Casey Affleck goes noir & psychopatic in Michael Winterbottom's 'Killer Inside Me'

The controversy arising from this film is not without merit. The Killer Inside Me, finely directed by Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, A Mighty Heart) has graphic scenes of violence against women, all done and justified by its main character Lou Ford- brilliantly played by Casey Affleck. Based on a popular 1952 Jim Thompson novel, the film is a dark nightmare through a psychopathic mind. Stanley Kubrick once said the novel was 'probably the most chilling and believable first person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered', which is a lot coming from a legendary director known for his grizzly and dark pictures. The high lit scenes only reinforce the darkness that hides behind the light & make the picture all the more cruel and torturous.

There are two particular scenes that everybody is talking about. One involves Lou hitting a woman's face -Jessica Alba- so hard and so strong that he ends up drilling a hole in her cheek. Another involves punching his pregnant wife in the stomach, so hard that the water ends up breaking and the wife -played by Kate Hudson- falters to her death in the kitchen room floor. Because the story is told in a sympathetic way towards its main character, there is a kind of easiness that unfolds in the film's linear structure. Lou is a man that believes that everything he has done is justifiable and compulsively right.
The film is at times slow and dull but its overall power gives it a small, menacing grip as it reaches its violent finale. Casy Affleck -a more talented actor than brother Ben- gives one of the year's best performances and only raises his reputation as one of the most underrated and gifted actors around at the moment. I can name hundreds of more enjoyable and satisfying movies but I cannot name as many that have this much of a punch in the gut effect. If the film falls short of the books ambitions, its interest lies in the darkened room its main character likes to lock himself in. Affleck is scary good in this one and he does the source material proud. Too bad the problems in plotting and editing prevent it from going even higher and stronger.

Danny Boyle In Images

With the release of Danny Boyle's latest film -127 Hours- just a mere months away, here's a career retrospective via images and films that have defined his career. Boyle is no doubt a visual stylist & at his best -Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire- has a way to move us with the images he creates. At his worst -A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach- he still dares us to leap into his imaginative worlds where nothing is safe and everything appears to be deceiving. Is he overpraised? I say he's not. He just makes the best out of -very often- poorly written screenplays that should never take off but do because of his talent. Then again he -semi- fucked up The Beach, which was a great book but an underwhelming movie. Looking back at all these pictures again, I'm reminded of how much of a love/hate relationship I have with the guy. Boyle doesn't always tend to underline his films with much substance and instead resorts to building up visually amazing images that kind of try to hide the weakness of a plot or a screenplay. That happened with Slumdog Millionaire -and he succeeded quite well might I add.

This is slight Boyle and not at all mandatory viewing. As it is with all of his film Millions is visually stunning but has a kiddie storyline that never really takes off. Altough its leading boy is just a real charmer and I guess I kind of see what he was trying to do with this one. A failure in my books but not without its core group of fans.

Some would say A Life Less Ordinary is his worst film. I'm inclined to agree and disagree, considering there were a few things I liked about that said picture and that it was not as dreadful or bland as something like say Sunshine? which -don't get me wrong- has its fans but did not have me at hello. + this one has Cameron Diaz when she was actually still curvy and hot.

As close to a great zombie movie as we have had in the past 2 decades. 28 Days Later felt almost like a rebirth for Boyle after striking out with his last two efforts (A Life Less Ordinary & The Beach). It put Cillian murphy on the map and gave a kind of new twist to the Zombie genre- Boyle made zombies quicker and more alive than ever. My only complaint? a piss poor ending that gave in to Hollywood conventions and resorted to violence and bombs. Followed by a mediocre sequel, not directed by Boyle.

His best movie, bar none. Trainspotting is a relentless and unafraid assault in its frank depiction of low rent junkies. Yet I'm afraid that a film this rebellious and this gritty is never going to appear again in Boyle's CV. Then again I shouldn't complain, few filmmakers can actually claim to have a movie this good in their filmography. I just wish Boyle would resort to getting a great screenplay like this one and hit it out of the park like only he can. These days he's given in to the studios and produced some solid effort but there's nothing better than going low budget and using much more creative freedom.

Now if only he didn't fuck up the film above. Maybe he'd be getting some extra points & a bit of a better reputation. Then again, everybody has their own dud. Scorsese's New York, New York?

