Saturday, October 27, 2012

MOVIE REVIEWS #46: "PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4", "FOOTNOTE", "CHICO & RITA", "WANDERLUST", "GOODBYE FIRST LOVE", "MARGARET", "THE DOUBLE HOUR" and MORE!

I apologize for starting off with a political rant, but if you'll bare with me a second, I have something to say about this election. Frankly there's many trivial things to say about it, like how tired we are of it, and how frustrating it is to have to deal with it, and the media's goings-on about it, but this has to be said. Yes, like in '08, I will proudly be voting for Barack Obama. I'm a Democrat. My politics are Socialist in nature, but I am a registered Democrat, because they're the side that's right. Not right, ideological, right, as in, not wrong. Or least wrong if you want to put it that way, but there isn't much that they're wrong about for me to even bother with the word "Least" anymore. I don't say that as a belief, or an opinion, it's a fact. You can go through the last 100 or so years, and practically every important political position you can imagine, that's been debated, discussed and decided my side's been right, and their side has been wrong, and I used to think, that their side couldn't get any wronger, and somehow, they get, even the simplest things wrong, now. They're far-right ideologs, have gone so far on the pro-life issue, that now, they're justifying rape, as an argument for being pro-life. That's it, I'm calling it on the abortion issue, their side is wrong. I use to understand, the difference of opinion. The choices, and the moral ambiguity that such a decision involves, and I still do, which is the precise reason I'm pro-choice, not because I'm a Godless liberal who likes abortions, I don't, but because having a kid is a life-changing decision that can have so many unintended consequences that no one can imagine, and that eliminating any option, simply on what some other person thinks or "be-lieves," (That word is any religious connotation should be illegal in politics) is just wrong, and even if it wasn't, what good are we to force a pregnant woman, or anybody else into something he/she doesn't want to do, and in many cases, they shouldn't do, so all options should be available. Some are better than others, but that's the whole point of options. My response to anybody who says that they're against abortions has always been, "Don't get one then." Now, they're all debating, whether rape is okay if you get the girl pregnant. I'm sorry, this isn't ideological anymore. I have one rule that I find to be a good determinate of which side is right, if I'm ever in a bind, and here it is, "When you're arguing, for the right to be stupid, you lose the argument." Freedom ends at stupidity! That's the entire basis, literally of, every position a liberal or a socialist or whatever-you-want-to-call us has ever taken, from seat-belt laws, to drinking age, alternative energy, to war, ro role of government, to animal rights, to wearing a helmet when riding a bike.... I am pro-freedom, but anti-stupidity, and certainly anti-rape, and btw, women's rights issues, are also Men's Rights issues. I care as much about whether Planned Parenthood is around as much as every woman I know, same with birth control, and everything else, that effects me, and all men, and not just women. The point being, I'm not standing back, and letting anybody be stupid anymore, especially in politics, I can't take it. Nobody in my party can. That's why we kicked out Congressman Weiner. We didn't care about the affair; we cared that he was stupid, and we're not having that in the party. Yeah, we have extremists too, but our extremists are people like PETA, who want to be the ACLU for animals. Yeah, they're annoying as hell but Christ, they're right about 80% of the time, and anybody that supports such idiotic rationality as one that considers woman being impregnated by rape as some kind of blessing, ought to lose the right to vote, 'cause obviously, they're not informed enough to make a rational decision on anything. Again, I remind you, those people are on their side, not mine, and if you still think that a few bad apples is worth dealing with, if you still think the other guy isn't that bad, you want to know the character of a man, look who hangs around them. The people who reject Darwinism, global warming and all other science, are on their side, the stupid side. They are never on our side, and if they are, they aren't for very long anyway.

Now, as to, why I'm voting for Obama, there's a lot of reasons, but the one I want to really focus on is how the economy is in incredible shape. Yes, you read that right, considering what he had to start with, an economy that had been lousy since 9/11, and yes, the economy was crappy and made-up, before the '08 recession and was for years, that's just when they started calling it bad, because the rich people were having problems; the economy was bad, for years, and those times when they called it good, were fictional. That's why the housing bubble broke, it was a fucking bubble! It was full of hot air, and fictional. Just because a line of a graph of the stock market index, goes up and down, doesn't mean the economy is good or bad, it means that somebody screwing with us, especially when it goes up and down, up and down, up and down, completely erratically, like it's been since the '80s. Here's what Obama has set up. More money in Pell Grants and cheaper college tuition, I can vouch for that one myself, I got more money in Pell Grants and Student Loans, after he was President than I did before, which means, more education, which means, more educated workers in the workforce. Not right away, but eventually. There's at least three million jobs available for people, hiring now, that people don't have the education for. The more education, the more jobs will be available. We're on our way, and for thirty straight months, unemployment's gone down. It's not going up, at the pace it was, but that's because it's going at the right pace. Those jobs in the past, were created, because the fictional economy, run by the Wall Street guys with no government oversight, which we also now have some of, not what we should, but some, when they were inflating their pocketbooks with false earnings on bad investments, they started hiring way too many extra people, thinking they could afford it, and when they found out they couldn't, that 4.7 unemployment, skyrocketed eventually to the 9.9, that Obama had to deal with. Economies shouldn't, if done right, shouldn't go up and down every year, like a damn elevator. They're slow, patient, steady, and ultimately moving forward, that's what's going on now, and that's the way it should be, and how it should've been. Oh, and by the way, I don't have to go broke if I get sick anymore, which means I can spend more of my money, which helps the economy. If I'm blaming anybody for why the economy isn't better, I'm blaming the rich people, at the head of those Fortune 500 companies, and all the other millionaire business owners, who aren't hiring people the way they should, which makes no sense to me. More employees, mean more people who can afford products, putting more money back into the system, which means which will go back to the people at the top eventually, and that makes them richer. Those 3million jobs we don't have the education for, that is a problem, and we're solving it, but there's still a million or two jobs available that we are educated for, but they aren't hiring?! At worst, that's an overabundance of caution, that's not only uncalled-for but dangerous, cause it can hurt the economy more by not hiring, and at worse, they're just greedy, and we know how greedy they've been in the past, so that's entirely plausible. I'm glad for all the good things Obama did, including kill Bin Laden, and that's hardly the most of it. I'm also disappointed that health care wasn't universal health care, and that Guantanamo is still open, and that he hasn't reversed enough of the policies in the Patriot Act, and a few other things too, but it's the economy, stupid, and I'm sick and tired of hearing how crappy it is, when it isn't. Once, again, their side is wrong! When my side starts being wrong, and their side starts being right, I'll switch, in the meantime, they're wrong. and reversing the steps Obama has put in, is disastrous, and I'm not letting that happen.

