Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (Haneke, 2000)

“La Binoche.”  That is what the French refer to the country’s highest paid and beloved actress, Juliette Binoche, and she is the center of this interesting film.  The film opens with a collision of the central characters, in a Paris street,  surrounding a simple yet pathetic act by a boy, understood at first to be the son of Marie (Binoche).  Upon finishing a pastry he throws an empty paper wrapper on a homeless, immigrant woman.  What ensues is a series of jump cut flash forward and flash backward scenes that are wonderfully confusing but not necessary to understand even if … Continue reading Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (Haneke, 2000)

Hide Away (Eyre, 2011)

Josh Lucas (unnamed in the film – except for “Young Mariner”) stars in his first dramatic lead in this rather stunning, overly metaphorical and imperfect film.  His performance is hugely successful.  Hide Away (originally titled A Year in Mooring) is a tale of redemption and the film does not survive the clichés of the genre, but barely so.  The mysterious supporting characters speak primarily in metaphor and poem referring to the grand Traverse (the film is beautifully shot on the waters of Traverse City in Northern Michigan), Hesperus (Lucas’ boat) and with rather direct hints at Buddhism. Young Mariner has … Continue reading Hide Away (Eyre, 2011)

2 Days in Paris (Julie Delpy, 2007)

Julie Delpy, who had to be directly inspired by her participation – acting, in Richard Linklater’s high acclaimed “double feature” Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), produced this creepy little romantic comedy in 2007.  Yes, how often you hear the words creepy romantic comedy used together? Working with a hilarious Adam Goldberg (does the guy play himself in every film he does? here he seems to be stepping straight off the Entourage set); actress, writer, director, editor AND composer Delpy created this little farce of a thirty something couple taking a break from a less than stellar 2 days … Continue reading 2 Days in Paris (Julie Delpy, 2007)

Taxidermia (Gyorgy Palfi, 2006)

Move over Gasper Noe, hello Gyorgy Palfi.  I don’t remember reacting so viscerally to a film since Requiem for a Dream.  I read somewhere that the film was a metaphor for post-war Hungary.  I won’t even try to figure that one out.  The three part film covers three generations of Hungarian male protagonists: 1) a hair-lipped military orderly from WWII times that has a sexual fetish for eating fire and masturbating in the most unique ways, 2) his son a champion speed eater, the competitions of which are the cornerstone of the film and 3) a desperately lonely taxidermist that … Continue reading Taxidermia (Gyorgy Palfi, 2006)

Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

A sweet, contemplative, and gentle story – Clooney should never have such relationship problems but it doesn’t take away from the film.  Understandable Oscar nods to George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.  Superior to Juno without Diablo Cody’s pretentious diatribe, Junior Reitman makes a mature and enjoyable film.  Credit sequence would make Saul Bass proud. **** / ***** Continue reading Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

5 Quick Pics

The Girlfriend Experience (Soderberg, 2009) LOVE the way this film looks and I found the script very funny.  At the end the amateurish acting doesn’t distract. *** 1/2 / ***** Drag Me to Hell (Raimi, 2009) The scariest film I’ve seen in years.  Alison Lohman charms as usual and the kitsch works throughout. **** / ***** In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967) Satisfying in the way Rod Steiger’s sheriff slowly develops a vague appreciation of Poiter’s Mr. Tibbs without being overly preachy in the slightest way.  Instilled with a wry sense of humor and stands up well to … Continue reading 5 Quick Pics

W. (Oliver Stone, 2008)

[not much of a spoiler] W., one of the most underrated films of Oliver Stone, is a collection of set pieces documenting the life and times of former President George W. Bush.  The film has surprising nuance, poignancy, acting (top-notch), editing, directing, writing, technical achievement and it doesn’t seek to hit you over the head with content as per Stone’s 1995 biopic Nixon – other than that, the film stinks! The opening scene has a group of Bush men (and woman) determining what to call the “evil” triumvirate of Iran, Iraq and North Korea and talking, ala 12 Angry Men, … Continue reading W. (Oliver Stone, 2008)

Black Book (Paul Verhoeven, 2006)

On the heels of Starship Troopers I ventured through this and it took me three nights to do so because of various distractions.  My feelings are that this is certainly Verhoeven’s premier film, his 6th feature after RoboCop (filmed in my home town of Dallas).  It is interesting to see (and perhaps poll?) directors’ finest efforts six to seven films in.  Watch the “making of.”  Verhoeven has an irresistable love of the medium and the energy of a first time director. The female leads in the film are outstanding.  Carice van Houten and Halina Reign brilliantly capture the desperate attempt … Continue reading Black Book (Paul Verhoeven, 2006)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

So sensual, so Woody…What?!!  Do I have a Woody Allen?  Jesus, this was the sexiest thing I’ve seen recently other than my friend (deleted)’s porno collection.  Rebecca Hall, ScarJo (and she was just fine Filmspotters other than the annoying dark eyebrows – was that by design?) and Cruz, ahh, wow.  Then you add a little Bardem and randomize the sexual dalliances and you are left breathless when added with the sublime cinematography of Barcelona from Javier Aguirresarobe and the flawless story arc from our greatest living American director.  Has all the vibrance of Match Point and the best of Woody’s … Continue reading Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)