RS Indie Awards: Richard “Rex” Thomas’s 2nd Line, Rebirth

Part 2 of a multipart series on my favorite independent films I’ve seen in 2010.

Take it or leave it. My reviews, I mean. Watch the films. And buy them, of course.

5 out of 5

Perhaps I don’t review documentaries as well as I do narrative features. I acknowledge this, but to be fair, I felt it necessary to review at least one of the numerous documentaries that I’ve watched in my travels throughout the East Coast and the internet this year. In retrospect, I could have watched more. A significant number more, in fact – there were opportunities that I more or less avoided simply because I found the subject matter uninteresting. The documentary that I probably enjoyed watching the most this year was a film actually directed by a professor of mine, a one on a topic really close to my heart – the life, death, and most recently, rebirth of Jazz radio in New York and Los Angeles. Perhaps it seems like I’m showing an unfair amount of favoritism here – but I’m not, heck, I’m not even taking any of his classes yet. He’s a moderator of my school’s film club for Pete’s sake – and yeah – I’m getting ahead of myself to show very clearly, once again, that me awarding anything to a documentary is going to be a process loaded with bias.

 I suppose this review will have to not only convince you that the film is good, but my bias is better than yours. Pretentiousness, Ahoy! Read more of this post

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick; Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke; MGM; dist. by Warner Bros.; based on "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke.

I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey during film school at home on a 7 inch, 1987 color Apple Computer monitor (they were compatible with VCR and DVD hook-ups back in the day) while suffering from a stomach cramp induced by sugar-free vanilla wafers. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I should, though I did realize the importance of film, the brilliance of Stanley Kubrick, and the artistic motives behind the movie.

This realization of the film’s integrity motivated me recently to buy the film on Blu-Ray and watch it on my brother’s 40 inch screen. I felt like I missed out on an opportunity to enjoy this film as much as I probably would have under kinder circumstances, and the added resolution displayed in the Blu-ray release would defiantly make every shot more interesting to watch than watching the DVD and a 7 inch screen.  My brother wasn’t all that thrilled about watching the movie again (he saw it with me he first time, while suffering from the same stomach cramps), but he let me watch it anyway.

The film starts at the beginning; which is always a good place to start a movie. In this case, it starts at the dawn of man where a mysterious shrieking monolith ignites an evolution from primitive, animalistic primates to a slightly more intelligent, and therefore more formidable species. Read more of this post

Black Night

In a recent review for Alain Robbe-Grillet’s surrealistic, but disappointing and uneven film “La belle captive”, I wrote that “I don’t demand that films make sense, but I do demand that those that don’t provoke me to make sense out of them.” Nuit noire is certainly a film that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s so provocative that it definitely left me wondering what the hell I just watched. I’m certainly not a neophyte when it comes to art-films, or surrealism, or symbolism, or films rooted in dream logic, but the simple fact is that some are better than others. If they were all made equal then Pål Sletaune’s Naboer or Brad Anderson’s The Machinist would be on the same level as Mulholland Drive or The Exterminating Angel. Olivier Smolders’ Nuit noire is definitely a film that kept me on my intellectual tiptoes at the same time it was WOWing me with its aesthetics. Read more of this post

From the Dustbins: Vampire Wars

The OVA boom was a wonderful time for anime.  Well, make that “a terrible time”, actually, because it was one of the greatest creative slumps the industry has ever seen.  Studios tried to rake in cash by appealing to the Western demographics that were wowed by the graphic violence and general maturity of titles like Akira, so they churned out volumes of forgotten pieces of trash that usually aren’t even worth the plastic of the VHS tape that they were distributed on.  I call it “wonderful” only because some of the greatest pieces of animated bullshit to have ever come from Japan were released as a result. Read more of this post

Diary of a Nymphomaniac

Ever since watching Y tu mamá también and Last Tango in Paris I’ve been on an unspoken quest to find incredibly sexy films that are also great works of cinema. The search has proven quite frustrating, and I’ve begun to realize that there may be nothing harder finding legitimate, high quality works of cinematic art that revolve around sexual themes. The problem seems to be that sex can prove to be incredibly hard to integrate into an otherwise coherent, overarching story. One thing that distinctively marks pornography is that its premises seem entirely built around the ability to get to the explicit sex, and then one they get there they spend an exorbitant amount of time on the sex which ceases to advance anything within the story. So the million dollar question is: how do you use sex to comment on characters and advance the story while maintaining the sexiness? Read more of this post

Nathalie Granger

 

The story of Nathalie Granger is minimal as to nearly be non-existent; Lucia Bosé is Isabelle (whose name must only have been uttered once, since I even had to look on IMDb to find out), while Jeanne Moreau plays the “Other Woman” (whose name, I guess, was never given). The two live in a quaint, French chateau with two young girls, Nathalie (Valerie Mascolo) and Laurence (Nathalie Bourgeois). The women are concerned with Nathali, who appears to be depressed and disconnected from school, other children, and life in general. Both seem to agree that piano lessons are the best thing for her, but Nathalie might not want to cooperate. Otherwise, the two women live a quiet, bored, banal life in near silence, and the visitation of a lively washing machine salesman (a young Gérard Depardieu) proves to be the highlight of their day. Read more of this post

RS Indie Awards 2010: Mike Ott’s Littlerock

5 stars out of 5

(Part 1 of a multipart series on the best independent films of 2010)

The state of American independent cinema varies greatly depending on who you talk to and what films you actually see. One of the strongest of the several hundred independent films worth noting this year is undoubtedly Mike Ott’s Littlerock, a beautifully composed, unique film that attempts to capture the essence of a rapidly changing (or depending on your perspective, decaying) America, through an unassuming hand-held camera and a cast of characters that brings a degree of sheer realism that makes the film truly a delight to behold. Read more of this post