Mutilated mutandis: Margaret

Maybe Fox Searchlight won after all: anyone who cares about Margaret will buy the recently released Blu Ray and watch the 180-minute cut. For the rest of us who haven’t seen it (yet), I’ll trust what Hans Morganstern wrote about its power. The extant version, sad to say, is a heap. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s depictionContinue reading “Mutilated mutandis: Margaret”

The plague years: We Were Here

A shattering portrait of lives ravaged by the AIDS epidemic during a period when federal dollars were short and misguided fears long, the documentary We Were Here clarifies for the young (i.e. anyone like me born after, say, 1970) how the plague decimated the San Francisco gay male population (more than 15,000 deaths by theContinue reading “The plague years: We Were Here”

Blood makes noise: Coriolanus

Playing Voldemort has done wonders for Ralph Fiennes’ acting. No longer burdened with projecting warmth, for which he has neither talent nor forbearance, he can concentrate on the lethal hatred he can squeeze out of his impenetrable blue eyes. Making his directorial debut in John Logan’s adaptation of Coriolanus, Fiennes emphasizes the lacquered, oblong surfacesContinue reading “Blood makes noise: Coriolanus”

Female trouble: Pariah

Although like most coming-out movies the imaginative conceptions are hardly compensatory once the autobiographical material is consumed, Pariah is worth watching for the milieu and the wide-awake performance of young Adepero Oduye (the title is its most histrionic element).  A straight A high school senior who dabbles in poetry, Alike (Oduye) has been comfortable withContinue reading “Female trouble: Pariah”

A crying shame

The sort of movie for which lazy writing exists. Let’s list the adjectives: “devastating,” “frank,” “raw,” and, my favorite, “Dantean.” The second movie in which Michael Fassbender offers his flesh to director Steve McQueen’s fetishization, Shame shows a New York paralyzed by color schemes of gray and periwinkle blue. In case you don’t get thatContinue reading “A crying shame”

Cruising: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise wears a mustache and speaks Boris Badunov Russian, destroys a quarter of the Kremlin, climbs skyscrapers like Spider Man, remembers to wear wraparound sunglasses through a sandstorm in Dubai, and shares a car with a grim Jeremy Renner — anything, anything to turn us and skeptical Hollywood casting agents on. To say thatContinue reading “Cruising: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”

A girl in trouble: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A bearded, obese lech is tortured in the nude. Daniel Craig scowls at scraps of paper with writing on them; Stellan Skarsgård, wearing impeccable sweaters and drinking red wine, wanly smiles as if at a joke he won’t share. As the title character Rooney Mara, dressed and made up like Karen O imitating one ofContinue reading “A girl in trouble: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Middle-aged angst has paid off well: Melancholia

Almond-eyed ad rep Justine (Kirsten Dunst) turns into the white-winged dove of Stevie Nicks’ fantasies when Earth’s imminent collision with an undiscovered blue planet threatens her marriage to a colorless hunk (Alexander Skarsgard). Writer-director Lars Von Trier, whose fetish for sadism is surpassed only by Michael Haneke, keeps the film light by keeping one hoodedContinue reading “Middle-aged angst has paid off well: Melancholia”

I can’t stand’em: The Artist

Now that The Artist has joined the pantheon of bores, Glenn Kenny tries to destroy a popular canard: I understand that everyone’s kind of sick of yammering on about the relative assets and liabilities of The Artist, but I have to admit that one not-unpleasant sidebar of all the yammering is that Singin’ in theContinue reading “I can’t stand’em: The Artist”

Terms of mistreatment: 50/50

Directed by Jonathan Levine from a script based on true life by Will Reiser, 50/50 is the sort of movie in which scenes gleam like newly minted clichés. A morning scene between Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, henceforth known as JGL) and girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard) emits the kind of domestic tranquility created so that theContinue reading “Terms of mistreatment: 50/50”

Method to his madness: A Dangerous Method

The immediate pleasure offered by A Dangerous Method is literate dialogue. Adapting his own play, Christopher Hampton makes Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) not a pillar so much as a stalk of rectitude and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) a droll ironist addicted to cigars and ascending octaves. A reputation for high-toned gore has shadowed David Cronenberg’sContinue reading “Method to his madness: A Dangerous Method”

Hope and deranged: The Ides of March

In which sandpapery-voiced political consultant Steve Meyers (Ryan Gosling) realizes that the Democratic governor and candidate for president (George Clooney) is a louse, and, as a bonus, realizes that he’s a louse too. That’s all that’s at stake in what Tim Robbins’ louse of a Hollywood executive in The Player would classify as a cynicalContinue reading “Hope and deranged: The Ides of March”