Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Care for a fried calf cutlet? Or how about duck eggs with minced garlic and thigh meat? Such are the depraved yet mouth-watering dishes populating Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis, a tonally confused mishmash of genres, emotions, and gore. “Aamis” is itself the word for “ravening” in the Assamese dialect from northeastern India in which the film is shot, and it’s a succinct summation of the film’s central theme, the gradual whittling away of sense and sanity in the service of satiating bestial instincts. For the first half of the film, the soft cinematography, breezy pacing, and gentle soundtrack of strings and piano leads us to believe we’re watching a romantic melodrama centering around food; think an Indian take on Chocolat (2000) or the gangster subplot from Tampopo (1985). But after a sequence at the middle where Sumon has a hallucinatory nightmare about Niri, the film jumps the rails straight into cannibalism, revealing the couple’s sharing of food was less innocent courtship ritual than covert indulging of perversions like the car crash fetishists in David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996).
Alas, the film can’t commit to its subversity, keeping the sexual connotations at arm’s length, relegating Sumon and Nori’s passions to chaste, sexless eccentricity, retaining the airy beats of a romcom with none of the detachment that could make it ironically disturbing. Cannibalism shouldn’t be this bland.
After the screening of LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE at Tribeca 2019 Sheryl Crow performed 3 Linda Ronstadt songs and a Sheryl Crow one. Here are a few photos from the evening and a clip from You're No Good
The talk was two filmmakers talking about their love of watching and making films all types. While the talk was clearly centered on del Toro, most of the talk was not specifically on his films (though CRONOS and SHAPE OF WATER were discussed).
I really don't know what do say but I hope that Tribeca puts the talk on line (it was taped) because there is much to love.
|Alec taking his money out to pay del Toro|
I loved that after a discussion of how characters in films have to be poly-chromatic in what they are like people. Baldwin said that he would pay him all his money if del Toro would one day tell his wife that...and then a short time later Baldwin's wife called and he put del Toro on the phone and then handed him all his money.
It was a great talk.
Odd ball science fiction film feels strangely incomplete. This is the middle of a story not a whole one and it as a result it isn't quite right. Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad film, but there are way too many questions and the world doesn't wholly make sense to fully give one's self over to it. Then again some of the problems are explained away by a series of ending shots that kind of make the rest of the film worth seeing.(Though I'm still pondering if it's too little too late)
In all seriousness the end of the film, which I won't reveal, has some of my favorite images in probably the last decade of cinema going. I'm not sure if I want a better film that leads up to it or a film that continues from it, assuming of course it remains that damn cool.
Worth a look for science fiction fans.
When Israel destroyed its settlements in the early 2000's it effectively walled off the Gaza strip from the rest of the world. I suspect the idea was to contain Hamas and the Palestinians in a place they could could control. On some level they expected those strapped on the small piece of land (its only seven wide by twenty five miles wide) to either give up of die, but despite often being on the verge the people have created a living breathing community that is a wonder to behold.
GAZA is a portrait of the community and on some level it will restore your faith in mankind. That so many people can survive and thrive, as best as they can. We are brought into their families, hear their hopes, come to understand their lives and share their tragedies. Its a film that will move you.
One of the things that I love about the film is the loving cinematography. While I know Gaza is not as picturesque as the film makes it out to be it still comes across as a pretty lovely place, when it isn't being shelled. Obviously the directors love their subject a great deal and we are better for it.
I've seen several portraits of Gaza over the last couple of years but as good as they are this film is better.
Rose-Lynn wants to go to Nashville to be a Country star, her mom tells her she's living in a fantasy, and needs to go to college, and get a job. Her mom, (played by Julie Walters, whose performance I really enjoyed), gets her a cleaning job at a fancy home, for Susannah. One day Susannah's kids overhear Rose-Lynn singing. The next day Susannah says her kids can't stop talking about her voice, and pushes her to record herself singing to try to get it in the hands of someone on the BBC. Rose-Lynn quickly becomes Susannah's mission. She really believes in her, and is excited and wants to help make her dreams come true. In the meantime, she is a mess of a mom to her own kids. She promises to take them out for pizza, but forgets and goes out drinking. She's selfish, and reckless.
Wild Rose was entertaining. While I don't like country music at all, and didn't enjoy the times when it was the background music, I really liked the scenes when Rose sang. She has a great voice! The film didn't have the predictable fairy tale ending that I imagined. The accents weren't hard to understand overall, but I found it a bit difficult to understand when the kids spoke.
