Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Here. ***1/2

BLUE SKY (1994)
Interesting drama about an Army scientist (Tommy Lee Jones) in the early 1960s and his family. His wife (Jessica Lange) is somewhat mentally unstable and finds a lot of validation in the attention of other men, which is tearing the family apart. Meanwhile, he clashes with his superiors about the safety of nuclear weapons testing. These two story threads cross and lend meaning to one another in an interesting way, held together by Lange's riveting performance. Tony Richardson's final film. ***1/2

David Mamet has always made compelling films, it's just that this one is compelling the way a train wreck is compelling. A bizarre, pointless film that promises before it begins that it's a work of fiction and has nothing to say about the Phil Spector murder case, and then proceeds to try to say repeatedly that Phil Spector was railroaded and probably innocent and that all women are totally captivated by him, none of which I think are true. What was the point of this disaster? Mamet obviously finds Spector captivated, but the script is totally nonsensical and Al Pacino probably makes the only choice he could make with the dialogue (if by "dialogue" you mean "random collection of semi-related words in almost coherent order") by basically acting as if he's having a stroke through the whole movie. It's hard to look away from because you can't believe that actual human beings are participating in this thing. It makes Liz & Dick look like serious, competent, prestige filmmaking. Zero stars.

Inconsequential, occasionally amusing, totally innocuous political satire that follows the pattern of every other political satire without adding anything new or notably funny. Cute waste of time, but utterly forgettable. **

Lars von Trier's bizarre, compelling, confrontational, almost mystical, relentlessly cruel meditation on grief and depression. Hard to describe and quite nihilistic, but the performances of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe as a grieving couple out among nature is as hard to look away from as it is hard to watch. ***1/2

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