Captain America: The First Avenger

I haven’t found a post on this film, directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer), though I don’t trust our site’s sucky search engine, so maybe I missed this one. I sort of liked this, but it should have been a lot better. That’s a lame caveat I know, but in this case I think I know exactly what would have put this film over the top (right now it’s stalled at “well, okay”).

Continue reading Captain America: The First Avenger

Don’t squeeze the chairma…. ah, hell.

That a mysterious spiderlike executive called the Chairman circles around behind the scenes, spinning (and respinning) the Plan, while minions dressed like castaway extras from The Thin Man run around, turning peoples’ phones off like so many stiff-shouldered well-coiffed gremlins, should not put you off this film. Nor should the fact that the Chairman is not, as I had begun to hope, Frank Sinatra. Nor the relentless humbuggery of its metaphysics.*

For 3/4 of its running time, who cares? Continue reading Don’t squeeze the chairma…. ah, hell.

Interesting missteps

After wasting my time, like Chris, on the B13 sequel — how can you do a follow-up to a movie celebrated primarily for its parkour antics and pretty much dump the parkour? — I shifted my queue around to try and expand my horizons a bit. This was not entirely successful, but both of the following films offer intriguing performances and filmmakers playing to their own uncommercial instincts. Worth seeing, yet… Continue reading Interesting missteps


In its first 10 minutes (after a brief, somewhat pointless prologue), the Spierig brothers’ Daybreakers revels in a dizzying, dialogue-free rush of world-building — here we are maybe 10 years from now in a night-time late-capitalist gloom, all bluish lighting and rainy reflective streets, shadows and fedoras. A plague of vampirism turned things on their heads, humans are hunted, and the world is on the brink of fiscal and social collapse as the blood supply (ahem) thins out. I thought this was gonna be brilliant.

Continue reading Daybreakers


There’s been a bit of talk, here and there, on this blog about Cameron’s digi-romance 3D thrillride, but I thought it deserved its own thread. First of all, I’ve seen quite a few films made with the latest 3D technology, but this surely is the finest yet. I don’t want to go into the story too much. It is, as Chris pointed out, Ferngully (I’m taking his word, as I have not seen it). But it is also Aliens (Ribisi doesn’t quite manage to outdo Paul Reiser, but he comes close). Bad corporate interests, good-intentioned scientists, an ambivalence about technology Continue reading Avatar

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Well, I think I’ve recovered adequately from this film to say a few words about it. First, the story (of which there is little). Terence McDonagh is with his partner, Stevie (played by Val Kilmer), in a flooded building in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. The two are standing safely above water, looking down on a criminal trapped behind a barred window, water up to his neck. And the water is rising fast. Stevie is a bad cop. He wants to watch the criminal drown. What makes Stevie bad is that Terence is just a little better. When Terence sees the criminal pray for his life and bless himself, Terence dives into the water. Doing the right thing kills his back. Continue reading Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans


i don’t see anyone having posted on this (did i miss it? i don’t think so), and since it’s replete with Themes that Interest Me, i’ll give it a couple of lines. simon and i agreed it wasn’t a good movie, mostly because it was the development of a thesis, not a movie. but the thesis is interesting, and the topic in general is interesting, and philip seymour hoffman is genuinely great. i think the playwright wanted to address the sex abuse scandal in a dramatic/theological light, bringing both psychological and Continue reading doubt


I (sort of) enjoyed this film, directed by Matteo Garrone and based upon the book by Roberto Saviano–the much talked about exposé of organized crime in Naples. The film adopts the multi-plot structure. The story of a war between two factions within the Camorra (hence the title–in Italian, the C is soft like a G) is told from five perspectives. One is of a grocery delivery boy named Totò. He manages to work his way into one of the factions by returning a gun and some cocaine that was dropped by a gangster during a police chase. Another is of Pasquale, a tailor who makes high fashion knock-offs (one of the big sources of cash for the Camorra) who then sells his talent to a rival, a Chinese-Italian who runs a factory making even cheaper high fashion knock-offs. Continue reading Gomorra

Gorgeous Degradation

It’s hard to like a film about a broken-down, narcissistic head-banger with a special gift for sentimentalism and self-destruction. Having the character played by Mickey Rourke doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve always thought of Rourke as something of an oddball, and Darren Aronofsky has provided him the perfect character to both rehabilitate and reify his superfreaky aura. The first forty minutes of The Wrestler burn past with a searing, nearly anthropological furor. I have to admit I was initially enthralled by this portrait of a sub-culture that would ordinarily leave me more than cold. The writing is lean, raw and intense, the acting honest and risky, and Aronofsky utilizes hand held cameras to give the film a DIY, Def Leppard-worthy, visual punch. Shortly thereafter the film settles into something more recognizable and less surprising, but that’s to be expected I guess. Rourke is good, maybe even great. Marisa Tomei is also really good.

Ensemble, C’est Tout

This is directed by Claude Berri who, at 74 years old, remains a powerful figure in French Cinema, having produced almost 60 films including a few Asterix et Obelix live action films, and more recently, Yvan Attal’s Happily Ever After. Berri has also directed some 20 odd films–although they’re not odd at all. They are bourgeois, domestic. But also somewhat satirical. He is known for what some call his “Bobo” style (bourgeois-bohemian). I don’t think Germinal (1993) or Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources (1986) qualify as Bobo. But Ensemble, C’est Tout certainly does. And it is, more or less, an enjoyable film. Continue reading Ensemble, C’est Tout