I just mentioned and that was part of the enjoyment so I won't talk about the film to allow you the same discovery I went through. Let me just say that this is Danny Boyle's best film and the cast of unknowns is truly extraordinary. The last few minutes of the film will have you on the edge of your seat hoping against hope that what "is written" is really written.
The Women (2008)
Badly Lit Women And Other Problems
Insane really. Even if you haven't seen the original George Cukor movie with Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine and a cast of a thousand other stars you may dismiss this forced, politically correct, depressing comedy. Depressing for many different reasons. Meg Ryan for one. What has she done to herself? Her face can hardly move. That alone puts her miles away from Norma Shearer. Annette Bening should be suing the DP and Debra Messing, what the hell was she doing here? Actresses with no connection in the public's subconscious trying to pass for friends, totally unconvincingly. Eva Mendes in the Joan Crawford part is an outrageous piece of miscasting. What a terrible idea! Her character is like a trans-gender performer without any taste or subtlety. Bizarre to think that a woman adapted and directed this women.The only positive things I can mention are a short but very funny appearance by Bette Midler and Cloris Leachman as the housekeeper.
Burn After Reading (2008)
A Bright American Farce
Nobody is quite there in this new bright farce by the Coen brothers. The plot is a smart excuse for a movie about nothing but appearing to be about a lot of things. Going backwards and forwards at the same time. Talk about "The Russians?" or planning to write a memoir. Brad Pitt is priceless and the innocence of his character is so believable that I wondered how many more surprises this actor has up his sleeve. He is a joy. George Clooney is also terrific and the Coens move through their crossed purposes with speed and elegance. I was totally immerse in their universe even if I didn't quite care what was going on. John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins and the unnerving Tilda Swinton complete the package of this movie that feels as if it was made for the sheer pleasure of it.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Entanglements Woody Style
Barcelona is recognizable enough and exotic enough to frame the latest complication from Woody Allen. Allen himself claims to care very little about films. He doesn't consider them the center of his life. Strange, because I do, Woody Allen without his films is...well I don't know who or what he is. Here he ventures again outside New York in a shape and form that reminded me a little bit of Jacques Rivette. Scarlet Johansson and Rebecca Hall, as the blond and the brunette of the title, make a great pair of opposites or seemingly so. Javier Bardem is the artist that comes to ruffle their world and the spectacular Penelope Cruz (getting better and better with every movie) is the hysterical side of the artist's past. We spend a great deal of time sitting at tables eating and drinking while a voice over guide us through their physical and emotional journey. I was delighted, entertained ever aroused. Woody Allen keeps surprising and he's got it whether he cares about it or not.
Tropic Thunder (2008)
I couldn't believe the lack of wit or of genuine new ideas. It targets the lowest possible denominator and it succeeds. The moronic objective, presumably, is to make you laugh with a shallow parody of Hollywood and war movies, celebrity and all the rest. The whole thing may have worked for me if it hadn't been so jarringly self conscious. I like Ben Stiller as an actor and as a director and even here he has a couple of moments but I was depressed by the outcome. It may just be me, I grant you that, people laughed like crazy all around me. Every fart provoked loud guffaws. Robert Downey Jr in black face and Tom Cruise bald and with a pot belly. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sex and the City (2008)
TV will be TV forever
On the big screen this 4 drag queens are unmasked. There is nothing appealing or revolutionary about them. They are a walking, reactionary embarrassment. That's what happens when the small TV screen is transplanted to the big Cinema screen. The truth comes out. Remember Bill Cosby's translation? Over 2 hours of the most excruciating dissection of characters I hope I'll never meet. The Make Up, the wardrobe, the dialog! Really depressing. I was admonished by a Sex and the City devotee because I was appalled at the movie without having ever seen the TV series. Okay, I plead guilty to that and that's only why I'm giving it a 2 and not a 1.
Johnny and Tim forever
What an extraordinary treat this bloody dirty tale of vengeance and gore is. The exquisite way Tim Burton presents it to us makes it so. Stephen Sondheim's stage masterpiece becomes a film masterpiece of unequaled stature. Everything about it reeks of genius of magic. Once again, Johnny Depp fills, Burton's macabre universe with overwhelming humanity. He can slash as many throats as he wants if we look into Johnny's eyes we see the struggle, the human winning in despair. I know I'm not making too much sense but I just want to urge you, if you love cinema, to rush and see it as God intended, on a big screen and Dolby surround sound.
Apartment Zero (1988)
Colin Firth Forever
Got the DVD yesterday. I hadn't seen it in years. I lived it very much like lived it the first time round. With my heart pounding. The horror is so personal, so civilized. Adrian (Colin Firth) lives his life like a man from another era. His white or pale blue shirts, his ties. His totally anonymous suits. It's difficult to know if that was a decision of his own...I would love a prequel - A teen age Adrian and his glamorous mom gallivanting all over Europe. "Suddenly Last Summer" anyone? That's how I imagine them. Adrian is clearly the victim of something catastrophic - He's devoid of personality, completely. And yet you notice that perhaps, with love, with real love, with carnal love and spiritual love he could develop into a truly fascinating man. This time, Colin Firth's performance went from glorious, as I remembered, to gloriously mind blowing. If I had to list the best performances I have ever seen, his would be among my top three. It is so strangely sexy and devastatingly sad to seen him become the foil for Jack's design. Adrian's desire is much more clear to us, the audience, than to him. I wanted them to kiss. I wanted Jack (a surprising and splendid Hart Bochner) to take him in his arms, to look into his eyes and tell him "I love you" I bet Adrian would have become something. I don't know what but something alive. The sexual tension is overwhelming and the cat and mouse game between them is so smartly constructed that the film is one of the most uncomfortable pleasures I've ever been through. No question about it, "Apartment Zero" is a 10.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Jane Austen for ever
Jane Austen's tale of love and economics reaches us once more with the energy of a thorough novelty. "Pride and Prejudice" has been a favorite novel of mine since I first read it and I've seen Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and now Matthew MacFadyen and Kiera Knightly. Amazingly enough I've never been disappointed. The material seems to be full proof. Colin Firth's Darcy, in many ways, is the Darcy I've always imagined. He's been an actor I've followed feverishly since his glorious Adrian LeDuc in "Apartment Zero", Matthew MacFadyen was totally new to me but he managed to create that sense of longing that makes that final pay off so satisfying. Kiera Knightly is a ravishing revelation. I must confess, I didn't remotely imagined that she was capable of the powerful range she brilliantly shows here. The other big surprise is Joe Wright, the director, in his feature film debut which is more than promising, it's extraordinary. The photography, the art direction and the spectacular supporting cast, in particular Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn, makes this new version of a perennial classic a memorable evening at the movies