The War Lover
Reviewing indie/archival/imported DVDs has an ethical parameter distinctive from plain old movie reviewing – rather than simply assessing everything that cascades down the pike, you must select, and then in an effort not to appear at all peevish, you select the most worthwhile options, week to week. So, the movies on the lower end of the scale, which I have to see as well, never get their day in court. I’m committed to justice, so here are money shots taken at recent releases I refused to cover:
The History Boys (2006) Straining, education-free theatrical camp, and I mean that in an actively hostile way.
The Notorious Bettie Page (2006) Was Page this dull? It’s impossible to imagine.
Nuit Noire (Black Night) (2004) German brooder Olivier Smolders essentially remakes Eraserhead, but with large and weird European bugs.
My Best Friend (2006) What crap. So of course it was remade in Hollywood.
Life Is a Bed of Roses (La Vie Est un Roman) (1983) Alain Renais has fun in a mansion full of actors, but can’t say we had the same.
The Bow (2005) Kim Ki-duk’s comet continues to arc downward. Folktale-simplistic to the point of being childish.
Trigger Man (2007) Quite like the movies I made on Super 8mm in high school. Wait a minute, it’s exactly a movie I made on Super 8mm in high school.
You Kill Me (2007) I was already done right here with the idea that beautiful young women would love to have sex with Ben Kingsley. So arch it curdles in the belly.
Party 7 (2000) The warmup swing before Ishii’s A Taste of Tea and Funky Forest: The First Contact, and not at all amusing.
Redacted (2007) DePalma doing post-Blair Witch combat mock-doc in Iraq?! DePalma doesn’t do realism, folks. The only thing real-seeming about this ham-handed Casualties of War remake is the ordnance.
Sixty Six (2006) If the director of Leonard Part 6 and City Slickers II can still snag, and immolate, new projects like this soft-soap Yiddishe drischla, you can, too.
Where the Truth Lies (2005) Hard to grok what Atom Egoyan was thinking here.
Lady Chatterly (2006) What the fuck? Literally. She’s less "awakened" here than trapped in the mouth-breathing mind of an incurious preteen, and he’s a mopey ape. Jeesh.
Margot at the Wedding (2007) An abomination, glib, anything-for-an-uncomfortable-laugh-line. Is every character on a psychopharmacological program, and if so, why don’t they mention it?
What Remains (2006) Sally Mann is a savvy narcissist, and her documentarian just wants to fuck her.
This Is England (2006) Spittle-flecked skinhead hysteria. Expert, but so? Was it such a serious social problem, or is it just those wacky clothes?
Ludwig (1972) You watch this waxworks wondering how Visconti didn’t get run out of Rome for putting audiences through his films.
The Stranglers of Bombay (1960) I used to like Hammer films as a boy. I must’ve been a very patient kid.
Bosque de Sombras (The Backwoods) (2006) Gary Oldman picking up rent money in Spain.
Day-Time Wife (1939) The worst movie of 1939? If it is, it’s not Linda Darnell’s fault.
Hotel des Ameriques (1981) Andre Techine making it up as he goes along. A wonder he found work again.
Gospel According to Harry (1994) Lech Majewski’s uproariously pretentious music-video-surrealism at work. Likewise for The Roe’s Room (1997) and Glass Lips (2007).
The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949) Forgotten, rumored to be lost, rediscovered experimental color Maigret mystery, shot in Paris, starring Franchot Tone and Charles Laughton, and still a dud.
Noise (2008) Henry Bean tries for frustrated-modern-man satire, and gets very lost.
Slacker Uprising (2008) This is the mad Moore ego trip evil conservative shitheads have been defining all of the other Moore films as.
Dark Floors (2008) Atmospheric haunted-hospital horror, but the demons are actually the members of the Finnish rock band Lordi, growling.
Rachel Getting Married (2008) A step up from Baumbach’s wedding fiasco, but if Demme hadn’t tried to impress us with his great taste in world music and his cohort of cool musician friends, this would be a 40-minute featurette.
Monte Grande: What Is Life? (2005) A biography of the late philosophical physicist Francisco Varela, who seemed very smart and nice, but who had no significant message to impart. The title question goes unanswered, except as something that ends.
The End of America (2008) Smokin’ hot pundit Naomi Wolf essentially reiterates the points made in her bestselling anti-Bush book to a medium-sized audience. She’s right, and I appreciate the Nazi parallels, but this isn’t a movie, it’s a promotional tool.
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976) Another famous import hit from the ‘70s bites the dust. Almost unendurable.
Way Down East (1920) Griffith was a stodgy hump; compared to contemporaneous movies (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Parson’s Widow, The Penalty, The Golem, even Olive Thomas’s The Flapper), this is a preachy, lumbering snooze. The ice-floe stunts were cool, though.