First things first. I was breathlessly entertained by Slumdog Millionaire, so much so that it ended up on my ten best list in 2008 (#5). However, one that loves this movie must also confess to giving in to its multiple plot holes and -at times- unrealistically Hollywood approach, which all culminates with a kind of fairy tale Bollywood style finale with vibrant song and dance. I dug it, but this isn't necessarily a film you should take too seriously.

You can check out the trailer for 127 Hours right HERE. It's a real doozy, even though they kind of push the whole Slumdog Millionaire image for quite a bit of time at its beginning, which is understandable considering there arent necesarilly any big names to market this film around and -NO- James Franco is not considered a big name, well maybe to the gay community.

The Expendables, The Other Guys & Piranha 3D give new meaning to the word bad, but one is actually good

We've come a long way this summer, with nothing but disappointment after disappointment. There was a barrage of terrible sequels (Iron Man 2, Shrek 4 & Predators), not needed remakes (Robin Hood, A- Team & Karate Kid) & unfunny comedies (Grown Ups & Get Him To The Greek) that paved the way for what might just be the worst summer movie season I've ever experienced. Hell, the best (along with Inception) & most entertaining movie to come out of the Hollywood studio system was an animated film about toys (Toy Story 3). And what to make of Inception? with its multi layered plotting and complex storytelling, Nolan's film is flawed, low on character development & frustratingly complicated yet no movie aimed higher or had more creative guts.

You had to go through the Independent film circuit to truly find diamonds in the ruff. I'm thinking of Debra Granik's Winter's Bone & Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are Alright with Annette Benning & Julliane Moore stamping their names on top of the Best Actress Oscar race. With no more than 2 weeks left before the Fall Movie Season rolls out, a few films are coming out to top the horrible taste others have left in our mouths. The dogs are not gone and still rolling out to take hard earned money out of your pockets. One is a comedy, one is an action flick & the other is -err- a horror movie. All three fail -what a surprise- but one is so bad it ends up being good.

The Expendables (R) ★

Unlike others, I had some hopes this would turn out to be gritty entertainment. How naive and ambitious of me to think in such ways. The Expendables deserves its place on the long and unstoppable list of the worst Hollywood movies of the year. Let's start with the script which has every 1980s action flick cliche imaginable. The dialogue is so wooden that I wouldn't be surprised if a 5 year old action junkie helped out Sly Stallone in the creative process. It would have been much better if the film didn't take itself -and its plot involving mercenaries trying to kick ass in some Latin American country- so seriously and relied cheesy aesthetics (read Piranha 3d below). There is no shortage of actors. Jet Li, Sly Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren & Mickey Rourke. All are stranded in thin air by sloppy direction (by Stallone) & poor plotting. There are also useless cameos by Arnold Schwarznegger & Bruce Willis, who take their roles way too seriously & have around 2 minutes of screen time each.

Let us now forget about how The Expendables is expendable crass entertainment & focus on the real reason we were even here in the first place. We knew there would be no plot but we had expectations the action would live up the billed stars names & churn out something awesome. How far wrong were we? way off the mark. The action is well filmed and watchable but there's something missing in it, the same way there was something missing in a lot of this year's summer blockbusters; A beating heart & something worth fighting for. The Expendables seems to have none of that and instead resorts to the same old, same old + add a sequel begging ending and you got the perfect example of how a cash cow with no artistic integrity can come about. Nice try Sly but no Cigar. Next please.

The Other Guys (PG-13) ★½

Will Ferrell has already been talked about in this blog, so I'll be short and sweet talkin about his latest comic endeavour. It's a letdown. Sure there are some jokes that hit the target but we have the right to expect more from this supposed king of comedy. Here he teams up with Mark Whalberg, they play police partners trying to solve greedy scammers of Wall Street . Just like the Expendables, the plot is almost non existent (What's the deal Hollywood?) & the real attraction is its stars. Ferrell -coming off last year's stinker Land Of The Lost- tries his damn near best to entertain us and at times it succeeds but there's a sense of deja vu and been there done that lingers all around The Other Guys. At his best (Old School & Wedding Crashers) Ferrell pushes the envelope and rubs his laughs with rebellious darts but at his worst (Land Of The Lost & Semi Pro) he tends to try and hide a screenplay failure with a sense of rehashed jokes. The Other Guys falls in the middle of these two categories and does not nothing to advance an already successful career.