(Deep breath).
Okay, sorry for having to rant about politics today; I intend for that commentary to be a one-time thing. Now, onto what we really should, and what I really want to talk about, the RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS, including a SPECIAL EDITION review this week of "Paranormal Activity 4"!

Everybody ready, good. On to this week's Reviews!

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012) Directors: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

2 1/2 STARS

I went out with a couple of my old film school friend this week. My friend Lillian took us to see "Paranormal Activity 4", and then we walked across the street to visit some haunted houses, which I'm not gonna lie, wasn't particularly something I had ever done before, and frankly, since I'm not a big Halloween fan, I was, eh-, let's say apprehensive about it, but I went anyway. It's was nice to get out of the house. Anyway, I liked one of the haunted houses, because it wasn't that scary, although it did involved a lot more electrocution and groping then the other two, and for some reason, I found that relatively enjoyable. Long lines though. We ending up playing Fuck, Marry, Kill at the end to kill time. That's always fun.

What was I talking about?- Oh, "Paranormal Activity 4", right I almost forgot. I rarely watch horror movie sequels to begin with; I'm trying to learn, but frankly I'm not a big horror film junkie to begin with, however, I had seen, the original "Paranormal Activity," a couple years ago, and thought it was quite great, possibly the best use of the found footage conceit, in the horror genre. (Although that said, it's become a cliched and tiresome conceit now.) I haven't seen "Paranormal Activity 2" or "...3" however, so I'm definitely, a little bit behind the eight ball going into "...4". The film takes place in Henderson, Nevada, which got a laugh from me, since that's where I was ten minutes before going to the movie. Apparently, Katie (Katie Featherstone) from the original film, has since, begun, killing most of her family, but I'm still confused on that, so I'm gonna talk about Alex (Kathryn Newton) a-eh, sorta typical rich teenage girl, who's for some reason dating someone way more immature than her, Ben (Matt Shively). Matt often has a camera, and much of the time they're Skypeing to each other, or something like that. (I'll catch up on computer technology later, I swear) Soon, the weird kid across the street, Robbie (Brady Allen) who's been coming over unexpectedly lately, has to stay over for a little bit, while his mother/guardian (I don't remember) is in the hospital, after some kind of accident. Needless to say, some strange stuff begins happening, once Robbie comes into the house. Alex's adopted brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp), especially starts suddenly questioning his past. On the computers, yes they have multiple laptops in this house, as well as stairs, which is very strange for Henderson, Nevada, by the way; that's even strange for Green Valley, which they set up to start trying to get documented footage of some of the weird sounds and events that have suddenly been occurring, their seems to be a presence, that can only be seen through UV nightvision mode. Other times, chandeliers start shaking and falling, and not-so-randomly either. (Clearly, they do not know the rule about chandeliers in movie. Or in general, actually. Those are a waste of money, a stupid thing to have, and basically a ready-made death trap. They might as well have a half-faced phantom organist in the basement) Some of this is effective, in the classic horror thriller tradition, which was part of what made the original film work so well. Doors opening, splashes of light and subtle motions, objects vanishing without any explanation, etc. etc. There's also some creepy things going on at Robbie's house across the street, especially after Katie comes back from the hospital. The reason the first film worked so well, was because we really didn't know what the "boogie man" was for much of the movie, or how/what it was going to do. It was made well, classically, surprisingly, it was the found footage conceit, very effectively, and the ending of the film, was a legitimate "Holy Shit" shock that really was effective, and really did grab the audience. With this film, I can't say I really hate it that much. I can't honestly recommend it; it's not that good, maybe I was in a good mood that day, but a lot of it was effective to me, a lot of it, garnered some good "Mystery Science Theatre 3000,"-like smartass comments at the screen, I commented on how after everyone was killed, they could use the found footage from the computer, for posting the housing interior online, to sell the house. I had a few others ribs at it, but basically the film is short, and relatively entertaining at times, whether it was the right kind of entertaining or not, I don't know. It was directed by two good filmmakers in the team of Joost & Schulman; they directed the great documentary "Catfish," a couple years ago, so I think they made about, as good a movie as they could've with this film. Really, unless you're one of those people, who just love anything horror, just go rent the original one again, and maybe catch this one of cable, late night some time.

