Opening in New York, April 5, 2013


I’m going to steal a bit of Nick’s innovations, but not all (no graphics, sorry). I’ll give a quote from a New York Times critic.

The most significant openings this week are limited releases, starting with Trance (61). Danny Boyle has had two best Oscar Best Picture nominees in a row, which makes him a director of some note, but I would think his streak ends here, with this thriller about hypnosis and stolen art. I’ll probably end up checking it out, if only for a full monty from Rosario Dawson (it was pointed out on this blog the likely reason for her getting the part).

Manohla Dargis writes: “there are times when it feels as if he’s throwing everything at the screen — the throbbing music, bleeding fingers, narrative U-turns and the startling sight of a naked Ms. Dawson striding toward the camera as strategically shorn as a Renaissance nude — less because he wants to distract you from the big reveal than to obscure the material’s thinness.”

Another Oscar-winning director has a film this week, his first in quite a while. Robert Redford directs and stars in The Company You Keep (56), about radicals from the ’60s hunted by the FBI. It has a good cast, co-starring Susan Sarandon and Julie Christie, but unfortunately also stars Shia LaBoeuf.

Stephen Holden writes: “Lem Dobbs’s clunky screenplay, adapted from Neil Gordon’s novel, maintains a scrupulously ethical balance in contemplating domestic terrorism, and the film gives the angriest of these left-wing radicals their say. If their rage has moderated, their basic feelings haven’t changed.”

Also in limited release are Upstream Color (78), directed by and starring Shane Carruth, which seems to defy description. Dargis writes: “In terms of the story, he also is a worm-wrangler cum kidnapper, referred to only as Thief, who, right out of a David Lynch nightmare, snatches a blonde, Kris (Amy Seimetz), one dark, stormy night and pumps worms down her throat. He never explains his actions, even after he takes Kris back to her house, where a copy of “Walden” waits for someone to enjoy.”

The Brass Teapot (39) is a Twilight Zone-like story, directed by Ramaa Mosley. It stars Juno Temple, who is a favorite of the Mr. Skin crowd. Nicolas Rapold writes: “A comic fable that squanders its twisted-fairy-tale concept, “The Brass Teapot” observes the insidious effects of greed on a young, broke couple. When Alice (Juno Temple) and John (Michael Angarano) acquire a teapot that spits out cash every time they hurt themselves, they leap into the good life through self-inflicted hard knocks but learn a valuable lesson when other people want their stuff.”

The only openings in wider release are a couple of horror films, which means I’ll be staying home this weekend.

6 Souls (27) is by a couple of Swedish directors and somehow stars Julianne Moore (certainly a TV series is next for her).  Rapold writes: “Beginning as a psychiatric freak show, “6 Souls” eventually trades serial-killer intimations for backwoods bad mojo before becoming just another dimly lighted pop-up-stalker flick.”

I suppose the weekend’s box office champion will be Evil Dead (58), a remake of the Sam Raimi film (I have not seen either of them–I understand Evil Dead 2 is something of a cult classic). Horror aficionados are giving this high marks, but I will wait and rent it, if only for the presence of Jane Levy, who activates my dirty old man meter.

Dargis writes: “The new “Evil Dead” has none of the first movie’s handmade charm or hilarity, intentional or otherwise. (It also lost its “The.”) The director, Fede Alvarez, approaches the creaky material with a surprisingly straight face and a fair amount of throat clearing.”




About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

30 responses »

  1. Full monty? …I love Rosario Dawson, and not just because she fully-financed her friend’s film with the entire paycheck of Pluto Nash because of a promise they both made to each other.

  2. there are times when it feels as if he’s throwing everything at the screen … less because he wants to distract you from the big reveal than to obscure the material’s thinness.

    I like some of his movies, but this is not an entirely unfair summation of Boyle’s career as a whole.

  3. So he’s the modern-day Oliver Stone during the Natural Born Killers/JFK years?

  4. That’s absurd. Whatever one’s opinion on Oliver Stone, one can hardly deny that for better or worse he has a lot to say about his chosen subjects. If anything, the complaint about him would be (and I think Jackrabbit Slim has made this criticism or something close to it) that his methods detract from the substance of his films, not that they obscure his lack of substance.

