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  • Ted Bundy 2002

    ½ Watched 11 Apr, 2014

    Part of Will & AJ's Excellent LOLviewings

    Will, while admitting the film is largely a failure, was telling me he thinks Bundy is attempting to be a subversive comedy about the infamous serial killer. I think there's some truth to that, if only because you'd hope that someone who scores a montage of Ted Bundy thwacking a bunch of young girls to death with the sunniest pop music imaginable has to be conscious of the decision they're making. But whatever director…

  • The Phantom Carriage 1921

    ★★★★½ Watched 10 Apr, 2014

    No less than the film that inspired a young Ingmar Bergman to make movies, The Phantom Carriage remains a haunting experience nearly a century later. Victor Sjöström wrote, directed, and starred in this adaptation of the Selma Lagerlöf novel wherein the last man to die on New Year's Eve is forced to drive Death's carriage for the next year. First, though, he must relive the torment he caused others: his alcoholic ways turned his brother into a killer, drove his…

  • Border Radio 1987

    ★★★ Watched 09 Apr, 2014

    A true artifact of '80s DIY cinema. Filmed in black-and-white over four years with a barely-there budget, Border Radio is about a punk musician (real-life rocker Chris D.) who high-tails it over the Mexican border when some folks he stole money from come looking after it. Par for the course, none of the actors are particularly good and the film meanders from offbeat episode to offbeat episode. Still, there's a ramshackle charm about the whole thing and a number of funny moments, most of them involving Chris Shearer's roadie. If only the plot felt like anything more than a constant interruption.

  • A Well Spent Life 1972

    ★★★★½ Watched 08 Apr, 2014

    Like his The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins, Les Blank's A Well Spent Life (co-directed by Skip Gerson) is another Texas mood piece set to the blues. This time, they're courtesy of Mance Lipscomb, and where this one goes the Lightnin' Hopkins doc one better is in getting Lipscomb to discuss his philosophies on life, love, religion, and happiness. We meet a married couple who live near the Lipscombs; back when he was ornery, she shot his leg off. That…

  • The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins 1970

    ★★★★½ Watched 08 Apr, 2014

    This half-hour documentary from Les Blank highlights the blues of Lightnin' Hopkins. And true to the title, we get to find out what the blues are according to Mr. Hopkins: they're any sadness you carry inside you, something you're always crying over. Not that any sadness carries over to his performances or the stories he tells Blank; there's a joyousness in watching Hopkins strum the guitar and sing, or in witnessing one of his fellow musicians tearing into a harmonica.…

  • Consenting Adults 1992

    ★½ Watched 07 Apr, 2014

    Starts off promising with good interaction between Kevin Kline and Kevin Spacey as a jingle writer and his oily scam artist neighbor. Things take a turn for the dreadful when Spacey frames Kline for the murder of his wife, leading to a thriller that is as boring as it is ridiculous. I laughed at a graphic crime scene twice; probably not what they intended. A rightly forgotten effort from '70s master Alan J. Pakula.

  • The Flintstones 1994

    ★★ Rewatched 06 Apr, 2014

    I have no idea what possessed me to watch this for the first time in almost 20 years, but something did. And you know what, it's not awful. It's not good, but it didn't destroy my childhood the way it so easily could have. John Goodman as Fred Flintstone is like a once-in-a-lifetime perfect casting choice, and the set design and visual effects are top-notch for the time. Plus you have The B-52's performing at the Cavern on the Green as The BC-52's. That has to make you smile.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 05 Apr, 2014

    A significant aspect of the film I didn't mention the first time is that it juggles four different time periods: opening with a present-day student reading The Grand Budapest Hotel; then going back to the 1980s, as the author speaks into the camera about how he came upon this story; then the 1960s, when the author as a young man meets Zero, who tells him his story; and finally the 1930s, where young Zero and M. Gustave have their adventures.…

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 05 Apr, 2014

    This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.

  • Zandalee 1991

    ½ Watched 05 Apr, 2014

    Part of Will & AJ's Excellent LOLviewings

    Nicolas Cage, the undisputed king of LOLviewings, stars in an "erotic thriller" with Judge Reinhold. The two of them fight over sexy non-entity Erika Anderson; at one point, Cage is so enraged (enCaged?) about the situation that he slathers himself in black paint. In its overheated Southern glory, it comes across as a very silly Tennessee Williams riff. I can imagine Tommy Wiseau washing up on these shores clutching a battered VHS copy of Zandalee...the main character's name is even Johnny.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 03 Apr, 2014

    So many superheroes stand for what's right, for "truth, justice, and the American way." They're outsized representations of what we hope to be at our best. That's sort of what they do. Captain America embodies these qualities more than most; that's sort of what he does. It would be so easy to do away with that corny, old-fashioned moral backbone. Comics are no stranger to the "grim 'n' gritty" reboot, nor are comic book movies (see Man of Steel for…

  • The Immigrant 2013

    ★★★ Watched 31 Mar, 2014

    Marion Cotillard is superb as a Polish immigrant who finds making it in America to be a thoroughly degrading experience. Likewise, the photography is haunting (I can't think of a more perfect opening/closing shot in recent memory). The movie itself, though...the movie itself is a melodrama through-and-through, and how much you'll get out of The Immigrant depends on how much you're able to roll with the very writerly punches. Me, I found the film involving enough, though hamstrung by the…