Monthly Archives: May 2012

Moonrise Kingdom – 9/10

MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012, Wes Anderson): 9/10

With this existential rite-of-passage adventure, Anderson has made what may end up being his signature masterpiece. He’s certainly covered some of this ground before — with his central romance, there are echoes of Anderson heroes and heroines past: Suzy is a younger version of Gwyneth Paltrow’s brooding, poker-faced ingenue from THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, and Sam is a more grounded, less egotistical, but equally stubborn and passionate incarnation of RUSHMORE’s Max Fischer — and he certainly pays a debt to his influences as well [with the girl reading a storybook aloud to her lover high above a wilderness campsite, with authorities closing in on them, he inches close to outright thievery of Malick’s BADLANDS; and his shot of a flood rushing into scout headquarters is framed and conducted just like the elevator blood from Kubrick’s THE SHINING], but he’s never had such clarity of message. This story of two distinctly creative souls, still unsullied by the compromises and letdowns that adulthood will bring, courageously escape from the confines of a rigid society determined to ascribe nothing short of insanity to anyone who dares exhibit quirky individuality. In doing so, they come of age, and even find a way to come back to the culture they dreamed of abandoning, when they discover that one can fight within the system. It’s a bold, optimistic statement and Anderson’s most mature philosophy to date, characteristically explored through adolescent innocence. Sure to be one of the year’s best films.


Filed under Uncategorized

Rampart – 7/10

RAMPART (2011, Oren Moverman): 7/10

Better than Werner Herzog’s BAD LIEUTENANT; not nearly as good as Abel Ferrara’s BAD LIEUTENANT. This is a skillful film — richly photographed and delicately directed. While there are explosive moments of drama, none of them are overplayed or phony. As a character study, it’s terrific — thanks of course to Woody Harrelson, who’s in every scene and just bores a hole right through the camera lens. He’s a marvel. The script, however, is a different beast. Not that this is meant to be a clean narrative, but I’m questioning if Ellroy’s novelistic skills can ever really translate to the cinema (I’m in the camp that L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is overrated; and while that could be Helgeland’s fault, it’s starting to become a trend that films based on Ellroy works are consistently underwhelming, and now that he has a screenwriting credit, things haven’t improved). I wish it had gone through another draft (my kingdom for Shawn Ryan giving it a polish), but it’s not without some really good stuff.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Dictator — 4/10

THE DICTATOR (2012, Larry Charles): 4/10

Charlie Chaplin made a satire with a similar title, only his had the word “Great” in it. Similarly, the movie itself had a lot more great in it than this lame, lazy, barely intermittently amusing film does. Every time SBC’s let’s-poke-fun-at-both-Arabs-and-Americans farce starts to show some conceptual balls, it slips back into crowd-pleasing gross-out humor almost as if it were afraid to really think about how caustic it could be if it tried. The one big speech SBC gives at the end, while accurately satirical, is such a pathetic way to get the point across — he has basically given up on proving his point cinematically, and now just has to stand there and spell everything out to the audience so they can pat themselves on the back for hating the likes of Dick Cheney. Tossing in a cavalcade of cameos from Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Corrigan to Edward Norton and Megan Fox isn’t a substitute for quality, despite some game performances (especially from Hahn, who is never not funny). There are a couple of hearty laughs, but they are way too few and far between in an 83-minute movie that’s still about 10 minutes too long. [Also, it’s bizarre that a big-budget summer comedy would have such awful editing, continuity errors, half-assed special effects, and awkward direction. They can’t even get the technical stuff right anymore?]

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Inkeepers – 5/10

THE INKEEPERS (2012, Ti West): 5/10

Suffers from pretty much the same problem as THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL: an hour of painfully slow buildup and then a less-than-satisfying payoff. Look, I’m all for the slow buildup — horror is at its best when suspense builds so slowly that you’re shouting at the screen for something to give. But West, who is undoubtedly skilled with the camera, simply can’t deliver the goods when it comes time to cash in his suspense chips. His characters make terrible decisions that ruin our sympathy for them and interest in their outcome. And his visual shocks (there are one or two in this film that tower over the mediocre chills offered by HOUSE) still aren’t strong enough to warrant the ridiculous amount of time setting them up. Both of these recent chillers would have been fine at 45 minutes. But his need to make a feature length film out of concepts that just aren’t interesting enough to fill it out will continue to be his Achilles heel. For homework before his next feature, he should watch Alejandro Amenabar’s masterful THE OTHERS to see a carefully-paced, fundamentally rich ghost story at its best.

By the way, Kelly McGillis is the portrait to Tom Cruise’s Dorian Gray, isn’t she?

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Catching Up On 2012

Now that this site is up, I’ll be giving quick thoughts on each new release I see. But I have seen several films so far in 2012 that I’ve only tweeted about. You can search my Twitter feed (well, you could if the Twitter search function weren’t such a piece of shit) to see what I said about each movie, but here are my grades for the films I’ve seen so far:

MISS BALA (2012, Naranjo) — 8

HAYWIRE (2012, Soderbergh) — 7

SAFE HOUSE (2012, Espinosa) — 5

WANDERLUST (2012, Wain) — 7

21 JUMP STREET (2012, Lord/Miller) — 6

THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2012, Evans) — 7

THE DEEP BLUE SEA (2012, Davies) — 5

THE HUNGER GAMES (2012, Ross) — 5

THE KID WITH A BIKE (2012, Dardennes) — 9

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (2012, Gelb) — 7

AMERICAN REUNION (2012, Hurwitz/Schlossberg) — 5

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012, Goddard) — 9

THE AVENGERS (2012, Whedon) — 6

I’ll be shocked if THE KID WITH A BIKE and CABIN IN THE WOODS are not on my top 10 list this year — in fact, they’ll likely make the top 5, unless this turns out to be as great a year as 2011 was. Again, if you need an explanation of the 1-10 grading system (and who really does anymore?) it’s on my About Me page.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hello world!

I’m back! All eleven of you reading this may have followed my site back in the ’00s, a decade of innocence and terrible HTML code. Well, it’s time to get back to work in 2012. I’ll try to keep up this time — with random thoughts on movies, music, TV, poker, and anything else that piques my interest. Feel free to leave comments and give me feedback so I know what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully this will be just as inefficient and inconsequential as it always was, and always should be.




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized