2004 log (3)

(2 Mar) One from the Heart (1982, Francis Ford Coppola) 57
[ Coppola’s follow-up to his masterpiece “Apocalypse Now” was a spectacular box-office and critical failure, and you can kinda see why. “One from the Heart” is uneven and oddly stylized, like some sort of highly theatrical live television drama, Frederic Forrest and Teri Garr aren’t very exciting in the leads and the characters they play are hard to follow and care about as they fall in and out of love over and over. On the other hand, the movie does have delightful supporting turns by Raul Julia and Nastassja Kinski, a great Tom Waits song score and brilliantly colourful and inventive cinematography. It’s a failure alright, but a darn interesting one. ]

(3 Mar) Infernal Affairs (2002, Andrew Lau & Alan Mak) 83
[ Word is that Marty Scorsese wants to remake this huge Hong Kong hit with Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt (can you hear the sound of panties moistening already?). Here the stars are Tony Leung as a cop infiltrated in the Triads and Andy Lau as a Triad member infiltrated in the police department, each frantically trying to unmask the other first. “Infernal Affairs” is a very intricate, superbly crafted cat-and-mouse game filled with suspenseful sequences but also strong character moments taking an intriguing, ambiguous look at people with double lives – good guys doing bad deeds, bad ones doing good… Like in any film there is room for improvement, but Scorsese’s certainly got his work cut out for him. ]

(4 Mar) Make Money. Salut, Bonsoir! (2004, Martin Frigon, Christian Fournier) 61
[ This touching documentary depicts the harsh reality of corporations who set up in small towns, rack up millions while working the people nearly to death, then pack up and leave without saying thanks. Co-directors Martin Frigon and Christian M. Fournier give a voice to the angry, bitter former workers of the Noranda mine as they watch their native Murdochville crumble apart while most of them suffer of pulmonary diseases. “Make Money…” is being presented with “Le Grand Dérangement”, in which Jean-Claude Labrecque returns to St-Paulin Dalibaire 30 years after shooting “Les Smattes” to witness that folks still lament the forced closing of their community. ]

(4 Mar) Six Feet Under – “Pilot” (2001, Alan Ball) 92
[ “How’s it going?”
“Great, great… My father’s dead, my mom’s a whore, my brother wants to kill me and my sister’s on crack…”
I waited a long time to jump on the “Six Feet Under” bandwagon, the whole TV-on-DVD thing in fact. Too much hype, I guess; could these HBO shows be that good? This is just good old disposable TV, right? Oh boy, how wrong I was. “Six Feet Under” is as good as I’ve heard, at least this hour-long pilot is bloody brilliant, miles above most of what’s playing in theatres. It’s got better writing, better direction, better acting… If this was a movie it’d be sure to make my year-end Top Ten; as is, I’m curious and excited to know that I’ve got 12 more hours to enjoy with these great characters, and that’s only Season One! ]

(5 Mar) Starsky & Hutch (2004, Todd Phillips) [ review ] 28

(5, 6, 7, 8 Mar) Six Feet Under – “1.2 – 1.10” (2001, various) 93
[ Oh my God, this just gets better and better! Wonderful dialogue, constant insights and surprises and the best ensemble cast you could hope for. I simply adore this family, how they’re always around death yet so full of life nonetheless… Special mention must also be made of David’s black cop boyfriend and Nathaniel’s quirky genius “fuck puppet”, they just might be the greatest thing in this great show. ]

(8 Mar) Le Dernier Tunnel (2004, Érik Canuel) 49
[ Here’s further proof that we can make brainless and violent flicks as well as Hollywood, and on the cheap, too. This by-the-numbers heist flick is populated by walking clichés: the career criminal who won’t quit, the decrepit old pro, the hard-ass moneylender, the eager new kid, the wild card, the long-suffering girlfriend, the ball-busting parole officer… This is a B-movie all the way, but the cast (led by Michel Côté and Jean Lapointe) is solid and director Érik Canuel’s got a way with pop-up visuals. If you’re gonna watch trash, might as well make it local. ]

(8, 9 Mar) Six Feet Under – “1.11 – 1.13” (2001, various) 91
[ Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Rachel Griffiths, Mathew St. Patrick, Freddy Rodriguez… I love youse guys. Can’t wait for Season 2 to come out on DVD. ]

(9 Mar) Mean Streets (1973, Martin Scorsese) 84
(10 Mar) The King of Comedy (1983, Martin Scorsese) 86
(10 Mar) Who’s that Knocking at my Door? (1968, Martin Scorsese) 60
(10 Mar) Boxcar Bertha (1972, Martin Scorsese) 37
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(11 Mar) The Company (2003, Robert Altman) [ review ] 53

