Thursday, January 27, 2011

In Theaters: "The Rite"

The first big scare of The Rite is provided by a screeching cat, who jumps up as our hero peers through a window. That should serve as a barometer for the originality on display here. Yet another warmed-over rehash of The Exorcist, The Rite has the thrills and intelligence of a third-string direct-to-video thriller; it is distinguished only by the presence of Anthony Hopkins, in the kind of role Rutger Hauer would usually play. (Hauer instead appears in a minor supporting role.) Hopkins’s performance isn’t terribly good, but it’s fun to watch; he provides about the only diversion in this mediocre picture, which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from its late-January release date.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Here's Some Stuff I've Written for Flavorwire

So, as you may know (or have picked up), I'm doing a spring internship with the pop culture blog Flavorwire, and it's quite marvelous. I cross-posted my first few pieces here, but it doesn't make sense to do that, because if I post them right away, I'm potentially siphoning off my own traffic, and if I don't post them right away, then they're not timely anymore.

So I'll just pop on here every once in a while and post links of stuff I've written for them recently. Like these:

Oscar Nominations 2011: The Year's Biggest Surprises and Snubs
Why Kevin Smith's Red State Plan Might Not Be Crazy
A Brief History of Fake News
Five Ways to do Sundance from Home
10 Famous Sundance Rejects
Video of the Day: Every Line of Dialogue in "Lost Boys" is "Michael"
10 Memorable One-Actor Movies
10 Sundance Hits that Became Flops
Video of the Day: Martha Stewart and her Kitchen Skull
Six Fad Films that Missed the Boat
The 10 Best Movie Car Chases

Click them for me, won't you?

Monday, January 24, 2011

On DVD: "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer"

"This goes back to the days of Greek mythology. This is not a new story."
 -Eliot Spitzer

But it’s always been a good story. Alex Gibney’s Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer has the makings of great documentary in many of the same ways that Spitzer’s story made great copy when it broke back in March of 2008: it’s got sex, it’s got crime, it’s got corruption. What’s more, it’s got a seemingly virtuous, all but untouchable figure of public service who takes a spectacular nosedive in the full eye of the public, thanks to a lapse in judgment that seems, in retrospect, stunning in its stupidity.

On DVD: "Nowhere Boy"

The story of John Lennon’s formative years has been told so many times—both in documentaries (Imagine: John Lennon, The Beatles Anthology, The Compleat Beatles) and fictionalized docudramas (Backbeat, The Hours and Times, The Birth of the Beatles), to say nothing of countless written biographies—that there’s some question as to what exactly director Sam Tayler-Wood hopes to add to the mythology with his new film Nowhere Boy. But she finds a fresh take on the material, primarily by focusing on the sticky three-way dynamic between Lennon and the two women who raised him—and how those relationships made him the man he became.

On DVD: "Enter the Void"

If there’s a word that leaps to mind when thinking of Gaspar Noé, it’s probably “uncompromising.” Though a filmmaker since the mid-1980s, he became an international cause célèbre when his 2002 film Irreversible prompted mass walkouts at Cannes (and around the world) for its graphic, brutal scenes of rape and violence. That film may not have been pleasant, but he went all the way with it—it didn’t mine its violence or sex for the kicky thrill, but put our faces right up in them and dared us to watch. His new film Enter the Void only has a couple of fleeting moments that got the same kind of wincing, sickened reaction out of this viewer; this time, he is uncompromising in his narrative ambitions (or lack thereof). It is a lengthy, contemplative picture with broadly avant-garde overtones, and make no mistake, there is much in it to admire. But it’s too damn much—too long, too repetitive, too indulgent. It demands more patience than most viewers will be willing to give (although those who like this kind of thing are really gonna like this one, if you catch my drift).