FOOTNOTE (2011) Director: Joseph Cedar

4 1/2 STARS



A nominee for last years Foreign Language Oscar, the Israeli film "Footnote," is a quirky little film about a misunderstanding, that takes place in the world of the intellectuals. I mean, those college professors intellectuals who you may find smooching around at a New York party or two, discussing such tedious and boring detailed minutia. In this case, the field of study is the Talmud. The film is about a father and a son. The father is Eliezer Shkolnick (Schlomo Bar-Aba). He has spent years as an unpopular college professor who worked for thirty years on an interpretation of the Talmud, that was proved correct, when before he could publish, the key that he had spent decades deciphering, was unexpectedly found by one of his rivals, who beat out Eliezer to the publisher. His entire career achievement, is a footnote, in his Idol's book. The introduction in his book. He's not well-liked or respected among his peers, and is very critical of their work, including his own son, Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi). His son is also a professor in Talmudic studies, and the two couldn't be more different other than that. Their relationship has been strained and at a distance personally, and professionally for years. He's published several articles and a well-respected book. He admires, and loves his father, and couldn't be more excited and happy for him, to find out that he had won the Israel Prize. I had to look this up to by the way, but the Israel Prize, is sort of the Israel equivalent to the Nobel Prize, or the Congressional Medal of Freedom, or something along those lines, where once-a-year on Israeli Independence day, a special ceremony is held to honor the achievements of the experts in their fields. They give out prizes in many areas and, it's probably the highest honor awarded to someone for Jewish or Rabbinical Studies. Eliezer got the phone call, announcing he had won. Unfortunately, he didn't. In half of a windowless closet, the committee quietly tells Uriel that he was the winner of the prize, and due to some confusion involving a phone call and an announcement in the mail, Eliezer, who had been entering his name for decades, was incorrectly informed, and announced as the winner. Uriel knows, this will devastate his father, and insists on rejecting the prize and keeping the committee in on giving him the prize. Unfortunately, there's a couple rivals of him on the committee, including Grossman (Micah Lewison), a former colleage, who published the article that proved Eliezer's theorem, and claims knowledge that even his footnote shouldn't be accredited to him. "Footnote," was directed by Joseph Cedar, who was also an Oscar-nominee years ago for the film "Beaufort". "Footnote," is a sly comedy, about a family, that seems to just happen to be about something as major as the biggest prize in Israel. It uses some interesting techniques, especially early in the film for some quick exposition, but once it gets into the story, it's hard to turn away. The study is strikingly simple, as are the comtradictings of such a big honor, being screwed up by such a simple error, as it the father-son relationship, and how both men strive to eventually salvage it, and make sure that everybody is happy. "Footnote," is a sharp comedy that is equally part satire and father-son story. That's wrong, actually. They're both inherently connected to each other. These are two men, defined by their work. One is loved and appreciated for it, and is light years more successful because of the modern age and popularity, while the father is an intensely workaholic who's stuck in a stone age. This story can be told, literally about any occupation, but maybe it's best that it involves the most empirically trivial as changes and interpretations of the Talmud. It doesn't sound as funny or enjoyable when describe written down, but "Footnote," really is, quite a sharp film.

CHICO & RITA (2011) Directors: Tony Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba

4 STARS

"Chico & Rita," was one of the Oscar nominees in the Animated Feature category last year, and it's quite a beautiful piece of animation, telling a classic story of love and lost, that's based around the late '40s latin jazz scene in Havana. Chico (Eman Xor Ona) is a talented piano player and songwriter, the best in Havana, who nobody knows about. Rita (Lemara Meneses, with vocals by Idania Valdes) is a singer, who's a born star. Chico loves Rita. He's got a girlfriend at the time, and that's not particularly convenient, but he loves Rita anyway. She loves him. Together onstage, they make a great team. They win a radio contest, get a hit record, and soon, it isn't just Havana calling. Rita insists on bringing Chico with her to America. She regrets that, because Chico, has a tendency to philander a bit too thoughtlessly. She soon breaks up with him. She begins becoming a worldwide star on the radio, and later in Hollywood. Chico still works in New York. Occasionally, they run into each other. They know they're each other's true love, but something, and oftentimes someone, comes between them. This doesn't exactly sound like an animated film. It feels more like a old Hollywood melodramatic romance, and that's probably accurate. The story itself isn't particularly special, although the wonderful music, and the animation style, which uses some bright colors, and has some really amazing background scenes, particularly of Havana, and New York are quite memorable. I don't know, how much it really adds to the film, the fact that it's animated; other than showcasing some great skill and craft, it could've easily been shot live action. Well, maybe not easily anymore. The movie is told in flashback, as an aging Chico, now back in Havana years later, after being deported, has quit playing piano and spends his days as a disgruntled shoeshiner. There's some easy criticisms, but I rather enjoyed "Chico & Rita," for what it is, a great piece of animation, and a classic love story. I don't think it was aiming for anything more. Well, maybe that, and to show off some great jazz music, and it succeeded at all three. The film also had three directors. Errando & Mariscal are new filmmakers, Trueba's, also one of the film's screenwriters, has been making films for decades, including the wonderful "Belle Epoque". I think this is his first venture into animation, and I hope he does more. "Chico & Rita," is more of a general blueprint, than a finished film, but it's still quite good.

