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What Just Happened (2008)
Tired Tale In First Person Singular
Art Linson's memoirs are a reminder of what a sad place Hollywood really is. We got closer and more original glimpses in films that go from Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" to Altman's "The Player". Bernard Rose's "Ivansextc" also comes to mind not to mention Blake Edwards's SOB. Here the prototypes are well known even by people who have nothing to do with the film industry so one gets a bit impatient waiting for this fresh look from a prominent, still active, Hollywood producer. No such luck but there are other elements that make the film fun to watch if nothing else. To see Robert De Niro play "a character" that it's not in any way a semi parody of the films that made him famous is a welcome surprise in itself. Barry Levinson shows that he's as sharp as ever and the rhythms that he finds to tell the story keeps the tired tale not only alive but almost gripping.
As If Brokeback Mountain Never Happened
I'm not comparing the two movies, that would be sillier than Chuck and Larry put together. But, we're living the times that we're living and things do matter and things mean more than what they mean and everything means something. So, who's idea was this? Reactionary even in its attempt to be compassionate, tolerant and understanding. The film is not an insult to the issue of gays and gay marriage but to comedy itself. For instance: Chuck and Larry firefighters try to save a massively overweight man from a fire, the man falls on top of them and farts. Yep, that's the standard. Of course the movie opened to grosses large enough to demote Harry Potter himself to second place so they know what they're doing and I'm not sure what planet I'm living in. Richard Chamberlain and Lance Bass make special appearances, oh dear, oh dear. The appeal of Adam Sandler is way beyond me. I kind of liked him in in the PT Anderson movie and in Spanglish he was alright but those films didn't quite perform at the box office so I fear that Chuck and Larry is here to stay. Pity for him and pity for us.
Fincher Scores With Real Killer
Less pyrotechnics and more drama. As far as I'm concerned that is a major plus in a Fincher movie. Rigorous and long but compelling just the same. A script, finally, that is almost totally devoid of cheap shots in a story that lent itself for cheap shots. It reminded me a little of Richard Fleischer's The Boston Strangler with a major difference: most of us know the story remains inconclusive - well, I don't know if "most" I certainly did - but, strangely enough it doesn't detract from its fun moments of suspense and the thoroughness of the proceedings. Robert Downey Jr is superb, immediately recognizable and totally believable at the same time. Jake Gylenhaall's connection with us - the audience - is strong and powerful as well as Mark Ruffalo's cop. All in all one of Fincher's most serious, and best films.
Apartment Zero (1988)
Zero In DVD, finally
What a pleasure to be able to see "Apartment Zero" remastered in its original full length form. Adrian - an unrepeatable Colin Firth - takes us through his narrow path of old movies, movie stars and secret dreams into a frightening - truly frightening - landscape of desolation. The weird part is that it's such fun to go through it. I've seen the film a few times but last night I noticed for the first time that Adrian goes through his life only aware of what he fears and that movies, naturally, are his only way to feel free. It's only after the arrival of Jack - a superb Hart Bochner and where the hell is he? - that Adrian notices the thickness of his loneliness, of his isolation. He clings on to his lodger like a nagging wife, trying desperately not to scare him away but Adrian is not used to deal with people. He expects Jack to behave like the pictures on his wall. They will be exactly where he put them for ever and ever. Within his sickness Adrian is an innocent and I bet that Jack never met anyone like him. They could, in a way, become the perfect odd couple if it wasn't for the devil's determination to get what's his. A truly different, fascinating movie.
Beyond the Sea (2004)
Between Ego and Ego
I imagine that Bobby Daris must have been one of Kevin Spacey's fantasies or obsessions. It clearly blinded him. Much like Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" seeing herself as the young and sensual Salome. Did Kevin Spacey really believed that one line of dialog "you're too old to play yourself" was enough to redeem the fact that he was too old to play Bobby Darin? I think that age was just one of the problems. Bobby Darin's success was based, mostly, on his persona. A good singer yes, but his quirky, sexy presence did the rest. Kevin Spacey is a good actor, specially playing devious characters or insignificant people but one could hardly call him sexy. The film has some wonderful moments, terrific musical numbers, an unrecognizable and very funny Greta Scacchi as Sandra Dee's mother, but it would have been such a great, intelligent move,on Mr Spacey's part to keep himself behind the camera and find the perfect Bobby Darin to nurture the legend. Well, I assume that the portrayal of a fragile ego by an egomaniac makes some sense somewhere along the line.