Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Hit: The Crazies (2010)

Stripping away a lot of the more overt political/counterculture message that permeated George A. Romero's original film, the Breck Eisner re-make of THE CRAZIES is a surprisingly tense, thrilling and fun movie.  Timothy "Justified" Olyphant plays David Dutten, the sheriff of a small Midwestern town that has the unfortunate luck of a having a military jet carrying a "population de-stabilizer" crash into a lake, poisoning the town's water supply.  Pretty soon people start acting strange, and before you know it the town's run over by its now bat-shit insane citizens, who are compelled to kill anyone who's not (for reasons the film doesn't make clear, but who cares) a "crazy" as well.

Sounds pretty bad for Dutten, his doctor wife, his deputy and another young women who so far have not been affected, but things get exponentially worse when the government comes in to quarantine the town.  The question of who's more crazy: the monsters or the military still plays into things, but takes a back seat to the intense set pieces, including a great chase through a car wash and a standoff in a bedroom that ends in a hilarious burst of violence.  There's nothing in THE CRAZIES you haven't seen before, but the combination of good acting, a plot free of convolution and a tone that takes itself seriously (but not too seriously) makes this one of the big surprises of the year for me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Snippets: Black Narcissus and Armond White

The films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have been a blind spot in my film watching for years, so when my local Best Buy slipped up and put both THE RED SHOES and BLACK NARCISSUS on the Blu-ray shelf for sale a week early, I had to indulge myself in the name of furthering my film education.

I'm still reeling from my viewing of BLACK NARCISSUS, which will be written up over the next week as a quasi-Binder Challenge (I cheated and bought something new, but it's too damn good to review in a quick write-up), but I wanted get out there that the new print courtesy of Criterion (which, btw, is having a 50% sale over at Barnes & Noble) is absolutely stunning: as much as is discussed about the erotic overtones of the film and the lush visuals, I think there's so much there that addresses the old saying, "you might be through with the past, but the past's not through with you."  Just all around a great film, and one you should check out if you're unfamiliar with Powell and Pressburger's work*.
I wonder how many people are familiar with Armond White's actions and controversies as a film critic without actually having read any of his reviews?  Over the past few weeks I've been catching up on his work to better understand his point of view.  At this point I'm no closer to understanding the man, although I did laugh out loud to see him favorably compare the Adam Sandler comedy GROWN UPS to Jean Renoir and Paul Mazursky.  I do think, however, that he shouldn't be as easily dismissed as I often see him him be in comments and posts online.  I'll be writing a little more clearly about him in the next couple of weeks, but first I'll be listening in as he's tentatively scheduled to be on the /Filmcast tonight to discuss INCEPTION.  Knowing the tone of Dave Chen and the gang over at /Film (which I love), this might be the closest we get to a direct confrontation between White and those typically aligned against him.

*A lot of people might be inclined to recommend a different P&P film as a good starting place - please do so.  I chose BLACK NARCISSUS for the simple reason that unlike THE RED SHOES or THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP, it's reasonably short - so if you don't like it (although how could you not), you won't feel like your day's been wasted

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Techincal Glitches and More to Come

A volatile combination of alcohol, rage, work on another website and a storm that knocked out my internet connect at just the right time caused me to lose the entire template for Celluloid Moon.  And those two killers of free time: "work" and "family" have stopped me from really getting things back to something legible.

So apologies.  I'm working on getting everything fixed over the next couple of days, and have a slew of stuff to talk about, including:
  • Binder Challenges #3 and #4, which are BEING THERE and BLACK NARCISSUS
  • Articles about, among other things: critics slamming other critics, the state of film criticism from a reader's perspective (as opposed to a critic's perspective), something than manages to combine HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and DRESSED TO KILL (really) as well as probably a lot more puerile nonsense.
We'll get there, and sooner rather than later.  See you then!