Saturday, April 22, 2017

Short review of “Where is Rocky II” (2016), Pierre Bismuth

Should we care about high-flying artists and their conceptual art? Don't we have more important things to do with our time? Pierre Bismuth, the director, is a French artist that co-wrote “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Pedigree, you see. Ten years ago he became obsessed with an unknown art piece by artist Ed Ruscha. A rock. An artificial one. This Ruscha guy made a fiberglass rock and put it in the Mojave desert among other rocks. So it is indistinguishable. Does art exists if nobody can see it?

I think that normal people like to be valued for their achievements, thus we spend time with a middle-class private detective hired to find the elusive Rocky rock. This is adulterated reality. It is a documentary after all. We will meet interesting characters, while a couple of real-life script-writers discuss the “hollywoodization” of the story for mass consumption. There is nothing much to say really. Bismuth has a strong control of the dial between the manipulated documentary and the fiction being created in offices and desert. However, the film does not reach the depths required of the subject matter. Bismuth spent ten years on this chase, but you can't feel the obsession on the screen. It is an amusement, an artist taking down a more pretentious one. Still, a brilliant piece for a film festival, just the kind of thing you are pinning to watch.

Where is Rocky II IMDB

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Short review of "Moana" (2016), Ron Clemens & Don Hall.

The most breathtaking computer animation you have seen until now. It is a fun ride, but, and you will take umbrage at my comment, it is a fully outmoded feminist indoctrination pamphlet. Since animated movies have long production periods, it would be ingenuous to blame Disney for not predicting the conservative/reactionary (and the general population´s) backlash against identity politics and the support for the worldwide Trump times.  

The Ocean, which chooses Moana for her mission, is the Government; Crab is a pick-up artist from the hood/Jersey; demi-god Maui is the alpha dude constantly emasculated until he can prove that is worthy of the despondent dumped Goddess (he stole her heart, dammit!), and Moana is the girl that wants to prove to Daddy that she can find her own path and save the world (or go to New York and make it big in the fashion magazine industry, take your pick). I would love to have been sitting in the executive meetings for this one, just listening to the arguments for and against each plot point from a monetary perspective.

Short Review of "Profondo Rosso" (1975), DarĂ­o Argento.

A granddaddy of the modern horror genre, this Dario Argento near-masterpiece has it all. Creepy kids, inventive deaths, mysterious locations, parapsychology, lots of visual humor, suspenseful cat-and-mouse scenes, dynamic camerawork, equally good mise-en-scene and impressive clean colors, especially red. Marred by terrible dubbing in Italian, some stilted performances and a contemporary 1970s score that wants you to kill the inventor of the synthesizer. Socially pretty modern. Or well, European. Well worth of your time.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Short review of "Elle" (2016), Paul Verhoeven.

Verhoeven surely did a number on film critics. Some dim-witted people mistook "Starship Troppers" for a straight action movie, when it was a satire about fascism. This time my favorite subversive director presented a satire about modern feminism. It is in a way the anti-"Fifty shades of Gray". Every dark fantasy is on the screen, from the incredibly beautiful middle-aged woman to the emasculated men, the never-ending female empowerment and the disposable monsters that are the parents. Not to talk about rape (don´t fret, is right in the first scene). I can´t believe somebody took "Elle" as a straight post-feminist movie, but the proof is on the Internet: this dark comedy is being called a "thriller". I wonder if those critics are doubting themselves over a second viewing.

Capsule review of "The Girl with All the Gifts" (2016), Colm McCarthy

And then, the wound opened by "28 Days Later" is finally closed shut by a child. The stupendous "The Girl with All the Gifts" (2016), directed by Colm McCarthy from the novel by Mike Carey, mixes biological fear with zombie survivalism to great effect. It is not horror, but science fiction, a meditative evolutionary Apocalypse. It is the optimistic "Threads" of zombie movies.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Short Review of ""I am a Hero" (2015), Shinsuke Sato

An entire zombie movie just to make a Japanese "herbivore" a man. Herbivores are a class of Japanese male that withdraws from society disinterested in social interaction, especially with the opposite sex; or in the case of this movie, a "weak man". If the Korean "Seoul Station" was about social class, in Japan it seems to be about men and their various levels of manhood.

Short Review of "Rogue One" (2016), Gareth Edwards.

NOT REALLY SPOILERS (but some people are spoiled by everything)

 Still a product, this Star Wars entry manages to both infuriate and ingratiate. Many possibilities are lost to the Gods of marketing, however risks are taken and the result is a watchable yarn that fits nicely with the sleeper hit of 1977. It lacks character dept and motivation. It feels short but padded with inane dialogue that yearns for emotion. The outstanding bits are mechanical: Alan Tudyk as the comic relief robot, the Death Star as menacing as it should have always been and Vader as the miniature and personal version. "Rogue One (aka: Suicide Squad)" is meant to be seen in 2D. Watch it that way.