Black Book

A holocaust film from the maker of Showgirls, Total Recall and Robocop, huh? One shouldn’t be surprised that Verhoeven’s return to European filmmaking is actually quite a triumph. It lacks the gloss and polish of his American output, yet there’s still a tremendous amount of cinematic dexterity on display. This is no staid drama, instead […]

Breaking and Entering

A convoluted plot of break-ins, architectural redevelopment and mid-30s life crises mask a fairly standard tale of a love triangle. The film is elevated by fine performances, including some very real, very effective fights between Jude Law and his on-screen wife Robin Wright Penn. Juliete Binoche plays a dowdy immigrant seamstress, and she just about […]

Remembering Arthur

Unfortunately, the doc about Lipsett doesn’t nearly have the power (or succinctness) of the films that are referenced. A series of talking head interviews trace the story of this maverick filmmaker (starting with an extremely brief soundbyte from George Lucas that seems to have been tacked on), the film has nothing of the experimental flourishes […]

Very Nice, Very Nice

This 1961 editing mashup brought avant garde Canadian cinema to a generation of filmmakers. The film takes audio stems and places fast cuts of still photography, unique in the 60s, old hat by now. It reminded me of Kubrick’s trailer for Strangelove, as well as the quick-cut elements in Requeim for a Dream and others […]

Pan’s Labyrinth

Del Toro continues his run of clock obsessed, beautifully crafted films that share brutal realism with fairy tale elements. This time the children’s fantasy is grafted onto 1940s Spain, as Franco’s fascists fight guerillas while a girl must pass three magical tasks in order to remain immortal. It shouldn’t work, but in Del Toro’s capable […]