There are two groups of people in the world: those who love Manborg and those who just haven’t seen it yet. (Too pompous?)
Let’s try this: anyone with only a cursory knowledge of Mystery Science Theater 3000 knows that there is an audience for bad movies. Although some of the most famously bad bad movies have escaped the comic commentary of MST3K (Troll 2, The Room), it doesn’t make them any less beloved in their awfulness. Yes, screenings are organized for fans to openly mock these movies, but if it brings people so much joy and it isn’t really harming anyone, is that necessarily a bad thing? Especially when it comes from the heart.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Deadfall has the feel of a western and a horror film, an interesting dynamic made more so by the impressive cast. From the old school there’s Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson, and Treat Williams. Olivia Wilde, Eric Bana, Charlie Hunnam, and Kate Mara are the new kids on the block, but there is no showboating here. This is a true ensemble and everyone is outstanding.
By John Lane
Bar none, one of the sweetest documentaries that anyone will view in a lifetime is Stephen Kessler’s Paul Williams: Still Alive, just released on DVD. The bar had been set extraordinarily high when 2010 saw the release of Who Is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him). After years of our culture pumping out salacious VH1 Behind-the-Music-style garbage about musicians, I had all but assumed intimate portraits with heart were doomed. The Nilsson documentary restored my faith that an honorable rendering could be done; Kessler’s film on musician/entertainer/actor Paul Williams solidifies that feeling for good.
It’s difficult to review a movie like Compliance. Usually the tag line, “Inspired By True Events” signals a couple of hours of cinematic hyperbole. Even documentaries aren’t immune from altering or omitting facts to suit the filmmakers’ agenda(s). What’s most disturbing about Compliance is how scenes that might trigger the viewer’s bullshit meter actually did occur. While much of the dialogue used to illustrate the events may have been created, the scenarios themselves are real.
Anyone who has worked in a fast food restaurant (or as industry parlance prefers, a “quick-service restaurant”) might immediately feel discomfort during the opening scenes of Compliance, not because of any horrific events taking place, but because of the remarkably authentic atmosphere of what takes place in those environments.
Take This Waltz, writer/director Sarah Polley’s latest feature, is lovely to look at, with bright, stimulating visuals and convincing dialogue performed beautifully by the cast. It is also terrifically exasperating. Much of this is due to the central character, Margot, portrayed by Michelle Williams.
Granted, I haven’t seen Michelle Williams in anything but Brokeback Mountain, so it’s difficult for me to tell if she’s incredibly gifted at playing an extremely annoying person or if that’s her acting style, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt. However, it also makes it difficult to decide whether to root for her.
28-year-old Margot meets single Daniel (Luke Kirby) on a business trip and there is instant chemistry, or at least we can understand why she’s attracted to him. He’s handsome, sharp, and witty. Then we discover that not only is Margot married, but also that Daniel lives across the street. As she astutely observes right after than discovery: “Oh shit.” Things get more complicated from there, with Margot and Daniel dancing around each other but never consummating anything physically, on ongoing situation skillfully rendered in the pool scene where the two swim around each other like fighting fish.
On paper, 360 looks like a good idea; much as I am sure, The Bay of Pigs Invasion looked like an ideal, foolproof military action. Well, neither one of these endeavors worked out very well.
All the pieces are there for a potentially great film. The writer of Frost/Nixon (Peter Morgan), decent director (Fernando Meirelles) and a cast that boasts great actors like Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, and the too-often-overlooked Ben Foster.
360 is a film that tries to show how seemingly unconnected things are, in fact, related. Everything is related in one way or another despite geography, sex, or belief. It is a gallant effort but falls short. Anthony Hopkins is a driven, possessed father looking for a missing daughter; Jude Law is dying in a marriage-gone-cold with Rachel Weisz playing the part of the distant, closed off wife. There is also a dentist with a romantic side; these are four characters and screenwriter Morgan is just getting started.
“What I do is not about being comfortable with the world.”
—Jay Reatard, in Better Than Something
There’s a part in Better Than Something, the Jay Reatard documentary, where the musician talks about being “so tired. . . and I’m only 29.” He laughs a little and adds, “There’s nothing to look forward to.” Anyone who sees this and doesn’t agree with this statement just a little—even secretly—is probably not going to like Jay Reatard’s music and may not even care about this documentary.
How do you describe a movie like Beyond The Black Rainbow, much less review it with a critical eye? It’s bizarre, hypnotic, compelling, disturbing, and stunning. My only complaint is that I was unable to witness the spectacle on the big screen, but even on DVD the movie is powerful and incredible.
Beyond The Black Rainbow presents a basic story, one we’ve heard before: a controlling doctor, a mysterious clinic, a tormented patient. There are other, less clear-cut or easily understood elements that contribute to the unsettling, overwhelming experience of watching Beyond The Black Rainbow. To attempt an explanation would be to rob the viewer of witnessing and interpreting these things for him or herself.
There are influences, to be sure—Altered States, The Grudge, Suspiria, The Brood—but nothing feels stolen. Beyond The Black Rainbow is a universe unto itself. It’s beautiful and horrible at the same time.
New this week on Popshifter: Danny calls Bob Mould’s Silver Age “flawless;” Cait thinks Coal Porters’ Find The One is “gorgeous;” Elizabeth Keathley introduces a new series on “linear television” I look at the art of Frankenweenie; chat with Andrea and Paul of horror lecture series The Black Museum; give you the goods on Fantastic Fest 2012; and review Jason Lapeyre’s great new film Cold Blooded.
By J Howell
It’s funny how time flies, and frankly a bit unnerving to think that Los Lobos‘ masterpiece, Kiko, is almost old enough to drink legally. In celebration of the benchmark album’s twentieth anniversary, Shout! Factory has a whole lot of Kiko for Lobos fans new and old to enjoy.