Piranha 3D (R) ★★★

This movie stinks so bad it's good. The absurdity and irrelevance it brings to the table is astounding & the acting is nothing short of terrible. Yet, I was entertained by its stupidity. How could I not be? Piranhas reeking havoc on the most annoying of college students, killing them in such creative and absurd ways, I sat there shocked with my jaw dropped wide open. Piranhas 3D has the chance of becoming a B-movie classic in the very same way The Rocky Horror Picture Show has evolved over the last 30 years. I'm quite shocked this movie only got an R rating, considering what happens during its 90 minute running time. There's full frontal nudity, lesbian action, creative fish eating kills, Blood everywhere, horribly bad acting, a dismembered penis, vaginas, tits, bad CGI special effects & a death count that can rival any gangster film times 100.

This isn't a film with suspense, it's a film with gross outs that takes pride in its cheap, gory thrills. Plot, acting and dialogue are replaced by horrific but goofy visuals that cannot help but shock the most primitive of viewers. Director Alejandre Aja has always relied on shock to make a point -he did These Hills Have Eyes & Haute Tension. This is the perfect vehicle for him, he doesn't have the flair, timing or patience to build his stories around character and instead resorts to graphic violence as a backup. There isn't an inch of smarts in Piranha 3D but what it lacks in brains it compensates with sheer horrid entertainment value. This isn't a film that its producers should be proud of but it is a film its audience can sink their teeth into. It's trash with class.

A restrospective. Ferrell.

If there ever was a way to explain The Other Guys- it'd be stupid funny. Then again that's what I think about most of Will Ferrell's comedies. Thin excuses for plot to let Ferrell rip it up with his own brand of physical comedy. Then again, the funniest scene in The Other Guys involves not Ferrell but Sam Jackson and The Rock as cocked up cops trying to jump over a roof and -supposedly- into a bush of trees. It's a rip roaringly funny scene that surprises and brings much needed humor to a hit and miss film. Ferrell has always been about hit and miss but at his best, the man can give his audience a hilariously dumbed down good time. Here's the best of his acting.

Zoolander (2001) ★★

As the evil Mugatu, he steals the show of this compulsively watchable but silly comedy starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. The Fashion industry is satirized as dim witted Zoolander (Stiller) pouts in every scene and freaks out at a Model Design school for the blind, thinking it is too small for children and rather for ants. Ferrell leads the way by ridiculing movie villains in his own unique and dopey eyed way, with a rather -umm- interestingly Poodle-esque hair do and Soul patch.

Old School (2003) ★★★

This is where Ferrell made everyone notice his talent for comedy. As Frank -The Tank- Richard, he made high art out of a married doofus with an unusual problem for streaking whenever under the influence of alcohol. Fraternities take center stage as he and his friends try to defeat an evil corrupt Dean who wants them and their antics out of his college. You can tell many of his Ferrell's were improvised and switched around in the last minute (a common occurrence in many of his films) & there's a natural feeling of comic relief to his work here. A movie that has gotten better with age and will surely give a chuckle or two to even the most stone cold of faces.

Elf (2003) ★★½

This is a great performance in an average movie. Here Ferrell decided to tackle an Elf sent out to New York City in order to find his true identity & his real parents. The movie starts off on a real high only to get bogged down by Christmas cliches in its last half hour or so. Here he finally became the superstar that would make him gain leading role status in some of Hollywood's biggest & brightest comedies. Elf was a money making bonanza that brought it all home for him. Best scene? Ferrell confronting a shopping mall Santa with both excitement and utter disappointment.

Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004) ★★★

Complete debauchery comes to fruition in this comedy about News teams. Ferrell plays an anchorman with a low tolerance for alcohol and a high tolerance for women. 70s Mustache included and featuring an all star comedy cast (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Frank Willard, Seth Rogan). Best scene (s)? The all star mash up and destructive battle royale of newscasters featuring some neat cameos by the Wilson's, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaugh & plenty of guts and gore. Predictable but oh so cool and awesome.

