2012 log (5)

(9 May) Aliens (1986, James Cameron) [ review ] 92

(11 May)  Casino  (1995, Martin Scorsese)  [ review ] 92

(16 May)  Laurence Anyways   (2012, Xavier Dolan) [ review ] 50

(17 May) Bloody Fight in Iron-Rock Valley (2012, Lee Moo Saeng)
[ As soon as he’s released from prison, a mysterious man (Lee Moo-saeng) sets out to find a series of shady characters with whom he has unfinished business. Carrying a music box as a reminder of what they took away from him years ago, the motorcycle-riding stranger returns to Gangwon, the South Korean province where it all began and where it will all end, one way or another. While tracking down the thugs led by the cruel Ghostface (Yoon Sang-hwa), our nameless hero crosses paths with an alluring young woman involved with both the local gambling house and a nearby Buddhist temple. She soon has reasons of her own to desire vengeance. In BLOODY FIGHT IN IRON-ROCK VALLEY, we see people get beaten up with a hammer, tortured, stabbed…One poor soul even has a blowtorch jammed in his mouth and lit up – and that’s just during the first ten minutes! Before the opening titles have even had time to appear on screen, first-time writer-director Ji Ha-jean has not only introduced his badass protagonist and the film’s loathsome villains, he’s also made sure to make us understand that we’re in for an intense, merciless journey. Set in in a corrupt province where construction industry bosses hobnob with organized crime and scheme to exploit natural resources (nothing that we could possibly be familiar with here in Quebec, right?), BLOODY FIGHT IN IRON-ROCK VALLEY thus adds a political subtext to the core revenge story. In addition, the foggy mountain backdrop and guitar-driven score give an atmospheric quality to this low-budget but high-octane production. As a modern-day Man with No Name, Lee Moo-saeng doesn’t say much but subtly conveys his character’s stormy emotional baggage, and when he confronts the many evil bastards who populate the film, his steely resolve is chillingly imposing. ]

(19 May) Whatever Works (2009, Woody Allen) 72 
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(25 May) Jackpot (2012, Magnus Martens)

(26 May) Slackers (2002, Dewey Nicks) 29
[ Here’s a spectacularly badly written and directed post-”American Pie” sex comedy, starring lame, white-bread Devon Sawa and James King… Why did I bother watching it? Two words: Jason Segel. I just adore the guy, he’s pretty much my favourite comedy actor these days, and it’s a hoot to watch him in this early performance from a little while after he played in “Freaks and Geeks,” even though the movie as a whole blows. I also enjoyed Jason Schwartzman’s fully committed performance as a little psychotic stalker nerd who should be, well, fully committed. Laura Prepon also has her moments, and I guess it’s worth noting that both Gina Gershon and Cameron Diaz have uncredited cameos… Though the most memorable bit part has to be the one by 1950s sex symbol Mamie Van Doren, still getting topless at 70-some years old, heh. ]

(29 May) Cosmopolis (2012, David Cronenberg) 92 
[ Now, this is what I call visionnary sci-fi – even though the bulk of the film is made up of scenes of people sitting and talking in a car. I mean, that’s the future: not spaceships, but the back of a stretch limousine filled with touch screens, where a twentysomething billionaire does business with various associates en route while, outside the limo’s bulletproof windows, the world is in chaos. Even though it’s based on a 2003 Don DeLillo novel that predates the Occupy Wall Street movement, Cosmopolis captures the current zeitgeist, what with its protagonist being very much the 1% and the people protesting in the streets of New York he’s being driven through or directly assaulting him embodying the 99%. Jam-packed with fascinating, brilliantly worded, often downright philosophical dialogue about contemporary economics and capitalism as well as life in the 21st century in general, Cosmopolis is also a darkly satirical, ultimately oddly moving character study of a not only functionnal but spectacularly successful sociopath. As such, it reminded me somewhat of American Psycho and, as hard as it may be to believe, Robert Pattinson’s performance is nearly as riveting as Christian Bale’s was in that movie. Inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses, which itself borrowed elements from Homer’s Odyssey, DeLillo’s tale feature a succession of memorable figures whom Pattison’s character encounters during his journey, played in the film by an impressive cast that includes Sarah Gadon, Jay Baruchel, Juliette Binoche, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton, Mathieu Amalric, Gouchy Boy, Patricia McKensie, George Touliatos and Paul Giamatti – not to mention Kevin Durand, who’s simply awesome as Pattinson’s bodyguard. As mentionned, the majority of the action takes place in a limo, yet director David Cronenberg and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky manage to make Cosmopolis into a consistently visually stimulating experience thanks to clever, inventive framing and shot composition… And fear not, Cronenberg fans, there are still some startling bursts of sex and violence in his latest feature. All the same, it’s the words and the ideas that fill Cosmopolis that prove to be the most thrillingly provocative thing about it. I can’t begin to understand why the Cannes Film Festival jury ridiculously overlooked this truly amazing film. ]

April / June