Thursday, April 17, 2014

Weekly Round-Up (4/6/14 - 4/12/14)

I was gonna post this earlier but I forgot.

The Holy Mountain (Alejandro Jodorowsky) ***1/2 - This film makes El Topo (also by the same director) look like a conventional narrative. I personally don't think it's quite as great as El Topo but this is still one heck of a film. The plot, if you can call it that, involves a man who resembles Jesus Christ who eventually finds a group of people who come from different planets who wish to be "enlightened". It's actually a hell of a lot stranger than it sounds and is filled with imagery and scenes that are grotesque, erotic, shocking, disgusting, oddly beautiful and often at the same time. A lot of it was like taking Un Chien Andalou, colorizing it, taking some acid and turning it up to 11. Some will be compelled to stop it after about 20 minutes but others will be mesmerized to the end. Obviously I'm the latter.

The Life of Oharu (Kenji Mizoguchi) **** - A fifty-year old prostitute in 17th century Japan recounts her life, starting with her fall from grace after falling in love with someone not of her class. What follows is an absolutely heartbreaking masterpiece of a film which depicts how really disadvantaged women were in Japanese society at least during that time. Masterfully directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, the film just breaks your heart again and again but still manages some flashes of humor and manages to maintain some humanity. By the end, I was really praying for somewhat of a happy ending....but I won't spoil it here. It's an absolute must-see. It's an outstanding film.

Rio 2 (Carlos Saldanha) **1/2 - I thought the original film was fine, nothing really special but entertaining and charming in its own way. I wasn't really looking forward to the sequel. The sequel doesn't really improve on the sequel. The plot is strictly by the numbers. By the time we get to the second act, any reasonable adult who has read enough stories and seen enough movies already know what's gonna happen. But it's still got some eye-popping animation, a few good jokes and the voice cast and music is fun (especially Kristin Chenoweth who was very wisely given a musical number). It's harmless, passable entertainment. Nothing really special.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch) ***1/2 - The answer to the question, what would a Jim Jarmusch vampire movie be like? Well, the Twilight may have tarnished the cool factor of an angsty vampire love story but trust Jarmusch to bring back at least some credibility to the sub-genre. This one's about a pair of music-loving centuries-old vampires reminiscing about the past and lamenting about the current state of humanity. It's not a horror film per se despite some horror elements. It's closer to Mystery Train than Dracula. It's beautifully acted, occasionally wickedly funny and features a cool soundtrack. It's not my favorite Jarmusch picture but still a solid piece of work from one of cinema's true mavericks.

Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding) *** - An ambitious sideshow mentalist wants to hit the big time and would do anything to get his way. Tyrone Power's outstanding performance as the mentalist is the main reason to see this film. Don't get me wrong. It's a solid film especially the last act but feels kind of minor especially when compared to the many classic film noirs of its day. Along Tyrone Power, one notable performance is Helen Walker as his psychiarist accomplice.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I didn't think Rio needed a sequel