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Showing posts from October, 2012

Looper

What a drag it is to take out the trash.  This applies to you or me, hauling a drawstring bag full of god knows what down to the garbage can or dumpster.  It applies also to the existential grind of being a Looper.  It's 2044 and there's still something the matter with Kansas.  The good news is that in 30 years time travel will be possible.  The bad news is that this temporal byway is going to be plied mainly by the criminal element.  There will be the occasional need to travel back and forth to make sure matters in both the past and future are as they should be to those in charge.  But there's also the traffic of unfortunate souls given a one way ticket back to 2044 so they can be summarily killed and their body disposed of.  This is taking out the trash Looper-style, as Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) explains, speaking with the terseness of a film noir anti-hero.
The vague though technology savvy mafia in Looper send their victims back to 2044, Joe tells us, because i…

Argo

What strange suburb of Boston is this?  Well, we're no longer in Dorchester, Southie or Charlestown for the latest film from Ben Affleck.  Instead, it's the turbulent streets of...Southern California.  Actually, it's sites in the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park and a disused airport terminal in Ontario, California which are made to resemble the teeming streets of Tehran at the start of what Americans know as The Iran Hostage Crisis.

Argo, Mr. Affleck's third film as a director concerns itself with a generally forgotten episode of that 444-day crisis called "The Canadian Caper."  Six Americans managed to escape the frightening storming and takeover of the U.S. Embassy by Islamist students and militants and find shelter in the residence of the Canadian ambassador, among other hiding places.  C.I.A. agent Tony Mendez (Affleck), an expert in "exfiltrating" people from dangerous locations, concocted a cover story in whi…

Lawless

Those merry Australian lads - director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave - are back.  And yes, there will be blood.

Hillcoat and Cave collaborated quite impressively on The Proposition (2005), which plays like a combination of Greek tragedy and violent revenge Western , set in the aptly forbidding setting - time as well as dusty space - of 1880's Australia.  Cave, usually occupied singing his cheery songs as the leader of The Bad Seeds and Grinderman, also wrote and acted in Hillcoat's first full-length feature, Ghosts...of the Civil Dead (1988).

While Lawless doesdepict a sanguinary conflict between a resolutely independent family of moonshiners and corrupt law enforcement representatives, it might well have seemed a colorful lark to Hillcoat, whose last project was a grim adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2009).

For the film at hand, Cave has adapted the novel, The Wettest County in the World, by Matt Bondurant. Mr. Bondurant is a grandson of Jack, the …

Searching for Sugar Man

I walked by the Brody Complex - the predominately freshman complex of six dormitories - at some point in the 90's, several years after I had graduated.  I spent a memorable first year at Michigan State University living in Brody.  In a window of Emmons Hall, the dorm nearest the street on which I was passing, I saw spelled somewhat awkwardly in white tape on a window facing the street the words, "Morrison Lives."  I was amused to see that some things never seem to change.

Imagine if your Morrison, your Hendrix, your John Lennon or Elvis, perhaps your Ian Curtis, came back to life.  Strange as that may seem, extend your fanciful train of thought even further to imagine that the only knowledge you possessed of your musical idol was a couple of albums, the pictures on the album cover and the lyrics to the songs.  Okay, perhaps you need to imagine owning such a thing as an album.  But no biographical information.  Only a vague mythology around the artist with it's rumo…

Oslo, August 31st

In retrospect, the direction Joachim Trier's second feature, Oslo, August 31st might seem as inevitable as the course of some frigid Nordic river toward the oblivion of the sea.  What distinguishes Mr. Trier's haunting, graceful film are the unexpected turns taken along the way as its protagonist, Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) goes about a last discursive, quietly desperate day in Oslo.

Anders' intention is announced with water during the first minutes of "Oslo."  But it's not a river he chooses, rather a remote lake, surrounded by forest at which the disconsolate man tries to pull a Virginia Woolf, to state the case rather crudely.  After a determined walk through the forest during which it is clear only that this is not to be an enjoyable romp through the trees, we have the vantage point over Anders' shoulder as he contemplates the body of water from the considerable height of a rock ledge.  The countless wavelets seem to murmur, to beckon him, an abs…