Harmony Korine is a polarizing filmmaker. One either finds his films — Gummo (1997), Julien Donkey Boy (1999) and Mister Lonely (2007) — intriguing pieces of art or complete rubbish, the work of a jerk-off provocateur who represents the “end of cinema.”
David Lynch once called Nicolas Cage ''the jazz musician of actors.'' So what happened, Nic? A quick glance at your recent movies includes stuff like Bangkok Dangerous, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Next, Ghost Rider and Wicker Man. That’s like Charlie Parker deciding to do Kenny G covers.
Nearly 30 years ago, in an essay entitled “Why Are Movies So Bad? Or, the Numbers,” film critic Pauline Kael wrote that “the movies have been so rank the last couple years that when I see people lining up to buy tickets I sometimes think that the movies aren’t drawing an audience — they’re inheriting an audience. They’re stung repeatedly, yet their desire for a good movie — for any movie — is so strong that all over the country they keep lining up.”
I came across this picture of Joaquin Phoenix today, which triggered a memory of my lone interaction with him. I ran into Phoenix at a film festival party a few years ago. I remember thinking at the time that no one could possibly be less suited for the intense Hollywood glare than this guy.
Are we in the midst of the worst summer movie season on record? The bar's admittedly not very high, but it certainly looks like we're heading in that direction.
Enter John Cooper, who took over as director in 2010, and who is intent on moving the festival back to its artist-driven roots. Cooper's efforts seem to be paying off, as Sundance 2011 unveiled a diverse, interesting crop of films, some of which are actually getting distribution and coming to a theater near you.
The summer movie season is closing with a flurry: Recent weeks have given us such diverse, worthwhile fare as Funny People, The Girl from Monaco, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, (500) Days of Summer, Ponyo, District 9 and the best film of the year so far, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker.
Lee Daniels’ Precious, which won audience awards at both the Sundance and Toronto film festivals, has drawn largely positive reviews for its unblinking look at a 16-year-old black female dealing with myriad challenges, including but certainly not limited to a serious weight problem, a monstrous mother, an incestuous father and an ineffective school system.
Yet Precious also has its detractors, none more vociferous than The New York Press’ Armond White, a critic who has never shied away from airing his contrarian views.
A pair of worthwhile documentaries that got criminally brief local theatrical runs hit the street this week via DVD/Blu-ray. Each is a nice stay-at-home viewing option on a crappy, rain-infested day like today.