Thursday, June 16, 2011

In Theaters: "Page One: Inside the New York Times"

David Carr, media columnist for the New York Times, says that when he ends an interview, “most subjects have a question of their own: What’s gonna happen to the New York Times?” It’s a question that is compellingly asked (if not really answered, because it honestly can’t be) by Andrew Rossi’s new documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times, a look at the day-to-day operation of a venerable organization that is doing its very best not to go the way of the dinosaur.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New on Blu: "The Outlaw Josey Wales"

Clint Eastwood's 1976 film The Outlaw Josey Wales is an exceptional Western, not quite traditional, not quite as boldly revisionist as the other films (like McCabe and Mrs. Miller or The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean) that challenged the genre in the 1970s. Its innovations are mostly quiet ones, shifts in conventional characterization or storytelling, augmented by the kind of crowd-pleasing shoot-outs and tough-guy dialogue that we've come to expect. For Eastwood, directing his fifth film, it was an important turning point in the progression towards Unforgiven, his Western magnum opus.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On DVD: "Monogamy"

The transition from documentary to narrative filmmaking can be difficult (just ask Errol Morris or Michael Moore), but Murderball director Dana Adam Shapiro makes the leap effortlessly in his new film Monogamy. In fact, the film seems richer for his non-fiction experience; he adopts an observant, off-the-cuff shooting style that is reflected in the low-key performances and the smart screenplay, which refuses to turn itself over to the histrionics and maudlin melodrama that a lesser director would have amped up. In its own quiet way, it’s a marvelous picture.

On DVD: "Hall Pass"

It’s time we just come out and say it: whatever the Farrelly Brothers had, they’ve lost it. It’s long gone. There is no denying their place in modern comic filmmaking; Kingpin is a deliriously gonzo, balls-to-the-wall masterpiece, and There’s Something About Mary is, well, There’s Something About Mary—a delightful mash-up of gross-out comedy and sunny romance that reconfigured the comedic cinema landscape. But since that critical and financial highpoint, each film has been successively worse than its predecessor: Me, Myself, & Irene, Osmosis Jones, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, Fever Pitch, The Heartbreak Kid, and now, their first film in over three years, the misbegotten sex-in-marriage farce Hall Pass. They clearly did not spend the time off recharging their batteries. They’re still trafficking in the same tired formulas and constructs; meanwhile, more gifted comic filmmakers (Judd Apatow, Todd Phillips, Greg Mattola, and others) have evolved the Farrellys ‘90s form into something fresher, smarter, bolder, and funnier. Hall Pass is like a late-‘60s Bob Hope or Jerry Lewis movie, stubbornly grinding out what used to work, current styles be damned.