Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Movies watched last week, from favorite to least.

The sound editing deserves all the acclaim it gets - Peter Greene's psychotic would fascinate either way, but the collage of sounds closes the distance between us, showing us his horror as much as that of what he does.

I didn't think it'd be so easy to listen to Spalding Gray talk for an hour and a half. His affectations should be unlikable (that flat, shrill scream!), but instead they're hypnotic. If his observations were offensive or smug it would fall apart, but his ability to be wide-eyed about every detail of his life keeps the film afloat.

The last movie I saw about the frustrations of a chubby, pre-growth spurt adolescent was Happiness. This movie does much better by the archetype.

No director with visual imagination equal to Bob Fosse matches his appreciation for simple kinetic movement, which is part of what makes this the most enjoyable ponderous valentine a director ever made for himself. His cast is the other. I never imagined Roy Scheider could be so playful.

The hawk attached by a rope to Paul Giamatti's arm as he deals with severe guilt and insecurity may be an extremely obvious metaphor, but its also a very visceral one.

The idea of Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis (as Elvis and JFK!) fighting a mummy in a nursing home is so brilliant for a b-movie that its heartbreaking when the climax turns out as lifeless as it does. The actors truly deserved better.

A bloated John Cusack, haunted by the past, goes through some wicked DTs. Starts more promising than your average Stephen King adaptation, but the ending is as contrived and unengagingly grand as all the rest of them. Samuel L. Jackson role is so small that it would have worked better as an uncredited cameo rather than top billing.

At first I was impressed that director Robert DeNiro wasn't going for an obvious Scorcese vibe until he crosscut between Matt Damon hugging his son and the kid's fiancee being thrown out of a plane by Damon's goons: "Oh, right...he worked with Coppola too." The two hours and forty five minutes of murmuring, secret handshakes and homoerotic subtext add up to nothing, but Damon's closed-in performance is uniquely transfixing, always promising that the film might eventually deliver.

Gooey body organs, a nerdish but charismatic male lead, stiff attempts at perverse sexuality, wan inscrutability - something from every era of Cronenberg's career.

You'd think a movie where Sting molests an invalid and jumps through a window would be entertaining, but you have to watch Joan Plowright and Denholm Elliott go through some bad, bad English family drama to get to those last few minutes of insanity.

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