Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Fourth Dimension (Various)

(The Fourth Dimension is availible to be seen legally on Youtube. The link can be found here)

What is the fourth dimension? Three of the leading figures in experimental cinema (Harmony Korine, Aleksei Fedorchenko, Jan Kwiecinski) have attempted to answer this question, each directing a short which is influenced by this enigmatic subject matter in some way. The result is 2/3s of an engaging anthology that raises more questions than it answers. However, for those with an interest in the avant garde, this might be your blockbuster experience of the year. Complete with gibberish rambings, carefully designed puzzle-like narratives, and enough contempation to out think The Thinker, this is a film unlike any other. The important thing is to understand what you're getting into before hitting "play."

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Comedy (B+)

If a director sets out to provoke and torment his audience, and achieves this proposed goal with overwhelming triumph, do you praise him for his successful effort, or scathe his feature with unbridled hatred for being obligated to endure it? Despite an extremely small theatrical release mostly limited to VOD, Rick Alverson's The Comedy has already gained a notorious reputation for being one of the most polarizing films of the year. It's a heavily improvised, glacially paced piece of experimental cinema; with a plot mostly consisting of a wealthy and sociopathic hipster messing with innocent civilians for no discernible reason. Occasionally disturbing, sometimes unbearable, frequently painful, and almost always uncomfortable, Alverson has directed the equivalent of torture porn for the overly empathetic. This is the very definition of a one-time-only film: It's very well constructed and acted, but I couldn't be bribed to watch it again.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nature Calls (C)

(It is impossible to write a review for this film without mentioning the ending, so a spoiler alert is in place)

This has been a particularly difficult review to write, because frankly, I have no real idea how to address this movie. It's completely enigmatic, in that it's never clear whether director Todd Rohal intended his feature to be a pitch black, played straight parody of the 70's styled slob-com, or a horribly misguided attempt to recreate this sub-genre for a present day audience. The plot involves a 40 year old man who remains obsessed with Boy Scouts (Patton Oswalt), who abducts a group of children from a sleepover hosted by his egocentric brother (Johnny Knoxville), and takes them camping in a restricted forest with his dying mute grandfather. Once they arrive at the camp site, he forces the kids to stay with him, and learn about the wilderness and manhood, because no one other than him knows the way home. However, Oswalt is a horrible scout leader; he curses in front of the kids, refuses to acknowledge their requests, and gives them cigarettes on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, Knoxville and two of his somewhat psychotic friends (Rob Riggle and Patrice O'Neal) hope to track down the group for almost the sole purpose of brutally attacking Oswalt in retribution for his crimes. Laughing yet?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Universal Solder: Day of Reckoning (B-)

Replete with plot points involving cloning, mind control, false memories, superhuman soldiers, shady government dealings, screwdriver lobotomies, underground brotherhoods, and regenerating limbs, it's an accomplished feat that John Hyams' fourth sequel to the unlikely "Universal Soldier" franchise doesn't come off as a hastily assembled, ludicrous jumble of insanity. A series packed with as much visceral energy and intensity as offbeat sci-fi elements, this installment pushes usual protagonist Luc Deveraux (most commonly portrayed by Jean-Claude Van Damme) off to the sidelines, and chooses to focus on a new recruit to the Universal Solder program, played by Scott Adkins. Also returning is Dolph Lundgren as St. Andrew Scott, the initial antagonist of the original film. With the two reigning champions of direct-to-video action flicks reuniting for an over-the-top, testosterone infused, gore extravaganza, all director Hyans essentially needs to do is shoot a couple of well choreographed fight scenes, and call it quits to deliver the grindhouse masterpiece college frat boys will inevitably be able to quote verbatim. And while the film doesn't necessarily reach such great heights when compared to ordinary Hollywood action pictures, it certainly crosses this low bar with flying colors.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Footnote (A+)

With a masterful script, incredible acting, exhilarating direction, and an impeccable ability to blend hilarity with heartbreaking drama with the slightest of ease, I've already come to terms that director Joseph Cedar's study on the relationship between a passive aggressive talmudic professor and his competitive and egotistical father will most likely be my favorite film of the year. Having originally seen the feature back in early June, I have attempted to review it multiple times, only to give up, not believing that I had given a strong enough recommendation for those who would read it. Since then, I have re-watched the movie twice, and each time was able to pick up more insights, and further the reasoning as to why I have become so infatuated with the film. Upon my third viewing, I came to a conclusion: This gets closer to cinematic perfection than almost any other movie I've ever seen. It's the closest thing to a transcendent masterpiece to be released into theaters in years; and I honestly cannot remember another feature I've enjoyed, and had this much appreciation for, in a very long time.