Reviews

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): SET **** ½
Pearls of the Deep: *** ½ (Shorts: Mr Baltazer’s Death **, The Imposters *** ½, House of Joy **** ½ , The Restaurant The World *** ½ , Romance ****)
Daisies: **** ½
A Report on the Party and Guests: *** ½
Return of the Prodigal Son: *** ½
Capricious Summer: ***
The Joke: **** ½

Eclipse’s latest set ingeniously collects ten films – five shorts and five features – by five directors at the forefront of the retroactively titled “Czech New Wave.” Pretty much every film presented here was eventually banned by the Soviet overlords who micromanaged the Czechoslovakian culture following the Warsaw Pact.

Blog entry 06/25/2012 - 6:12pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Ratings (out of five): ****

John Cassavetes was a handsome, severe actor in television and "B" movies when he raised a few dollars to make the landmark independent movie Shadows in 1959. After that, he juggled two sides of a career, in marketable ventures (The Dirty Dozen, Rosemary's Baby, The Fury), and in pure, artistic achievements (Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, Love Streams). Sometimes these things crossed comfortably, as in his masterpiece The Killing of a Chinese Bookie -- set among the world of strip joints and contract murders -- or uncomfortably, as in Gloria, a script he wrote to sell, but ended up directing.

Blog entry 06/05/2012 - 1:14pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Ratings (out of five): ****

Loneliness is not the easiest quality to capture on film, at least not without boring us by offering up the usual visual clichés of the figure, alone in a landscape, or within but separated somehow from the world around him/her. Loneliness when you're with other people is a harder thing to pinpoint, and one of the treats of the new film Hello Lonesome is that its writer/ director Adam Reid manages this odd and tricky task very well.

Blog entry 05/29/2012 - 3:36pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): Certified Copy **** 1/2
The Report **** 

Over the course of its 106-minute running time, Certified Copy primarily features two attractive people – Juliette Binoche and William Shimell – involved in a heated discussion about art and love. Their argument ultimately calls into question the fate of their own relationship. If this sounds like boiler plate “art house” fodder, it’s because it is. As Godfrey Cheshire remarks in the liner notes for Criterion’s release of Copy, the film “confidently revives a certain kind of European art cinema” – belonging to a tradition that includes My Voyage to Italy, My Dinner With Andre, and Richard Linklater’s Before films.

Blog entry 05/28/2012 - 2:20pm

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

Robert M. Young’s ¡Alambrista! was released in America as The Illegal but an actual translation of the Spanish title is Tightrope Walker!, a much more evocative description of the film’s central drama. In this case, the “tightrope” is the US-Mexican border and the “walker” is young Roberto (Domingo Ambriz).

The film opens with Roberto working the soil on a failing farm in Mexico. A few scenes later, after celebrating the birth of his first daughter, Roberto turns to his wife and calmly intones: “I’m thinking of crossing the border and going north. We can’t make ends meet.”

Blog entry 05/17/2012 - 4:09pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): (set average) *** 1/2

A couple caveats before we dive in here. Firstly, I am out of my depth writing about the avant-garde, and bow to other qualified guides (Michael Sicinski, among others) well-versed in this terrain. I’ll try to split the difference between sounding like a pretentious wanker/a brain-dead rube writing about this, but I’m in vaguely foreign territory here.

Secondly, Frampton’s films require the viewer to engage them in a way that almost makes the viewer a co-creator in the works. Extremely subjective, personal response is, for me, the only way to begin to approach these films, hence, my use of the dreaded first person in the following analysis.

Blog entry 05/15/2012 - 1:23pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Ratings (out of five): ** 1/2

Yet another horror remake, this one comes from an almost forgotten and not very well-liked Troma release from 1980, written and directed by Lloyd Kaufman's brother Charles. It was a rape thriller, which probably explains its reputation today. Fortunately, the remake chooses another path. Rather than three women going camping and running into a sadistic mother and her scumbag sons, the plot becomes slightly more complex.

Blog entry 05/08/2012 - 4:16pm

Reviewer: Philip M Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): *** 1/2

There’s a key piece of editing about halfway into The Organizer, Mario Monicelli’s 1963 film about a worker’s strike in late 1800s Turin. A factory worker has travelled to the outskirts of town to bring funds to a family living below poverty conditions. The funds are to show solidarity because the family’s breadwinner has been jailed due to issues stemming from the strike. While making the rounds of the family’s dirt-floored shanty, the factory worker opens a wooden flap, revealing a grinning, barefoot toddler squatting on the ground. The film then cuts to a group of society women preening in their sparkling white gowns during a social function.

Blog entry 04/24/2012 - 5:21pm

Reviewer: Philip M Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): *** 1/2

In The Sky Turns, filmmaker Mercedes Álvarez returns to her birthplace: the small Castilian village of Aldealseñor. Nearly four decades earlier, Álvarez became the last child to be born in Aldealseñor and, upon her return, she discovers a place out of time in both senses of the phrase – the way of life the village has clung to since prehistory remains an anachronism and the village inhabitants are finally yielding to the death knell of modernity.

Blog entry 04/24/2012 - 1:30pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Ratings (out of five): ****

Paul Goodman didn't change my life. Unfortunately. But I wish he had. Born 30 years before me (in 1911), he published his famous work, Growing Up Absurd, around the time I was attending a Christian Science school (Principia College), a place at which a fellow like Goodman -- proudly bisexual and "out" (before the use of that word had even come into being!) -- would not have found favor. Once I abandoned that foolish religion and began to grow up (absurd or not), I did learn something of Goodman and read an occasional essay of his.

Blog entry 04/16/2012 - 9:20pm

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