Kicking And Screaming (2005) ★★½

Just like the movies above, a barage of hit and miss jokes but who would want to miss watching Ferrell play a Soccer coaching nutjob to young elementary kids. Smoke a nice big one and laugh your ass off by just staring at Ferrell's face (small eyes + curly hair + round face =comic gold) In all seriousness, not much in the way of plot and filled with Sports movie cliches that kind of bog it down but a rather enjoyable mess.

The Wedding Crashers (2005) Movie: ★★½ Ferrell: ★★★★

Ok, I'm cheating a bit and of course he's in it for just 15 minutes but for those 15 minutes he literally makes this a worthwhile movie. As funeral crasher Chaz Reinhold, Ferrell lifts this comedy into the heavens and stamps his indelible mark on it as well. "Ma, The Meat Loaf" is a line that will forever be etched in my memory. I can't think of a funnier cameo in a very long time & truly think this is the very best thing he has done in his career. Best Scene (s)? Every one he's in.

Talladega Nights (2006) ★★★

THE most quoted Ferrell movie in my books. A satire on the speed car racing world, Talladega is like being front stage at a Lynyrd Skynyrd show with angel wings. John C Reilly and Ferrell shake it and bake it enough to show the audience they got some major chemistry going on here- so much so that they teamed up again 2 years later for Step Brothers. (See Below) Sacha Baron Cohen also contributes hilarity as a French Formula Un driver. This is known as Ferrell's best movie & -in my opinion- it kind of is.

Step Brothers (2008) ★★½

Coming off duds like Semi Pro and Blades of Glory (remember those?), Ferrell decided to tag team again with John C Reilly as enemy Step Brothers, to catch the glory days they had in Talladega Nights. There's not much in the way of plot and this was instead a showcase for Ferrell and Reilly's comedic and improvisational talents. lower tier Ferrell.

Quick Note- Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

There is so much going on in every frame of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, that one viewing may not be enough to take everything in. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead/ Hot Fuzz) has made one of the more visually stunning pictures I've seen so far this year. He fills every single frame of the movie with something eye popping or original. His movie is not for everybody and will please a certain crowd, but I couldn't help and enjoy its inventiveness & eye popping visuals. If you grew up with video games of the 80's, you will rejoice in the catchy one liners and visual gags that Wright has created here. If Mr Wright's movie may seem to be lacking emotional context all throughout its running time & feels ever so slight, its final scene embarks on the emotions that come within a relationship. Well worth checking out.

Fall Movie Preview

Spill out your popcorn, Summer is almost over and Fall is upon us. Which means two things. One, The leaves are falling & two, The good movies are coming. If this was one of the limpest & most uninspiring summer movie seasons to date, The upcoming fall movie season looks to be delivering the goods we've been waiting for. I've picked the 14 movies that I believe have the best chance at all the year end awards. There will surely be surprises and disappointments but these are the ones that seem the finest from the outside looking in. For the next 4 months we will visit new worlds created by auteurs such as David Fincher, The Coen Brothers, Clint Eastwood, Danny Boyle, Mike Leigh, Sofia Coppola, Darren Aronofsky, David O Russell, Peter Weir, Terrence Malick & Julian Schnabel. Compare that to summer, when we only had Christopher Nolan and an Animated toy movie to save the day.

1) The American (September 1st)

Kicking off the Fall Movie season on September 1st is The American directed by Anton Corbijn (Control). George Clooney stars as an American assassin hiding out in an Italian countryside and falling for a local woman. Director Corbijn has said his film is "incredibly European", inspired by European cinema of the mid 70's. Clooney's sniper is isolated from all things American while waiting for his next hit. An all European cast completes the movie, leaving Clooney as the lone yankee wolf. Judging by the already released trailer, Corbijn has created a role that might just give Clooney another nomination come Oscar time.

2) The Social Network (October 1st)

If there's one movie that has the chance to go all the way it's David Fincher's The Social Network, inspired by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg's rise to fame with close to a billion dollars of earnings to date. Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) doesn't flinch and make Zuckerberg look like an American hero, instead he focuses on the back stabbing & blackmailing that happened amongst his Harvard student friends & mentors. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Zuckerberg and is helped out by -gosh- Justin Timberlake in a youthful cast. Fincher's last movie -Benjamin Button- hit it big with Oscar but fizzled with critics, something tells me he's back on their side again with this one, especially considering Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) wrote the screenplay. This is going to be heavy, dramatic stuff- then again with Fincher, when isn't it?

