Why do you suck now?
Has there been a movie this year that even comes close to generating the drama and suspense that marked the 2008 presidential campaign?
Our largely lackluster fall movie season trudges on with five more tepidly received efforts despite the presence of some big-named veteran directors like Clint Eastwood, Barry Levinson, Kevin Smith and the newly single Guy Ritchie.
Joaquin Phoenix told an E! reporter at a recent red-carpet Hollywood event, “This will be my last performance as an actor. I’m not doing films anymore … I’m going to play music.
If you’re puzzled as to why or how we continue to let our national debt skyrocket out of control, the new documentary I.O.U.S.A is worth checking out as a 90-minute primer on a topic that gets woefully little attention given its impact on the future of our nation.
Is there any end to the Saw franchise? The simple answer is no — not as long as torture-porn-loving teenagers and twentysomethings flock to each new, uncommonly brutal installment.
I got an e-mail the other day with the subject line: “Julia Roberts: not a top 5 movie hooker…” Curious, I opened it and found a list of the “Top Five Working Girls (and Boy) in Movies” as compiled by Spout.com.
(Note to eager publicists or enterprising ladies of the night: Please don't take this as an invitation to litter my mailbox with like-minded subject lines.)
In advance of Tuesday's DVD release of All Together Now, a documentary about how Cirque du Soleil collaborated with The Beatles and their surviving families to create the hit Las Vegas show Love, there will be a one-night-only national theatrical screening on Monday, Oct. 20.
The film features new interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison as it chronicles the creation of the show. It presents the re-worked Beatles songs in an advanced stereo sound mix, as well as Cirque du Soleil performances.
All Together Now will screen at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. at Pierce Point Cinema 10, 1255 West Ohio Pike in Amelia, and at 7:30 p.m. at the Rave Motion Picture Theater, 9415 Civic Center Blvd., West Chester.
We’re a long way from September 2007.
Remember when nearly every political pundit was frothing at the mouth to cover the inevitable Hillary Clinton vs. Rudi Giuliani presidential battle royale?
Well, some 13 months later, Hillary is campaigning for Barack Obama and Rudi is left to drop divisive, stereotype-laden cultural bombs (all the while being one of the East Coast elites he rails against) and to brood about the demise of his beloved New York Yankees.
Oh, and more than a year after I caught it at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival, Cincinnati movie buffs finally have a chance to see Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park ... on DVD.
Picked up by IFC Films in late 2007 and distributed in many markets in early 2008, Paranoid Park never made to a Cincinnati movie house largely due to The Esquire/Mariemont theatres’ policy of not screening films available on pay-per-view TV, a format IFC simultaneously makes available in conjunction with its theatrical releases.
Business-based, behind-the-scenes details aside, Paranoid Park is the latest entry in Van Sant’s recent string of strangely poetic, curiously impressionistic films that includes Gerry, Elephant and Last Days. It’s also one of the best films of Van Sant's varied career — a thriller that subverts nearly every genre convention while still generating an odd, almost subliminal tension.
The setup, per the truncated press notes at Toronto, is simple: “Alex, a teenage skateboarder, accidentally kills a security guard in the vicinity of Paranoid Park, Portland's tough skate park. He decides to say nothing.”
Van Sant infuses this bare-bones framework with a hypnotic array of technical flourishes: the use of ambient noises, vintage Nino Rota score snippets and Elliott Smith songs; a non-linear, overlapping narrative technique; cinematographer du jour Christopher Doyle’s striking visuals; and non-professional actors that give Paranoid Park an extra layer of authenticity.
Curiously, it looks as though Van Sant will return to more conventional techniques for his next film, Milk, a look at the life of trailblazing San Francisco politician Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn), the first openly gay man to be elected to public office.
(Paranoid Park was released on DVD on Oct. 7.)
The fall movie season is off to a shaky start. Anticipated films like the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading, Clark Gregg’s Choke, Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna and Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness have left critics (and most audiences) wanting.
Even the relatively well received Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist has its detractors (like me) — if you're hanging your entire premise on being knowing and hip, you'd better be knowing and hip, which N&N doesn't quite pull off. It's like a meld of 200 Cigarettes and Empire Records (come to think of it, that might sound good to some people) — glossy imitations of the real thing. N&N is much too conventional, which is somewhat surprising considering director Peter Sollett was the guy who gave us the perceptive teenage romance Raising Victor Vargas.
(Michael Cera and Kat Demmings contemplate what might have been in Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.)
Add this week’s two biggies — The Duchess and Body of Lies — to the list of disappointments. While each has its charms, neither is entirely satisfying. (See reviews below.)
Lucky for us, we have other options. The Contemporary Arts Center begins its “Historical/Horror Film Series” on Monday night (Oct. 13) with a double feature of John Huston’s Let There Be Light at 6:30 p.m. and Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr at 7:40 p.m.
Finally, and most curiously, the Esquire Theatre will present a Paul Newman Tribute with rotating screenings of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Verdict beginning today through Oct. 16. Go to www.esquiretheatre.com for times.
On to a complete list of this week's theatrical releases. As usual, several didn't screen for critics in advance, which means I'll have reviews up for them later this weekend.
Opening films (Oct. 17):
BODY OF LIES — While Ridley Scott's film strips away much of the fat from David Ignatius’ source novel, it also winds up frustratingly superficial. Body of Lies is a nuts-and-bolts action drama putting on the undercover persona of something with a message. Still, it's fairly successful as an action drama. (Read review here.) (Rated R.) Grade: C plus
CITY OF EMBER — Upstart British director Gil Kenan’s latest family-friendly fantasy finds an elaborate underground city in peril as its once powerful generator begins to fail. It’s up to a pair of teenagers (Soairse Ronan, so strong in Atonement, and Harry Treadway) to save the residents of Ember — including its curiously upbeat mayor (Bill Murray) — before it’s too late. The massive cast includes Tim Robbins, Mary Kay Place, Toby Jones and Martin Landau. (Rated PG.) Grade: Review coming soon
THE DUCHESS — Saul Dibb’s costume drama captures the look and feel of the period exquisitely but lacks the daring to provide greater context for its titular character's political activism. Stars Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. (Read review here.) (Rated PG-13.) Grade: C plus
THE EXPRESS —Dennis Quaid has a thing for sports flicks. The trend continues in this true-life story of Syracuse running back Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Quaid plays Ben Schwartzwalder, Davis' inspirational — and revolutionary — coach. Gary Fleder, the guy who once upon a time gave us the stylish, corrosive crime thriller Things Denver to Do in Denver When You're Dead, directs what looks to be yet another uplifting sports drama. (Rated PG.) Grade: Review coming soon
QUARANTINE — Quarantine might be a remake of Jaume Balaguero’s Spanish thriller [Rec], but, if the trailer is any indication, John Erick Dowdle’s big feature splash looks to suckle the creative teat of last year’s surprise success, Cloverfield. The plot centers on a television reporter (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) who battle a mysterious adversary while trapped in an apartment building. (Rated R.) Grade: Review coming soon