My sincere thanks to me for writing this crap for an entire year. Interstellar went into orbit on Friday; I wasn’t much impressed (review probably up tomorrow, bit late but puck it). At least now we all know who was behind the faked Mars landings. Those directors, eh? Crafty buggers.
Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989) – 3/5
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Laura San Giacomo, Peter Gallagher
Desperate Housewives archetype sort of romance film by now sadly retired auteur Steven Soderbergh. SL&VT is dated despite being only 25 years old and naïve of the internet which was to come, but it’s charming in its own way. Everyone is so shocked and shamed about the concept of having an affair, and a few of the cast are pretty bad at conveying even the semblance of an emotional response (Peter Gallagher most of all; he’s a readily dislikeable tool and not just because his character is a spanner). Watch if you like the sexy times which your room mate/spouse/parent/turtle will inevitably walk into right during the middle of.
Bowling for Columbine (2002) – 4/5
Director: Michael Moore
Cast: Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson
Humanitarian documentary giant Michael Moore bounces from home to home, conference to conference, grilling/provoking American citizens on the societal impact of the 1999 Columbine high school shootings. Most prominent among the talking heads are an unfairly scapegoated Marilyn Manson (he’s actually a very calm gentleman), Trey Parker of South Park (who provides an amusing ‘History of the United States’ cartoon) and golden era Hollywood legend Charlton Heston (Ben Hur, Planet of the Apes). Heston is a sad old man, and the ousting of his pro-gun fanaticism is equally depressing. Hundreds of thousands of American citizens harbour the same dangerously counterproductive belief system regarding arms bearing, but lack the star-power influence to express them on the scale which Charlton ‘from my cold dead hands’ Heston has. His melancholic limp away from Moore’s interrogation makes you wonder what he’d do if faced with a loaded gun, and how he would react were his children to be killed in an incident as tragic and random as that explored in Bowling for Columbine.
Moore is a brave filmmaker whose methods are frustratingly restricted, never able to scale the constitution-quaking question of de-armament. Still, his intrepid coverage of the topic earned Bowling for Columbine a Best Documentary Academy Award, and the recognition is satisfying.
Four Rooms (1995) – 2/5
Directors: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriugez, Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Tim Roth, Madonna, Anotnio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Marisa Tomei, Quentin Tarantino
Cranking up the slapstick to a cringe-worthy degree, Tim Roth stars as Ted, a nervy hotel bellhop pulling the graveyard shift on New Year’s Eve. His misadventures and haranguing with the hotel’s versatile clientèle bring together four different directors, each helming a quarter length segment of the film. Let’s look closer.
The Missing Ingredient, by Allison Anders (since reduced to guest shooting for Sex and the City and Orange is the New Black). Starring a witch playing Madonna. Newt a very spellbinding start for this multi-director coven-nant.
The Wrong Man, by Alexandre Rockwell (he’s made eight feature films, none of them apparently any good, but he is boys with Peter Dinklage). In this room Tim Roth is accused of being a homewrecker by a woman who has cheated on her psychotic husband. He gets real mad. Worst segment.
The Misbehavers, by Robert Rodriguez (of Desperado, Machete and Sin City fame). Antonio Banderas slaps his children around their little faces and tells them to read some books while he goes out on the town with his woman. Instead they watch dirty movies on the TV, one them featuring Salma Hayek dancing. This segment is pretty funny, as Banderas’ ‘Man’ is about the only compelling character thus far.
The Man From Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino (who takes the main role also). Bruce Willis, Jennifer Beals and Paul Calderon strut about a penthouse suite ranting and raving in an effort to outdo Quentin Tarantino’s overacting, but he’s having none of it. There is a discussion about movies which passes off as the script, and then it all ends in moderate levels of violence and an unmistakeable, sinking sense of regret.
Lebanon: The Soldier’s Journey (2009) – 5/5
Director: Samuel Moaz
Cast: Itay Tiran, Oshri Cohen, Michael Moshonov
A week or two ago I gave David Ayer’s tank WWII film Fury – starring Brad Pitt’s hairdresser and Shia ‘The Cannibal’ LaBeefcakes – an enthusiastic 4/5 star recommendation. Lebanon, a terrifyingly claustrophobic film shot almost entirely from within the confines of a dilapidated Israeli tank, blows Ayer’s moody depiction of warfare sky high. Lebanon is the real deal; taut, emotional, masterfully handled and performed with heartbreaking sincerity. A perfect film about the imperfection of war.
Making Taxi Driver (1999) – 4/5
Director: Laurent Bouzereau
Cast: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Sheperd, Paul Schraeder, Albert Brooks,
When you finish watching Taxi Driver you have very few options as to what to do next: 1) Watch Taxi Driver again; 2) Move to New York and get a cabbie’s license; 3) Watch ‘Making Taxi Driver’, the behind the scenes documentary found on my second hand Digital Versatile Disc from Blockbuster (#vintage). Having done the first two enough times already, option three seemed to be a good selection. The most memorable insights that one can gain from this documentary are generally all about Robert De Niro and his method acting; annoyingly, you don’t hear much of anything from Bobby himself but only from his co-stars, some of whom were in awe of his commitment (Jodie Foster, Peter Boyle) and some of them outright terrified (Cybill Sheperd) by it. For more of the same Hermann music and dangerous atmosphere this making of is pretty great, as are the recollections of the screenplay writer Paul Schraeder, whose script was so in touch with the times that after the film’s release he had young men coming up to him and accusing him of stealing their life stories. Albert Brooks also appears, weathered, gravelly voiced and totally unrecognisable from his thirty year old self. Wait, hold on a minute… he was in Drive AND Taxi Driver? You know what that means, don’t you? Yes, he has been in two really good films.
Thanks for reading gang, and please join me in wishing ‘happy birthday’ to Movie Quibble.
happy birthday, Movie Quibble