Archive for August, 2009

Sugar

August 28, 2009

SugarThe directors of Half Nelson struggle on the follow-up. The baseball sequences seem to be mostly there as proof that they can handle large-scale sequences. The insight into the farm system is, well, minor. What could be an interesting look at the industrial part of the sports industry becomes instead a religious parable. The finale–particularly a use of a Spanish version of L. Cohen’s “Hallelujah”–is dubious. The principal strength of the movie is a fetishistic fascination with their central performer, but his character is too aimless for the rest of the movie to sweep the audience up with it.

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Trailerama: Bran Nue Dae

August 28, 2009

An aboriginal teen escapes an Outback Catholic school’s stifling atmosphere and tries to get back home to port Broome. What makes this stage adaptation less of a fret-fest than Rabbit-Proof Fence is a bunch of singing and dancing. The teaser for Rachel Perkins’s film certainly looks a lot livelier than Australia.

Trailerama: Kosmos

August 27, 2009

A new arrival in town upsets the community’s delicate balance with his miracles and fornication. The trailer for this new film from Turkish director Reha Erdem suggests a pretty full-blooded work, with shades of Bela Tarr.

New DVD Debut: Adventureland, Duplicity

August 25, 2009

DuplicityDVD Debut gets into bed with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen and doesn’t know if it’s coming or going.

This clever-clever caper of corporate intrigue involves the fascinating subject of ex-spies who now work for big business. On opposite sides of the boardroom table are suave spook Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, a dame to kill for. Their perfect eyebrows are collectively raised when Roberts’ firm announces a discovery that will revolutionize the cosmetics industry. This lighthearted thriller is smartly paced with plenty of twists and turns, but Owen struggles opposite an actress whose face has become curiously frozen.

Trailerama: 25 Kilates (25 Carat)

August 21, 2009

There’s plenty that looks familiar about this Spanish thriller. The lined face of the local godfather, the pairing between a been-around-the-block ex-boxer and his comelier partner, the gun thrust to the head like somebody’s seen too many Tarantino movies. But there are great pleasures in genre. Writer-director Patxi Amezcua’s tale of double-cross also has the benefit of being set in Barcelona’s underworld. It all adds up to a nice evening of slumming for the arthouse filmmaker. Word is the leads Aida Folch and Francesc Garrido generate some real heat.

Ponyo! Ponyo!

August 20, 2009

Ponyo!

Movie of the week at Squally Towers is Hayao Miyazaki‘s Ponyo, a surreally gorgeous and gorgeously surreal underwater fantasy about pre-adolescent love and tsunamis. There’s a great interview here with Ghost in the Shell/The Sky Crawlers director Mamoru Oshii, where he thinks the movie may be tied up with Miya-san’s middle age and the renewed interest in women that comes with that middle age in Japan.

“[H]e brings all his feelings and thoughts that would make him a John and puts it all into the world of animation. I’m sure that all of that went into those plants, and those jellyfish, and the marine life. … All of that, whether it’s the jellyfish, the fish, or the 5 year old girls, that’s all an old man’s world. I mean, throughout that whole movie, you only see children and the elderly. There’s the mom and the dad, but other than them… Where are all the other adults?”

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Anybody for some creepy country?

August 20, 2009

Trailerama: A Serious Man

August 19, 2009

The Sixties, Minnesota and Judaism by way of Kafka. Except it’s the Coen brothers’ new film. If this brilliantly edited trailer is anything to go by, Man may feature the best scene of one guy pummelling another since Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible.

New DVD Debut: Hannah Montana: The Movie, Tyson

August 18, 2009

Hannah Montana The MovieOver at VH1.com, DVD Debut wants to P-A-R-T-Y in the U-S-A.

Newcomers will be a little confused as to why high schooler Miley Cyrus needs to treat her pop star alter ego Hannah Montana like a secret identity. Die-hards will eat up the mixture of catchy songs, slapstick, cute romance and sugary sentiment. When Hannah starts taking to the glamorous life in L.A., daddy Billy Ray ships the family back to Tennessee for some down-home detox. Will Miley give up being Hannah for good? Not before holding a benefit concert to stop an evil developer.

Trailerama: Down Terrace

August 18, 2009

Mournful folk songs, NHS spectacles, ravaged old people, bitter young people, intergenerational conflict, a pregnant girlfriend, handguns, underpasses, heart attacks … This couldn’t be any more English if a Beefeater in a bowler hat arrived at the interval with a helping of fish and chips. Ben Wheatley‘s family drama might not be able to avoid all the cliches–it’s centered around a criminal father and son on their release from prison. It commands attention, however, both for the speed with which it was made–eight days–and the cast of unknowns led by real-life father and son Robert and co-writer Robin Hill.