Archives for October 2008

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Synecdoche, New York

Whose magnum opus is it anyway?
Philip S. Hoffman and Samantha Morton
Directed by Charlie Kaufman

Does Charlie Kaufman have anything to offer the planet except post-modern rope tricks and fashionable misery? In looking at his newest mind-bender Synecdoche, New York, has there ever been a more imaginative, provocative, surrealistic way to ultimately say, “life sucks and then you die.” How can such a sharp, observant, vibrant mind find so much to say about the creative process and so little ... more >

Changeling

Trying to get past the melodrama
Angelina Jolie, Colm Feore and Amy Ryan
Directed by Clint Eastwood

With its overwrought emotions and black-and-white morality, melodrama is a form of storytelling that we believe our society has moved past. We’re too sophisticated now to toss popcorn at the stage. “Melodramatic” is almost always a negative adjective. We almost never see a melodrama that isn’t saturated with post-modern irony. So as Clint Eastwood dresses up Angelina Jolie in flapper garb, ... more >

On Guillaume Depardieu’s death

What is the Rimbaud Principle

If you’re born bad, or a rebel, or just a jerk, you have a strike or several against you. If you’re born bad and are an artist, if an indifferent one, people won’t pay you much mind, which will turn you into a frustrated rebel jerk; if a good one, they’ll chalk your attitude up to your genius. If you’re all of the above, including the good artist part, and are French on top of that, and die young, ... more >

Rachel Getting Married

This year's must-see drama
Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt and Debra Winger
Directed by Jonathan Demme

Have I ever mentioned the time that I picked Anne Hathaway to be the biggest star to emerge from Brokeback Mountain? I love that story! Most critics treated the performance kindly but lightly, seeing only another Disney teen queen trying to stretch her career beyond drinking age. More astute observers (aka: “me”) saw a classic beauty riding into the movie like a star, convincingly portraying 20 ... more >

Cristóvão Colombo – O Enigma

History, real and imagined
Ricardo Trêpa and Leonor Baldaque
Directed by Manoel de Oliveira

How does it feel to be a hundred years old? Not very different from forty of fifty, if you’re anything like director Manoel de Oliveira as seen in his recent film Cristóvão Colombo - O Enigma. Sprightly enough for a man several decades younger, standing tall and straight, accompanied by a loving wife who must be close in age, still driving, still driven, still curious and reflecting upon the ... more >

Body of lies

Russell Crowe shines bright in this new thriller
Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe
Directed by Ridley Scott

Say this for Ridley Scott – he makes my job easy. His garishly inefficient directing style (Why do in two shots what you can do in five?) works as a cinematic canary in a coal mine. When a scene is successfully building tension (à la Blade Runner), it’s whistle while you work all the livelong day. Yet you’ll know the instant Tweety starts sucking gas a la American Gangster). Watching his new ... more >

Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

Awesome soundtrack. Awesome.
Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Aaron Yoo
Directed by Peter Sollett

For a film stealing the names of cinema’s most famous husband-and-wife detectives, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist produces only one mystery. How is it that the cast of a great cinematic accomplishment like The Dark Knight suffers a lethal curse, while the makers of this crap get away scot free? Does fate not have a sense of justice? Obviously it has a sense of humor, which is more than this ... more >