Best of 2011 on The Movie Gourmet’s new site

My Best Movies of 2011 is up on my new blog at The Movie Gourmet.com. So is Your Holiday Movie Guide and comments on all the latest films.  Plus all of my year-end lists like Biggest Disappointments, Breakthroughs, Best Time at the Movies, Year of the Smart Action Film, etc.

The new blog looks just the same and still uses the WordPress platform, but will have more features. I just needed a new address. So bookmark the new site and please subscribe! I had some issues with subscriptions, but that’s been fixed,

The Movie Gourmet.com is your new source for my movie comments, DVD of the Week and all my lists: Best Prison Movies, Best Sports Movies, Best Drug Movies, 10 Food Porn Movies, Great Hillbilly Movies, Worst Teeth in the Movies and all the rest. Same with Helen Mirren Nekked! and Danny Trejo and his scary friends.

Advertisements
Posted in Rants and Ruminations | Tagged | Leave a comment

DVD of the Week: Kaboom

And now for some sexy silliness. Director Gregg Araki created the brilliant and searing Mysterious Skin, but here he’s just having fun.  In the first hour of Kaboom, I lost track of how many characters had sex with each other – it’s just about non-stop and guy-on-guy, girl-on-girl, guy-on-girl, guy-and-girl-on-guy, etc.  I would characterize the sex as casual, but that would make it seem that the characters were having even a modicum of difficulty in finding partners.  Anyway, the chaotic sexathon is very funny.   The last twenty minutes takes the film into a campy version of a paranoid apocalypse film, before an abrupt (and I mean abrupt) ending.  Did I mention the bad guys in the animal masks? It’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Have two cocktails and then pop in the DVD.

Posted in Weekly Movie Recommendations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

DVD of the Week: Kings of Pastry

This documentary chronicles the physically grueling and emotionally draining three-day competition for the MOF, the highest designation for French pastry chefs. Amid impossibly towering sugar sculptures and delectable cream puffs and layer cakes, we see the essential cores of competition – aspiration, ambition, perseverance, commitment, desperation, heartbreak and victory. Kings of Pastry is directed by the brilliant documentarians Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker (The War Room).

It has earned a spot on my list of 10 Food Porn Movies.

Posted in Weekly Movie Recommendations | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Movie Gourmet is moving

My new blog is at The Movie Gourmet.com.  It looks just the same and still uses the WordPress platform, but will have more features.  I just needed a new address.  So bookmark the new site and please subscribe!

The Movie Gourmet.com is your new source for my movie comments, Movies to See Right Now, DVD of the Week and all my lists:  Best Prison Movies, Best Sports Movies, Best Drug Movies, 10 Food Porn Movies, Great Hillbilly Movies, Worst Teeth in the Movies and all the rest. Same with Helen Mirren Nekked!, Danny Trejo and his scary friends and Hollywood’s Lisbeth Salander.

Posted in Rants and Ruminations | Leave a comment

13 Assassins: a cut above

Director Takeshi Miike’s take on the samurai movie is the best contribution to the genre since Kurosawa. Brilliantly staged and photographed, this is one of the best recent action films in any language or setting.

It’s a familiar set-up: an honorable samurai must assemble and lead a team of thirteen to kill a psychotically sadistic noble. But first they must hack their way through the bad guy’s 200 bodyguards. What sets 13 Assassins apart is the inventively booby-trapped town and the frenzied pace of the climactic battle. It even has exploding boars!

Kôji Yakusho, a veteran with 72 acting credits, gives an impressive performance as the lead assassin. You may remember him from Shall We Dance? or Babel.

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bridesmaids: funny, but incomplete

Bridesmaids is a funny movie, but one that could have been much better.  In a role that she wrote for herself, Kristen Wiig plays a woman whose insecurities keep her from seeing the good and the possible in her life.  Instead, she wreaks havoc on her best friend’s wedding planning and is about to sabotage a sweet romance with Chris O’Dowd.  So far, so good.

Producer Judd Apatow salted Wiig’s screenplay with some low brow stuff.  Now, I like to see gals at an upscale wedding boutique puking on each other and shitting themselves as much as the next guy (and it was the guys in the audience that were laughing the most at that scene).  But the Apatow additions didn’t quite mesh with the central story.