WANDERLUST (2012) Director: David Wain

2 1/2 STARS

"Wanderlust," is one of those strange films where they have a decent premise, but they made the wrong genre. It's got some funny moments, especially at the end, and I'll admit, it really does end well, but for much of the time, I was wondering what they were making fun of. Are they mocking these strange communal living places with excessive veganism and hedonistic sleeping situation, or whatever the hell they do, or were they making fun of the stuffy Manhattanites trying to adjust to these living conditions? I usually like these films where characters become intrigued by a new world that they enter, and begin choosing to let themselves be swept over into it. Lisa Cholodenko made two of the greatest films like these with "High Art," and "Laurel Canyon", and I couldn't help but to keep thinking of those films, while watching a lot of "Wanderlust". Let's meet George and Linda Gergenblatt (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, hey a "Friends" reunion. [Remember, Rudd was Mike, the guy Phoebe married at the end; even though she should've went with Hank Azaria's David, the shy but emotional scientist guy. What do you mean, I'm the only one who thinks she should've went with David, c'mon?! David was pining over her for years, he was studying in Minsk thinking about her, she met Mike practically by accident-... oh, forget it!]). George works tirelessly at a job that he hates. His wife, who switches career paths every other year or so, is now a documentarian specializing in stories of suicidal penguins, and she's about to make a big pitch to HBO. They've also just bought an Upper West Side loft that's a little out-of-their-price rance, especially after George loses his job when his boss is arrested for, being a Wall Street broker I think, and HBO didn't buy the documentary 'cause it lacked female nudity. The start heading out to Atlanta to stay with George's obnoxious and successful brother Rick (Ken Marino), but soon, they decide to run away from that. They end up going back to this Bed-and-Breakfast Commune called Elysian where they flipped their car over one night, after trying to back away from a nudist winemaker, Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio). The peaceful environment, seems somewhat appealing to them, despite some of their unusual living conditions, like no doors, anywhere, and the drinking of hallucinogenic teas, free love partner-swapping hedonism, and, pretty much everything that happens to Almond (Lauren Ambrose) regarding childbirth, before and after her pregnancy. There's some good comedy actors here. Alan Alda is funny as the wheelchair-bound founder of the community, one of the founders. Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman and Kerri Kenney-Silver also give some strong performances as some of the members of the commune. There's a dumb subplot regarding a deed to the land that's missing, and this led to a scene that shoulda been funny, and wasn't. You see, this was a Judd Apatow production, and as we all know, Apatow likes to have penises in his movie, because he thinks they're funny, and he's not inherently wrong there by the way, but female nudity, can be funny too, when done correctly. There's a scene in this movie, involving the commune, coming together for an impromptu protest, after developers begin breaking ground for a casino. Nobody's taking them seriously, and the media is leaving to go find some other story, Aniston's character suddenly decides to get everyone's attention, by standing in front of the bulldozers, topless. Now, this was a funny joke, that's been set-up, through most of this film. She's a coffee-a-day New York, who's always working, fairly conservative personally, can never be passionate enough to do anything, and suddenly, she's gonna start a topless protest to stop this production, but as soon as she rips her shirt off, they cut to people being shocked, the media coming back, and then everybody else taking their clothes off, etc. etc. Had they shown her breasts, this scene would've been hilarious, and I don't why they didn't; maybe Apatow doesn't find female nudity funny, ever, or whether or not Aniston has a no nudity clause, which is still stupid, 'cause they could've easily found a body double for the scene, and there's plenty of nudity in the movie, male and female, so it's not an attempt to lower the rating... but this was great opportunity for a laugh, and they really kinda blew it, and I don't understand why they did that. Now the other laughs, and it was one of those movies I'm tempted to recommend because it did get funnier, as it went on, but I think the film was saved by good comedic talent, in an otherwise flimsy film. I'm tempted to recommend it, but I have too many problems with it, it blew, what might've been the best joke in the film..., this was a minor entry in the Apatow production line of comedies at best, ah, no I can't fully recommend it. There's better films they made; there's better films and comedies out there.

GOODBYE FIRST LOVE (2012) Director: Mia Hansen-Love

2 1/2 STARS

Director Mia Hansen-Love, likes making movies about moving on from one's previous life. The comparisons, between life then, and then, life now. Her last film, the very good, "The Father of My Children," followed a father of a family around for the first forty minutes, until he suddenly died, and ended with the family, having fully adjusted and comes to terms with his death, and all that he did when he was alive. "Goodbye First Love," is a very accurate title. It begins with two teenagers, thrust in the blissful emotional of love, Camille (Lola Creton), who's 15 and Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), who's 19. The movie begins in 1999, and as the movie progress, we get sudden constant updates on when it is. For a while, it's not progressing much, despite Sullivan's soon departure to explore the world. He's suddenly going to the Andes, backpacking through South America for ten months. He sends her postcards, from his travels. Suddenly, it's 2007, and Camille is now in architecture school, and has begun forming a bond with her critical but helpful mentor Lorenz (Magne Havard-Brekke). It's around this time, that Sullivan and Camille meet again. What happened during this time, I won't describe, but you can probably guess. Their obsession and so-called love, was a time in their lives, that once ruled over everything, and now, has reach it's inevitable end. I don't think this is as strong a film from Hansen-Love as her last film. She's young herself, only 31, started as an actress in an Olivier Assayas film, and is quickly becoming on the most creative minds in all French cinema. I look forward for her next films. Saying that though, this one is a bit of a letdown from her last film. I'm tempted to be lenient on her, but film didn't have the emotional interst as her last one, and frankly, wasn't a story I haven't heard before, or in a different enough way, and frankly, I was somewhat by this film. I know what was gonna happen, and basically you're waiting for it to happen, than it does happen. It's a shame, but she'll, much like the way Camille came back from losing her first love, she'll come back from this and make a better movie next time.