Does Rose-Lynn leave her kids, and become a star in Nashville? Go see it for yourself to find out. Recommended.
Alternately brilliant and annoying BLISS is a film that confounded me. While possessing some wonderfully off-kilter and disturbing moments and a great central killer performance by Dora Madison the film would seem to be poised to be a horror classic. However the shrill soundtrack, annoying characters and a sense we've been here before prevents the film from truly flying. Yes the carnage, when it comes is well handled but it takes a while before it comes and we are left to cope with some annoying hipster characters we really don't like doing things we don't care about.
If that sounds like I don't know what I feel about the film you would be right, I don't. The film is really too all over the spectrum to really get a handle on.
Should you see it? I'm not sure, so I guess you're on your own.
As a cinema experience MAKING WAVES is a blast. If you get a chance to see it in a theater with good sound do so. Without question do so. The way the film reveals the evolution of movie sound is truly magical when you hear it go from mono to stereo to multi-track surround sound. It is so cool to listen to the sound march around the theater as well as getting to hear the before and after of footage of classic films.
The problem for me is that as a film on its own terms it could be better structured. Beginning with a look at the big names in modern theater sound the film gives us great portraits of the men who have shaped how we listen to the movies. Gary Rydstrom, Walter Murch, Ben Burtt, Alan Splet, and Ludwig Göransson are all profiled and it’s great. The film then shifts gears and then gives us an explanation of the way sound has evolved as well as what all the different people who do the sound do…
…and that’s the problem with the film, we end where we should begin and begin where we should end. As good and as informative as the film is it should have brought us through the history of sound from silent to the modern day with each master taking us to the next master, and how each change, say the creation of foley added a layer to the onion. Watching the film I kept wondering why we were being shown certain segments at that particular point. Don’t get me wrong it’s not even remotely bad, but it’s like looking at a classic painting with a couple of the figures switched.
Should you see the film? Absolutely. It is a very good look at movie sound. Is is a must? If you can do so in a theater where you will get the full effect.
I loved this movie. It is a story of an unlikely friendship. It shows that people of different ages can make connections, and become friends. The chemistry between Scott and Marty was perfect. Their screen time together is what made the movie. Standing Up, Falling Down is both a comedy, and a drama. I laughed, and I cried. I definitely recommend seeing it.
The film focuses on the eponymous musical group, a murderer’s row of old school reggae giants and new school luminaries who congregate to play music in the hills towering above Kingston. As they rehearse to record a cover album of their greatest individual hits in preparation for a world tour, Webber pulls them all aside one-by-one to explore the intersection of their lives, their culture, and their music. There’s Cedric Myton, the falsetto singer for legendary group The Congos whose 1977 album Heart of the Congos was as integral to the international spread of reggae as Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. As we listen to him perform their hit “Fisherman” he fishes and reminiscences about the struggle of supporting and feeding his massive family, cleaning and cooking his catch in the shadows of the island’s desiccated shacks. There’s Kiddus I, whose defiant love ballad “If You Love Me” juxtaposes his memories of being blackballed from the industry in his prime for seventeen years thanks to legal trouble with the United States. An evening in a drum circle with The Viceroys—a vocal group comprised of devout Rastafarians—allows for an examination of the horrific political and religious oppression their people faced as Jamaica crawled towards modernization in the second half of the twentieth century. Winston McAnuff reflects on the random gang violence that claimed the life of his son, Ken Boothe the tumultuous, self-destructive dangers of fame and success, and Judy Mowatt the global sufferings of black women.
At times the film feels unnecessarily loose and unstructured as it weaves from one musician to the next, but the stories are so human and the music so infectious we’re willing to let them wash over us. As one music collector interviewed explains, while other countries have natural resources like coal or oil, Jamaica has reggae music—or as he nicknames it, “black gold.” Watching this film is like coming face-to-face with the motherlode.
LIL BUCK is the story of Riley whose dancing took him from the parking lots and the roller rinks of Memphis to world-wide acclaim. His ability to dance to anything is truly amazing and his skill rightly has taken him all over the world.
While the second half of the film is excellent the first half of the film doesn’t really work. The problem is that the film drops us into the joking world of Memphis with zero explanation. There is no context, it simply assumes we know what they are talking about. It’s a major mistake that kept me distant from the film.
It begins with the Golden Palace skate rink and talks about roller skating and dancing with no indication of why this is important. Worse it doesn’t really clue us into Lil Buck or any of the other people who are talking. They are nameless people talking about things which mean the world to them but which as an outsider doesn’t mean anything. It’s like listening to a conversation at the next table at a diner and having no idea wat is being discussed. In retrospect the problem is even worse since there doesn’t really seem to be a reason why the section runs 35 or so minutes other than to show us the dancing.
