Friday, April 21, 2006

Been a while, I know. (some spoilers)

- I know I haven't posted it almost two weeks, but I have a good reason. Namely, my boss has been away at a conference so I have to work pretty much every day to hold down the fort until he comes back. If you read my screening log you may notice that I've watched exactly 5 (five) movies since April 9, the date of my last update. When I don't have time to watch movies, much less write about them, you know I'm busy.

- I'm sure you've all seen the Cannes competition slate, but here it is again (note: some translations are taken from articles I've read; others are mine and mine alone):

Pedro ALMODOVAR - Volver
Andrea ARNOLD - Red Road
Lucas BELVAUX - The Weakest Is Always Right
Rachid BOUCHAREB - Days of Glory
Nuri Bilge CEYLAN- Climates
Sofia COPPOLA - Marie-Antoinette
Pedro COSTA - Juventude Em Marcha
Guillermo DEL TORO - Pan’s Labyrinth
Bruno DUMONT - Flanders
Nicole GARCIA - Selon Charlie
Xavier GIANNOLI - When I Become a Singer
Alejandro GONZALEZ INARRITU - Babel
Aki KAURISMAKI - Lights in the Dusk
Richard KELLY - Southland Tales
Richard LINKLATER - Fast Food Nation
Ken LOACH - The Wind That Shakes the Barley
LOU Ye - Summer Palace
Nanni MORETTI - The Caiman
Paolo SORRENTINO - My Family’s Friend

Who will prez Wong Kar-Wai's jury award this year? Right now, sight unseen, I'm predicting Almodovar, whose romantic fatalism seems to be in Wong's wheelhouse. Although I wouldn't rule out someone like Coppola, whose approach to period material is unconventional and pop enough to get attention, provided the film doesn't blow, which I think it very well could (I'm not a LOST IN TRANSLATION fan either, so don't mind me).

With no Lynch or DePalma in competition, I'm rooting for Kaurismaki, who I don't think has much chance to win, as well as Dumont, who given Cannes' recent efforts to mainstream is a bit of surprise here, although this could mean that the movie is awesome. Also nice to see Linklater there, making a belated first appearance in the main event, although barring a strong second presence on the jury a la Tilda Swinton in '04 I don't see this year going too political (sorry Linklater, Loach and Moretti).

I'm hoping that SOUTHLAND TALES turns out awesome, although honestly it could go either way (I should have more faith in Kelly, given DONNIE DARKO and his work on the DOMINO screenplay). And it would be nice to see PAN'S LABYRINTH be a success, so that Del Toro can break out of the "pretty good" rut he's been in since MIMIC.

I wouldn't rule out any of the unknown (for me) quantities- Giannoli, Costa, Bouchareb, Arnold, Sorrentino- being a big contender. In short, there's really no world-beater here, which always makes for an interesting fest.

- Tomorrow I'm driving down to Columbus for the Sci-Fi Marathon. Should be a blast, as always. I actually haven't been down there since I moved last summer, so it'll be nice to be back, if only for a few days.

And now, some short short reviews:

Slither (2006, James Gunn, seen in theatre)- some kind of grossout classic, with Gunn clearly enjoying his chance to obliterate the envelope of good taste in the name of both ickyness and laughs (I almost typed "yucks and yuks" but decided against it lest I sound like a reject from Variety). Nathan Fillion, after this and SERENITY, has a knack for the playing an antihero who's quick with quips, but Michael Rooker (under layer after layer of creature makeup) and Gregg Henry (under nothing but street clothes and a heavy sheen of sleaze) rule every scene in which they appear. It's not respectable- heck, it's not even TREMORS- but fun while it lasts. Rating: **1/2.

The Edukators (2004, Hans Weingartner, seen on DVD)- a movie about so-called revolutionaries shouldn't go down this easy, should it? When one character bemoans the way the hippie culture was eventually co-opted by the commercial and fashion mainstreams, I couldn't help but think the same of our heroes here- a group of "pure" revolutionaries who are so un-alarming that they may as well be the inoffensive "edgy" hosts of a kids' talk show. Once they take a hostage- how lucky are they that they got THAT hostage, by the way?- the movie grinds to a standstill as they talk about the idea of revolution. Really, that's what this movie's philosophy of revolution is anyway- all talk. The film's final reel leans heavily on Jeff Buckley's recording of "Hallelujah"- how slow on the uptake does a film have to be to get scooped by the likes of SHREK? Rating: *1/2.

Vixen! (1968, Russ Meyer) and SuperVixens! (1975, Russ Meyer) (both seen on DVD)- I'm working my way through Meyer's catalog, and judging by these two films I'm gonna have lots of fun. Not much to say about Vixen!, a film that's almost review-proof. The sex in the film is pretty tame (hard to believe this once got an X), but Meyer's skill with the genre and his sick sense of humor ("we haven't done this since we were twelve" springs to mind) distinguishes this film from its imitators. Erica Gavin wasn't a great actress or anything, but as a found object she's perfect for the film, which succeeds largely due to her considerable charms. SuperVixens!, on the other hand, is pretty batshit, in the best of ways. More than any other director I can think of, Meyer wore his obsessions on his filmmaking sleeve, and SuperVixens! is chock full of Meyer goodness- over-the-top violence, lurid melodrama, back-roads Americana, and above all brassy, sex-crazed, hyper-endowed "voluptua". This is a film that must be taken in the right spirit to be enjoyed- most people of taste will check out during a graphic trampling-and-electrocution scene early on- but if you survive to the "third act" the film turns almost into Meyer's version of VERTIGO, as the film's hero meets the doppelganger of his lost love and is then forced to defend himself against, and save her from, a psychopathic cop who intends to kill them both. Charles Napier is pretty great as the cop, snarling vividly through his perma-sneer throughout the film until his final curtain call, when he momentarily breaks the fourth wall with a brilliant pantomimed aside into the camera. Also, tits, and lots of of 'em, if you like that sort of thing. Ratings- Vixen!: **1/2. SuperVixens: ***.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I'm really hoping the Dumont turns out great. Few films in the last few years have affected me as viscerally as Twentynine Palms.

Also, Supervixens is lesser Meyer in my book, as I think its overlength dampens its batshitness. You really should see Up! as soon as humanly possible -- it's AMAZING.