Short Takes: May 2013

Blind Detective

MICHAEL KOHLHAAS (C-) Mikkelsen/Lavant both great but they have little to do in this plodding, windswept period piece.

ZULU (D) CSI: CAPE TOWN. Dull & predictable ‘thriller’. Socio-politics sometimes interesting, often problematic. Bloom hilariously bad.

VENUS IN FUR (B-) Trashy good fun. Lots of amusing fact/fiction director/director parallels. Dialogue superb, everything else merely solid.

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (B) An entertaining art rock vampire film from Jarmusch. Meandering but never aimless. Funny too.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR (A) Extraordinary, intimate journey of a girl’s 1st relationship & everything about it & before & after. Wow.

THE IMMIGRANT (B) Wonderful period detailing, superb classical filmmaking & a strong central perf from Cotillard. A little sterile though.

MAX ROSE (F) Corny, clunky dialogue & lifeless direction make this a real chore. Stunt casting distracts. Just awful.

NEBRASKA (B+) It’s gentleness may make it seem slight but a lot of its smart writing reveals the depth of the story in a subtle manner.

MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT (C-) Flat, stuffy & dull. Story told would fit on a postage stamp. Great perfs from the older cast though.

LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (C) Journey to the End of the Party. Another beautiful but hollow Sorrentino joint.

ALL IS LOST (B+) Astonishing, expertly crafted story of one man alone, trying to survive. A very emotional journey worth taking.

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (D) Feculent and fun in places but it doesn’t matter how smartly dressed it is, it’s pretty vacuous nonsense.

GRIGRIS (D) A thoroughly ordinary film with an extraordinary physical performer in the lead role. Dopey deus ex machina ending.

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (A) A rather traditional biopic in most respects but such an exquisitely well made one, with superb performances.

BLIND DETECTIVE (B-) A romantic comedy through & through but with violence, slapstick & detective plot. Anarchic fun but too freewheeling.

WARA NO TATE (B) Highly entertaining thriller. Adds some minor depth in its treatment of justice.Often also rather silly though.

SEDUCED AND ABANDONED (B-) A very fun doc if you’re interested in the subject but formally infuriating. Tons of superb anecdotes.

BORGMAN (C) Often amusing but nowhere near as allegorically interesting or satisfying as it needs to given everything set up.

MONSOON SHOOTOUT (D-) 3 versions of the same story, except it’s not as the filmmakers abandon the logic of the conceit. Morally dubious too.

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (B) A well told tale of what could be the greatest film never made. Excellent contributions & mixed devices.

DANZA DE LA REALIDAD (A-) A heightened autobiography told with wit, imagination & passion.A complex bricolage & a marvel. Jodorowsky’s back!

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (A) The tragedy, humour & beauty that Koreeda finds in scrutinising the most simple of things is extraordinary. Sublime.

THE PAST (B+) Complex relationships, misunderstandings & just the right amount of melodrama makes for a very absorbing story. Bejo astounds.

THE BLING RING (D+) Good satire doesn’t need character’s explaining it in talking heads. Fun nonetheless but pretty thin & stylistically flat.

JEUNE & JOLIET (C) Ozon gives a character who’d be at home in SITCOM but the filmmaking is more IN THE HOUSE. Lightweight but compelling.

HELI (B+) Raw & intense. A horrible but powerful experience. A bleak opening hanging sets the tone but it just gets worse. And worse.

THE GREAT GATSBY (C-) The party is fun. Until it stops. Dazzling cinematography but it all tires as characters explain the themes & the plot

CLOUD ATLAS (C-) Layer upon layer upon layer of absurdity. Some sweet (Wishaw) & funny (Broadbent) moments but too much weak allegory.

TO ROME WITH LOVE (C-) A collection of half baked stories. A couple needed longer in the oven, the rest throwing out.

HISSS (D-) There are the roots of some interesting ideas buried very deep in it but it’s mostly crushingly dull. Dismal effects distract too.

DESPITE THE GODS (C+) Subject > form but the subject sure is fascinating. The highs & extreme lows of Jennifer Lynch making a film in India.

REWIND THIS (D+) Some entertaining history but little else. Lots of interviews but not much insight. Personal nostalgia drowns it.