Saturday, February 27, 2010

Viewing log: 19/2/10

A Closed Book
Not exactly Nabokov, plus too smug and threadbare to function cinematically

Can't begrudge Bridges, and easily indulged, though the Maggie stuff feels tepid

A glancing yet exacting moral puzzle which turns the viewer into a detective

I've dissed this already, but forgot to employ the words "porridgey" and "why?"

Let's make a Nancy Drew cartoon of love and loss! Almost eerily misguided

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Robey's Oscar Rewrites: (2)


They said...

Pietro Germi, Divorce Italian Style
*David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
Robert Mulligan, To Kill a Mockingbird
Arthur Penn, The Miracle Worker
Frank Perry, David and Lisa

I say...

Luis Buñuel, The Exterminating Angel
John Frankenheimer, The Manchurian Candidate
David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
Sidney Lumet, Long Day's Journey Into Night
Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan's Childhood

With a huge roster of unusually worthy runners-up: Stanley Kubrick (Lolita), John Ford (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), Robert Aldrich (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane), Michelangelo Antonioni (L'eclisse), Roman Polanski (Knife in the Water), Arthur Penn (The Miracle Worker), Tony Richardson (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner), Jean-Luc Godard (Vivre sa vie), Edward Dmytryk (Walk on the Wild Side), Otto Preminger (Advise and Consent) and Herk Harvey, for my beloved Carnival of Souls. What a year! Plus I haven't even seen Ozu's An Autumn Afternoon yet. And I don't really get Jules et Jim, hence its exclusion.

Oscar Symposium

@The Film Experience. Join us!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Get to The Point

It's not often I have something to plug other than my Telegraph reviews, but I'm chuffed to announce that a longer piece commissioned from me by a fledgling Chicago-based magazine is both up online and available in the print edition. It's about David Cronenberg. You'll see there's much else to browse through, and though I haven't made time yet for a proper perusal of their second issue, I loved the first: the intellectual scope of the thing, ranging from classical philosophy to politics and the arts, is massively refreshing, and it was a real privilege to write for them. I may write more, if their increasingly prestigious roster of guest contributors leaves any room for the likes of me. If you like what you're reading, and agree with me that it's the kind of publication that needs to be championed, do spread the word!

Berlin: Days 5+6+7

Red Hill (Patrick Hughes, Aus: Panorama) B
Wobbly script, but cracking drive, sound and intensity for a debut

Caterpillar (Koji Wakamatsu, Japan: official competition) W/O
Literally pitches itself as gruelling arthouse gimp porn, so don't blame me

Gentlemen Broncos (Jared Hess, US: Generation 14+) B–
Wildly up and down, but hard done by, particularly given the delightful perfs

Amphetamine (Scud, Hong Kong: Panorama) D
Nothing but copious nudity and insane naiveté to recommend it. I did stay...

The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, UK/France: Berlinale Special) A–
A beautiful wisp of a thing: captures the Edinburgh twilight just sublimely

Please Give (Nicole Holofcener, US: out of competition) C+
Pleasant enough, though the want of ambition or novelty disappoints

Winter's Bone (Debra Granik, US: Forum) B+
Superb community flavour around a bracing Dardenne-ish narrative grip

The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, US: out of competition) B+
Radical no, generous and hilarious and expertly performed? Absolutely

Monday, February 15, 2010

Berlin: Days 3+4

Making the Boys (Crayton Robey, US: Panorama Dokumente) C+
Valuable anecdote trussed up in wearing, gossipy montage

Submarino (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark: official competition) B–
21 Grams-ishly grim, but does have guts, and it's memorably acted

La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1961: Retrospektive) A–
A marriage in freefall: pristinely disconsolate, and Moreau's terrific

Greenberg (Noah Baumbach, US: official competition) C
Morose People? Tries hard to say things, but too often drab and taxing

Exit Through the Gift Shop (Bansky, UK: out of competition) B+
Riotously funny, shape-shifting doc, full of ironies about art and profit

World on a Wire (RW Fassbinder, Germany, 1973: Berlinale Special) B
The story's confounding, but it's so delirious design-wise you don't care

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Berlin: Days 1+2

Apart Together (Quanan Wang, China: official competition) C+
Too much on-the-nose reminiscing, and the static style gets mannered

The Ghost (Roman Polanski, France/Germany/UK: official competition) B–
Frisky and wittily played, if limitingly lightweight as a political thriller

Beautiful Darling (James Rasin, US: Panorama Dokumente) B
Good for this overplayed genre, thanks to some piercing archival finds

Howl (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, US: official competition) B
Animation (and poetry) aside, it's a thoughtful and touching portrait

Perfect, rapt, quiet, mundane poetry with sullen soul -- lives up to its rep

Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, US: out of competition) D+
Why, Marty, why? Loony, gimmicky and pretentious -- it's like Gothika

Viewing log: 12/2/10

New Releases (blurbs to follow)

Brave with its ambiguities, rock solid in filming and structure

Kind of gawkily well-meaning, but I mainly felt sorry for it

Laughs at the start, but gets sketchy and unrewarding

It's a shame the movie makes its case so darn politely

Used to love this, now just like it: the acting is kind of shallow

The kind of processed cheese I wouldn't wish on anyone

Ponyo B–
Oddball yes, cutesy yes, beguiling only sporadically

Worth it for Firth, but only just: the style doesn't mean anything

A thoroughgoing rhyme and reason drought, from a director I don't get

Mosaics of love lost and found rarely come fuglier

The Dutch Resistance as a blandly handsome, Boy's Own exercise

Some capable craft at the service of scared, MOR compromise

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Viewing log: 5/2/10

New Releases

Perky to the point of vapid, and the plot's a wholesale rip-off of A.I.

Benny Hill might have thought these routines a trifle moth-eaten

Didn't Mandela have some other projects that first year? Uninspiring

Some credit for craziness, but it's such a lurid and unpleasant ride

Tony C+
Lots of good, awkward scenes, but it doesn't disturb or go anywhere

Starts well and Cera anchors it deftly; bitty and oddly insincere, though

Other Adventures

Gorgeous, clear-eyed portrait of a family; Peggy Ann Garner is something else

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Robey's Oscar Rewrites: (1)

New series. Simple idea. Random category from Oscar history -- and my alternatives. Minus a winner, which you're welcome to propose...

All hail, by the way, IMDb's much-improved search-by-year function! Which makes this, if not more possible, then certainly much quicker.


They said...

Tom Berenger, Platoon
*Michael Caine, Hannah and Her Sisters
Willem Dafoe, Platoon
Denholm Elliott, A Room with a View
Dennis Hopper, Hoosiers

I say...

Julian Beck, Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Michael Caine, Hannah and Her Sisters
Dennis Hopper, Blue Velvet
Ray Liotta, Something Wild
Tom Noonan, Manhunter

With an honourable mention to Jeffrey Jones in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I consider Daniel Day-Lewis a lead in My Beautiful Laundrette -- though not, of course, in A Room with a View. Chime in, friends! I think this one could run and run.