MARGARET (2011) Director: Kenneth Lonergan

2 1/2 STARS* (Review Incomplete)

Late last year, quietly, Kenneth Lonergan's film "Margaret," was finally released into theatres after six years of court cases, involving the editing of the film. Fox Searchlight sued Producer Gary Gilbert, for not funding the final cost of the production, and Gilbert then sued Lonergan and the studio, for their refusal to allow him to participate in the editing process. Lonergan, who wrote and directed the wonderful film "You Can Count On Me," with Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo, as well as screenplay for films as wide-ranging as "Gangs of New York," to "Analyze This", had "Final Cut," of the movie in his contract, and Fox Searchlight, chose not to break their contract, and take it away from Lonergan, although eventually, Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker, were brought in to finally finish the editing, and Lonergan finally gave approval to release their cut of the film, however his original version of the film floating around on special edition Blu-Rays, which I have not seen yet, and at least according to Jim Emerson's blog on the film, despite the movie's current 150 minute running time, there's about a half hour of film edited, that really seems to have completely altered, at least in my mind, this film, especially when you compare it to the full-length screenplay. Therefore, I've chosen to stick to my negative review, however I'm gonna add an asterick, and call this review "Incomplete", until if/when I see Lonergan's full version three hour version of the film.

Below is Jim Emerson's aforementioned blog on the film:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/2012/07/margaret_the_masterpiece_that_.html

This version of the movie recieved mostly positive reviews, and showed up sporadically on a few Awards ballots, but I gotta be honest here, this film, at times has moments that were great, even exceptional, but by the end of this film, this movie felt like a chore that I, as a film critic had to finish so I could move onto something else. The title "Margaret," comes from a Gerard Manley Hopkins that isn't the name of any character in this movie. Maybe I missed an opera reference or something, poem and the main character is Lisa (Anna Paquin) a precocious and somewhat shallow teenager girl in a Manhattan private school. She lives with her mother, Joan (J. Smith-Cameron), a well-respected theatre actress, on and off Broadway, currently doing a workplace comedy most every night. Lisa's father Karl (Lonergan, doing a cameo) lives on the West Coast with his new trophy wife, Bonnie (Enid Graham), and at first, Lisa's somewhat excited to be spending a week or so in Summer on his ranch. During a search of 5th Avenue, for a cowboy hat of all things, she ends up distracting a bus driver, Maretti (Ruffalo) who ends up running over Monica Patterson (Allison Janney). She ends up dying in Lisa's arms on the street, asking about a daughter, who's also named Lisa. From here... well, let's just say, it gets complicated. She lies to the police about what happened. At one point, she tries to find the bus driver and confront him about the accident. She also finds Monica's family, a lifelong friend Emily (Jeannie Berlin), hears her story, and eventually begins pondering any kind of lawsuits that can happen, especially after any criminal pursuit would be pointless after Lisa officially changes her story. I'm describing some plot points, but this isn't about the plot, it's about behavior. Lonergan's dialogue, and it is spectacular, is really special in the way that everything that said, never seems to come out of the character's mouths the way they intend it to come out, particularly Lisa. I'm not sure exactly how well Paquin was fully able to handle this dialogue, I think I've seen her stronger in other works, but this is a tough character for anyone. In some ways, this movie may have been a little too complete and detailed though. Take Jean Reno's character, Ramon, who begins dating Joan after seeing a preview of her play. He's a nice guy and all, and they begin a down-low but passionate romance. Really, it's simply another device to add onto Lisa's frustration with the world, her reaction to the guilt she's feeling for her part in the accident. She confides in one teacher, Mr. Aaron (Matt Damon), who relationship is more well-defined in the script. There's also some supporting work here from Matthew Broderick, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kieran Culkin, Olivia Thirlby, and Sarah Steele. The movie is good, and I hate to give it a bad review, but in seems to take the situation as far as it possibly can go, and sometimes, it was exhausting. It didn't help that sometimes, they seem to move forward without proper preparation and causation. There's a great film somewhere here. This isn't quite it, and you could feel that, and that was the real problem. Maybe it would've helped me be more sympathetic to Lisa's quest for a forgiveness that she can never recieve. The hardline conflicts the character insist upon, get straining after a while, and every scene seems to have multiple interpretations. In many films, that can be a good thing. Here, it seems like great conflict without a greater purpose.

Again, I remind everyone that this film review is "Incomplete", and only reflects the theatrical release of the film, and not the Director's Cut.

