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Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

July 12, 2011 - 11:54pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): * * * *

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives details the final days in the life of the eponymous character, who is dying of kidney disease. The film also features ape ghosts with glowing red eyes who stalk the forest in anticipation of Boonmee’s departed spirit.

The works of Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul have always straddled the mundane and the psychospiritual, often times within the same scene, but all of Weerasethakul’s preoccupations seem to meet their apex in Boonmee. The film is shaggier than its predecessor, Syndromes and a Century, returning to the swoony, free-form jungle idyll of Blissfully Yours and Tropical Maladay.

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Hobo with a Shotgun

July 6, 2011 - 12:04am

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): *-½

Hobo with a Shotgun is this year's Human Centipede. The comparison, by the way, is not a compliment. Although slightly better than Tom Six's gross and stodgy film (on the basis of what we see on-screen, director/editor Jason Eisener has a good deal more film sense than Six), Hobo, written by John Davies, is one of the ugliest movies ever made. From its gaudy, hellish color palette to its near-non-stop, grizzly gore and violence, to the really ridiculous behavior of the movie's denizens -- good 'n bad guys 'n gals, included -- the movie goes almost immediately over the top. And then just goes on and on until it soon seems unending.

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Eclipse Series 27: Raffaello Matarazzo's Runaway Melodramas

June 30, 2011 - 4:22pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of 5): Chains **** ; Tormento **** ½ ; Nobody's Children **** ; The White Angel *** ½  ; SERIES ****

Chains (1949), the first film in Eclipse’s Raffaello Matarazzo set, begins simply enough: a stolen car breaks down and the thief, desperate to avoid apprehension, hides out at a mechanic’s garage. 388 minutes and four films later, 1955’s The White Angel closes the set with a standoff between a fearless nun and a group of ruthless female inmates who are holding an infant hostage.

These two scenes best illustrate the milieu of Director Raffaello Matarazzo, one of Italy’s most commercially successful filmmakers. Matarazzo’s films vacillate violently between the mundane and the histrionic, more than earning the set’s label: "Runaway Melodramas". Those who prefer subtlety in their storytelling have received fair warning.

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People on Sunday

June 29, 2011 - 4:20pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of 5): **** 1/2 

It would be misleading (however accurate) to tout People on Sunday as a film from the makers of Detour, Sunset Boulevard, The Killers, and High Noon. Aside from technical grace, not too much about Sunday suggests the careers Edgar G. Ulmer, Billy Wilder, Robert Siodmak, and Fred Zinnemann (respectively) would have following this early effort.

Shot over six weeks without a script (despite the credits’ claim otherwise), the film details the exploits of young people living in Weimar Republic-era Berlin. 

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American: The Bill Hicks Story

June 28, 2011 - 4:17pm

Reviewer: Craig Phillips
Rating (ouf of 5): *** 

In American: The Bill Hicks Story, British filmmakers Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas set out to tell the tale of the influential comedian who was underappreciated in his time and then taken from us too soon. The Texas-raised Hicks was a remarkable comic who dared tell truths in this country in a time (the 1980s and into the 90s) when a lot of Americans lived in a trance and didn't want to hear them told so bluntly--or at all. The film will probably be more of a revelation to the uninitiated than to longtime fans (such as myself), but fans of the cult comic will also find much to appreciate here.

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