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Posts Tagged ‘Hope Davis’

The Lodger: Director David Ondaatje‘s debut is loosely adapted from Hitchcock’s 1927 silent film about a ‘Jack The Ripper’ copycat killer. Ondaatje gives The Lodger a routinely modern twist by throws plenty of false climaxes, both run-of-the-mill and unexpected, at us. The visual elements are also far grittier than these types of films normally lend themselves to, thanks to nifty cinematography from David Armstrong. Actress Hope Davis (with whom I’m having a cinematic affair) as the hapless patron of the lodge and Alfred Molina as the obsessive detective deliver on so many levels that we can ignore Simon Baker‘s ineffectual brooding as the title character. Two other things that didn’t quite work for me – Philip Baker Hall darting in and out as the generic Captain Smith, grimacing perhaps a tad too unnaturally, and the predictable ending. Everything else deserves a thumbs-up in this suitably atmospheric Hitchcockian thriller.

Pig Hunt: I have the softest corner in my mind for low-budget horror films that scream bloody murder. It is adorable how they make us curl into a foetal position, letting our mind escape from recurring group hugs that define our lives, careers and breaks in sobriety. It is also heart-warming that there are film-lovers out there scraping together money and questionable talent to scare the shit out of other people. Like many other gory backwoods thrillers turn out to be, James Isaac’s Pig Hunt could be an extended metaphor for the socio-political hierarchies that govern every aspect of our world; so if you’re into that sort of thing, you may find sly references to misogyny, established religion and if you’re drunk, oedipal complexes too. Mutilated emus, a machete-wielding maniac, nymphomaniacal pot cultivators, and a monstrous wild boar that makes Russell Mulcahy’s Razorback look like Babe lost and hogtied in the city? The show goes on. And how.

Greenberg: These comedians have become infatuated with playing caricatures of their publicized persona – Adam Sandler in Funny People, Patton Oswalt in Big Fan, and that creepy guy, to an ostensibly lesser extent, in Pauly Shore Is Dead. Even crappy action stars have embraced it (spoiler: this intro is a waste of time) and gone on to make fun of themselves (JCVD and My Name Is Bruce). I assume Ben Stiller was going for something similar in Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, but I could be wrong. Actually, Roger Greenberg isn’t very different from characters that we’ve come to associate Stiller with. Domesticated, empathetic, dorky and infatuated with delusions of grandeur – traits that don’t mesh very well with the character’s existential despair in this film. Sort of like Chris Cornell’s Scream album that toyed with hip-hop. I can appreciate the deviance from normalcy but uh uh no thanks…it’s just too weird. Thankfully, the film’s zanier and more admirable bouts of melancholia lie in Rhys Ifans‘ droopiness and Greta Gerwig‘s gut-wrenching facial expressions, both of which, are spectacular as is the soundtrack provided by James Murphy (front man, LCD Soundsystem). Now go watch Oswalt set the bar incredibly high in Big Fan.

The Losers: Sylvain White is the genius behind I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. We definitely know what he did the summer of 2010. He made an abortion of an action flick.

American Splendor: Harvey Pekar died last week, so let’s spend a minute in obligatory silence as I pray to the distraught geeks in the sky for his soul to keep. In case you don’t already know, he was a iconic comic book writer and legendary cultural nihilist. His autobiographical comic series detailed the tortuously funny bits of his life as a file clerk at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Cleveland. In Berman and Pulcini’s biopic, Paul Giamatti is very believable as Pekar. It is evident that someone has done proper research. One of the details I really enjoyed was the way Giamatti lets his eyebrows do most of the talking as did Pekar in so many of his interviews, especially on Dave Letterman. In addition, a special mention to the cameos from his real-life friends and their splendidly spaced-out, interstellar stares; with friends like these who needs copies of Hitch Hiker’s Guide. All said and done, a notch below the utterly cool crankiness of Terry Zwigoff’s documentary on Robert Crumb, but a tremendous water pistol salute to the man nevertheless.

Splintered: Vincenzo Natali‘s extended love letter to Spielberg’s epically bad film about cute aliens is no longer the odds-on favourite to win my ‘wasted storyline potential’ trophy for 2010. Director Simeon Halligan could have gone about a million other ways with Splintered‘s storyline and still had me thoroughly engaged. While the first 15 minutes promises vicious creatures of the night, creative dismemberment and a wee Welsh lassie’s descent into hyper-realistic madness, the rest of the film has some of the flimsiest excuses for bloodshed. He mucks things up further by paying zero attention to group psychology during moments of crisis. At times, I wasn’t sure if the guys were being stalked and attacked by unseen evil or frantically seduced by their pregnant cousins; a strange mix of disgust, euphoria and fear. Some of dialogues are so absurd that we might soon have a ‘Godzilla vs Splintered’s Script’ straight-to-DVD classic on our hands. Holly Weston‘s passive hysteria in the last frame as she walks towards a close-up angle is a thing of beauty, but everything is such a chore to endure.

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I’d wax eloquent about the joys of brevity, but it is as much an art form as a goat’s tonsil tethered to the business end of a woodwind instrument. I have merely realized that it takes a week or two for me to forget why I loved or loathed certain films. Hence, the frantic and discourteously blunt dialogue on various films, good, bad and those starring Abhishek Bachchan.

Thursday: Skip Woods is best known for writing brain-dead masala flicks (Swordfish, GI Joe). Before his inglorious pilgrimage towards questionable stardom, he wrote Thursday – a brutish white-knuckled urban thriller. Thomas Jane and Aaron Eckhart are glorious as main characters, Casey and Nick; one a drug dealer and general practitioner of chaos and the other well versed in both, but unwilling to participate. The cameos are so good that if it were up to me I would piss and moan in the parking lot until someone made full-length feature films with the Rasta assassin (Glenn Plummer), the skittish adoption agency executive (Michael Jeter) and the corrupt copper (Mickey Rourke) as lead protagonists.

Good Intentions: I enjoy small-town comedies about blackmailing, dysfunctional families and oddball sheriffs as much as the next blogger drunk on his/her own pathos of fashionable city life. Unfortunately, Jim Issa’s Good Intentions is so mediocre that if you squint one of your eyes you can actually see a silhouette of Tom Hanks in every second frame. The film has one good joke that it beats the crap out of until all the horses drop dead quicker than Luke Perry should actually retire from acting.

Hard Eight: Paul Thomas Anderson always gives us something different to play with every single time. How a single brain can conceive both Boogie Nights and Magnolia I’ll never understand. His debut Hard Eight a.k.a Sydney stars two of my favourite actors – John Reilly, Philip Baker Hall – has Samuel Jackson in his second best role ever and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing what he actually does best, play an ostensibly unlikable tub of lard. They share incredible chemistry too, feeding off each other’s intensity like real performers should. If only Hope Davis, Juliette Lewis or Chloe Sevigny were cast as Reilly’s love interest instead of Gwyneth Palthrow, I would have had a tough time explaining why salt-crusted tears sometimes leave a happy trail on my cheeks.

Raavan/ Raavanan: People treat Mani Ratnam’s films like chunks of yak cheese. They stick a piece in inside their cheeks and chew on it for hours, desperately looking for nuances to hate and love. I’d feel better comparing his films to the now defunct Cadbury’s Dollops chain of ice cream stores; never spent nights wondering how scrumptious their ice creams were; never really playfully tore the dead skin of my palm, thinking about all the wonderful new flavours that could be…sure, I enjoyed a scoop or a cone every now, but that’s because I generally liked ice cream. It didn’t really matter if it were Arun, Kwality or Dollops. The Tamizh version of Ravanan would have been worth a second watch if it weren’t for the lame cinematography/music that sounds/looks ripped off from some unfashionable first-person shooter Playstation game, and Aishwarya Rai. The Hindi version had Abhishek Bachchan…so uhmmm no thanks.

Next Stop Wonderland: Yes, this is a romantic comedy from Miramax Films, but no, it doesn’t suck at all. It’s probably one of most likable romantic films ever made. Director Brad Anderson is man of proven genius (Transsiberian, The Machinist, Session 9, Happy Accidents), but the spotlight from Next Stop Wonderland righteously gleams on the lead couple – Hope Davis and Alan Gelfant and ever so slightly on Seymour Hoffman, who is hilarious as a disgruntled hippie. The couple’s love story is in fact reminiscent of that film in which Amala and Mohan play star-crossed lovers who never get to see each other, with all the melodrama stifled and replaced instead with melancholy. The ending is just perfect even with nobody really dying or carrying the burden of such.



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