To be perfectly honest if the film was restructured so that context was added and it was tightened so it wasn’t just people dancing this would be a truly great film. Hell the second half is close to that now.
Should you see the film? If you like the dancing and can forgive the first half yes.
Monday, April 29, 2019
Sitting way way away, some where near the throne of the almighty I watched as clips were played, DeNiro kind of asked questions and Scorsese talked about whatever clip was played. There was a lot of fumbling as the two friends didn't seem to know how to move things along. Sure they were fine once they got going but there were lots of dead spots as we waited for things to click.
While never bad, it was clear from when they did get chatting that itwould have been killer had there been a moderator
|Camera straining to zoooom in.....|
It's a very current movie, as social media, and texting plays a big part of it.
This movie is really cute, light, and fun. I enjoyed it, but it's definitely not for everyone. I think adolescents, and young adults would enjoy it most!
The film follows the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus as they make a tour of the tour of the Southern United States to the places that have the worst laws against LGBT people. They are joined by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. The plan is build bridges between people through music.
I have no idea what to say. This film put me somewhere beyond words as tears streamed down my cheeks. The real raw motions of the men and women touched me deeply as they explained their pain, their fear of going back and the joy of reconnecting with families they thought might have been totally lost to them. No, things are not one hundred percent better but doors are cracked.
Kudos to director David Charles Rodrigues for fashioning a film that is always emotionally perfect by letting us not only get to know the men in the chorus but the people in the towns and along the way such as the various men's family or the three young women, one of whom is afraid of fully coming out. By profiling all sides we get to see that perhaps there is a chance for change.
(And apologies for not discussing what happens but if I start to do so I will tell you everything and the film might seem a little less wondrous)
This film is an emotional masterpiece that must be seen- if for nothing else it will restore your sense of hope in the world.
One of 2019's best films
Hoon himself was as much Gen X martyr as Kurt Cobain, emptying himself of his fears, self-hatreds, and anxieties while slowly self-destructing both on and off stage. Much like Cobain, Hoon kept a diary through his active years as a musician. But whereas Cobain’s was a physical journal, Hoon’s took the form of a collection of Hi-8 footage in a sprawling home-video archive shot from 1990 to 1995.
In All I Can Say, filmmakers Danny Clinch, Taryn Gould, and Colleen Hennessy curate this footage into a portrait of depression, loneliness, and Clinton-era ennui. We watch as he escapes a dead-end life of blue-collar drudgery in rural Indiana for sunny Los Angeles, forming a band of like-minded musicians who make such an immediate impression they get a record deal with Tower Records while only having five recorded songs. The joy of their success deteriorates as they begin an endless succession of touring, interviews, video shoots, and recording sessions, their soft-spoken lead singer devolving into a drug-fueled mess, doing smack and LSD before shows, urinating on concert crowds, and running around onstage naked.
The footage reveals a pained introvert, one who talked to his camera directly as a confessor, confidant, and conspirator. He was a man of deep feelings, equally affected by witnessing the aftermath of a young woman’s suicide after a show as the news of Jerry Garcia’s death. Both elegy and unintentional suicide note, the film is one of the most devastating archival collages playing this year’s Tribeca festival.
In Secret Album, a woman discovers a family she never knew existed.
At First Sight tells the story of an arranged marriage sparked by photographs.
China Lost And Found is the tale of what a French photo archivist found in bags of negatives that had been thrown out.
It's a Boy tells of an adopted boy who got the baby photos he always wanted.
This is sweet little film that reminds us about how photographs bind and connect us to each other, our families and the world at large. Simple in the telling each story could actually be it's own short film but combined as they are they build upon each other to have meaning and resonances.
A lovely little film that is recommended.
At its most basic Low Tide is a good, if unremarkable, suspense thriller that will, assuming you don’t think about things too closely, keep you on the edge of your seat. It is a film that will keep you glued to the screen wanting to know what happens next. In an age when we can pretty much say how many films will end ten minutes in, Low Tide manages a few surprises despite following the typical film noir path.
If you want to see a good film give it a look.
Unfortunately it could have been so much better if writer director Kevin Mc Mullin had only had a tighter grasp on the plot details.
As suspenseful as the film is my feelings for it were tempered by plot points that just don’t make a hell of a lot of sense. Time and time again the film does things that requires not so much suspension of disbelief as completely ignoring what is happening. It begins with why everyone is a friend of Red’s. That three seemingly nice guys would be hanging out with the town psychopath doesn’t make sense. Nor does the fact that one of the boys doesn’t know about the stabbing at the community pool.
