Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh (April 27th and 30th at the Cleveland Museum of Art)

[VINCENT: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF VINCENT VAN GOH screens Sunday April 27th at 1:30 pm and Wednesday April 30th at 7 pm at the Cleveland Museum of Art)

Review by Chip Karpus

This 1987 documentary from Australian filmmaker Paul Cox ties in the with the new Vincent Van Gogh exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art (credit where credit is due, however; the Toledo Museum of Art had a show starring the culty French Impressionist about a dozen years ago). Cox, who would later give the same sort of treatment to NIJINSKY: THE DIARIES OF VASLAV NIJINSKY, tells the story of Van Gogh's life through his own words and pictures.

The wall-to-wall narration, bracingly read by thespian John Hurt, is taken entirely from Van Gogh's letters, mostly to his brother Theo (although there is included the momentous letter asking fellow impressionist Paul Gauguin to move in with him at Arles).

Nymphomaniac, Volume 2 (Opens in Cleveland on Friday April 25th exclusively at the Capitol Theatre)

[NYMPHOMANIAC VOLUME 2 opens in Cleveland on Friday, April 25th exclusively at the Capitol Theater.]

Review by Milan Paurich

In his review of Lars von Trier’s NYMPHOMANIAC VOLUME 2, New York Times film critic A.O. Scott referred to VOLUME 1 as “the fun part.” Scott was making a joke (at least I think he was), but that snarky bon mot is probably how a lot of viewers will feel after watching the less conventionally enjoyable second half of von Trier’s magnum opus.

There’s as much of a tonal disconnect between VOLUME 1 and VOLUME 2 as there was a stylistic gap separating Quentin Tarantino’s KILL BILL movies. If the first BILL was a dizzying succession of “Can you top this?” action setpieces, the concluding chapter released six months later was slower, talkier and (a half hour) longer. BILL VOLUME 2 was still an enormously accomplished piece of auteurist filmmaking, yet so far removed from its antecedent that many Tarantino fans felt cheated.

Marnie (April 24th and 25th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[MARNIE screens Thursday April 24th at 8:40 pm and Friday April 25th at 7 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

With few exceptions, critics regard 1964's MARNIE as one of Alfred Hitchcock's more disappointing pictures - though, considering that the Master of Suspense had just delivered PSYCHO and THE BIRDS, it had some hard acts to follow. And, if one swallows the a la mode film-lit publishing dogma (recently dramatized in a few motion pictures), one is given to understand that Hitchcock was not only a virtuoso suspense-film storyteller but a genuine depraved personality whose movies can be interpreted as abnormal-psych evidence (oh, but Hollywood was sooooooo grateful to make money off him while the gentleman was alive). MARNIE, therefore is full of meaty Freudian-interpretation stuff for savvy viewers.

(Personally, I'd think you wannabe profilers would be more useful to society scrutinizing the films and possible criminal MOs of Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and - we're now told - Bryan Singer. But I guess that would affect finances of present-day movie studios and their parent multinational corporations. Now that would be a real crime. Nothing to see here, move on people. Go to that MARNIE showing in 50th-anniversary revival instead.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weird Science (screens April 19 at midnight at the Capitol Theatre)

[WEIRD SCIENCE screens Saturday April 19th at midnight at the Capitol Theatre.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Adolescent audiences eagerly flocked to it, critics hated John Hughes' WEIRD SCIENCE when it premiered in 1984 (what was I doing? Lots and lots of college homework, you know, for that career and the good jobs that I was never going to have). The persnickety movie-scribe establishment including Hughes supporters like Roger Ebert, took the movie as an almost personal betrayal by writer-director Hughes, whose 16 CANDLES, PRETTY IN PINK and THE BREAKFAST CLUB seemed to save society from many PORKY'S-inspired lowbrow 1980s youth comedies that were all about teen sex and revenge-pranks.

To them, Hughes was a cinematic messiah and master of mass-audience Teen Comedy-Dramas With Heart and Soul. Until WEIRD SCIENCE, of course, that suddenly dove head-first into exaggerated juvie sex references and revenge-pranks, taking full advantage of the newly created PG-13 rating.

Here is what the critics forgot (but which I probably could have told them, if I weren't busy doing lots of college studies and homework, you know, for that career and the good jobs I was never going to get. Have I neglected to mention that yet?):

Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian (April 18th and 19th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN screens Friday April 18th at 5:15 pm and Saturday April 19th at 7:10 pmat the Cleveland Cinematheque. ]

Review by Milan Paurich

If you can overlook the fact that it looks, feels and sounds nothing like any previous Arnaud (“A Christmas Tale,” “Kings & Queen”) Desplechin film, “Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian” is something altogether extraordinary. A true-life story of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as experienced by the titular WW II veteran and the doctor who treated him, “Jimmy P.” is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen about the psychoanalytic process. There’s a lot of talk here—splendidly written dialogue by Desplechin, Kent Jones and Julie Peyr—but Desplechin is such a dynamic filmmaker that it never feels remotely static.

