Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

TWO BIRDS (2006)
A hard short film, about a boy and a girl who go to a party and who clearly want to be a couple. The boy, though, is anxious and nervous, and unsure how to approach her. When he sees her being violated sexually by two older men, he makes what is either a very brave or very self-serving decision. It's complicated and, honestly, it was hard for me to watch. I have too much of a sensitivity to the idea of something like that happening, and it makes me queasy. But the emotions at play are genuinely complex. ***

Odd, very pretty movie with Marcello Mastroianni falling in deep fascination with Nastassja Kinski (don't blame him for that at all). What complicates their potential romance is not the age difference, or even his current marriage, but the unresolved possibility that she might be his daughter. A truly sexy movie, innocent in some ways, with Kinski in one of her earliest films and commanding the screen effortlessly. Never released on DVD in the US, perhaps because of the subject matter; pleasantly prosaic about the issues it raises without being creepy. ****

BLOW-UP (1966)
How, how did it take me this long to finally see this movie? David Hemmings stars here as a jaded photographer in a perfect fusion of the Swinging London era of film and the Italian giallo sensibilities of its director, Michelangelo Antonioni. Hemmings plays David Bailey, a fashion photographer who comes to believe that he has unwittingly caught a murder on film, but no one he turns to for help will listen. All around him are the disaffected, and the film has some excellent, unself-conscious things to show us about the modern world, where media and pop culture have overwhelmed genuine emotional response; David Bailey finds himself suddenly awake in such a world. That's the real tension of this movie: that Bailey has truly discovered something frightening beneath the surface, and when forces move in to rob him of this discovery, no one will help. It's very hypnotic, and the ending is marvelous. In a sense, Bailey simply goes back to the disaffection because, honestly, it's comfortable there. A beautiful movie to look at, too, with its fashions and its excellent cinematography and its naked Jane Birkins. A masterpiece. ****

I have honestly never known what to expect with this film. What we have here are William Hurt (one of my favorite actors, who won the Oscar for this film) and Raul Julia as two Argentine prisoners, one moral and the other political. We watch a friendship form between the two which starts out simply for manipulative purposes, but which becomes genuine over time. Both actors are excellent, and even if "not much really happens" (as my Grandma would have said), it's the excitement of watching two artists at the top of their craft playing off of one another. As I've said before, there are some movies that remind you that truly great acting can be electric and exciting, and this is one of them. ****

Mario Bava bores me. *1/2

A very nice and honestly uplifting documentary about some dedicated fans of the Rock-afire Explosion, the musical animatronic show once housed by my beloved Showbiz Pizza Place. I was a little nervous at first, but I was glad the movie didn't paint fans like Chris Thrash, who bought one of the last remaining shows from creator Aaron Fechter (who was surprised to discover that people my age, who grew up loving the entire Showbiz experience, were still fondly remembering it online), as some sort of lovable losers or even jokes. Thrash speaks for a lot of us when he says he just wanted to hold on to something that made him incredibly happy in his childhood and put it somewhere that no one could take it away from him. We get some interesting history of Fechter's Creative Engineering and the history of the show and of Showbiz, and it's actually pretty moving to see how his infectious enthusiasm was rekindled by people like Thrash. It made me feel a lot like a kid again just watching it and getting to share the joy of the people who created the Rock-afire Explosion and the people who still love them. ****

Haylie Duff is sexy and crazy and sexy in this Lifetime movie as a woman whose home robber boyfriend is killed during an attempted robbery. Haylie decides to get revenge, and promptly goes about insinuating herself into this woman's life and destroying it piece by piece. I'm not sure if this was actually made for Lifetime or if they were just showing it on Lifetime, because some of the peril and mindfucking going on in this flick is a little dark even for Lifetime. Still, dug my Hay in it; she is crazy sexy, and I could watch her in these things for a long time. **

Francois Truffaut short about a group of young boys who become obsessed with a beautiful young woman and who attempt to thwart her boyfriend. I love Truffaut's attention to the way boys think; the way every tiny thing can be imbued with great significance. Bernadette Lafont is absolutely lovely as the object of their affection. ****