Some quickies from recent Netflix-ing:
American Psycho – does ‘not for the fainthearted’ go without saying? A very well-done movie – Christian Bale rocks hard, and it’s so nauseatingly creepy because you recognize so many things that might be true of any red-blooded american boy you might know. Especially unkind to women – I suspect director Mary Harron exorcised many personal demons here. You’ll need a shower afterwards, but you’ll be glad you toughed it out.
Babette’s Feast – the pacing is almost excruciatingly slow. When Sergio Leone does this, it’s because of a million little details. When Gabriel Axel does it, it’s to slowly freeze you into his world of austerity, minimalism and piety. Which makes the last quarter of this film all the more wonderful. The engaging story and gracious main characters accumulate power slowly but surely; seemingly small revelations take on profound power at the end, but Axel never betrays his sense of scale, or humanity. A great movie.
Inland Empire – for intriguing puzzles and knockout performances, stick to Mulholland Drive. No matter how odd it gets, Mulholland Drive holds together, and there’s actually a real, honest-to-Jah narrative if you want to work that hard to decipher it. If you don’t, it’s still cool. Inland Empire has a few umbrella-like ideas, but it’s pretty scattered and incohesive. I love to see Laura Dern get the work, but not even she can save this mish-mash. Not recommended.
Secret Things – a tawdry confection from Jean-Claude Brisseau, who’s shamelessly happy to demonstrate what most people presume ‘French films’ are – hot naked women scoring larger ‘intellectual’ points about Adulthood. The first half of the film is genuinely intriguing, and one keeps thinking he’s gonna really pull off a good movie. No such luck, I’m afraid. The courage of his convictions melts away disappointingly after about two-thirds of the way. Genuinely sexy? Sure. But prepare to be ultimately underwhelmed. I actually preferred ‘Nathalie’ – less sexy, but much smarter and satisfying. (Emmanuelle Beart, Fanny Ardant, dir. Anne Fontaine)
My Best Fiend: Klaus Kinski – Werner Herzog’s documentary on Klaus Kinski, simultaneously his favorite actor and the bane of his existence. Kinski’s, uhmm, eccentricities have to be seen and heard about to be believed, but Herzog is admirably and unfailingly gracious
overall. Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo, Woyzeck, Nosferatu – like him or not, he’s an undeniably magnetic actor. I’m waiting for someone to make the Oliver Reed documentary – another legendary madman, by all reports.