Archive for March, 2009

scene of the week: Teresa Taylor in “Slacker”

Words cannot express how great this scene is:

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better late than never

rachel_getting_married_mainI guess I’m pretty late to hop on the bandwagon for this movie, but anyone who hasn’t should make it a priority to see Rachel Getting Married. It is an immaculate piece of filmmaking, organic and honest to a degree that is extremely rare in American cinema. Jonathan Demme directed, and his work is deft and utterly fearless – the majority of the movie is shot on shaky handheld and filmed in a single house, the story revolving around Anne Hathaway’s character, Kym, as she returns from rehab after nine months just as her sister, Rachel, (a pitch-perfect Rosemarie DeWitt) is preparing to get married. But to call this just another story of recovery from drug addiction would be a gross-oversimplification – Demme, aided by a harmonic, flawless script from first-time writer Jenny Lumet, handles the human drama with an arresting, exacting grace; it is to his great credit that he chooses to trust his actors to be handle the many long, dialogue heavy scenes and to endow them with the necessary weight. And indeed, the film is superbly acted on all fronts: bit players Tunde Adebimpe, Bill Irwin and Mather Zickel all give vital performances. And for all that has been made of Anne Hathaway‘s performance, her work is remarkable, brave and deeply felt.

But what really surprised me was that Rachel Getting Married turned out to be so much more than just a very good character piece. For as frightening and perfectly played as Kym is, the film itself is has a kind of Chekhovian vision which has become ever-so-scarce in American cinema; Jarmusch‘s Broken Flowers, Linklater‘s Before Sunset, and Darren Aronofsky‘s recent The Wrestler are some of the only recent films that have accomplished something similar. In the face of many of the films that have garnered major praise in the last year or so – the grandiose, over-thought Synecdoche, New York, the stilted Vicky Christina Barcelona, or the woefully predictable, toothless Slumdog MillionaireRachel Getting Married feels like a minor revelation. I defy you to watch how the camera tracks Kym’s hesitant, insecure movements through the hallways of her own house while the wedding’s string band rehearses in the yard outside, the imperfect sound winding in through the windows, and not be moved by the scene’s startling artistry. The entire film is like this – perfectly, lovingly made and respectful of its characters to the highest degree.

at last…

quantumsolaceposter21A few new titles on the shelves today…

Quantum Of Solace: The 22nd (official) James Bond flick. A small confession: I haven’t seen either of Daniel Craig‘s turns as 007 (the other being the franchise’s supposed return to form, Casino Royale. I’m remedying the situation as we speak… and honestly, is that Chris Cornell singing the theme? Yikes.)

Cadillac Records: This one was semi-decent! Basically the story of the birth of Chess Records – Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James etc. Not too maudlin (but yeah, a little…) and some solid performances from Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright and Eamonn Walker. Even Beyoncé Knowles was pretty good, pretty much nailing Etta James. (Mos Def as Chuck Berry did not work, however.)

Twilight: The inevitable movie adaptation of the tween-sensation vampire novel(s). Someone other than me should be writing about this one, as there is very little chance I will ever see it. But a lot of people, evidently, are way into it.

Gardens Of The Night: Haven’t seen this one either, but it sounds interesting. The story is that of two street-kids, both of whom were abducted as children, and now have fallen in together and are trying to figure out how to have a real relationship in the face of their horrific past experiences. On my list.

psychomania!

psychomaniaA 100% awesome biker flick from the early 70’s, replete with a merciless gang of teenage zombie bikers, some kind of weird super-undead frog with mythical powers, and a truly great early-Sabbath-esque soundtrack that’s used to fantastic effect. I threw this one on just yesterday after a customer returned it, and was blown away. The premise is essentially that this group of bikers have figured out a way to cheat death, wherein – upon dying – they are reborn immortal. In order to achieve said immortality, all they have to do is believe that, at the moment of their death, they are not truly going die. Amazing. As you might imagine, this makes for some pretty fantastic suicide scenes, a couple of which are weirdly poignant. No pussyfooting here: the gang all wear leather jackets emblazoned with “The Living Dead” on their backs. They drive through brick walls and terrorize a grocery store. One of them even drives his hog out of his own grave. Highly recommended.

Watch the opening below, and dig the music:

it starts with a gal and ends with a kiss

Acme has a pretty solid collection of stand-up performances on DVD: classic George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Chris Rock, as well as a bunch of newer and more obscure stuff. I just recently watched Zach Galifianakis: Live At The Purple Onion, which I highly recommend you check out. Not only flat-out hilarious, but also an example of the rare instance when a comedian elevates his craft to something more akin to performance art than just simple joke-telling. Galifianakis downs beers, berates the audience, and is brutally self-deprecating throughout; and while he clearly has some jokes lined up, a lot of the performance comes off as being ad libbed, and is better for it. The DVD is intercut with scenes from a kind of mock road-trip as well as an interview with Zach Galifianakis’s “twin.” Very funny. But the stand-up itself is pure gold.

Just a taste:

amazingly bad: Nick Cage in “The Wicker Man”

This was just too good not to post. Actually a remake of the 1973 version, a classic in its own right. Anyone else seen any fantastically bad movies lately? I know Acme carries Plan 9 From Outer Space

Without further ado:

also just in: Milk

milk_movie_poster1Just realized we’ve got Gus Van Sant‘s Milk on our shelves. Very much worth your time if you haven’t seen it – a bit mawkish at times, but overall a very well-done telling of the story. And superbly acted on all fronts; the cast is pretty incredible.

n.b.: Gus Van Sant also directed the fairly-recently-released Paranoid Park. That movie didn’t get as much attention as Milk, though in many ways it’s probably a superior piece of filmmaking. Fans of Van Sant’s Elephant, Gerry, or Last Days should definitely take note of this one.