Pinhole Movie Reviews


Killing Zoe by Thomas
September 22, 2014, 8:17 pm
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Eric Stoltz is an American bank robber in Paris who, together with a crew of maniacal French junkies, parties all night and then robs a bank the next day.  He also sleeps with Julie Delpy — bank teller by day, call girl by night! Right. It’s absurd, salacious, extremely violent — an exploitation film, like Tarantino without the irony or the production values. Turns out it was written and directed by Roger Avary, who contributed some of the more outlandish scenes to the Pulp Fiction script, which makes sense.  Anyhow, if you like the heist genre or cult movies in general then it’s worth checking out. Otherwise, just watchable.

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Killing Zoe 



Boyhood by Thomas
September 21, 2014, 12:38 pm
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Instead of shooting another symbolic “coming of age” movie, what if we just take 12 years to shoot so that the child actors actually become young adults before our very eyes?  It’s a superb realism called reality, a pastiche of scenes from childhood that don’t necessarily have any meaning except that they add up to a life.  Plus the movie looks gorgeous, and it’s fun to revisit the artifacts of the “2000s” era. (the indie rock soundtrack, “Halo” on original Xbox, etc.)

I did think that the charm starts to suffer a bit once the boy in question is old enough to speak long, quizzical, Linklater-ish dialogue — but that’s just me.  Over all Linklater managed to push the boundaries of cinema while also making a poignant, very enjoyable movie.  An amazing achievement!  Required viewing.
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Boyhood



The Ice Storm by Thomas
September 21, 2014, 11:50 am
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A disturbing family drama about sex and the limits of the suburban idyll; the darker cousin to American Beauty.  And yet it has no use for the stylized design, “titillating” teen nudity, or pretentious lyricism of that movie.  Maybe that’s because middle class values and sexual mores were already being called into question in the 1970’s setting…but also Ang Lee creates a good rhythm here, moving naturally between each set of characters (miserable adults vs. horny teenagers) so that we get a large amount of detail in each scene and yet the plot moves along just so.  Who needs pretty framing devices in this case?

The actors seem amazingly candid — the married couples have such scorn for each other, the teens are so pained with their burden of adolescence — plus the cinematography is impressive.  (Neatly composed silences, almost Ozu-esque, contrast with some truly wacky visuals — such as an extreme close-up of the very slim patch of rear end peaking over a girl’s waistline, followed by a cut back to the face of the boy behind her, transfixed. Yikes!) This is worth watching — though if you object to obscenity I imagine you’ll find it unwatchable.

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The Ice Storm



The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology by Thomas
September 21, 2014, 10:41 am
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Celebrity philosopher Slavoj Žižek is your host (and sole guest) in this talking-head type documentary.  Žižek gets inserted into scenes from his favorite movies, whence he explains how each movie carries out various ideological projects related to the sub-conscious currents of cultural life.  If you like cultural studies and can tolerate thickly-accented, barely intelligible jargon, then you might enjoy his critical ramblings — I certainly did.  But I also think this is just a fun use of the medium to tell a story about itself.  Worth checking out.

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The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

 

 



Dead Man by Thomas
September 21, 2014, 10:14 am
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Jim Jarmusch filmed this rambling, upside-down Western.  Johnny Depp plays a fancily dressed dude from back East, civilized if a bit dim, who goes on an ill-fated journey West. He’s a character type from the classic Western, a person whose manners prove useless on the wild frontier.  Except this time we follow his strange, almost psychedelic transformation into a gun-toting outlaw. I like the black & white photography, random twangy tones of music by Neil Young — and really it wouldn’t have worked without many amazing performances.  Look for Crispin Glover who is especially scary! Worth watching.