Still, we can conclude that Kristen Wiig has what it takes to carry a movie by herself.  Hopefully, next time she’ll get her script greenlighted as is.

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Movies to See Right Now

Incendies

The searing drama Incendies is the year’s best film so far. Upon their mother’s death, a young man and woman learn for the first time of their father and their brother and journey from Quebec to the Middle East to uncover family secrets. As they bumble around Lebanon, we see the mother’s experience in flashbacks. We learn before they do that their lives were created – literally – by the violence of the Lebanese civil war.

Don’t miss Cave of Forgotten Dreams while it can be seen in 3D; Werner Herzog explores the amazing 30,000 year old Chauvet cave paintings. In the fine French drama Queen to Play, a working class woman discovers a passion for chess in midlife; she and her family, must adjust, along with a French-speaking Kevin Kline.

In Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig plays a woman whose insecurities keep her from seeing the good and the possible in her life; it’s funny, but not one of the year’s best. Meek’s Cutoff is a disappointing misfire.

Source Code is a gripping scifi thriller with intelligence and heart, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan. Hanna is a rip roaring girl-power thriller starring Saiorse Ronan as a 16-year-old raised in the Arctic Circle to be a master assassin by her rogue secret agent father, and then released upon the CIA.

For trailers and other choices,see Movies to See Right Now.

You can see trailers of upcoming films at Movies I’m Looking Forward To.

My DVD pick is Diabolique.

Movies on TV this week include the underrated Sam Peckinpah classic Junior Bonner and the campy Giant Mutant Bunny horror film Night of the Lepus on TCM.

Posted in Weekly Movie Recommendations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Incendies: best movie of the year so far

This searing drama is the year’s best film so far. Upon their mother’s death, a young man and woman learn for the first time of their father and their brother and journey from Quebec to the Middle East to uncover family secrets. As they bumble around Lebanon, we see the mother’s experience in flashbacks. We learn before they do that their lives were created – literally – by the violence of the Lebanese civil war. Because the film is anything but stagey, you can’t tell that Canadian director Denis Villaneuve adapted the screenplay from a play. Lubna Azabal, a Belgian actress of Moroccan and Spanish heritage, is brilliant as the mother. It’s a tough film to watch, with graphic violence against women and children. But the violence is neither gratuitous nor exploitative – it is a civil war, after all, and the theme of the film is the cycle of retribution. Incendies was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, but lost out to a much inferior film on the same subject of violence, In a Better Life.

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meek’s Cutoff: when men don’t ask for directions

Meek’s Cutoff is an unfortunate misfire by the excellent director Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy).   The masterpiece Picnic at Hanging Rock has already been made.  We didn’t need an indifferent covered wagon version.

The route of the Oregon Trail was not yet well established in 1845, so a covered wagon train hires a mountain man who claims that he has found a shortcut through the Cascades.  However, it becomes clear that the mountain man (Bruce Greenwood) is unreliable, and there is a new option of following an Indian of unknown motives.  We can’t even tell if the Indian is sane.  The men (Will Patton, Paul Dano) must figure out what to do while their wives (Michelle Williams, Shirley Henderson) eavesdrop and guess their fate.

There are possibilities there, but Reichardt hasn’t made much of a point by the time the movie ends.  We know that human decision making cannot guarantee survival in a harsh and unfamiliar environment, but that’s not enough of a payoff after tromping around bleak Eastern Oregon for two hours.

Oddly, Reichardt shot the movie in a 1.37:1 Academy screen ratio.  This looks especially boxy in a Western set in a vast, horizonless wilderness.

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DVD of the Week: Diabolique

The headmaster of a provincial boarding school is so cruel, even sadistic, that everyone wants him dead, especially his wife and his mistress.  When he goes missing, the police drain the murky pool where the killers dumped the body, and the killers get a big surprise.  Now the suspense from director Henri-Georges Clouzot really starts.

A master of the thriller, Clouzot was nicknamed the French Hitchcock.  In an achingly scary scene from Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear, two truck drivers try to get a long truck around a cliff side hairpin curve  – and the truck is filled with nitroglycerin.  If you like Diabolique, you’ll probably also like another domestic murder – this time set in Paris – Quai des Orfevres.  Criterion has released the Diabolique DVD.

Posted in Movies, Weekly Movie Recommendations | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment