Daily Archives: September 12, 2014

Pasolini – Abel Ferrara, Director

I was looking forward to this movie since I really like Willem Dafoe who plays Pasolini. In the end I was super grateful this movie is only 87 minutes long and that seemed long to me. It is very confusing, conducted in English, Italian with subtitles and Italian without subtitles and really gave very little insight to Pasolini or much else. I guess I should have been wary when the director was described as incendiary. I think if anyone uses a random word like this to describe a director then you should avoid the film at all costs. Other warning words are “challenging” “innovative” or “unique”. These generally mean ” really awful” in the opinion of this reviewer at least. Avoid this film.


National Gallery – Frederick Wiseman, Director

Today we decided to try the rush line and go for tickets to this 3 hour documentary about the National Gallery in London. The director is well known and has been doing docs since the 1960’s. His style is simply to film and let the images and dialogue speak for themselves. There is no narration but after 3 hours you feel like you have had a tour of one of the great art museums in the world. The film takes you through the galleries, offers you short lectures on individual pictures, visits management meetings, goes back to see the work done by restorers and gives you insight into how much thought goes into shows and how they are set up and lighted. Sounds long I know but it is fascinating and well worth your money and your time. Some of the images tied into earlier films including a significant look at a Turner exhibit that tied into Mr. Turner for me at least. The speakers in the film describing the art, the restoring process and the management of the gallery are all excellent. Hard to say too much more but it was really entertaining and I learned a ton. Go see this if you can.


Love and Mercy – Bill Pohlad, Director

If you are a fan of the Beach Boys or Brian Wilson you should see this movie. Not the best film by far but interesting as a biopic. Wilson is played by two actors, John Cusack as the older Wilson and Paul Dano as the younger. Wilson suffered terribly from mental illness and yet managed to create a musical opus that will be enjoyed for years to come. I will not spoil this by telling too much of the story but Cusack wins the acting battle and Paul Giamatti has a great supporting role as the devious psychiatrist who tries to take advantage of Wilson. He does slime extremely well. Not enough of the music in my opinion and a bit of a confusing story line that jumps back and forth in time but worth a view.


Pawn Sacrifice – Edward Zwick, Director

Best film of the day. This is the story of the 1972 chess match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer and the performance of Tobey Maguire in the lead role is superb given he likely is a foot shorter than Fischer was. The movie was focussed mostly on Fischer’s mental illness and how it affected the match so no major analysis of the games or the chess playing so if you are a chess geek this may disappoint. We follow Fischer from his youth as a child prodigy to the end of the 1972 match in which he crushes Spassky 12 ½ to 8 ½ in points and one of Spassky’s points is due to a forfeit when Fischer refused to show up for the second game. For the geeks however – look at Game 6 of the match which is arguably the greatest match ever played. When Spassky resigned he stood up and applauded Fischer’s brilliance in the game. The focus on the personalities however gives the film great dramatic energy and you will forget at the end that Maguire ever played Spiderman.


Revenge of the Green Dragons – Andrew Lau, Director

This is a Chinese film in the Hong Kong gangster tradition directed by the man who brought you Infernal Affairs later remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed. This time around it is Andrew Lau’s film and Scorsese is the producer. Set in Queens New York City rather than Hong Kong this is brutal (and I mean brutal) film about Asian gangs, drug dealers and human trafficking. I found it very hard to take and would recommend it only to those who know what they are getting into. The action is non-stop and violent and the twist ending is really contrived and while surprising made no sense in my mind. I sense I was however not holding a universal opinion. One aspect of going to so many movies in such a short time is that your view of the film can be influenced by what you had for breakfast or an upsetting email or whatever. It follows that if a review is super negative – like this one – it is to be taken with a grain of salt. So…. If you know Lau and like Hong Kong gangster films this may very well be up your alley. I can attest to the fact that there were no empty seats.