Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Celluloid #27

In Theatres

A Christmas Tale (2008) Desplechin - In a basic summation, this film feels like a cross between The Royal Tenenbaums and the Swedish film, The Celebration. Dysfunctional family drama abounds. Junon is dying from blood cancer and can only prolong her life with a bone marrow transfusion. Her son Henri (estranged, kinda a bastard, and played by the main character in Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Paul, her bitchy daughter's crazy son are the only two who are eligible to donate. That's the main drama, but side stories involving affairs and fistfights also pop up. Abel, the old man/dad/grandpa is awesome, wearing his pants well above his waist and listening to free jazz. The movie is in French and I would guess that some aspects didn't translate completely, especially Elizabeth's monologues, but overall an enjoyable, if somewhat disturbing film. 4/5

In Home

Black Snake Moan (2006) Brewer - I'm really not sure how you are supposed to view this film, or what you are supposed to take away from it. On one hand I want to treat it like an exploitation film, but there are too many moments that I think are meant to be sincere. Anyway, Rae is a nymphomaniac, supposedly as a result of being molested as a child. Lazarus is a blues guitarist and singer whose wife has left him for his younger brother. He takes Rae in when he finds her beat up and left for dead on the side of the road. Many times she seems almost possessed and has fever visions, so Lazurus chains her to his radiator. Religion plays some unclear role, and Justin Timberlake plays the other half of the fucked up couple. 3/5

Blood In, Blood Out (1993) Hackford - I figured it was time to see this apparently oft-quoted dramatization of Latino life in East Los Angeles. This movie is about as melodramatic as things get and the dialogue is so ridiculous (saying something in Spanish, then directly saying the same exact thing in English) plus it clocks in at 3 hours! Two brothers and their half white cousin grow up together in East L.A. as a part of the Vatos Locos gang. One is an artist, but wastes his talent with heroin; one joins the marines to avoid jail time and later becomes an undercover cop. Miklo, the cousin, goes to San Quentin twice and gets in deep with race wars while incarcerated. 2.5/5

Chungking Express (1994) Wong - A brokenhearted young man, given to excess and obsession meets a woman involved in drug smuggling. He is a cop and unaware of her livelihood, decides to fall in love with her. In the second story, also involving a cop who has been recently dumped, a young deli counter girl who likes to listen to loud music develops a crush on him. The film is simple, but energetic and pretty. The two love stories avoid cliches and the pop music is used well (all though I probably never need to hear "California Dreamin' ever again). 4/5

the Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) Jones - A modern day western directed by Tommy Lee Jones. A crooked border patrol agent accidentally kills Melquiades, an illegal immigrant. His young wife is bored and spends her free time hanging out with Mexicans. Pete is Melquiades (the deceased) friend, and in a streak of vigilante justice, captures the border patrol agent and takes him on a journey to Melquiades hometown to bury him. 3/5

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) Solondz - I love this perfectly awkward film. It has to be a cult classic...Dawn Wiener and her outfits, lines that you should feel a little bad for laughing at like "I'm gonna rape you at 3 o'clock" and the "dignity speech." Steve Rodgers is such a tool, middle school sucks, and suburbia is absurd and painful. 5/5

In News

*I think John and I might be the only two people interested in this, but Bruno Heller has been in talks about bringing HBO's Rome to movie theatres in the form of a film to pick up where season two left off

*Scorsese is directing a new film called Falcon's Tale having to do with cops, drugs, the FBI..typical Scorsese fare (especially since the screenwriter of The Departed is also on board for this project)

*Guillermo del Toro is apparently working on a stop-motion animation adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches

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