Saturday, April 30, 2011
So remember all that big talk in my last Tribeca Report about going to see Scorsese and all that? Yeah, I got sick. Correction: I’d been sick, since I woke up Tuesday morning with a monster sore throat that refused to dissipate, but fuck that, it’s Tribeca week, I’ll fight through that shit. But when I got up Friday morning, it clearly needed to be a sick day. So I stayed home and streamed a couple of titles, and ventured back out today. All of the ones I’ve written about are good. There’s one more, which I didn’t write about—later for that.
Not too shabby for a blog that I started just over two years ago. So yeah, have a drink.
I suppose I should say something pithy and inspiring, but frankly, I've still got another Tribeca review to write. So I'm gonna go do that instead.
Thanks for reading, though!
Friday, April 29, 2011
Carolyn Cassady is one of those people, and in her very first pre-title interview in the documentary Love Always, Carolyn, she is up front about it. She was married to Neal Cassady and lover to Jack Kerouac, and “that’s all the interest is in me,” she says, matter-of-factly. “No one has ever cared about anything else.” The film, directed by Maria Ramström and Malin Korkeasalo, attempts the tricky feat of caring both about who she knew and who she is, and mostly succeeds.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Everybody Loves Raymond with star Ray Romano. His new documentary comedy Exporting Raymond begins as that show is winding down, with home movies taken backstage and the final tapings of what was, by then, one of the most durable family comedies in TV history. It ran nine years and 210 episodes before drawing to a close, still in top, in 2005. “And then,” Rosenthal says, “the Russians called.”
Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, one of the best documentaries of a festival that’s full of them.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
30 for 30 series), and no filmmaker is directing more great documentaries than Alex Gibney (whose recent output includes Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Client-9, and a segment of Freakonomics), so it should come as no surprise that their collaboration, Catching Hell, is so unabashedly terrific—a potent stew of everything that is great about both parties.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
But everybody’s at the film festival with a job to do, and mine is to write about the films, and sometimes they’re terribly. I saw a really bad one today, so I wrote about how bad it was. During the pre-festival screenings, I saw a couple of real turkeys, and I’ve sat on those reviews, because it pains me to put them out there. Then again, I know people who are considering going to see some films that are not very good, and I have a responsibility to them too.
I don’t mean to get all pompous and self-important. I saw a couple of movies, and wrote down why I didn’t like them. Let’s get on with it.
Saint also gets off the hook because, unlike Silent Night, it’s got a forceful and wicked sense of humor—Maas has clearly ingested copious amounts of American horror movies, and regurgitates them with a wink and nudge. When St. Nick is stalking a family at Christmastime, he’ll give us the peeking-in-through-the-window point-of-view shot—but the windows are frosted over, and the kids inside are singing Christmas carols. It took me until about the 20 minute mark, as the three teenaged girls were walking home from school—two dirty birdies and a virginal “good girl”—to realize that, up to that point, the film was a total structural recreation of Halloween: an opening sequence in the distant past, an intermediate scene, and then the present day. (They throw in a nod to Halloween II later, with a scene in a hospital.)
Maas’s Loomis character is Goert (Bert Luppes), a cop wound so tight with hatred for St. Nick that, when a wrapped gift is left on his desk, he unloads his pistol into it. “C’mon, Goert, cheer up!” his bartender grins, but Goert’s not hearing it; this year, December 5 (St. Nicholas Day) falls on a full moon, and the last time that happened, his whole family was murdered. He sets about to stop St. Nick, who “won’t rest until he’s turned Amsterdam into a bloodbath!”
In the process, mythology is established (“bullets won’t harm him, but fire does”), clichés are indulged (there’s not a reliable flashlight in the damn thing), and plenty of pretty young folks are bumped off in cheerfully blood-soaked kills. It’s all done with high style and a good deal of in-joke wit; the score, thankfully, is in on the gag, all thunderous drums and frightened choral singing (like John Carpenter, Maas composes his own music). It’s not just a spoof, though; the scares, telegraphed and expected though they may be, land, and the young hero’s battle with several “Black Peter”s is a genuinely well-executed action/horror set piece with a Raimi-esque slapstick energy.
The rough-and-tumble scenes like that play best; later, when cops chase St. Nick and his horse across the rooftops of the city, the special effects look junky even for a movie like this. Meanwhile, the big third-act action climax, in its attempt to play serious, comes off looking that much sillier. Or maybe it’s not trying to play straight—it could just be that the joke, while a good one, has worn thin by that point in the picture. Saint is two-thirds of a really clever movie, and the rest of it isn’t bad enough to sink what comes before. It’s good, trashy fun, and those who are in the joke are going to love it. You know who you are.
"Saint" screened this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival. Its final festival screening is on Wednesday, 4/27.
Breaking Upwards (it’s on Netflix Instant, so go ahead—you can always click back to this review), is not only achingly beautiful, but has a fizzy energy and a wonderful, dry way of delivering a line. It’s impossible to tell yet what kind of range she’s got, but never mind that—let’s just enjoy this period of getting to know her on-screen.