Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Movies watched last week, from favorite to least.

Macbeth is one of the few Shakespeare plays I'm totally unfamiliar with, so I wasn't really watching this in relation to its source material. Still, I believe Pauline Kael when she says there's never been a Lady Macbeth as chilling as Isuzu Yamada. More ornately composed than most Kurosawa I've seen, but the performances are so grand and emotional you could hardly call it static.

Brad Dourif's evangelical athiesm baffles a southern town's religious hucksters (Harry Dean Stanton & Ned Beatty), as he eventually collapses under the weight of his fanaticism. It appears to be set in the '70s, though it's hard to imagine Dourif's character as a Vietnam vet (the novel's from 1952). The mood is so farcical (especially when the score gets zany) that there's a disconnect from the lead's anguish, but it's as enjoyably coarse and lively as John Huston's later Prizzi's Honor, only darker. Beatty's racketeer is possibly my favorite of his more gregarious roles.

Two friends, one suffering from homosexual longing (subtly implied by back massages, the occasional leer and a pink undershirt), go on a camping trip. In an extreme case of avoiding cliches without finding anything to replace them, writer-director Kelly Reichardt skips the hysterical confrontations of Chuck & Buck and Brokeback Mountain by removing the third act entirely, leaving the film seventy minutes long. Will Oldham follows my Dwight Yoakam rule, though, and listening to Yo La Tengo while searching for a hot spring seems pretty nice.

A weapons manufacturer's company retreat is interrupted by psychotic war criminals. The pick-em-off-in-the-woods horror sequences are handled well, even if the humor's weak and there's a big space where the political subtext should be.

Nic Cage in crazy mode (jellybeans in a martini glass, anyone?) and Eva Mendes in form-fitting clothing beats Superman Returns, Batman Begins and The Hulk, if not any movies that are actually good.

Bill Paxton licks a corpse's tit, pigpiles with three obese women, eats moldy chicken and spends most of the movie playing the accordion, laughing maniacally. No one else involved in this pointless weirdness seems too inspired, but Bill gives this shit his all.

I get why Frances McDormand's character would rather help Folk Implosion and some British dick pick the right Sparklehorse track to cover rather than confront her estranged son, but I don't get why the director thought the movie should revolve around said recording session.

This isn't the first time I've seen two actors I like produce a vehicle for themselves that was off-key and patently absurd even before the inexplicable twist ending - anyone else seen Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman in Under Suspicion? Of course not. You know better than to rent straight-to-dvd crap like this.

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