Psycho, with the Cleveland Orchestra, on April 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

It was upbeat for a moment there, when the Cleveland-filmed CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER broke box-office records internationally. For an instant it seemed like the world actually liked Cleveland. But...remember, that while CAPTAIN AMERICA shot all over town, it was simply the ruins of post-industrial Great Recession Cleveland passing for other Marvel Comics locales. The real test of "Renaissance City" would come when the Browns-centered football movie DRAFT DAY, actually set in Cleveland, premiered in wide release right after CAPTAIN AMERICA. And we all know what happened.

DRAFT DAY scored a paltry $10 million gross opening weekend. There are Cuyahoga County bureaucrats and educators who regularly steal more than that. It's on track to be the least-seen Kevin Costner movie since SIZZLE BEACH USA. Costner's people have been hard at work floating the story that DRAFT DAY was actually made by an actor-director called "Cevin Kostner," no relation; the real Costner would never dream of setting foot in Cleveland. The Cleveland Film Commission has issued a disclaimer that it actually promotes Cleveland Tennessee; they only have offices in Ohio because the flatline-economy rent was cheaper here.

In other words, superheroes notwithstanding, we're back to relying on the esteemed Cleveland Orchestra being the only thing significant about Cleveland (now that LeBron James has gone).

Dom Hemingway

Review by Pamela Zoslov

It opens with a loud, boastful paean by the title character, a cockney convict played by Jude Law, to his penis, which he praises as, among other things, “a fuckin' work of art, like a Renoir or a Picasso.”

That bold opening suggests a more exciting experience than Richard Shepherd's film, DOM HEMINGWAY, delivers, but it's is still a pretty enjoyable ride. The movie tells a familiar story, that of a long-imprisoned criminal sprung free upon a changed world. The inmate, Dom, is an unlucky safecracker who's been 12 years a convict for keeping his mouth shut about his accomplices in a heist. Newly released from prison, Dom sets out to settle scores and collect the cash and gratitude he feels he's owed.

Under The Skin

Review by Pamela Zoslov

Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi movie UNDER THE SKIN was ten years in the making. “It was very easy to spend that much time on the film,” says the director, best known for SEXY BEAST.” “I wanted to keep going [to] make something that...was a kind of experience that matched the perspective of the character.”

It is an experience, all right, but not necessarily the kind most viewers will embrace. The movie stars the ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson as an alien who inhabits the body of a young woman and roams the Scottish Highlands in a van, luring young hitchhikers to their deaths. Not all of this plot exposition is obvious to the audience, who after watching this highly abstract, nearly dialogue-free film, may wonder what the hell it was all about. The cinematography and effects are often mesmerizing, and were this a film-school exercise or twenty-minute short for art class, it would deserve an 'A.' But a theatrical film should not ask an audience to watch an arty exercise for an hour-thirty-eight and essentially make up its own story.

Le Week-End (opens in Cleveland April 18th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[LE WEEK-END opens in Cleveland on Friday April 18 th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

An old English married couple take a trip to Paris hoping to rekindle their romance in LE WEEK-END. Husband Nick (Jim Broadbent) is a professor who has just recently lost his job for making an inappropriate comment about a student's hairstyle. At one time full of passion and potential, Nick pretty much stumbles through life, making bad judgments not just at work but in his dealings with wife Meg (Lindsay Duncan). As a result Meg finds herself having to carry most of the weight in trying to make something out of the couple's vacation, and it begins to take a toll.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Review by Joseph Anthony

If I were to tell you OCULUS was a film about two people trying to kill a mirror, you might feel inclined to pass on it. Don’t, it’s worth a serious look. You might not know anyone who made the film or the actors in it. Even director Mike Flanagen is a relative newcomer (though won’t be for long), but OCULUS is sure to please those looking for a scare. 

When young sister and brother Kaylie (Annalise Basso) and Tim (Garrett Ryan) move into their brand new home, their father also purchases an antique mirror for his office. Things turn sour in a hurry, particularly between mom and dad, and the children are faced with constant bickering between their parents and accusations that dad is having an affair with a woman in his office. Things take a murderous turn shortly after. The question as to why these string of tense and peculiar events happen is what the movie revolves around.