A film which examines the once-happy marriage between a painter, Frederic, and his movie-star wife, Angele. Frederic and Angele go on Roman holiday, inviting their friends, another young-couple in Paul and Elisabeth, who join them in their home. Philippe Garrel's latest film is a film which shows the slow disintegration of a once loving and passionate marriage. There are very few scenes of emotional outburst, instead Garrell tells a nuanced tale of deception and the act of a couple falling out of love. This loss of love is shown in the details -a small gaze or empty kiss, showing how the couple's inability to be honest with each other is their ultimate undoing. The film is brooding and atmospheric, never picking sides, rather showing the faults of both Frederic and Angele. Each of them are partly responsible for their issue, yet they only seem to blame the other as the reason for their dissolving marriage. Paul and Elizabeth's story provides a great dichotomy to the main story, as their relationship is much newer than Frederic and Angele's relationship, yet they face challenges of their own. We see them heading down the same path, yet in the end, they are much more willing to fight for each other. Perhaps this is the point which Garrel is trying to make, considering how the rest of the film plays out for both Frederic and Angele, two individuals who never find someone who can compare. One moment which must be touched on is a hypnotic, mesmerizing sequence in the film - a torrid dance sequence where Angele dances with another man at a party, showing her flirtatious ways. Garrell fills the frame completely simply observing Angele dance, flirtatious in her movements, a quiet yet telling sequence. While the color aesthetic just seems weird for a Garrel film, the starkness and themes are very much in his arena. While it's obviously not one of Garrel's best, he once again shows such a great understanding of when to linger in the moment, almost like a dream or memory, which he uses to tell a piercing tale of bad romance.
Detention (2011) - Joseph Kahn
A film that defies any type of genre designation, Detention is the story of the students at Grizzly Lake High School, who along with dealing with the typical angst of teenager life, must deal with the fact that a Killer is on the loose. Detention is a crazy film that pretty much involves every type of genre imaginable, yes even the classic body-swapping sub-genre is represented. It's a film that is incredibly self-aware, giving an exaggerated reality of high school life, playing with every genre convention possible along the way. Every character in this film is incredibly exaggerated stereotypes - the jock, the hipster, the feminist, the cheerleader, etc. are all on vivid display. Incredibly energetic, almost too a fault, the film seems intent on making fun of every facet of high school life, using self-referential moments to add to the absurdity. It's violent, funny, and confusing experience, but it sure is a great piece of fun. Detention is the type of film that is bound to rub people the wrong way, never taking much time to explain things to the viewer the film throws out the idea of having a concise narrative, instead opting for stylized absurdity. The biggest fault of the film is its attempt towards the end to try and have a message or point other than being the incredibly fun, self-referential genre-bender that it is.
Klimt (2006) - Raoul Ruiz
Klimt documents the life and work of influential Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, whose lavish, sexual-charged paintings are considered some of the most influential works from the time period. A character study through and through, the film opens with Klimt lying on his deathbed as he recalls the early 1900s. A man with possibly more detractors than champions, we see everything from Klimt at work in his studio -with many woman who are willing participants for his desires, to his mother and sister, who both are suffering from mental illness. Raoul Ruiz's biopic is very interested in showing the many things which directly could have influenced Klimt as an artist, with almost everything in the film in one way or another, influencing the man and his work. Klimt is an ego-maniac, as most great artists tend to be, with Ruiz showing him as man who simply wasn't appreciated or understood in his time. Towards the end of the film, the lines between reality and fantasy become very blurred, as we are seeing the world through the eyes of Klimt, with the mental condition taking control of his mind. Compared to the other film by Ruiz I have seen, Klimt is much more subdued in its style and execution, mostly likely to fit the the biopic storyline better. Ruiz sure does know how to create an atmosphere though, with some vivid lighting and visual anecdotes which create a unique, heady atmosphere. Klimt does have some incredibly interesting experimental moments, as Ruiz uses some very fluid transitions, camera moments, and visual distortions, particularly when touching on Klimt's mental condition, which show a director who is clearly very interested in experimentation of the cinematic form. While Klimt is far from the great documentaries about artists like Ken Russell's Mahler, or Peter Watkin's Edvard Munch, it's fairly interesting and worth a watch for those interested in the subject matter.
