Gemma Bovery(Gemma Arterton) and her husband Charlie(Jason Flemyng)… MoreGemma Bovery(Gemma Arterton) and her husband Charlie(Jason Flemyng) have just moved to Normandy. It does not take Martin(Fabrice Luchini) the local baker, long to spot the similarity between Gemma's name and a certain French literary heroine, especially with its author having once lived in the area.
One could make a case in "Gemma Bovery" that Martin is so obsessed with the novel of "Emma Bovary" that he is actually rewriting Gemma's life to fit his literary expectations. Which is a promising start for a movie, especially considering its good cast and neat locations. Except that director Anne Fontaine's usual indifferent style simply manages to suck most of the energy out of the room, even with the movie's twist filled ending.
In "Wake in Fright," John Grant(Gary Bond), a schoolteacher, is… MoreIn "Wake in Fright," John Grant(Gary Bond), a schoolteacher, is looking forward to the Christmas holidays more than anything else. This will give him an opportunity to temporarily leave the Outback in favor of Sydney and his girlfriend Robyn(Nancy Knudsen). But first he has to take a train to the next town where he is scheduled to get a flight out the following morning. And then finds a possible solution to his problems...
Even though it is not the horror movie I was expecting, "Wake in Fright" is still an effective study in how the Australian Outback is not for all people and perfect for others. To that effect, the movie makes very good use of nightmarish imagery and forehshadowing. And it is also one of the few movies to visualize hot weather on screen so well which works towards showing how celebrating Christmas in such a hostile environment can be unsettling while raising the question about whether John is fantasizing about his girlfriend or ice water more.
In "Savages," the Mud People are about sacrifice a human to their gods… MoreIn "Savages," the Mud People are about sacrifice a human to their gods when they are interrupted by a mysterious round object rolling into their camp. Following it back to its source, they capture a member of a rival tribe. That path leads to a wondrous dwelling, full of shiny objects and furs...
Well, you have to admit it. "Savages" is different. And not just because it is a Merchant/Ivory movie about a group of primitives who suddenly find themselves in a Merchant/Ivory film, done in a mixture of styles including silent movies, about a decade before those names became synonymous for politely restrained period pieces.(Added to the chronal displacement is an impossibly young Sam Waterston not playing somebody who pontificates at the drop of a hat.) At least, here the social criticism and satire is less obtuse than usual, especially on the subject of colonialism with a little genderbending thrown in for good measure, along with a special emphasis on the thin line between civilization and savagery. Plus, croquet.
In "Paradise," Lamb Mannerheim(Julianne Hough) has had her beliefs… MoreIn "Paradise," Lamb Mannerheim(Julianne Hough) has had her beliefs severely challenged by a near fatal plane crash that has left her with burns over most of her body. She expresses those new ideas, especially the parts about now being an atheist and even possibly voting Democrat in the next election, in front of her church, instead of announcing her donation of her settlement money. Rather, she will use some of that money to spread her wings. But instead of traveling to London to do jell-o shots with Richard Dawkins, she flies to Las Vegas for some general debauchery that begins ominously with a peach schnapps.
With her engaging directorial debut "Paradise," Diablo Cody shows that along with her skill with words, she also has a knack for visual imagery. It helps that Cody seldom goes after easy targets while having the movie's sweet protagonist find herself and the world, and maybe not in that order. That's not to mention an excellent turn from Octavia Spencer.(I don't know what to make of Russell Brand and probably never will.)
If you're a beginner to this ancient Greek tragedy about betrayal and… MoreIf you're a beginner to this ancient Greek tragedy about betrayal and revenge, then Pier Paolo Pasolini's abstract version really is not the place to start.(As strange as it may sound Lars von Trier's version is better suited for the beginner.) But that's not to say there are not rewards here for the adventurous filmgoer, namely the great Maria Callas in the lead. So, while I did have a sense of deja-vu from watching this(namely because of Pasolini's "Oedipus Rex" not being that stylistically dissimilar), I thought it was interesting how his version of ancient Greece almost resembled another planet through a great use of locations.
In "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," Anse Rainier(Gary Richardson), an… MoreIn "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," Anse Rainier(Gary Richardson), an American university professor, has been kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan. Bobby Lincoln(Liev Schreiber), a journalist, has a lead in Changez(Riz Ahmed), a professor with supposed ties to local militants. Changez agrees to talk to Bobby but insists at starting at the beginning, like his being recruited out of Princeton University at Underwood Samson, a top investment firm, by Jim Cross(Kiefer Sutherland, perhaps doing penance for playing America's favorite crypto-fascist) in 2000.