3) Hereafter (October 22nd)

Clint Eastwood turned 80 this past summer, which is all the more astonishing when you realize all the great stuff he's made during the past decade (Mystic River, Gran Torino). He looks to continue his impressive streak with The New York Film Festival's closing night film, Hereafter, a supernatural mosaic of interlocking stories that centers around relationships, acting & death. Hollywood loves Clint and by loving him I mean they shower him with their finest awards. If Hereafter -starring Matt Damon & Bryce Dallas Howard- gets well received press and decent box office, it will surely bring Eastwood many more nominations to his -already- phenomenal career.

4) 127 Hours (November 5th)

Danny Boyle was already working on pre production for 127 Hours, when he won his Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire in early 2009. To say his new film is a complete 360 would be an understatement. Leaving the slums of India, Boyle pursues mountain climbing in Utah and decides to tell the true story of Aron Ralston. Ralston cut off his own arm in 2003, after having it stuck under a boulder in an isolated, mountainous cavern. Ralston -played by James Franco- spent 127 hours in a cavern, with no food or water at his disposal. In telling a true story of relentless courage & strength, Boyle might just get another film and directing nomination come January.

5) Fair Game (November 5th)

Fair Game debuted at Cannes in early may & brought back strong buzz to the States. Competing in the Official competition at la croisette, Doug Liman's movie is only getting stronger & stronger word of mouth as the months pass by until its release. The fact that it's based on a true story of political conspiracy helps its chances, so does the fact that Sean Penn stars as a New York Times Reporter and Naomi Watts as his wife and covert CIA agent. Watts gets exposed by the White House administration because of a WMD article posted by her husband. This has got all the right pieces to be a contender & did I mention Watts and Penn?

6) True Grit (December 25th)

Those Kooky Coens have a way of always making art out of the absurd (Remember A Serious Man last year?) but there's nothing absurd about their latest film True Grit. As far as I'm concerned they have never made a boring movie in their 27 years of filmmaking. Co-Starring Jeff Bridges & Matt Damon as Marshalls, Grit is based on the same book that inspired the 1968 John Wayne film of the same name but according to them, this film is a completely different animal- cleverly adapted to match the Coens' wit and darkness. It's something the Coens haven't tackled yet -The Western- & here's hoping it's as devilishly clever as A Serious Man and not as sour and slight as The Hudsucker Proxy.

7) The Tempest (December 10th)

I'm putting this film on the list just because it will be part of the prestigious New York Film Festival in October. The organizers of the event tend to be accurate in their film selections and selecting visionary director Julie Taymor newest film The Temptest (based on Shakespeare's play of the same name) is a cause for celebration. Starring Hellen Mirren -the queen herself-Academy voters might or might not go for Taymor's epic but I've dug the play for so long and it will be a blast catching Taymor's vision of it- she is a maverick amongst hollywood hacks. December can't come sooner enough.

8) Another Year (December 31st)

British auteur Mike Leigh should never be discounted from an annual Oscar race. His movies, ranging from the darkly relevant Naked to the highly acclaimed Secrets & lies are cornerstones of any Cinema fan's DVD collection. Garnering nothing but rave reviews at Cannes, Another Year is destined to be a great success for Leigh. He tackles -yet again- the London middle class with a flair and wisdom only he can pull off. There might a sense of deja vu but Leigh always pulls out the stops in every film he does. Another Year might look small but it tackles emotions that cannot be described and are as big as life itself.

9) Somewhere (December 22nd)

Sofia Coppola was the toast of the town, she made a personal film called Lost In Translation & captured critics nationwide with her style and touching masterpiece. All of Hollywood wanted a piece of her, until she made Marie Antoinette- which bombed both at the box office and with the press. Since that debacle, Coppola has been unheard of and decided to work on her next feature film (her first one in 4 years). Somewhere -just like Lost In Translation- takes place in a hotel but instead of Tokyo, Los Angeles' Chateau Marmont takes it place. The hotel is renowned in its reputation of being filled up by hipsters and A-List celebrities. Stephen Dorff stars as a partying celeb that needs to focus on more important priorities when his estranged 11 year old daughter (Elle Fanning) appears out of nowhere and into his life.

