Sunday, January 1 1995
As both a parody and a 'straight' summer camp comedy, 'Wet Hot American Summer' has little to offer even the most die-hard crude comedy fans.
Forces of nature make for excellent movie villains. Twisters, storms at sea, icebergs, earthquakes, wild rivers full of snakes, volcanoes -- they're all big, bad, easily recognizable bullies, mainly because, by definition, they never pick on anyone their own size.
The most skillful purveyors of horror and suspense narratives recognize one incontrovertible fact: we fear the banal.
Rather, it only suggests that when something beautiful comes your way, you should hold onto it for as long as you're able.
Valentine's message is that women who overstep their bounds deserve physical, motional, and sexual abuse, because of how they perpetually victimize men. And so, what is actually scariest about 'Valentine' is the film's tacit attitude that these girls had it coming.
And yet, for its many pleasures, I find myself conflicted in thinking about The Virgin Suicides.
It's hardly a new idea, to read into adolescent girls' suicide something poetic, passionate, and deeply meaningful. Neither is it a secret that countless girls have admired Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman, seeing in their wounded and inviolate art reflections of themselves, their own pain and enchantment.
'The Vertical Ray of the Sun' [begins with] the quiet wonder of a morning that is not rushed, allowed to unfold itself moment by gentle moment.
Unlike currently popular representations of prison -- say, your average Sly-Stallone-type-in-prison movie or Tom Fontana's justly celebrated HBO series, 'Oz', made dazzling with acrobatic camerawork and fast-cut editing -- 'The Visit' is unflashy, almost to a fault.
'Unbreakable' might be best described as 'Die Hard' for art-house audiences.
There's not much in this film that's subtle, but it does actually have something thoughtful to say about the ways that we perceive and assume truth, or the ways we might be convinced of some untruth because of our own anxieties. What you see can be -- and usually is -- deceiving.
Amy's just come up with her final project concept: a serial killer whose murders are based on urban legends. (Um, didn't someone already make this movie?)"
'Urbania' is all about stories, how they're told and how they are received, who shares and who withholds, or what anyone might mean by telling a story.
A Nazi U-boat commander, peering through a periscope, locks a merchant ship in his sights. After giving the order to fire, he studies the ship's flaming wreckage and proclaims that the crew has succeeded in breaking her back.
What it gets you thinking about, while you watch it and for some time afterwards, is whether anyone can ever know what has 'happened,' and more disturbingly, how the tendency to want such knowledge can be violent.
Steve Everett is an old-school newspaper reporter, the kind who has improbable hunches that turn out to be right, who gives investigative reporters a good name, who's relegated to fiction these days. He's also more complicated than that, a self-styled macho boozer and womanizer, but recently slipped into another state, feeling confused and a little pathetic.
Instead of making bold political statements, 'Drunken Horses' shows how its characters -- and the people they represent -- suffer, yet endure.