From there it’s a long unending list of problems (I've hidden them in invisible text so it won't spoil anything for those who don't want to know):
Where are the fourth of July crowds?
Where are all the kids the age of the characters?
Why aren’t the kids caught if they are constantly breaking into summer homes? And if they will only do it to summer homes why are they doing it when people are there?
Why don’t the police take fingerprints? (especially at the old guys house)
If one of the boys sees the map and doesn’t know where it is, how can he lead the cop straight to the treasure? More importantly how does he manage to draw it on his cast so expertly, especially when the cast was previously covered in people’s signings?
How was the treasure originally buried when it had to be dug up with an oar? Why doesn’t anybody bring a shovel?
Why are they listening to the Mets in south Jersey? Shouldn’t it be the Phillies?
Could they be any more obvious about foreshadowing when they look for an anchor to tie up to a dock?
How did they get the bandage for they eye?
And there are even more I’m not mentioning.
The film also suffers from being adrift in time. Looking like now it feels like it’s the 70’s or 80’s. There are no cellphones, but there are cars and the odd items from now. (Addendum: I was informed after this piece went up that the film is set in the late 80's early 90's which presents additional historical issues the least of which is we hear a baseball game between the NY Mets and Tampa Bay Rays which didn't exist until the late 90's)
And while there is even more to discuss there is no point since despite it all the film still holds your attention. Yes, I was talking to the screen from start to finish wanting to know why the characters were doing stupid things, but at the same time I was intrigued enough to not get up and walk out. I wanted to know what happened.
Frankly if you don’t think about it, something most people in the critics screening I attended didn’t do, you’ll love it.
Worth a look but don’t think about the details.
Odd coming of age tale has much that I like and much that I don't with the result the film isn't quite my cup of tea. Part of it is I can't really relate to the tale of teens looking for acceptance based on superficial reasons (the size of a girl's breasts). Is society this vapid? Apparently. The other part of the problem is that the film wanders into an unexpected place, the girls get involved with the notion of donating a kidney in exchange for cash and plastic surgery. It a weird digression that feels out of place in a film that, when it works is a killer coming of age film about friendship.
While some at the screening loved the film I was less in love with it and it's digressions. (Though I did love the techno score)
While not bad, it never comes together even if the final ten or fifteen minutes is good and an indication of what the film might have been had it not gotten lost in one of the former Russian Republics.
A WOMAN'S WORK is the story of a woman named Lacy T who sued the Oakland Raiders for all the money she spent trying to remain beautiful. It is also the story of several of the Buffalo Jills cheerleaders for similar unfair employment practices. Its a shocking story that most people don't know about even if they are already aware of the NFL's lack of basic human decency.
The struggle for women to earn a living wage from the NFL is a story that needs to reach far and wide. I've been following the story since HBO's Real Sports did a segment on the subject. It is nice that the subject is getting a feature treatment since people need to be told that this is going on.
While there is no doubt this isn't as serious as the need to do something about severe brain trauma, the fact that an organization as big as the NFL is screwing over some of it's people, especially ones that are a visible as they are is just wrong. It is a fact that director Yu Gu's film highlights perfectly.
A WOMAN'S WORK will piss you off and as such is a must see.
A soul-deadening history lesson, it begins with the rise of redlining minority neighborhoods, leading in part to a decade of “White Flight” in the 1960s when a million white, middle class New Yorkers fled the city for the suburbs. Around 100,000 remaining non-whites were forced from their homes for the sake of Robert Moses’ “urban renewal” plans which tore down Manhattan tenements—did you know the Lincoln Center was built on top of the ruins of working class apartments?—leading to the ghettoization of the Bronx as greedy landlords crammed dozens of people into apartments intended for single families. After that, the landlords simply stopped paying for upkeep, hired local gangs to torch the buildings, and collected state insurance claims which they pocketed before vanishing because, incredibly, state law didn’t require them to use said insurance to repair their properties. Even worse, the same “urban renewal” that decimated Manhattan housing led to the counterintuitive shuttering of many of the Bronx’s fire departments, leaving large swathes of the borough with no firefighters for when blazes broke out.
There’s more, but I hesitate to go on—I’m just regurgitating the film now. What I can say is that Decade of Fire is a chilling, necessary look at institutional betrayal and failure, yet also a glance into a vibrant community determined to rebuild itself, beginning with the family of one determined documentarian.