4/14/2014

Dallas Buyer's Club (2013) ***1/2

The Faint 'Doom Abuse' (2014) ****

It's been 6 years (the longest wait between LPs) since The Faint's last album, 'Fasciinatiion', was released. The last album was solid (and oddly enough, their highest charting), but their 2nd weakest so far, sounding a bit too precise and clean for my tastes. 'Media' holds the distinction of being my least favorite LP, but it was also before the band embraced synths and their "darkwave" style, so it really sounds nothing like The Faint.

'Doom Abuse' relies on a traditional guitar/bass/drums setup, but still sprinkles the synths and dancy quality on top of the (sometimes abrasive) punk style. A couple of tracks are very reminiscent of Devo and that's never a bad thing, if it's done properly. 

Every track is catchy, concise and well put together. If I have one qualm, it's that the names of the songs being sung on the choruses can get repetitive and make some of the songs sounds samey, but hey, no one complained about when the Ramones did that.

As a reference point, I'd say 'Doom Abuse' most closely resembles 'Wet From Birth', my second favorite by these boys and even sounds a bit like '(Blank-Wave Arcade)' (my introduction to the band and still my favorite). If you've been with the band up until now, you shouldn't be let down.


4/13/2014

The World's End (2013) *** [Take 2 Pt. 2]

This is what I had to say about the film on my first viewing. Not much has changed, except that I actually liked it less (and gave it a 1/2 * less for a rating). After the hour mark is when the film loses all of its steam for me. Too bad.

Django Unchained (2012) *** [Take 2 Pt. 1]

Consider this the inaugural post of what I will refer to as "Take 2's", second viewings of films that underwhelmed me the first time.

This one earns a 1/2 star less this time and retains its distinction as my 2nd least favorite QT film (DEATH PROOF being the bottom of the barrel).

There's plenty of great stuff in this film, but I'll just list the reasons that it gets such a low star rating from a filmmaker I expect a lot from:

  • Overlong (the last 30 mins are largely unnecessary or could have been trimmed).
  • A number of poor (misplaced) music choices.
  • The KKK scene is dumb and unfunny.
  • Some of QT's weakest dialogue.
  • Walton Goggins was not given enough screen time.
  • Franco Nero's (the original and only true Django) cameo was wasted.
  • Quentin's Australian accent is terrible and stupid.

Under The Skin (2013) ****1/2

I feel like I keep saying this, but this is my favorite film of the year so far.


4/10/2014

Hit Me (1996) ***

This was a bit of a letdown, but still a very strange and interesting film.

I assumed that I rented it because it was directed by Steven Shainberg (SECRETARY, FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS), but it was actually because the film is based on a Jim Thompson (The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters, The Getaway) novel called A Swell-Looking Babe (1954), which I have not read.

There are definitely traces of Thompson's style on display (a rainy scene on a rooftop is particularly "noirish"), but overall the tone is not easily distinctive of him (and just weird a lot of the time). I'm interested to read the novel to see how the two compare. At times, this felt like it could have been a Paul Thomas Anderson film (and, coincidentally, it shares 2 actors from 3 of his films and another from THERE WILL BE BLOOD). One thing is for sure - Shainberg is a unique filmmaker - none of the 3 films (of only 4 since 1992!) that I've seen are alike.



4/06/2014

Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) ****1/2

My favorite film of the year so far. Jodorowsky is so animated, fun and inspiring to watch. His version of DUNE looks like it would have been AMAZING and I wish so badly that it had been made. This documentary is excellent, the subjects interviewed are engaging and it features a great score. I could recommend it to almost anyone, even if you haven't read 'Dune' the book (I haven't), aren't terribly familiar with the story or its characters or Jodorowsky's films.

4/02/2014

The Act Of Killing - Theatrical Version (2012) ****1/2

A fascinating "documentary" where Indonesian gangsters who actually killed and tortured over 1 million "communists" in 1965-66 are asked over 40 years later to reenact their actions for the camera, sometimes in the style of various genres of film.

Largely focusing on one Anwar Congo, an incredibly articulate and intelligent man, who has no qualms about discussing his killings (he is said to have killed over 1000 people), but feels increasingly guilty as the film progresses. A powerful, disturbing, sometimes humorous and bizarre film that blurs the line between reality and fiction.

4/01/2014

Autumn Sonata (1978) ****

I'm not sure what it is exactly about Ingmar Bergman, but long scenes of dialogue from his films (of which there are many), that if filmed by virtually any other director would bore me, manage to entrance, captivate and compel me. Perhaps it's his sense of loneliness, longing and the poetry inherent in his films. Perhaps it's the moods he sets, the painterly quality of his shots or the connection I feel to the emotions his characters portray. Whatever is it, I find that I have great patience and appreciation for everything he does. With each film I discover by him, my love for his work only grows. Truly a master.

3/31/2014

Dune (1984) ***1/2

I've never read the book(s), though I'd like to someday, but I've come to appreciate the film, in all its strangeness and despite its flaws, more and more with each viewing.

3/30/2014

Godzilla (Gojira) (1954) ***

I know it's a "classic", but I've always found it a bit clunky, boring and cheesy. It's just as melodramatic as anything by Kurosawa (whom I don't necessarily love every film by), Kobayashi and other legendary Japanese directors, but with inferior technique, ham-fisted, heavy-handed "message movie" dialogue (delivered poorly often times) and distractingly dated effects.

I recognize its cultural impact, but I can't pretend to think it's an excellent film because it's expected of me. Also, I'm just not really into kaijuKING KONG being an exception (and it doesn't technically count), which, in my opinion has better FX and was released 21 years before GOJIRA.

3/29/2014

Here Comes The Devil (2012) ***

What a frustrating film. So much about it is good or has/had potential. Parts of the score are excellent. But its schizophrenic nature, occasional poor sound mixing and dodgy FX work against it. I'm still giving it *** because it was well-made overall. But they hype surrounding this film is a bit much and not entirely deserved in my opinion.

The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears (L'├ętrange couleur des larmes de ton corps) (2013) ****1/2

This may well have beaten out THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL as my favorite film of the year. I need a second viewing of both though.

Even stranger, gorier (some scenes were incredibly intense and uncomfortable) and more Lynchian than AMER. Amazingly, I think AMER actually makes more sense. I can't pretend to have followed the "plot" (which involves a man looking for his missing wife, among lots of other bizarre shit) exactly, but as long as you can buy into art for art's sake, you will love this film.

Need I say visually stunning? I would liken this filmgoing experience (part of the Boston Underground Film Festival) with that of seeing BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (which I described as "2001 meets Eraserhead meets The Man Who Fell To Earth meets Amer meets THX 1138 meets Cronenberg meets Coscarelli meets Vangelis meets Tangerine Dream", 2 years ago, which I saw as part of the Independent Film Festival Boston. And just look at the gorgeous poster (which I'm dying to get a print of)!