Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: October 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Movie Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2009)

by Tony Dayoub

Last time we saw her, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) had uncovered a conspiracy involving men at the highest level of her government, all protecting her cruel Soviet father, Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), who Lisbeth had once torched in retaliation for beating her mother. Salander had penetrated this veil of secrecy with her super-computer-hacking powers, ass-kicking prowess, and a little help from Millennium Magazine reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). But the final confrontation between Salander and Zalachenko—a clean-up man for the shadowy organization behind the movie's conspiracies—left both of them bloodied, broken, and near death, while Zalachenko's near-invulnerable enforcer—and Salander's half-brother—the giant Niedermann, had disappeared. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest continues from this point.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review: Hereafter (2010)

by Tony Dayoub

So after a nice little run of films by everyone's—or at least most film writers'—favorite actor-director to dump on, Clint Eastwood returns with Hereafter, his muddled attempt at a New Age suspense thriller. As someone once said, fault with Eastwood's films can usually be traced back to the script, here by Peter Morgan (The Queen), as if to exonerate the filmmaker who generally avoids substantial rewrites. And Hereafter, as naive and inept as it often is, is not without its charm. But its structure, a three-pronged storyline which slowly converges as it approaches the climax, has long past worn out any profundity it may (with emphasis) had ever possessed in cinema.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blu-ray Review: Criterion's Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) (1954) and The Magician (Ansiktet) (1958)

by Tony Dayoub

Today is the fifteenth, the point mid-month when the Criterion Collection typically reveals what new DVDs and Blu-rays they have in store for us three months from now. As we await with bated breath, let's take a brief look at two of their newest Blu-ray releases, the classic Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) and The Magician (Ansiktet).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mohawk Memoirs: Decade of The Unfunny

by "Rooster" Clayborne

When was the last time you saw a REALLY funny movie? Don’t say The Hangover. If you even think The Hangover then don’t continue reading this. I’d rather you didn’t. Oh, before the Mohawk, I tried to convince myself that it was as laugh-out-loud funny as most everyone claimed just so I could feel connected to the general populace. But screw the masses. I’m done with you and what you think the benchmark of comedy should be. I saw The Hangover over twenty years ago when it was called Bachelor Party, which featured a then rising star Tom Hanks—now that was MUCH FUNNIER.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Carlos (2010): NYFF10's Masterpiece Premieres Tomorrow on Sundance Channel Before Theatrical Release

by Tony Dayoub

Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours) alternates between quieter dialogue-driven films and action-oriented pictures which explore themes related to the effect globalization has on individuals. So, given his previous film's quiet look at a family dealing with the death of their matriarch, it is no surprise he should return with this period biopic centered on the infamous terrorist, Carlos the Jackal. Anyone who grew up in the seventies can remember the rash of plane hijackings and hostage taking that plagued the era. Too many, Carlos seemed to be an omnipresent mastermind behind nearly all of them. What is surprising is how consistently exciting Carlos remains throughout its 5-and-a-half-hour running time. Even a film like Che (2008), which I rank among one of my recent favorites (and has sprung up in conversations comparing it to Carlos despite bearing little resemblance to it beyond sharing famous revolutionary protagonists), has its slower paced lulls. But I saw Carlos last week in one marathon sitting (interrupted only once by a 30-minute intermission), and it moves with a real urgency throughout its three parts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

NYFF10 Movie Review: We Are What We Are (Somos lo que hay)

by Tony Dayoub

Jorge Michel Grau's We Are What We Are (Somos lo que hay) is the most welcome surprise I encountered in this year's New York Film Festival. Appropriately enough I saw this horror film exactly a week ago the morning after it won the "Next Wave" Spotlight Competition at Austin's increasingly popular Fantastic Fest. With a film festival's focus on movies outside the mainstream, We Are What We Are is the least intimidating opportunity for first-time festival attendees to experience what it's like to go to one of these in the wonderful venues offered by the Lincoln Center.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NYFF10 Movie Review: Black Venus (Vénus noire) (2010)

by Tony Dayoub

The "Hottentot Venus" was a freak show exhibition in the early 19th century, in which a black South African female, Saartjie Baartman (Yahima Torres), was displayed to European audiences curious about her anatomical differences, primarily her large hips and buttocks, a genetic trait common among her people. Not exhibited to the same spectators was another rumored physical feature, the elongated labia minora which hung down 3 to 4 inches from her vagina. As Black Venus (Vénus noire) begins, we see a plaster-cast figure of Baartman being examined at a scientific lecture, with particular attention being paid by the biologists to this feature, which they dubbed the "Hottentot skirt." This denigrating and sexist nickname is but one of the many indignities Baartman would suffer throughout her life, indignities which would continue even in death.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

NYFF10 Movie Review: Aurora (2010)

by Tony Dayoub

Romanian director Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu) returns to the New York Film Festival with the mesmerizing mystery, Aurora. It is my favorite kind of film, one in which the narrative emerges slowly over the course of the film. Beginning as a character study focusing on metallurgical engineer Viorel (played by Puiu), the film unfolds in lengthy scenes often consisting of only one or two long takes. The viewer learns Viorel's rather dull routine starting with his early morning tryst with Gina (Clara Voda)—who appears to be married—then following him to work, listening in as he asks a coworker to return money he had borrowed from Viorel, and back home where he is remodeling his apartment. But what seems a series of activities almost too commonplace to endure for a nearly three-hour film soon becomes something more.

Friday, October 1, 2010

NYFF10 CENTERPIECE Movie Review: The Tempest (2010)

by Tony Dayoub

I've long defended director Julie Taymor from detractors who accuse her of sacrificing substance for spectacle. Titus (1999) may have been eye candy but it was also a fairly brutal, if not the most brutal, depiction of a Shakespeare play I had ever seen onscreen. And Frida, a film about the painful life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo which wonderfully incorporated the Latin magical realism tradition amply demonstrated throughout the painter's work, was one of the best pictures of 2002. I guess the rumblings about Taymor's style began around the time Across the Universe (2007) came out, which I just chalked up to the film being a sort of trifle celebrating the music of The Beatles. Too bad I can't speak directly to it since I missed that film, but I feel like I understand some of this criticism now that I've seen The Tempest.