January 2006 Archives

That Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy works at all is surprising. It’s hilariously contrived, wildly improbable, and at times downright goofy in its broad comedy, most of it based in the main character’s unleashed id. The movie’s underlying self-seriousness runs so deep that it threatens to become its own form of silliness. And its pitch is constant extremity, from acute rage to blubbering desperation. Yet the effect is not tonal incongruity, but a messy mix of emotions that’s true to its protagonist.

A Movie for One

In Palindromes, writer/director Todd Solondz has a wonderfully oddball conceit: Eight actors of widely disparate ages, races, body types, and dispositions — and even one boy — play 13-year-old Aviva Victor over the course of the movie. It’s obviously meant as a jarring, difficult film, but it’s curiously tame, the function of a concept in search of something to say.

Murderball is the perfect movie to show to people who think they don’t like documentaries, because it transcends the genre; above all else, it’s a very good sports movie — compelling, fun, smart, and accessible.

In Dark Water, the 2002 Japanese horror movie that was re-made in the United States in 2005, an anxious, annoying, newly single mother named Yoshimi rents a very wet apartment and encounters a greenish ghost. I thought: Certainly this would have been a much more entertaining film if Yoshimi battled the pink robots instead.

Intolerable Cruelty

The easy, conventional reading of Lars von Trier’s Dogville casts it as an anti-American screed. Yet that interpretation exists almost completely outside of the movie itself. In other words, many of von Trier’s critics are full of shit.

The core material of Julia Sweeney’s performance movie God Said, “Ha!” is strong enough to nearly overcome the treatment.