THE DOUBLE HOUR (2011) Director: Giuseppe Capotondi

1/2 STAR

Where do I begin? Why does every movie now, have to be a mind-bender where not everything is as it seems, and something else is going on, and instead of telling a story, we get, a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I'm getting a little sick and tired of being asked to care, only to find out, ha-ha, it was a trick. Ah, no it wasn't. Maybe it's all a trick, maybe it's not a trick, maybe it's a dream, maybe it's a dream, based on what happened, maybe reality is a dream, and the dreams are real, or maybe-... Maybe, once in a while, I want to just watch a fucking movie, how about that?! I get it, when it's a puzzle film, and done exceptionally well, like "Mulholland Drive," "Memento," or either "Abre Los Ojos," or it's American remake, "Vanilla Sky," or "Shutter Island," to name a recent one, it can be great, and it can be special. But, you gotta have a reason to do it. "The Double Hour," does it just to screw with the audience, and that's where I draw the line. This Italian film begins with Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport) a Serbian maid in a hotel who meets Guido (Filippo Timi) on one of those speed dating events. Guido's a former cop, who now works security at some high-rise place. They hit it off, and begin to have a slight romance. Soon, Guido and Sonia go on a weekend getaway. I should tell you what happens there, because a movie this bad, should probably be ruined for everybody so that I can save people from wasting their precious time of their life, but then I'd have to explain the rest of the movie, and I'm only at the twenty minute mark, and I don't want to relive it. Let's just say that something you won't see coming, triggers the rest of the movie off, into this mind-bending audience annoying puzzle of a film, that completely undermines the entire movie beforehand, and it does that a few times by the way. If I had seen this movie before I made my Worst Ten List from list year, which I rushed through placing on the bottom of my Ten Best List blog last week, I would've found a spot for this film. This movie won a Award at the Venice Film Festival by the way; it must've been a bad year at that festival. "The Double Hour," in the title, refers to a military time, where the hour and minute numbers are both the same, like, 11:11, or 23:23. It's used as an occasional pointer in the film. Other than that, there's no real need to have that in there. There's no real need for this film. It's twenty minutes of a touching beginning to a possible relationship, and a bunch of filmmaking masturbation after that. In case you haven't figured it out, I did not like "The Double Hour."

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) Directors: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donan

4 1/2 STARS

Alright, I finally knocked this one off my shame list. Yes, until now, I hadn't actually seen "Singin' in the Rain," in its entirety. Well, I like to come off as a well-rounded cinema viewer, and I am, but I am weak in certain areas, and one of them is the classic Hollywood musical. Actually, I'm weak in musicals across the board really. (Note: I've gotta start looking up Bollywood later.) Anyway, after a few failed attempts, I must say that I do relatively enjoy "Singin' in the Rain". I don't know if it's the great Hollywood musical everyone claims, but it's certainly got some amazing moments. One of the more fascinating things about the film is how it wasn't perceived as a great musical until years later. They famous title number for instance, wasn't as publicized as the exceptionally long "Broadway Ballet" number with Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly, which is a number that almost seems like a different film entirely and doesn't ever really need to be there. It does benefit somewhat by this being a musical made especially for film. The movie was based on some old songs producer Arthur Freed wrote. Only "Moses Supposes" was written for the movie. The movie written by Betty Comden and Arthur Green, is an imagined tale about film's sudden transition from silent to talking films. Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Oscar-nominee Jean Hagen) are the big romantic pair of silent film in Hollywood. They've been paired together for several films. Lockwood is an old vaudevillian who fell into films after his act with his partner Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) didn't exactly pan out. The studio tells the press that they've been together onscreen and off, although that couldn't be further from the truth. Lamont's a passive-aggressive dumb blonde with a fairly irregular voice that would've led Professor Henry Higgins to suicide had he tribe to teach her proper dialect. She also, believes her own fake press, and thinks that she actually is in love with Don, and vice-versa. After escaping his adoring fans, Don ends up in the car of a young stage actress, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) who's unimpressed with the overdramatic acting in the films. She's not wrong, although she is lying about not seeing Don's films, but she is perfect for talkies. However, without able to get rid of Lamore, they decide to reshoot their latest film, which was shot with sound, or they tried to at least, by turning it into a musical, while they start dubbing in Kathy's voice over for Lina. This leads to some amazing scenes at the end, which involves Lina trying to perform and sing in front of the audience. The movie's real greatness are the musical numbers though. I think there's something incredibly magical about Donald O'Connor's death defying "Make 'Em Laugh" routine, even more than Kelly's to some extent. There's not a bad number in the film, and as a piece of Hollywood folklore, it holds up well. Not my favorite, but I'm definitely glad I finally got around to watching "Singin' in the Rain," and be able to appreciate it.


