FILM Some roles wring from an actor something they never had before, or might again. Who now recalls Eric Bana's Aussie sketch comedian startlingly reinvented as bulked-up Chopper (2000), that native continent's most notorious psychotic extortionist-killer-jailbird-celebrity autobiographer? Bana killed more vividly than in any part serving his subsequent, slightly bland Hollywood leading-hunk status.
Tom Hardy is another handsome bloke at risk of looking competent and versatile without fully impressing. Read more »
Will history judge Lars von Trier as the genius he's sure he is? Or as a humorless, slightly less cartoonish Ken Russell, whipping images and actors into contrived frenzies for ersatz art's sake? You're probably already on one side of the fence or the other. Read more »
FILM It was the last Bush administration's master PR stroke to render terrorism completely abstract while appearing to frame it in layman's terms. There's no real choosing sides when the choices are "evil" and "freedom" who's going to say slow down there, pardner, when the cause is painted as humanity against the inhuman? That equation bought carte blanche approval for a lot of dumb subsequent moves, with the world arguably no safer as a consequence.
Most Americans have an absolute faith that we're the good guys. Read more »
FILM FESTIVAL REPORT There weren't exactly tumbleweeds rolling through Park City, but this January's Sundance Film Festival did have a becalmed feeling reflecting the economic panic money, corporate sponsors, and industry personnel weren't falling from the sky quite so thickly as usual, which naturally made the experience that much more pleasant for those simply there to see movies. Read more »
DNA science has taught us everyone is unique. Art teaches that everyone even wildly derivative sons-of-bitches are kinda sorta likewise (at least technically). Still, there's ordinary "individuality," actual distinctiveness, and then there's whoa. Belonging to this last category is Swedish writer-director Roy Andersson, who's made four features in four decades and surely won't be hurrying up anytime soon.
X-RATED CLASSICS A sexploitation lifer who reportedly has directed so many features even he doesn't know how many, Joe Sarno is nonetheless also enough of an idiosyncratic talent to have won a cult following and some high-culture-institution retrospectives. Read more »
Hirokazu Kore-eda's 1998 After Life stepped into a bureaucratic beyond. His 2001 Distance probed the aftermath of a religious cult's mass suicide. Likewise loosely inspired by fact, Nobody Knows (2004) charted the survival of an abandoning mother's practically feral children in a Tokyo apartment. Read more »
With Inglourious Basterds Quentin Tarantino pulls off something that seemed not only impossible, but undesirable, and surely unnecessary: making yet another of his in-jokey movies about other movies, albeit one that also happens to be kinda about the Holocaust or at least Jews getting their own back on the Nazis during World War II and (the kicker) is not inherently repulsive. As Rube Goldbergian achievements go, this is up there. Read more »