Archives for October 2011

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The rum diary

Alcohol-soaked deadpan bemusement
Johnny Depp, Michael Rispoli and Aaron Eckhart
Directed by Bruce Robinson

(Reviewer’s note: What do you when you really like a film but disagree with it? You write a review like this.) I’ll start my review of The Rum Diary with a short explanation of why I ceased to be a journalist some time ago. Very simply, I never knew a journalist in his 40s who wasn’t a deeply unhappy person. They were all poor, burned-out, and resentful. I remember once sitting in a job ... more >

The ides of March

Things are not what they seem in Washington politics
Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by George Clooney

The Ides of March, as those of you who remember their Roman history--or at least their Shakespeare--know, is the fateful 15th of March when Brutus and his co-conspirators assassinated Julius Caesar. And now it’s yet another well-meaning and nicely put-together film by George Clooney, based on the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon. Don’t expect the film to overturn the established wisdom ... more >

River Phoenix movie may see light of day

Dark Blood nearing completion

A pretty crazy bit of news this week: we might get to see the very last movie River Phoenix was shooting when he died of a suspected drug overdose in front of a nightclub in Los Angeles in 1993, during production. The movie is called Dark Blood and the director, George Sluizer, has recently announced that the movie will be completed in time for a 2012 release. To supplement the footage Sluizer ... more >

Take Shelter

The indie that got everyone talking this year
Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain and Tova Stewart
Directed by Jeff Nichols

Why are art films becoming horror films? Perhaps art film directors are finding that the most effective way to relate to our frazzled age is to mask it in the aesthetics of terror. Last year’s apocalyptic ballet movie, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, heralded this new trend--that movie might as well have had zombie dancers. This year it’s Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols' story of mental illness, ... more >

Texas killing fields

Swampland shenanigans: and real scary, too
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Worthington and Chloe Grace Moretz
Directed by Amy Canaan Mann

As I watched The Texas Killing Fields, I had one question running through my mind: why don’t they make more films like this? I don’t mean this in the Terrence Malick-random-acts-of-genius sort of way, as in “why can’t every filmmaker take seven years in post-production to create a high-minded masterpiece?” I mean it in a “whatever happened to the if it’s Friday, ... more >

Texas killing fields

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Shame

My life as a sex addict
Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and James Badge Dale
Directed by Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen's second feature reprises his collaboration with Hunger star Michael Fassbender and the effect is no less spellbinding. This time, instead of starving for a cause, Fassbender plays a man at the mercy of his urges rather than in control of them: a sex addict. In the frenetic world of New York City it's easy for Fassbender's Brandon to keep his private life a secret. When a vat of ... more >