In its alternation between the abjectly terrifying and the snottily comic--making you guess which is the real home base--BASTERDS is by far Tarantino's most original and most daring movie. Like almost all his work, it has the downside of feeling like a joke that, once heard, doesn't gain much from a repeat hearing. Aside from JACKIE BROWN, though, this may be the most returnable-to; and maybe the only one whose powers hold a certain portion of mystery.
The films of Peter Strickland appeal to the Movie Reviewer of Today--particularly the bloggerino or online-magazine thumb-up-or-down boy--for a fairly straightforward reason. The muggy, grubby sexuality of Strickland's movies resembles the obsessive, onanistic, probably-kinda-scary-if-seen-in-daylight sexuality of those who live Compulsively Online.
All of Strickland's movies seem to involve damaged-looking characters sniffing at something that probably smells bad--rubber, dirty laundry, burnt recording-studio wires, ickily sweated-in velvet. The filmmaking itself resembles a form of addictive fetishism where the victim cannot look at,…
I doubt you can find a good review for Billy Wilder's hit follow-up to his Best Picture-winning THE APARTMENT, but IRMA is proof that--in the sixties anyway--Billy's comedies were more haunting than other people's dramas. Jack Lemmon's honest cop, courting Shirley MacLaine's honest whore, discovers that an honest man must play a whoremaster, a gentleman must play a murderer, and many other ruses by which true love is permitted to exist in Wilder's truly unlovely world. Long damned by auteur…
Sinister, cryptic, sidelong, dislikable. The second in a series of PTA films that are like adaptations of imaginary classic American novels. (PTA's There Will Be Blood, while credited as adapted from Upton Sinclair's Oil!, really bears almost no relationship to that novel.) Here, PTA follows up the mythic rise of heroic/antiheroic capitalist Daniel Plainview--a maven of physical goods, a bleeder of the earth--with what PTA pegs as the defining category killer of the modern, meaning postwar, world: one who sells…