(12 Mar) The Color of Money (1986, Martin Scorsese) 75
(13 Mar) Kundun (1997, Martin Scorsese) 87
(14 Mar) Alice doesn’t live here anymore (1974, Martin Scorsese) 52
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(15 Mar) Le Temps du loup (2003, Michael Haneke) 40
[ A well-off French woman (Isabelle Huppert) and her children find themselves drifting through unexplained desolation and end up in a refugee camp where food, water and hope are scarce. This is a punishing watch, even by Haneke standards. It’s skilfully crafted and effectively depressing, but it feels pointlessly abstract. Making a realistic, zombie-free end of the world tale is an interesting attempt, but films like “The Omega Man” and “28 days later” explore the same themes in a much more potent way. ]

(15 Mar) Kedma (2002, Amos Gitaï) 44
[ Seems slow and aimless for half of its running time, but the last stretch is riveting and thought-provoking. Set in 1948 as Jews leave a war in Europe only to get into another one in Palestine, the film gives the impression that Israel was a mess from the get-go. It’s disconcerting to watch the film’s characters go from victims in exile to armed aggressors who force Arabs into an exile of their own. The climactic dual monologues (one by an Israeli, one by a Palestinian) are brilliant, too bad it takes so long to get there. ]

(15 Mar) New York, New York (1977, Martin Scorsese) 71
(16 Mar) The Age of Innocence (1993, Martin Scorsese) 49
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(17 Mar) Taxi Driver (1976, Marin Scorsese) [ review ] 100

(18 Mar) The Fog of War (2003, Errol Morris) [ review ] 84

(19 Mar) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry) [ review ] 94

(20 Mar) Live Nude Girls Unite! (2000, Julia Query) 62
[ Candid, eye-opening documentary about peep show strippers struggling to unionize and negociate better work conditions for themselves. It’s pretty great how we get to see exotic dancers fully clothed yet emotionally naked – much of the “plot” hinges on director Query’s difficult coming out as a sex worker to her mother. “No contract, no pussy!” ]

(22 Mar) Jersey Girl (2004, Kevin Smith) [ review ] 55

(23 Mar) La Peau Blanche (2004, Daniel Roby) [ review ] 69

(24 Mar) The Return of the King (2003, Peter Jackson) [ review ] 95

(25 Mar) Masters of the Universe (1987, Gary Goddard) 33
[ Damn, this brings back a lot of memories. When I was a kid, I was into Masters of the Universe cartoons and action figures more than anything (except maybe G.I. Joe). Even then I thought the big screen adaptation was kinda cheesy, but still enjoyable for fanboys like myself. This is basically a cross between “Conan the Barbarian” and “Star Wars”, but with rotten writing, cheap-ass special effects and spectacularly bad acting from Dolph Lundgren in full beefcake super-hero regalia, Frank Lagella playing Skeletor under a ridiculous rubber mask and even Courteney Cox as an American teenager who stumbles into the epic battle for the control of the Castle of Greyskull. This shit makes the Power Rangers look like the Lord of the Rings, but it’s pure guilty pleasure. “I – HAAAVE – DA – POWAAAAA!” ]

(26 Mar) Human Nature (2002, Michel Gondry) 21
[ How can the same writer and the same director create an all-out masterpiece in one case and an utter misfire in another? Whereas Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry’s warped minds perfectly fused through “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” into a film that’s funny, moving and thought-provoking, their earlier “Human Nature” is all WACKY! ideas for the sake of WACKY! ideas. Patricia Arquette covered with fur, Tim Robbins teaching mice table manners, Rhys Ifans as a dude raised as an ape… Might sound amusing, but it’s not. ]

(27 Mar) Comedian (2002, Christian Charles) 76
[ It’s odd to see Jerry Seinfeld with his game off, not performing well-rehearsed stand-up or “acting” as a TV variation of himself. In this documentary, we see Jerry struggle with new bits, bomb on stage, doubt himself… Even though he’s f’n Seinfeld! The film also follows rising young comic Orny Adams, who’s alternately cocky as hell and miserable. “Comedian” is full of laughs, obviously, bit what comes through the most is the agony of needing to get those laughs to make a living. ]

(29 Mar) Führer Ex (2002, Winfried Bonengel) 32
[ Two angry young men in ‘80s East Berlin are arrested while trying to cross over into the West. Stuck in a prison full of sexual predators, they side with neo-nazis in what seems like the lesser of two evils, but eventually they realise that supposedly lesser evil is still, you know, evil. Such is the simplistic lesson of this painfully manipulative piece of skinheadxploitation. It takes complicated socio-political issues and reduces them into an inconsistent after-school special that’s brutally violent one minute, touchy-feely the next, always unpleasant. ]

(29 Mar) Alien³ (1992, David Fincher) 37
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(30 Mar) The Ladykillers (2004, the Coen brothers) [ review ] 68

(30 Mar) Se7en (1995, David Fincher) [ review ] 93

(31 Mar) The Game (1997, David Fincher) [ review ] 52

(31 Mar) Fight Club (1999, David Fincher) [ review ] 94

February / April