August 2013 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Passion (2013)

Not hard to figure out what she wantsAndrew LIKE BannerNew Brian De Palma films are comfort food for voyeurs who aren't peeping from inside the closet, but not proud gazing through someone's window either.  It's difficult to find one that isn't intentionally sleazy in some way.  Rarer still is the De Palma film that doesn't have one or two plot points directly hinging on one character watching another character watching someone else.  The gaze is not the indirect subject of a De Palma film, but the reason for the plot.

At their best they're outlandish exercises in style, and when they're poor they become insufferable.  Passion is a different breed.  It has a climax that tries for the same kind of twisty, sexy tangles that punctuated his sexier thrillers.  But the way it gets there is through a paint by numbers approach where those comfort food voyeur elements feel routine instead of titillating.

Despite the perfunctory feel of the film it still succeeds at being a pretty good time in the cinema.  The brunt of this success is due to Rachel McAdams, who is having the best of times biting into an antagonistic role for the first time since Mean Girls.  De Palma takes advantage of that comfort by putting her squarely in the middle of the kinkiest scenes of the film.  She makes the arrival of a man dressed in leather while panting like a dog seem like the most wonderful and natural thing that could happen to a girl.


A glimpse of delight, then despair.

8-30-2013AndrewCommentaryBannerShortThe still images of Bill Murray dressed as Liberace don't do the spectacle justice.  He arrived to the show in grand form, somehow appearing humble despite the gaudy accessories he chose to wear.  Then this happened, and peace threatened to ring throughout Earth for one shining moment.

Then the world remembered that Lars von Trier is still making movies and another clip was released to bring us all crashing back down to depressing reality.

If you're able to, enjoy the holiday weekend with some movies and friends!  New reviews and the next In Appreciation piece this Sunday.

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Andrei Tarkovsky: Andrei Rublev (1966)

"Простота без процветать."

Andrei Tarkovsky's follow-up to Ivan's Childhood is a biopic about the icon painter Andrei Rublev.  The movie takes place in several movements over the course of Rublev's (Anatoly Solonitsyn) life, from his simple wanderings for inspiration, to the violence and despair that led him to abandon his art.

RiseAndrewCommentaryBannerWatching Andrei Rublev, I was slowly getting the sense that the saint is an onscreen avatar for Tarkovsky, a sense that was further enhanced by the technique and events of the film.  It's incredibly contemplative in a way that embraces the physical realities of Rublev's world to the point where they become transcendent.  One shot sums this up incredibly well when milk is spilling into a stream.  The thick, wavy texture of the milk, enhanced by the black and white, slowly dissipates into the larger stream and becomes indistinguishable from the water.

We're constantly reminded of this physical reality but it's always in moments that place the limitations of existence into a larger framework.  I loved Andrei Rublev partly because it refused to give an answer for just what that structure is.  The film is a biopic of an artist that does not contain a single scene of him painting an icon.  Compare this to a film like Red Beard, which I do love, that's a collection of messages and lessons wrapped in the framework of two doctors living out their life in a country village.  Tarkovsky is trying to capture the essence of creative inspiration in the divine nature of existence here, which is a lot harder to do than present a tale with a moral at the end.


Avengers sequel hits “intensely sexy” nuclear option.

8-29-2013AndrewCommentaryBannerShortLet it be known, I take my James Spader fandom very seriously.  I was introduced to his unique brand of intense sexiness through Sex, Lies, and Videotape only to fall head over heels for the guy in Boston Legal.  Since then I've watched everything I can get my hands on so I can wait for those consonants to roll out so tantalizingly with every line reading.


Super Buddies (2013)

The buddiesAndrew DISLIKE BannerI grew up on a steady diet of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  While I don't plan on ever having kids of my own I've encouraged in others the same practice my mom adopted when I was little.  Bullwinkle would come on in the wee hours of the morning and I watched it while my mom and dad slept in.  When they got up I would ask them about the show and if there was something I didn't understand I would ask them about it.  It was a show packed with old cultural references and glorious Cold War humor, so it was both a greatly educational and entertaining experience.

One great thing about having friends with kids is seeing the reactions that the little ones have to different bits of culture that their parents grew up with.  Every supposed kids film that they watch has tons of stuff to please adults at the same time.  But for each one of those movies I know that there is a separate industry that caters in films designed expressly to keep kids pacified for a little over an hour and nothing more.  Sometimes I'm surprised and I end up with a film like The Revenge of Kitty Galore that seems to be in this camp and ends up having more going on with it.  Then, other times, I'm watching Super Buddies and getting really depressed.

Somewhere in this country this DVD is going to be popped in and a little over an hour later nothing of value will have been imparted.  Characters with nothing to worry about will stay the same, broad stereotypes reinforced, and children assaulted by severely ugly creature and effects designs.  If all fiction is a form of escapism, pity the place any kid watching this movie will be escaping to.