10) Blue Valentine (December 31st)

If you didn't find Scott Pilgrim Vs The World to be all that realistic about relationships, then this movie is for you. Blue Valentine focuses on a 6 year reltionaship -Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams play the lovebirds-with its ups and downs. It garnered raves at numerous film fests, ranging from Sundance all the way to Cannes. The Supremes song Where Did Our Love Go was supposedly an inspiration for the movie's themes and yearnings. If there's one small Independant feature that can come out on top this year, it's this one.

11) Black Swan (December 1st)

A Psychological thriller set in the Ballet world? I'm intrigued. Add director Darren Aronofsky, Nathalie Portman as a ballerina and I'm sold. Aronofsky's last movie -The Wrestler- revived Mickey Rourke's career and was the best film of its given year, which means expectations are through the roof that his new movie will be nothing short of spectacular. Details are very hush hush as to its plot and I bet it will stay that way until the movie's release on the first day of December. My prediction? Portman may just have a shot at Best Actress with this one & Aronofsky will make another bold, spectacular movie.

12) The Fighter (December 10th)

Mark Whalberg invested so much in his role as Boxer Micky Ward, that he spent 5 years bringing boxing equipment in numerous movie sets. He'd practice his boxing during break time or off days, to perfect a role what was -in a way- his dream role. Add director David O Russell (Three Kings) to the mix and you have the perfect duo to make a great movie. Ward had a famous comeback in the 90's that cemented his legacy as a great fighter. Like every boxer featured in film, Ward had trials and tribulations that were almost operatic & Whalberg -a close friend of Ward's- made sure to capture this flawed man. The keen political and satirical eye Russell showed us in Three Kings is long gone here, what we are left with are the ups and downs of a flawed man's life & the battles he faces. This could be Whalberg's biggest chance at an Oscar.

13) Miral (December TBA)

After making The Diving & The Butterfly, Painter/filmmaker Julian Schnabel decided to tackle another depressing subject, that of an orphaned Palestinian girl isolated right in the middle of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It's a tough subject to handle and I have confidence Schnabel will be able to not side and just tell the story as it is, if he does so he could have a winner here. It's getting released in Europe this september and in North America this December. Frieda Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire stars.

14) Tree Of Life (November TBA)

Here's the biggie this fall. Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days Of Heaven) -a legendary director- brings us Tree Of Life starring Brad Pitt & Sean Penn. It's enough to make any movie fan drool out of excitement. We know nothing of the plot & have yet to see a single scene but there's something defining and momentous in having the names Penn/Pitt/Malick within the same sentence. Malick has worked on Tree Of life for nearly 5 years and you can rest assured his style and natural touch will be on display here yet again. His sense of wonderment about nature and the human connection is one of a kind & unmatched. This is a perfect example of what distinguishes Fall movies from Summer movies, there's a sense of purpose and -more importantly- a sense of artful integrity that would be missing in the dog days of summer. Malick will surely remind us that when his picture opens in December.

from Graphic Novel to screen...

Don't kid yourself, it's not that easy to reproduce a graphic novel into a feature length film. Some valuable efforts have come and go but there aren't many that have duplicated the feel & intensity to turn the page in anticipation of what's going to happen next. The latest to try this arduous task is Scott Pillgrim Vs The World, which does what no other movie has done before- recreate the authenticity of holding a comic book and the visual gags that come with it. I have yet to see it but its director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz & Shaun Of The Dead) seems to have made visual eye candy out of -well- visual candy.

Many film fans would kill me if I didn't mention Sin City, which no matter how visually delighting or visionary it might have been, had its faults & was the product of a director that was trying to hard to please both film fans and graphic novel enthusiasts. The result? a mixed bag which had its highs but also had its lows because of its lack of substance and pulp obsession. Director Robert Rodriguez's style for the picture was astounding, using mostly black and white cinematography and occasional shots of eye popping yellow & red (to name a few). It's a violent and completely unnecessary picture- a graphic geek's wet dream & all the better for it. A sequel is in the works but has been postponed countless times in the last few years, let's hope second time's the charm.