"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" take great aims to show the world is not that simple, while being very critical of both rampant capitalism and fundamentalism and keenly exploring notions of identity in the post 9/11 world. So much so, that the movie lacks any sense of urgency which is a definite problem concerning its framing device. Look, I could listen to Riz Ahmed and Liev Schreiber shoot the breeze all day, but we really don't need to hear Changez talk so much about him having hot, sweaty sex with his artist girlfriend Erica(Kate Hudson)..........ok, maybe just a little.
Recovering from a serious car accident that has left her scarred,… MoreRecovering from a serious car accident that has left her scarred, Beatrice(Noomi Rapace) spends nearly all of her time in the apartment she shares with her mother(Isabelle Huppert). Gradually, Beatrice is starting to come out of her shell, starting with her sending a note to Victor(Colin Farrell) who lives across the way from her, asking to meet him. It is there that she reveals her motives are much less romantic than about revenge, which she feels Victor can help her with.
"Dead Man Down" is a finely tuned neo-neo-noir that is helped greatly by the excellent chemistry between Noomi Rapace and Colin Farrell playing characters brought together not so much by vengeance as by loneliness. Along these same lines, mood is very important here, as the movie has a dimmed color scheme, which gives New York City the feeling of always being draped in shadows. But sometimes the movie can go a little too far in that hazy direction, as I'm still not exactly sure who F. Murray Abraham is supposed to be playing here.(To be fair, I feel the same about him in "Homeland.") That's not to mention an ending that it probably doesn't deserve, following a cliched climax.
While investigating the disappearance of actor Paul Henderson(Jon… MoreWhile investigating the disappearance of actor Paul Henderson(Jon Pertwee), the police take the time to consider the strange cases of the three men who were the previous tenants of the house he was living in.
With an ominous sounding title, "The House that Dripped Blood" is an ineffective and lackluster horror movie. So much so, that even Denholm Elliott, Peter Cushing and Chrisopher Lee can do little with their individual segments, each with a twist and poor special effects. It is Jon Pertwee through sheer bug-eyed abandon who makes the biggest impression. But that is still not enough to save the movie.
"Charlie's Country" is a different kind of Australian apocalyptic… More"Charlie's Country" is a different kind of Australian apocalyptic movie than the ones we're used to seeing. While on a much smaller scale, the movie is no less concerned with the current state and fate of the Aboriginal population. That is embodied in Charlie(David Gulpilil, who also co-wrote with director Rolf de Heer) who once danced in front of Queen Elizabeth to celebrate the opening of the Sydney Opera House. Through a series of tragicomic misadventures in the present day, he comes to realize that the old ways are gone forever.
What makes his situation even worse is that the old ways of Aboriginals were not replaced by anything. At best, they are treated like children. At worst, they are treated like criminals.
"The Seven Five" is a stylish and fascinating documentary about former… More"The Seven Five" is a stylish and fascinating documentary about former New York City Policeman Michael Dowd who served ten years in prison on various corruption charges. Along with his testimony in front of a commission in 1992, the movie is framed by some very forthright interviews from Dowd, his partner Ken Eurell, various co-horts, and those charged in rooting out corruption in the New York City Police Department.(They are all so forthright, that one imagines a very lengthy pre-filming legal conference about what is covered under the statute of limitations. That would also make a great DVD extra, by the way.)
Dowd carried on with his extra-legal and illegal activities long after other members of his precinct stopped when a nearby precinct was brought down in a massive corruption raid, operating under the faulty logic that he was good because he was robbing from drug dealers and was not being caught. He was eventually brought down by Suffolk County police which still has one of the New York City internal affairs detectives shaking his head.(You have to be from Long Island to get the irony but trust me it's here.)
"The Seven Five" also tackles wider themes like the police in general, not just those at this very crime-ridden junction of East New York, Brooklyn in the 1980's. On the one side, the camaraderie of the police looking for each other can only be a plus in such a dangerous precinct as the 75th. On the other hand, this also prevented them from going to the proper authorities when one of their own was doing something very wrong and illegal which one subject regrets to the present day.