Lorna, the blind daughter of a millionaire, is kidnapped by a ruthless man, Joe Beacon, who intents on holding her for ransom. The actual abduction of Lorna is witnessed by Joyce, a secretary for the millionaire, who supplies some details which help the cops and transit authorities start their investigation into the kidnapping. Rudolph Mate's Union Station is a fast-paced, exciting film with interesting themes of police sentimentality and pessimism which help make up for a rather derivative kidnapping plot. The film wastes no time getting started, throwing the viewer right into the cat and mouse game which the cops and criminals inhabit. What is really interesting about Union Station is the flat-out pessimism which almost all of the cops have towards the safety of Lorna. There is a sense that these men have seen so many awful things in this world that even though they work mercilessly, they deep down believe that Lorna is already dead. This feeds into the commentary on the lack of sentimentality in which detectives and officers of the law have. These men have no time to be sentimental and many characters, particularly William Holden's William Calhoun wear this burden on their sleeve. Reinforcing all of this is Joe Beacon, the absolutely ruthless main villain who has no allegiances, only interested in the considerable wealth he can exchange for Lorna. Featuring lots of good' ole fashioned police work. from a brutal interrogation sequence to the small details, Union Station is a strong, interesting crime story that is definitely worth watching.
Mr. Badii, a middle-aged man, drives his range rover around the outskirts of Tehran, searching for someone to aid him in an unusual job - which he is willing to pay handsomely. Mr. Baddi wishes to end his life and is looking for someone who will agree to bury his body - as he plans to overdoes on sleeping pills. Abbas Kiarostrami's Taste of Cherry is a quiet, pensive film about a man who is ready to leave life behind. Through his search he meets several individuals, some of which are simply scared by his proposition, others attempt to talk him down from taking his life, while one man, a Turkish taxidermist who himself has contemplated suicide, reluctantly agrees to help Badii carry out his plan. The first thing about this film that is bound to piss off views is the overall ambiguity. The viewer is not given nearly any information about our protagonist's history or background never getting any idea as to why he wants to kill himself. On top of that, it never is clear whether Badii carried out his plan or decided to keep on living. While these point of ambiguity are bound to bother some, it is ultimately not important to the film. It's a film that is simply about our humanity, the fragility of life. We are simply meant to experience the world through our main protagonist, with a pensive stare who seems to be reflecting on life, though we are never given details. The biggest problem with Taste of Cherry is its overabundance of dialogue used to explore the ideals and philosophical aspect of our humanity. It relies far too much on heavy dialogue between the main protagonist and the characters he meets. While there are a few exceptions, I wish the film would have instead relied more of visuals to create this effect.
In the middle of suburban Ohio, four bored neighbors form a neighborhood watch group to protect the town after a night security guard is murdered at a Costco. Essentially just using this as a way to escape their day-to-day lives, the four men accidentally stumble across an alien invasion plot and find themselves defending Earth. The Watch is an R-rated comedy that uses vulgarity as its primary attempt at laughs to only so-so results. The film struggles to balance the different genre elements of sci-fi, comedy, horror, etc. making it feel uneven and choppy. The worst thing about this film is simply that it isn't very funny. Ben Stiller plays his typically Ben Stiller type character, who struggles in his home life because he face his problems head on. Vince Vaughn is also very much the loud mouth, semi-funny character but the schtick is a little old and not nearly as entertaining as it used to be. The comedy has a good amount of improv which is hit or miss, but the script is just stale and derivative. Towards the end, the film simply forgets it's a comedy, outside of one particular moment, leaving it a very uninspired sci-horror movie. If you are bored or are a huge fan of one of the actors, you may like it I guess, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
This remake of the 1990 classic stars Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid, a factory who suspects he might be a spy after going to Total Recall - a place which implants memories into its clients minds for a price. This version doesn't take place on Mars, yet its story reveals are very lazy and the sequences which deviate from the original are uninteresting. As a film it really has no soul, feeling nothing for the characters or their relationships. Taking out the iconic Mars concept from the original and replacing it with the generic shiny metal look, the viewer has nothing interesting to latch onto outside of an empty commentary on class struggle. For a film that seemed to want to distance itself from the original, everything is rather lazy from a storytelling perspective like the filmmakers assumed you had seen the Verhoeven version. The viewer is just told about Quaid/Hauser's relationships instead of letting us see them unfold. For example, the relationship between Hauser and Melina is awful, with no real sense love or chemistry whatsoever. There is no real mystery to this story, taking out all of the fun parts that made Verhoeven's film such a delightful experience. It's actually amazing but the only way to describe this version is as a snooze fest. I will be the first to say that I do think Len Wiseman is a fairly talented action director, who does a good job constructing the scenes. The editing and cinematography during these action sequences were pretty impressive, delivering a few specific sequences that are enjoyable on an escapism level. The world which the film creates was better than expected but not on the large scale, rather the ingenuity used for some of the gadgets and devices - the phone concept being particularly fun. Overall this version of Total Recall is absolutely forgettable as a film - just watch the original, you'll have way more fun.
