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)

Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen, 2004)

I’m of the mind that Woody Allen has never had a “dry” spell.  And to remind me of this fact all I have to do is re-watch Melinda and Melinda.  For those of you who haven’t seen it Allen revisits one of his favorite devices of telling two tales, one comedic and one tragic, in the same film.  Most famously this was done in Crimes and Misdemeanors, one of my favorite films of all time.  In Melinda we get both the comedy and the drama via a startling performance by Radha Mitchell but the most brilliant thing about this film, … Continue reading Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen, 2004)

The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

What a wonderful confection (lately, my favorite word – recently used to forecast my viewing of the upcoming Lars Van Treir film, Antichrist).  The Wrestler never gives into hollywood convention until the end when the damaged soul stripper shows up to stop a heart break match.  But what a wonderful trip this film is.  I am sure many have written of its very documentary style, Aronofsky’s objective behind the back camera work of the golden locked Roarke wandering among the apparently sensitive and nurturing biosphere of professional wrestling.  What a wonderful return to form for Aronofsky who captures the brilliant … Continue reading The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

Carnal Knowledge (Mike Nichols, 1971)

A Short Film about Killing Misogyny.  Its a perfect dramatization of the asshole and the sort of passive woman that is victimized by the asshole.  Except here the victim is Ann-Margaret whom I cannot fathom ever had to deal with this sort of partner.  Not sure if this were ever a stage play but it could have been – it’s a character driven script with little cinematography aside from snow driven scenes at an unnamed New England university.  Art Garfunkel is more than just a muse for Jack Nicholson’s Jonathan Fuerst – in fact he is pretty darn good.  It starts as … Continue reading Carnal Knowledge (Mike Nichols, 1971)

Shampoo (Hal Ashby, 1975)

Very funny comedy about the exploits of… him (up there).  Sexual pentagon climaxes in a hilarious dinner / party sequence where all characters meet and … detonate.  GREAT comedic performances by Lee Grant, Julie Christie, the late, great Jack Warden (esp the late Jack Warden) and..Carrie Fisher.  This story about very liberal antics takes place on the election night of Richard Nixon which gives a very clever, ironic backdrop.  Stupid Hollywood ending wraps everything up in a tight little silly bow.  This is a very enjoyable film! **** / ***** Continue reading Shampoo (Hal Ashby, 1975)