CLAIRE'S KNEE (1971) Director: Eric Rohmer

5 STARS

"Claire's Knee," is only the third film I've seen from legendary New Wave director Eric Rohmer, and the second film I've seen of his famous "Six Moral Tales" series. I enjoyed the first one I saw, the last to be made, "Chloe in the Afternoon," a lot, and I even enjoyed Chris Rock's American remake of that film, "I Think I Love My Wife". I'm not watching the moral tales in order obviously, and unfortunately, but I'm gonna get to all of them eventually. (Many are available on Hulu Plus) This tale involves Jerome, (Jean-Claude Brialy) a cultural attache who's spending the summer with his friend Aurora (Aurora Cornu) at Lake Annacy, which is the French part of Lake Geneva, on the Switzerland border, a popular resort getaway. Jerome is engaged, but that doesn't seem to particular bother him in regards to having an occasional summer fling, as long as he goes back to his fiance later. Aurora sets Jerome up with Laura (Beatrice Romand), the housemaid's daughter, who's a spunky and precocious teenager. The days go by, and while Laura and Jerome have some fun, their relationship seems headed down the path that most such flings go, and it that does, but while that's transitioning, Laura's half-sister Claire (Laurence de Monaghan) arrives. She's 16, has a fairly obnoxious boyfriend, Gilles (Gerard Falconetti), and is tall, blonde and skinny. Then, during an afternoon get-together with everybody, Claire climbs up a ladder in a dress, and it's then, that Jerome notices her right knee. Jerome doesn't seem to have a knee, which is certainly a strange one to have, but he's fascinated anyway, obsessed even, with her knee. He's knows it's a silly infatuation, but there, something happened to him, and now, he has to figure out, how to get this obsession out of his system, in a way that isn't, animalistic in nature. "Claire's Knee," like all of Rohmer's films (Well, the one's I've seen anyway) are about one's thoughts and desire, way more than they are about action and plot. Jerome's struggling with how he can manipulate the situation, in order to rest his desires. Action and movements are subtle, but they're all done with such meticulousness that just the act of touching a knee takes greater care and is far more important with drastic rammifications than say, the way most murders are in Hollywood action films. I've been wanting to dive more into Rohmer's work, and now I'm glad I'm finally getting around to doing that. I think I prefer "Chloe in the Afternoon," as per his Moral Tales, over "Claire's Knee," but there's still four more for me to get to.

DELICATESSEN (1992) Directors: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro

1 1/2 STARS

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is best when his films have a blissful and whimsical tendency in them. with a freedom of storytelling that propels that springs his movies forward in some wild and unexpected directions. (It doesn't hurt that also, he usually uses Audrey Tautou acting for him, who might be the only actress in the world who seem normal in his world) "Delicatessen," the breakout film from him, and his former directing partner Marc Caro, is not that blissful and whimsy, not as much as it'd like to be, and frankly it's downright disturbing. It's got some of his quirks, like the scene where the entire apartment building become in tuned to the springing of a bed that, let's say is, being used, but they seem, almost out-of-place here. To name another one of his lesser films, there's a few odds and ends and micmacs in this film, but there isn't much joy or point to them; they're simply there to be there, and that's disappointing. In this post-apocalyptic, cannibalism has become an acceptable practice. The apartment building I mentioned before has the titled delicatessen on the bottom floor, and the tenants are their customers, all of whom, have come to grips with the Butcher, Clapet's (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) practice of hiring a temporary assistant, who he keeps around in one of the rooms for a week or so, and then, serves him for everybody else. His shy mousy daughter Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac) has a small habit of feeling sorry for the guy, and she really starts to care about his latest apprentice Louison (Dominique Pinon) a former clown, who's old partner, Livingston, was eaten in Africa, and now's just looking for some steady work before he can get back into showbiz. Julie, unbeknownst to Louison or her Dad, begins working with a group of underground citizen called trogs, who only eat grain, to help stop her father before Louison..., well you get the idea. There are some amazing visuals as there always is in Jeunet's work, but "Delicatessen", really isn't that enjoyable a film. Apparently they had a low budget, and couldn't make the film they wanted to make, which would later become their film "The City of Lost Children", so this was scrounged together on a showstring. I think it does show their ingenuity. I think this film was more-or-less really just a sample project of there's so that they, especially Jeunet, could begin making their more insightful and ambitious projects. Maybe on that level, "Delicatessen," does in fact work. Still, I'm fairly surprised this film, it's been held in similar esteem as their others films.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES (1992) Director: Woody Allen

4 1/2 STARS

It's strange to turn on a Woody Allen film, and to see the unmistakable look of a handheld camera being moved around a small darkly lit apartment. I think what people may not realize is how experimental a filmmaker Allen can be. On top of the unusual handheld style, "Husbands and Wives," also uses a narrator, as well as a never-seen psychologist character(s), who many of the films characters, main, supporting, and not in the story, use to provide informantion in the film, and at least one of these psychoanalyists, is videotaping them, for some kind of, documentary. Oh, and it often uses flashbacks. Allen is known for finding his movies in the editing room, but what people don't realize is how much he must write and then film, in order to find the movie in the editing room. Take the character of Gabe Roth (Allen). He's married to Judy (Mia Farrow), and it seems like they're relatively happy, however, for a brief moment, Gabe discusses the love of his life, Harriet. (Galaxy Craze, really, that's the actress's name? That's awesome!) Harriet was full of life, and was unpredictable and insucient. How unpredictable, she was crazy. I say that, not-metaphorically and Gabe informs of that she had to be committed eventually. She was too much, she was insane, but she was still the love of his life. He loves Judy still, and he knows there's something wrong with being in love with Harriet, but that's how he feels and he can't help it. Anyway, during this brief piece of exposition, we see Harriet, only that one time. He didn't need to get an actress to play this character, but he probably wrote more about this relationship, maybe a whole section of this movie. We know all these characters only seem to know a small fraction of everything that's going on, but we get more information, although not always at once. Gabe and Judy's friends Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Oscar-nominee Judy Davis) come over, as they're getting ready to go out to dinner like normal, and they announce that they're getting a divorce. They seem strangely calm about it while Gabe and Roth start quietly freaking out. They can't believe it. We later wonder, how they didn't see it before. He was having an affair with Sam (Lysette Anthony) an aerobics instructor who obsesses about eating right, and her horoscopes. Judy soon sets up Sally with her friend Gates (Liam Neeson), who's she's always had a little bit of a crush on. She doesn't say that, but she has. Gabe, a novelist and now a professor, starts to begin admiring his young but talented student Rain (Juliette Lewis). She's an admirer of Gabe, as her family read his stories when she was young. She's got a boyfriend though. Things slowly start escalating, somewhat predictably, and strangely parallel. There's a rainstorm that brings all three stories together in ways that don't seem possible at the beginning of the film. There's no happily ever afters at the end, they just start ending. Some people get together, others get divorced, others end up alone. It's the triumph, tragedy and collateral damage of relationships. "Husbands and Wives," is one of Allen's most intriguing films.