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Dead Man



The One I Love by jaemskeray
September 15, 2014, 1:54 am
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What the what?  The One I Love is a … I’m gonna go with Romantic Comedy about a young couple that has fallen out of love with each other trying to reinvigorate their relationship.  A therapist tells them to go to this house in the mountains for a retreat that he sends all his couple patients to, and then craziness ensues.  I really don’t want to give any of this away because I highly enjoyed it.  This movie twists and turns, and just when you think its one thing it then turns into something else.  Very well crafted.  The only problem with this movie is that once you start to analyze it afterwards, the whole thing falls apart like a house of cards.  But, that doesn’t take away from the joy of watching it.  Worth Checking Out



Elizabethtown by Thomas
September 14, 2014, 11:26 pm
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Cameron Crowe made a string of charming Hollywood romances that I enjoy: specifically, Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous.  With these movies, Crowe displayed a classic storytelling sensibility, a real joy for pop music/pop culture, and an ear for memorably off-beat dialogue — a bit like a later day John Hughes.

But all of those elements failed in Elizabethtown, a kind of unintentional farce about a jaded city guy meeting a bubbly country gal whilst he plans his dad’s funeral.  The movie is not aided by its rambling plot, unfunny jokes, confused supporting actors, or the perpetually blank smiles of Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst as they pantomime liking each other.  I hate this movie.  Unwatchable.

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Elizabethtown



Jerry Maguire by Thomas
September 13, 2014, 7:52 pm
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Cruise is the ultimate late capitalist, a smooth operator trading entirely on image. He should be on top of the world, yet somehow he’s unhappy. It turns out he’s engaged to a mechanical career woman, he lacks wholesome male bonding, and worst of all his beloved realm of sports has become hollow and corporate. Our hero must find a meaningful relationship while re-committing himself to the lost chivalry of sports marketing! Come on, how strange is that premise?

Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this specimen: a sports movie whose focus is not on on bonding-through-athleticism but on masculinity, virtue in a “cynical world” and family-life-in-the-90’s type stuff.  I like it because it’s stylish and self-conscious and aimed at adults. I admit it’s dated (the fax machine), perilously cute-and-sweet (the toddler, the swells of music), fraught with stereotypes (the emasculated jazz loser, the women’s group, the Tidwell family)…but the acting is charming and you gotta love the snappy dialogue. It’s like old school Hollywood returns; an update on the old tear-jerker romance. I say, worth checking out

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Jerry Maguire



Guardians of the Galaxy by Thomas
September 9, 2014, 5:16 pm
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Chris Pratt is a space scavenger with an attitude and a taste for R&B.  Like John Wayne in Stagecoach, he falls in with a band of misfits who form bonds of friendship through adversity.  What this fantasy spectacle lacks in plot it makes up for in gorgeous production design and digital effects, with the plenty of jokes to keep things light. Director James Gunn is best known for the horror/comedy Slither and actually began his career with the Troma team (purveyors of outrageous B-movie schlock) so he seems quite skilled at this goofball approach. It works! For my summer blockbuster money, I say: Worth checking out.

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Guardians of the Galaxy



The Brood by tincolor
September 9, 2014, 9:26 am
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Oliver Reed is a suspiciously evil-looking psychoanalyst whose treatment includes verbally abusing his patients until they explode with anger. When the family members of one of his patients start getting murdered one by one, it’s clear that something bad is happening as a result of the doctor’s treatments. This early David Cronenberg film is genuinely creepy and very, very gross, but you’ve got to expect that with Cronenberg. What I didn’t expect was to see someone bludgeoned to death in front of no less than 10 toddlers. Is this OK? I really don’t think so, I mean, if I were a toddler and my mom put me on a movie set where someone was realistically beaten not two feet away from me with lots of blood squirting all over the place, I would be A) pissed at my mom, and B) seriously traumatized for life. But if you can get past all that, this is top-shelf B-horror. Expertly directed, a great performance from Oliver Reed and a great buildup to an ending that is just the right combination of ludicrous and dark. Worth checking out, but only if you are in for a really violent and disturbing film.

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