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Tag Archives: drama

Four of Hearts (2013): Deuce of Spades

Four of Hearts (Eric Haywood, 2013)

Four-of-Hearts-DVD-cover

Revised tagline: some legs can’t be uncrossed. photo credit: galleryhip.com

First off: while I don’t necessarily consider talking about the content of a character’s character to be a spoiler for a movie, there are those who might. As such, this review can be considered to have spoilers. Proceed with caution.

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Z for Zachariah (2015): Winter Is Coming

[originally written 29Aug2015]

Z for Zachariah (Craig Zobel, 2015)

Z-for-Zachariah

Captain Kirk meets Harley Quinn and no one’s written fanfic about it yet? photo credit: nerdreactor.com

Two of my favorite directors in the history of cinema are Béla Tarr and Yasujiro Ozu, the masters of “slow film”. While I was watching Z for Zachariah, the new film from Craig Zobel (Compliance), I got the feeling throughout that Zobel is familiar with these two masters, and is working his way into slow-film-dom. I don’t think he’s quite there yet, but he’s on the right path.

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Zoo (1993): So Far, So Good

Otsuichi, Zoo (Haikasoru, 1993)

otsuichi-zoo-novel

Don’t feed the animals. photo credit: cdon.se

I first encountered the work of Hirotaka Adachi, who writes under the pen name Otsuichi (I have no idea if this is what he meant choosing it, but amusingly, one of the possible translations of his pen name is “first second”), when I saw the screen adaptation of his novel Goth a couple of years ago. While the movie was problematic, it was interesting, and I decided I’d try to hunt down some of his writing. The first thing I picked up was Zoo. And boy, can this guy write. (And boy, can that other guy translate.)

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Cemetry of Splendour (2015): Freedom Is in My Body

Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015)

cemetery-of-splendour-poster-01_article

I am large, I contain multitudes. photo credit: moviepilot.de

Japan has Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinya Tsukamoto. America has Julian Schnabel and Elias Merhige. France has Claire Denis. Australia has Jane Campion. Iran has Abbas Kiarostami. Norway has Tomas Alferdson. The UK has Peter Strickland.  Czechoslovakia has Jan Svankmajer. Thailand has Apichatpong Weerasethakul. They are, arguably, the world’s ten greatest currently-working directors, and a new film from any of them is worth celebration. While most of the directors named above have in common that their films are often dreamlike (or nightmarish), Weerasethakul has always struck me as the one who works in the waking-dream vein most natively; everything about his films seems to be deeply connected straight back to the Brothers Lumiere and other fin de siecle avant-garde filmmakers. To experience a Weerasethakul film is to wander through a landscape that is at once entirely alien and constantly familiar.

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The Devils (1971): You Have Been Found Guilty of Covenants with the Devil

The Devils (Ken Russell, 1971)

The movie poster.

I feel as though my heart has been touched by Christ. photo credit: moviescreenshots.blogspot.com

N.B.: This is more of an essay than a review, and as such, some of what is contained herein could be considered spoilers. If that sort of thing offends you, enter at your own risk.

Spoiler Alert!

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White Dog (1982): Sundown Town

White Dog (Samuel Fuller, 1982)

An artist's rendition of the snarling title creature adorns the DVD cover.

Never bite the hand that bleeds you.
photo credit: subscene.com

There a number of directors who have become canonical over the years whose films I have simply never gotten. Woody Allen. Mario Bava. Sam Fuller. Every time I dig into a Fuller movie I try and see what it is that sets him apart, and every time I fail. My most recent attempt was with the 1982 racism melodrama White Dog, and I think that perhaps I’ve figured out what the canon sees in him. I still didn’t get to the “all that and a bag of racists” point with this one, but it’s starting to make sense. The thing about Sam Fuller’s strain of melodrama, if I’m right in my hypothesizing, is that in movies like Shock Corridor and Pickup on South Street, both of which left me kind of cold, Fuller was doing that gig first; Douglas Sirk and Grace Metalious and Russ Meyer and all that lot would come after and hone the genre, so that when Fuller returned to the fold in the eighties, he not only had his own base to work from, he had everyone else’s, too. And I think that, more than anything, may be what impressed me about White Dog: Fuller wasn’t afraid to build on the work of others, rather than focusing obsessively upon his own corpus.

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Lovelace (2013): Shallow Throat

Lovelace (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 2013)

Amanda Seyfried vamps on the movie poster.

I had too much to dream last night.
photo credit: flicksandbits.com

I try—these days, anyway (I make no promises of same in my vault reviews)—to limit my comments about actors of either sex to their performances rather than their looks, other than a generic comment here and there about eye candy when it’s obvious that a writer obviously put in a part of Nameless Hot Blonde (especially in a lead role). But given the subject matter and the thrust, no pun intended, of Lovelace, I think it’s fair to open this review by saying that from the moment I set eyes on a nineteen-year-old actress named Amanda Seyfried in 2004’s phenomenal comedy Mean Girls, I developed a life-size crush on her. I think she is, in the vernacular, crazy gorgeous, one of those actresses who usually ends up getting cast as the hanger-on (viz. Mean Girls) or the mousy best friend (Jennifer’s Body, about which Seyfried was the only thing worth watching) when she’s the prettiest woman in the room. (At least she’s got job security, since Janeane Garofalo, who was often relegated to those same roles, seems to have chosen to focus more on TV these days.) So as soon as I heard she was going to be starring in a Linda Lovelace biopic, I was champing at the bit. One of the most beautiful women in the world playing one of the most famous porn stars in the world? How could this go wrong? That turns out to be a far more complex question than it probably deserves to be, and because of that, I watched Lovelace almost a month ago as I write these words, and I’m still pondering the question. That leads me to believe the film is maybe more worth your time than I initially believed. But I am, as usual, getting ahead of myself.

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