Those of you that have caught up with this year's crop of movies will surely be reminded of Kick Ass, which was not as stylish as the films listed above but still had its own defining way of telling the story, every once in a while using comic book squares to remind of time going by or location. Its violent comic book root was also kept intact in celluloid, even enraging the most popular of critics Roger Ebert, who wrote that Kick Ass -which features a violent 10 year old superhero spurting offences & chopping people in pieces- was "morally reprehensible". He might be right but then again, all graphic novels are & they might just not care about that. So do its fans, which invite the overdone violence as a real come on.

Of course, there could familiarity when remembering movies such as 300 & V For Vendetta were first based of a graphic novel but many do not have the slightest clue about the source material & the fact that it was actually much more violent on page than on screen. With 300 , a craze came out of Hollywood for more novels to get translated. I never really understood the love that came with Zach Snyder's movie about the sparta, it was too corny and crass to fully engage me in a convenient manner. Then again, the 300 million dollars it made makes the makers of this film completely oblivious to my own opinion of their movie. No matter, I'd rather watch paint dry than encounter their trashy film again.

Not everything based on the graphic novel must be violent and totally devoid of a brain. I can thin of three examples that fit the bill of my theory. First off is American Splendor, which came off based upon late cartoonist Harvey Pekar's life and gave birth to an ingeniously inventive film starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar & Hope Davis as his wife. The fact that not many saw this movie, only enhances the fact that not every comic book based movie will make money. Ditto Ghost World, which might just be the best and most haunting comic book movie Ive ever seen. There are no ghosts and this is not a horror movie. Instead it's based on Robert R. Crumb's cult comic book of the same name, which has to do with two graduating high school outcasts that do not know what to do with their lives, they are stuck in their own Ghost World, a place where only their way of life and assumptions are correct. It's a beauty of a movie that won critical acclaim but did not make any movie.

& what to make of Sam Mendes and his Road To Perdition, a film that is starting to look more and more as one of his only good ones (along with American Beauty). Its style compared to all the other titles mentioned above is simple and cinematic, a hybrid of the kind of filmmaking directors in the 1970's used to revel in doing. It's one of the forgotten gems of the past 10 years, which leaves me clueless as to why this has happened. If you haven't seen Mendes' film, you're in for a real treat.


If your taste varies around spy thrillers, then don't be shy to check out french film Farewell, which just got a limited release in Los Angeles & New York a week ago. Its main stars are notably well talented filmmakers (Emir Kusturica & Guillaume Canet) & its subject concerns the very end of the cold war and how a spy literally ended it, all on his own. Gripping stuff. I wrote about it in The Concordian a year ago when I was covering a French Montreal film fest, that can be checked out HERE. I'll be back later on to review the new Arcade Fire record, which is just really awesome & should be bought by all rock music geeks.

More stuff I've written

Go over to Sasha Stone's delightful website AwardsDaily to find my review of Get Low starring Robert Duvall & Bill Murray. It's over at the Contender Tracker section but can be found by just clicking on HERE.

The World According to Pheonix

When I first started to notice that Something was off with Joaquin Pheonix early last year, I wasn't alone. From his infamous appearance on David Letterman to his Hip Hop club gigs, the guy was clearly losing it. Well -in the same vein as Borat- he was being filmed the entire time for a documentary by Ben's brother Casey Affleck, Hoax? Is the joke on us? No idea but what I do know is that this should be an entertaining mocumentary about how one of the great actors of our generation -Watch Two Lovers !- completely lost his mind for the sake of art. The above image is the first poster available for the upcoming Doc coming out later this year. You can also find the aforementioned Letterman interview by clicking HERE & his unusual club gigs by clicking HERE. Or how about just renting one of last year's best films Two Lovers to see why he's one of the great actors of our generation.

An Image 08/03/10

Jennifer Connelly in Darren Aronofsky's mosiac Requiem For A Dream. A movie that felt like Film School 101 and was largely overpraised by most critics. Check it out only to find how talent -no matter how immature- can be glimpsed at in a messy effort. Nevertheless, it showed a true talent getting ready for the big time. Aronofsky would later make The Wrestler, the only film of his I genuinely love featuring a never better Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. He releases Black Swan starring Nathalie Portman and filled with buzz in the fall.