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by Stuart Henderson

23 Sep 2011


A DANGEROUS METHOD
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Sarah Gadon, Vincent Cassel
Country: Germany / Canada

David Cronenberg’s latest is a chilly study of the creative and competitive triangle between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and the lesser-known Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly) in the early years of the 20th century. Christopher Hampton’s cunningly constructed script—he is the man behind Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement) paints the early history of psychoanalysis as a precarious moment, a time when brave innovators faced the collective disapproval of their peers for their forays to the edges of science. In many ways, this is a film about acceptance, about fitting in, and about the ways one muct repress one’s desires in order to do so.

by Stuart Henderson

23 Sep 2011


THE DAY
Director: Doug Aarniokoski
Cast: Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell Cory Hardrict, Dominic Monaghan, Shannyn Sossamon
Country: USA

Can a cannibal ever truly be redeemed? For the answer to this Augustinian question I guess you could watch The Day, but it’s probably better to just let that be one of life’s unaswerables. This execrable film follows a group of survivors of some unnamed holocaust as they wander around and try not to get eaten by roving bands of cannibals. The plot is, basically, well, have you ever seen Night of the Living Dead? How about The Road? OK. So, add those together, and then subtract all the subtext, social commentary, scary bad guys, clever script, and character development.

by Stuart Henderson

16 Sep 2011


INTO THE ABYSS
Director: Werner Herzog
Cast: Richard Lopez, Michael Perry, Damon Hall, Lisa Stotler-Balloun, Charles Richardson, Jason Burkett, Jared Talbert, Amanda West, Delbert Burkett, Melyssa Thompson-Burkett, Fred Allen
Country: USA

Among the most beloved art house directors working today, Werner Herzog could make a movie about just about anything and the critics would fall over themselves praising it. Perhaps this is because there is a critic-proof quality to his work, so rife it is with broken rules, oddball flights of fancy, uncompromising artistry, and downright bizarre choices.

In his documentaries especially, Herzog throws the supposed regulations out completely, ditching any pretense toward objectivity or “documentation” for a decidedly first-person perspective. He doesn’t just interview his subjects, he debates with them. He asks surprising, heavily loaded questions of them. He is full of leading suggestions—at one point in Into the Abyss he asks someone to describe a gunfight: “And you arrived at the scene. Was it mayhem?”—and seems always as though he is literally directing the documentary while he is out there documenting it. As one reporter acquaintance of mine complains: “He does everything we are taught as reporters never to do, and all these artists think he’s a genius.” Well, yes.

by Stuart Henderson

16 Sep 2011


SONS OF NORWAY
Director: Jens Lien
Cast: Åsmund Høeg, Sven Nordin, Sonja Richter, Tony Veisle Skarpsmo, John Lydon
Country: Norway

At the public screening for this Norwegian coming of age tale, former Sex Pistol and co-star Johnny Rotten was asked to introduce the film. “You’ll really like it,” he declared. “And if you don’t, you’re fucking cunts.” Well. Glad I liked it, I guess. Sons of Norway, mockingly named after a Norwegian cultural heritage preservation society, tells the story of the role punk music and culture influenced a young boy on the cusp of his adolescence in 1978.

by Stuart Henderson

16 Sep 2011


THE DESCENDANTS
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer
Country: USA
 
There is much to admire in Alexander Payne’s new comic drama, his first since the widely-revered Sideways in 2004. Though not nearly as clever or as fun as his earlier masterstrokes like Election or Citizen Ruth, this is a mature and well-executed study of what happens when people die and leave us with their messes to clean up.

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