Shut Up And Play The Hits (2012)
The only real feeling that this documentary about the last show of LCD Soundsystem gave me was that I’m sorry I missed seeing them live. I’m a fan and I’m sure they put on a killer show, but as a documentary, this seemed a bit too staged - lots of boo hoo moments juxtaposed with exhilarating show shots. For serious fans only because it’s a little too wah for the rest of us.
Too Late For Tears (1949)
Looking for a snappy film noir thriller with a cold-as-ice murderous vixen in a shadowy Los Angeles setting? This movie is your bag. It’s fun, evil and pure noir deliciousness. The print we saw was horrible but apparently it’s been restored. Highly entertaining on a rainy night.
Life Itself (2014) dir. Steve James
I’m pretty sure that staying up late to watch Siskel & Ebert on Sunday nights as a kid growing up is what made me want to study film in University. This documentary about Roger Ebert is about the movies, about drinking, about work, fame and finding your own voice. Essentially it’s a film about a life well-lived and the heartbreaking story of dying and death. This isn’t a great documentary like James’ Hoop Dreams, but it’s a heck of a good story. Recommended.
Byzantium (2013) dir. Neil Jordan
This vampire movie is at once a little silly in plot and details, but also full of gorgeous scenery and some very surreal and poetic moments. I liked the motivations between the mother-daughter vampires but it’s a little tiring to see a strong woman constantly being dragged down to just another object (and jeez, quit it with the stripper scenes). But despite its faults, I still found this quite watchable.
Pretty inoffensive and syrupy, this film felt like something from the Food Network mixed with an after-school special. Meh.
Johnny Guitar (1954) dir. Nicolas Ray
This is one koo-koo & highly stylized western and it’s utterly enjoyable with it’s crazy costumes, gender-bending sexual tensions and dagger-sharp quips. It looks like a western but it’s a wacky melodrama to the nth degree. Super fun!
Super Duper Alice Cooper (2014) dir. Reg Harkema
There are no talking heads in this documentary about Alice Cooper. Instead there is lots of silent movie footage, photos and later video all narrated by Alice Cooper the band and Alice Cooper the man. It starts off shaky and cheap (oh no, so many silent movie clips) but soon enough tells some entertaining stories about how the band starts to make it. From then it’s just another cautionary tale about the dangers of rock n’ roll theatre. Meh.
Breadcrumb Trail (2014)
I’m not sure if you need to be a fan of Slint and the whole Louisville scene from the early/mid-90s to love this documentary, but I think it helps. And man, did this film bring me right back to the mid-90s when I discovered Slint and all those amazing LV/KY bands (Palace Brothers, The For Carnation, King Kong, etc.). This is less about the making of Spiderland and more about the band members and their Louisville bubble that seemed filled with niceness, amazing creativity and an intimate intertwining between friends and touring bands. Pretty great.
The Fault In Our Stars (2014)
Life lessons come shooting at you in every directions while applause and knowing winks are scattered throughout (uh, literally). Don’t get me talking about the kiss in Anne Frank house!!! Jeez, have some respect. It’s a cheesy movie adapted from a John Green novel that I didn’t like a whole lot, but it has its moments. Like, the amazing Laura Dern as the mom and Shailene Woodley (however awful she might be as a person) is a pretty good actress here. But this film is built upon a schmatlzy white & rich teenage fantasy world and while I dropped a tear or two, I just couldn’t buy into it.
Cold Day in July (2014)
This pulp-driven noir-ish film felt like a car wreck. The first half is gripping and fun, like a cross between Cape Fear and Assault on Precinct 13 (with a wicked John Carpenter-like soundtrack to boot) and then a cut to a red car slams into the frame and the movie takes a total detour into a campy detective buddy film that works in a terrible snuff film plot. Loved the first half a whole lot - the acting was great along with the very tense mood. There was some cool lens trickery in the second half, but it lost steam and turned into something that kinda sucked. Disappointing but also sorta watchable too.
The Driver (1978) - dir. Walter Hill
Minimalist 70’s cool to the max. I love car movies and this one is pretty great. No one is given a name (“the driver”, “the detective”), everybody plays it cool (well, except for the hammy one-liners from Bruce Dern’s detective) and there are fantastic car chase scenes through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. Clearly this was a big influence on Drive. One enjoyable ride.
Cracks (2011) dir. Jordan Temple
This isn’t a great movie, but it’s enjoyable enough for a “mystery thriller”. Filled with stunningly beautiful girls, scenery and costumes, the story is set in a 1930’s English boarding school with all the cliches you’d expect in such a gothic setting. Hunker down with a tea and a biscuit and don’t expect too much and you’ll be okay.
We Are The Best! (2014) dir. Lukas Moodysson
Uh, this movie is THE BEST! There are happy Moodysson films, downer Moodysson films and experimental shitstorm Moodysson films. This fits nicely in the former, like Together and Fucking Amal. I had a huge grin on my face while watching this film. It’s great! It’s about girls, it’s punk and it’s about boys trying to ruin everything. 5 stars & 10 bags of popcorn.
Mistaken for Strangers (2013)
An awkward, badly filmed, sorta funny film that is about two brothers more than it is about the band The National. The band seems boring, the film is mostly boring while trying to pass itself off as some kind of Spinal Tap. Meh.
Caught (1949) dir. Max Ophuls
A dark, noir-ish melodrama that cinematically soars with some amazing camera work and lighting while taking bites at gender and class. This film is filled with great performances and is most definitely worth a watch.