Thursday, June 16, 2005

Days 4 & 5

Aside from seeing many of the world's greatest poker players strut their stuff at the Rio, I've also seen a few more films.

Tuesday, June 14

Spicebush (Kevin Jerome Everson, 2005) 39

The prospect of seeing an experimental documentary was intriguing enough to suck me in, but after the first 6 or 7 minutes of nicely edited, slow montage of African American life in the Midwest, it turns into retread of uninteresting footage - two men performing their daily duties for their shipping business, a woman working in an office, etc. - that adds up to nothing interesting. It ceased to be "experimental", veering closer to the equivalent of placing spy cameras in several places and picking 5-10 minute clips at random. It's not quite as bad as I'm making it sound, especially with the interesting opening sequence, and it's nice to see an attempt to do something different with the documentary form considering the recent overload this decade, but Spicebush isn't exactly the second coming.

King of New York (Abel Ferrara, 1990) 53

I dig Ferrara's style here - consistently downtrodden with quick explosions of violence, the dark cinematography setting a bleak tone with the smell of death lingering in the air, and the completely realistic feel of the dialogue and action - but I found myself always admiring from a distance. It's great to look at and Walken's performance is fantastic, but outside of the style, there's nothing of particular interest. I wasn't surprised to learn it's something of cult classic, but I won't be joining the mailing list just yet. Certainly not a bad way to get into Ferrara though I'm hoping ones like Bad Lieutenant or Ms 45 grab me more.

Wednesday, June 15

Last Days
(Gus Van Sant, 2005) 75

Fantastic. A day later and it's still under my skin. Even more necessary to have a second viewing of this one than Elephant, but plenty of great things are evident immediately. The time-looping is extremely effective, not only in creating multiple contexts for certain scenes and moments giving their meaning more depth but also in poetically expressing Blakes social and spiritual isolation due in part to his own obsessive need to escape, but the self-serving attitudes of those around him. Some might suggest that it'd be more interesting to see the process of Blake's personal disintegration rather than the last few days of a disintegrated man, but Van Sant provides more than enough backstory with the behavior of everyone around Blake and obviously the correlations one will draw between Blake and Kurt Cobein. As pure and pared down as his previous two films, Last Days has it's own unique feel and with Van Sant's assured direction and Michael Pitt's incredible performance, it's sure to impress anyone willing to give it a try.


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