Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A round-up of my reviews for non-Criterion movies in the past month.


* The Beaver, Jodie Foster directs Mel Gibson, who talks through a beaver puppet. Yes, it's pretty crazy.

* Bridesmaids, this Kristen Wiig-led comedy is a real winner. Funny and heartfelt. And next time someone asks if Bridesmaids is a chick version of The Hangover, ask them if that's a stupid person's version of a smart question.

* Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog's 3D documentary about the Chauvet Caves. My favorite movie of the year so far.

* Everything Must Go, in which Will Ferrell drinks some sad beer, channels Raymond Carver, and is pretty good at doing it.

* Hesher, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the title character. Hit an open chord, take off your shirt, and be a teenage dirtbag, baby.

* Thor, another winner from Marvel. Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of the comic is mighty fun.

* True Legend, a disappointing new action flick from the awesome martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping. Lame story, too much CGI.

The NW Film Center in Portland also had a festival of twelve films starring Catherine Deneuve. I picked some of my favorites for the Portland Mercury. Read "The Two Faces of Deneuve."

I also wrote blurbs for older movies doing the revival rounds:

* Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin
* Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah


* Araya, Margot Benacerraf's 1959 blending of fact and fiction on the salt marshes of Venezuela.

* Bananas!*, a documentary about the fight against Dole Fruit, accused of poisoning Nicaraguan workers in the 1970s.

* The Captive City, Robert Wise's by-numbers anti-crime PSA from the 1950s.

* Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, an intriguing mash-up of classic indie cinema and classic movie musicals.

* Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno, a stupendous documentary sifting through the remains of the Diabolique-director's unfinished would-be masterpiece.

* Hold On!, Herman's Hermits come to America, join the space race, play some music, pitch some woo.

* The Misfits, John Huston directs Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe in their final screen roles. Also stars Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift, in a script by Arthur Miller.

* Not as a Stranger, starring Robert Mitchum as a doctor who can heal anything but his own bad impulses. Directed by Stanley Kramer.

* Shoeshine, a Neorealist classic from Vittorio De Sica, released 1946.

* The Unloved, Samantha Morton's softly rendered, heartfelt directorial debut.

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