Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Is a metaphor mixed if there's inherent double meaning? I couldn't possibly say. No posts for a few days, so I've decided to punish you with an abundant flurry of these movie reviews - actually, it's a bumper crop.

Deadgirl (*)
if directed by Pascal Laugier (Martyrs) then maybe, but as it is, this film is a dreary teen/horror/comedy/romance/allegory hybrid that fails on all counts - in fact, the final act gets so boring that you don't care how the film ends, just that it ends; oh, and anyone making a movie with a premise as sick as this shouldn't get all coy about showing graphic sex and violence

Long Weekend (Nature's Grave) (*)
in this 2008 remake we have on display an implausible, nay senseless, narrative along with the woefully inept acting skills you'd expect in soaps like Home And Away and Neighbours; this is all pleasingly set in the undeniably dramatic and spectacular Australian outback, but even that cannot compensate for what is a dull movie experience

Smash Cut (*)
Sasha Grey's role in The Girlfriend Experience was much better suited to her normal attractively cool detached energy, but sadly her acting skills are badly exposed in Smash Cut, an excruciatingly poor indie horror/comedy verging on the unwatchable, more notable for cameo roles from David Hess and Michael Berryman, neither of whom cover themselves in glory either

Sauna (**)
Finnish mediaeval drama that is pretty to look at, but dour even for my taste, and the overly melodramatic symphonic music is intrusive and annoying

District 9 (*****)
the best scifi film ever made, pure and simple - how a preposterous plot about aliens living in South African slums can be made into something meaningful and believable is simply genius

I Sell The Dead (*)
unfunny in the extreme

Summer School (*)
execrable indie effort

Wild Strawberries (*****)
half a century later it's quite clear how influential this surprisingly heartwarming movie (by Bergman's standards, at least) was

Shame (*****)
a Bergman film about war with special FX is surreal indeed - though once again it's about people, not events, and the trademark abrupt ending hits you hard (as usual) as you attempt to come to terms with what you've just experienced

Persona (*****)

Cries And Whispers (*****)
perhaps the most beautiful horror film ever, and certainly another extraordinary Bergman masterpiece where we ultimately find ourselves transcendentally uplifted by small gestures of love and redemption within an uncompromising descent into depression, lust, self-loathing, morbidity, and pain

Brief Crossing (**)
a brave attempt by Breillat at gender reversal in a casual relationship between a young boy and more experienced older woman on board an overnight ferry crossing (hence the double meaning in the title) - unfortunately, the film capsizes spectacularly as it unintentionally degenerates into a floundering farce not helped by the totally unbelievable interactions, calamitous continuity errors, and silly bloopers; furthermore, the boring-as-hell little pipsqueak French boy inspires no more in you than the urge to punch him, hard - and Alice, the decidedly manly 'seductress', is but a psycho whose interminable insufferable monologues seem little more than extended extracts from a Breillat essay (compare the similarly disappionting Anatomy Of Hell)

City Of Life And Death (**)
what starts out as a well-documented feature of the massacres of Nanking - with some amazing locations and effects ably depicting the sense of widescale confusion and disorientation, gradually descends into the usual stereotypically portrayed human interest war stories and tragedies, none of which seem credible; this has the inevitable effect of weakening the emotional impact such a film should elicit

Riben Guizi (Japanese Devils) (****)
Japanese documentary compiling chilling revelations and atrocity confessions from Japanese veteran soldiers in China, including those involved with the notorious Unit 731 during the occupation of Manchuria; the candour and seeming remorse they display whilst recounting the horrific deeds committed makes it all the more compelling - the film aslo features some extraordinary contemporary footage of street clashes in Japan between those for and against Japan's behaviour during WW2

Winter Light (*****)
a film that plays like a note perfect baroque cello suite - as dazzlling and absorbing as it is grey in tone, Winter Light lingers on in the mind long after its brief symbolic duration from noon till three

Ingmar Bergman Makes A Movie (*****)
highly inspirational 5-part documentary into the making of Winter Light - Bergman has a beautiful zen-like quality throughout: funny, perceptive, wise, calm, thoughtful, candid - with no affectations, apologies, nor signs of vanity

Grace (**)
there's something wrong with baby Grace: although full of squeamish childbirth related moments, this small budget horror fails to deliver (pun unintended, already regretted) on some promising setpieces and characterisations, and you end up feeling thoroughly cheated by the experience (allegory intended, merely hypothesised)

Une Vraie Jeune Fille (****)
Catherine Breillat's debut film is a rare, and likeably surreal journey into the manifestations of the perverse mind of the anomic teenage girl



Luke P. McElroy said...

William, in case you haven't seen, the extended cut of Cassavetes' "Husbands" has finally been released on DVD by Sony:

Kai said...

I thought District 9 was a real letdown after the movie's first hour of initial wit and black humour being suddenly (and therefore perplexingly) followed by what seemed to me like one never-ending second-rate action flick that rivalled this year's Terminator Salvation for utter dullness. Then again, maybe I'm just plain fed up with watching people's heads explode...