Jean is an unpleasant, domineering man who controls his relationships in a way which many would describe as abusive. Though he still lives with his wife, their marriage together is loveless, with Jean being in the middle of a long affair with a much younger woman in Catherine. Maurice Pialat's We Won't Grow Old Together is a searing portrait of a destructive relationship between Catherine and Jean. The dynamics between the two of them could only be described as as turbulent as we see inclinations of their love for each other, which are routinely interrupted by Jean's outbursts of anger. The film examines the circular effect of their relationship as we repeatedly witness Jean and Catherine breaking-up in sometimes very explosive ways only to reconcile and get back together. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that even though Jean is the abusive person in the relationship, he is the one who is truly attached to Catherine, with little ability to live without her. What separates Maurice Pialat's film from so many others is how this film is focused much more on the aggressor than the one being abused. This is Jean's story through and through and while he is hard character to like, their are sequences in which sympathy is felt. In a way it's his fear of losing her which is his undoing, with his attempts at control almost always ending in anger and abuse - alienating poor Catherine farther and farther away. In one of the few scenes which shows Jean's love, he meets with his father to ask if he can give Catherine his mother's wedding ring. It is clear that Jean loves Catherine, yet his pent up rage and anger end up being the ultimate detriment, destroying any true chance he has at growing old with her.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's Intruders tells parallel stories of two different families who live in different parts of the world. Both the children in these families have nightmares about a faceless stranger named Hallowman, with the lines between their nightmares and reality becoming increasingly blurry. The main problem with the film is that it really doesn't bring anything new to the sub-genre, suffering from a boring final act which features an ending that is pretty obvious and not all that interesting. One nice aspect that I enjoy was the filmmakers desire to use practical effects as much as possible, while still relying on computer generated effects when needed. The Hallowman sequences between John Farrow (Clive Owen) and his daughter Mia are so much more affective because it's a real person not this computer generated crap, making the threat feel far more real and intense. Those scenes were really the stand out parts of the entire film with not much else being all that affective in the chills department. Fresnadillo's direction is decent with a few nice compositions and movements that help create feeling but there was nothing that really left me from feeling disappointed on the visual front. All and all it's not a bad movie, but there is certainly not much there to warrant a real endorsement of any kind. It seems to be the type of film which thinks itself to be far more cerebral than it is or needs to be.
Owing a bunch of money to some not so nice individuals, Chris is incredibly desperate to come up with the necessary cash or he is as good as dead. He goes to his father, Ansel, laying out a plan in which they will hire Joe Cooper, a cop who daylights as a hitman, to murder Chris' mother, who everyone hates. The idea is to collect the insurance money from her death but things don't exactly go as planned. William Friedkin's Killer Joe is a red neck crime story that is one of the most hysterical black comedies I have seen in a long time. Set in this red-neck small town in Texas, all the characters in this film are gross, filthy, dumb individuals who are essentially beyond any type of redemption, with the viewer just along for the ride. Going into too much detail will ruin the fun but Matthew McConaughey as Joe is down right delightful. He completely commands every scene he is in, with his calm and cool demeanor but when things go from bad to worse, particularly in the final act, he is explosively terrifying and a firecracker ready to explode. This is a brutal film with some very sick and twisted elements but I really cannot express just how damn funny it is. Friedkin never candy coats violence and this film is no different in its raw and unflinching depiction. The film takes a rather tepid slow burning approach early on setting up the characters and world but the last 30 minutes or so are probably the most fun I've had at the movies this year. Absolutely not for everyone but if twisted dark humor is your thing, Killer Joe should not be missed.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.