  5. re: Dawson

    Yeah, I had posted something wondering how she had landed the female lead in a studio picture given that she’s been primarily working in DTV for years now – then Nick pointed out that she was dating Boyle.

  6. Whoa, whoa. There isn’t a sane straight man who can watch Alexander and the ‘bed scene’ and say Dawson ‘Does nothing for them’.

  7. The substance of that scene alone makes my previous statements about Stone moot. (See what I did there?)

  8. I haven’t seen Alexander. That was also ten years ago.

    I will say (had this discussion with “Juan” once before) that it’s very surprising that she’s only 33.

  9. It was ten years ago, and I saw that full-frontal scene and she’s even better now. It’s remarkably good.
    (Is this conversation devolving? Cause I don’t mind it, but if anyone else does…let me know.)

  10. Her career is interesting. She’s back with two theatrical releases this year, Trance and Sin City 2 (groan), but other than a Atom Egoyan feature with Ryan Reynolds that might hit art houses: her pipeline appears to be mostly DTV features.

    It would be one thing if she was choosing quality indie fare that just doesn’t have the support/starpower/hook to go theatrical – but that hasn’t been the case.

  11. Primer was brilliant, and one of the best independent films ever made. Upstream Color isn’t even close.
    Primer had a novel’s worth of dialogue. Primer was amazing. Again, one of the best independent films ever. This was goddamn ‘Malick lite’ (some scenes blatant rip-offs of Malick). I can no longer handle Terrence Malick. And I am not alone. Carruth created atmosphere and story and a film identity for Primer through amazingly dense dialogue.
    This movie made me angry. Physically angry.
    If I wanted a ‘tone poem’ from the guy who made Primer, I would have waited-for and watched his inevitable 3 hour loop of pigs and worms in blood at the Whitney museum.

  12. Upstream Color didn’t make me angry, but I understand Filmman’s distaste for it. I have no idea what was going on there, but it seemed to involve insect larvae, pigs, and Walden, though how they tie together I don’t know. I also get the Malick connection–it was kind of Malick-lite. Nice performance by Amy Seimetz, though.

  13. I almost bought the Upstream Color Blu-ray at Best Buy the other day. I missed it theatrically, and have read a lot of good things about it, and was considering buying it blind. Not sure why I didn’t, but I put it back down.

    I really would like to see it, though.

  14. It was shot on the Panasonic GH-2. Shot very well on that. It must have had the driftwood hack, because it looked amazing.

  15. Upstream Color is on Netflix streaming as well. I’m going to give it another shot, although I’m dreading it.

  16. The Evil Dead remake is a deeply unpleasant film to watch. However, I’d also consider it one of the most technically impressive directorial debuts I’ve ever seen. I still can’t believe that there’s no CGI in the entire film.

  17. “I still can’t believe that there’s no CGI in the entire film.”

    There’s most definitely CGI used in the new EVIL DEAD. Lot’s of fantastic practical work too, but much of it is enhanced with CGI.

  18. I kind of assumed the “no CGI” bit was marketing.

    Even the ending sunrise looks CGI, although Alvarez and the cast swear it’s a perfectly timed shot through the trees.

  19. ‘The Company You Keep’ is as disappointing and forgettable as the critical reaction suggested it was. What should’ve been a fascinating demonstration of political issues just becomes a vanity project for Redford – he’s way too old for the character he’s playing and he even manages to make his character a ‘good’ guy so he can moralise other characters.

    It has an insanely good cast and a potentially great subject matter (student radicals of the 1960s trying to reconcile with their past in the 2010s) but instead wastes its time on a ho-hum police chasing an innoncent man across the country which comes across as a poor man’s The Fugitive.

    The scenes between reporter LaBeouf and his editor Stanley Tucci are especially tedious as they’re full of the cliches seen in dozens of newspaper films previously. And how does LaBeouf manage to work out such an elaborate coverup based on a couple of days research?

    There are occasional sparks of interest like in the scenes between Redford and Richard Jenkins characters. But mostly this film is flat as a pancake and just solidifies Redford as having one of the most disappointing directorial careers of the past few decades (after such a great debut film).

    To see a genuinely interesting and complex take on this topic, see the 2002 documentary ‘The Weather Underground’ (which I reviewed here).

    Rating: C-

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