THIS BOY'S LIFE (1993) Director: Michael Caton-Jones

2 1/2 STARS

"This Boy's Life," marks a first. Their first introduction to Leonardo DiCaprio, as a serious actor. I can't disagree with that. He's charismatic here, and more than good enough to hold his own with Robert De Niro, even at this young age, but by the end of the film, based on the famous Tobias Wolff memoir, I found myself struggling to truly accept the story. Toby (Dicaprio) isn't that good a kid; he's always finding himself in some kind of trouble, but he also lives with a mother, Caroline (Ellen Barkin) who's erratic behavior can be tough to live with. Her and Toby are constantly heading out west, hoping to get further and further away from whoever Caroline's last bad choice for a sexual partner was that's coming after her now. She's been divorced from Toby's father for years. He has an older son that the father got custody of, but she's trying desperately to find a permanent loving home for Toby, and someone would can at least, reasonably manage him. Soon enters Dwight Hansen (De Niro), an over-the-top character who's self-hatred runs so deep, he won't let anything happen unless he's in complete control of every aspect of the situation. I believe his character was realistic, but De Niro was still a little too over-the-top for me to completely believe. The other strange problem for me was that DiCaprio ages about seven or eight years in this film. It shows how talented he is, that he can play this character at multiple ages, that young, but it did come off strange, his voice having never changed for instance. Yes, his acting out is justified as Dwight is an unreliable liar, who says and does anything to get what he wants, sabotaging, and stealing from Toby and his now-doormat mother at every turn. When Caroline wants to work on the Kennedy campaign (The movie takes place in the fifties,) he says no, 'cause there are too many Republicans that shop in his store. Caroline finally starts defying him anyway. The reason Toby would be fighting with Dwight for his childhood, is mainly because this was the marriage that Caroline insisted on trying to work. They're both victims of circumstance as much as anything else, and as Toby grows up and realizes this, he begins forcing his way out. I think the movie really just wore me out by the end of it, that's probably the biggest reason why I can't really recommend it. It probably works a lot better as a memoir actually. As a film, it seemed to be somewhat unnatural, almost like an acting exercise, come in, play these roles, and we'll see what happens. That can often be good, but matched with some questionable choices of directing, like how they really overplay the dramatic ending when finally Caroline and Toby run off and leave, I had a hard time fully embracing the film. It might actually have "The Boy's Life," and I certainly feel sorry for him, but it wasn't that entertaining a film, and again, for that, I feel sorry for him.

DUCK (2007) Director: Nicole Bettauer

3 STARS

Photographs tend to cliche in film, but the opening Nic Bettauer's film "Duck", begins with photographs that show the life of Arthur Pratt (Philip Baker Hall), an old man, who's wife has just passed away. Their son Daniel died when he was 18. He loved his wife, and it seems when he's now alone, in an apartment with a sublet, Mr. Janney (Larry Cedar), who's such a tightass prick, that he doesn't even allow plants, for fear they'll eat up all the oxygen, among his many heartless quirks, Arthur looks and seems like he's spent most of his adult life in a perpetual state of sadness. He goes across the street to a park to bury the ashes of his wife, along with where his son's ashes were placed, many years before. He's taken a giant tin full of pills with him. It's at that moment, that a small duckling appears before him. He's clearly a little lost, and has only just been born. He searches for his mother, only to find that she, and the rest of the ducklings were hit by the car. He takes the duck in, and names him Joe. He doesn't know much about ducks, but he feeds him and takes care of him. Joe believes Arthur to be his mother, and Joe has found a new partner for his travels. At first, he considers going to a nursing home, after being thrown out of the apartment, but then he moves with Joe into the park, which, he later learns, is actually a landfill. More than once, he has to save Joe from swimming in contaminated water. When this option finally falls out of favor, Joe and Arthur begin a slow trek to the beach, figuring it the best place for both of them. He meets a kindred spirit in Norman (Bill Cobbs) another homeless bum, planning on taking his pet to live in the beach. Arthur and Joe go through a lot. Some good, some bad. They even go to a Halloween party, where Arthur, bringing a duck, is temporarily confused for a costume. "Duck", was on my Netflix for years because I'm always interested in any lead performance that the great Philip Baker Hall gets. He's one of those character actors you've seen a million times, but you might not know his name. Robert Altman directed him in the one-man show "Secret Honor," where he played Richard Nixon; most of you might know him from his work in P.T. Anderson films, like "Hard Eight (aka Sydney)" or especially as the game show host in "Magnolia". He's one of the best actors alive, and it's nice to see him in a lead, even if it is in this small, quirky, little independent film. There's a few easy comparison films, Paul Mazursky's film "Harry and Tonto," which earned a Lead Actor Oscar for Art Carney, probably comes to mind quickly, as well as a few other stories of a man and his loyal animal companion hitting the road, and "Duck," is a nice one, with a few good actors and some inventiveness.
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