David Cronenberg directs Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart in this body horror sci-fi where a visual artist grows new organs in his body and his creative partner removes them for gallery shows.
Very dry. Lots of exposition in deadpan by characters with thesaurus sourced names. Had a little nap towards the end but Natalie assures me I didn’t miss too much nudity or biomechanical furniture devices. Kristen Stewart floats around like a curious little bureaucratic Tinkerbell… but not in nearly enough scenes.
Yann Gonzalez directs Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury and Kate Moran in this thriller where a producer of gay porn tries to keep her movies going despite a masked killer stalking her cast.
Giallo meets queer rough trade. Gorgeous film to look at but it runs out of steam after the first act. Struggled to hold my attention once I grew accustomed to the visuals. Notable only really for Simon Beaufils lush cinematography and saucy use of Paradis.
John Smith directs the residents on a street in Dalston as they pass his camera in this black-and-white avant-garde film.
Two shots: the first is a documentary long take of people going about their business on a Saturday afternoon while a narrator / director instructs them of their cue to enter the shot. Orchestrating the minimalist hustle and bustle of Seventies London high street life. As the spoken control of the passing street population continues, the instruction become more self-aware and God like, then also the tone begins to contain a sense of frantic desperation. You can approach it as a wonderful little time capsule of a British city… or as a meta commentary on filmmaking as a means of control over time and environment. Command and surveillance mixed with the absurd. I have read that Smith intended it as a rebuff of the then new racially motivated Stop And Search policy of the Metropolitan Police. This is the second time I’ve watched these gloriously fascinating, deceptively simple, 12 minutes. One of my favourite short films. I shan’t ruin the second shot.
Taika Waititi directs Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale in this Marvel superhero adventure comedy where Thor reclaims his standing in the universe only to find his mortal ex-girlfriend has assumed his mantle.
Didn’t bother with this at the multiplex. Turned out to be the right call. Messy, indulgent, self satisfied. Bale’s Gorr The God Butcher is a freakish antagonist… but he gets lost in a numbing jumble of mega budget soap, sitcom, snark and weightless spectacle. My buddy Russell Crowe also shows up for a dud extended cameo – at least he got a few beers out of the Marvel juggernaut.
Céline Sciamma directs Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz and Nina Meurisse in this French time warp fantasy where a grieving eight year old gets to spend a week playing with her mother back when she was the same age.
Big themes tackled in a low key, accessible way. Felt slightly minor to me but always beautiful.
Allen Coulter directs Ben Affleck, Diane Lane and Adrian Brody in this true crime story of Fifties Hollywood where a sleazy private eye tries to exploit the murky death of the first actor to play Superman, George Reeves.
Affleck is very impressive here as the B-movie star who knows his career is running out of winning moves. His fall makes for a decent enough murder mystery that goes off the boil whenever we aren’t focusing on him and Lane. They are so anachronistically glamorous a pairing in period dress that you just crave more from them than the story structure can allow. Don’t want to plonk the blame entirely at a damp Brody’s door but he really struggles to carry his half of the movie. Nothing is really resolved by the end. Feels more “Meh!” than “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown…”
Jon Nguyen directs David Lynch, Jack Nance and Peggy Lentz in this documentary following the artistic journey of celebrated filmmaker and surrealist painter David Lynch.
An extension / reduction of the autobiography Room To Dream. Childhood to Eraserhead with some wobbly submerged memories only alluded to. The real joys are getting to see all that Lynch art (thick textured paint, scribbled nightmare juice) which I’d guess belongs to a slew of private collectors, and a man who has achieved a happy existence through his talent and vision. I don’t love every film Lynch has made but he’s certainly the modern cinematic voice I cherish the most. Nice to tinker around his enigmatic but always guarded head for a bit…
Eric Laneuville directs Jennifer Love Hewitt, Cybill Shepherd and Teddy Sears in this TV movie, based on a true story, where a go-getting Texan housewife with a massive rack and crippling debt starts wanking off massage clients for money, gets a cocaine habit and grasses up all the men in her community for the hope of a reduced sentence when busted.
Might have been a guilty pleasure as exploitation or gripping as a drama but this is neither and therefore an utter waste of time. Side note – I would visit brothels if they baked me bespoke homemade cookies.
Kevin Smith directs Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson and Rosario Dawson in this indie comedy sequel where foul mouthed wage slaves Dante and Randall now work at a fast food chain after their New Jersey Quik Stop burns down.
It was always going to be sweet to check back in on the characters where it all began but it is fair to say the ViewAskew house style was starting to wear thin 12 years down the line. The message board banter lacks the eloquence and philosophy of Smith’s debut – it is still as filthy and mock challenging… sometimes just way too aimlessly. The best beats are pretty dialogue free; a dance lesson to the Jackson 5, Jay’s tribute to The Silence Of The Lambs, a blissful Go-Kart break, Jason Lee’s popped collar. Rosario Dawson is a notable boon to the cast. What this goddess sees in Dante Hicks is anyone’s guess? II definitely is bright and garish… stark contrast to its monochrome no budget progenitor. Redundant but silly, with a lotta heart. Roll on Numero III.
Jules Dassin directs Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff and Dorothy Hart in this policier – where a rookie and a seasoned detective investigate the murder of a fashion model – filmed on the real streets of New York with genuine residents as extras.
Cutting edge and hard hitting back in its day, there’s oodles to savour here. The attempt to portray realistic detective work is admirable and this really feels like an ahistorical early step toward a NYPD Blue or Homicide episode in terms of form, grit and personality. Barry Fitzgerald, as ever, proves a fantastic screen presence and the talkier scenes really buzz whenever he is around. The New York location work is brimming with local colour – I’d be shocked if Lumet, Friedkin and Godard didn’t study this. Two chase sequences feel like monochrome dry runs for The French Connection. So… some dated Hays Code era attitudes aside… you certainly couldn’t say this was some fusty museum piece despite its long reaching influence on the sub-genre. The opening murder is brutal, the footwork believable enough, the everyday hustle and bustle of Manhattan hypnotic, the interruptions of stark emotion are complex rather than brute manipulation. I’ve read a fair bit of criticism towards the overbearing narration. Hard boiled poetry that maybe is overly intrusive but mirrors the literary journalism of a crime beat op-ed. “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.” Shit might be hokey… corny… but it is still iconic!