Pinhole Movie Reviews


The Overnight
January 23, 2016, 11:11 pm
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An insecure couple, hoping to make friends in their adoptive home of Los Angeles, spend a farcical evening with another random couple, despite being mildly creeped out the whole time.  Jason Schwartzman has fun portraying a mysteriously wealthy weirdo — a sort of California guru stereotype — but he can’t carry this movie.  Big spoiler: it’s mostly about butts and dicks.   Barely watchable.

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The Overnight

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Poetry (시)
April 18, 2015, 5:49 pm
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An alienated grandmother takes a poetry class, and learns a terrible secret.  Melancholy and bitterly funny, the movie moves slowly and gracefully from start to finish.  The emotional life of outcasts has always been a strong subject for a movie, and it works well here.  Worth watching. (and it’s on Netflix, so there’s no excuse)

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Poetry



The Panic at Needle Park
January 12, 2015, 11:18 pm
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In the 70’s, before Manhattan got Disney-fied, the streets belonged to pimps, pushers, and addicts.  Amidst the chaos, a woman falls for a low level heroin dealer  (Al Pacino) and enters a life of desperation and crime, doing anything for her next fix.  But will she cooperate with the hated NYPD?  This is harsh hyper-realism, breaking taboos to the point that it’s painful to watch.  Still, like Taxi Driver and Times Square, it was actually shot on location and so it manages to capture the seedy underbelly of New York, rather than an idealized Hollywood view of the city.  Worth checking out.

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The Panic at Needle Park



Killing Zoe
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
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.
Boyhood_film

Boyhood



The Ice Storm
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
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.

The_Pervert's_Guide_to_Ideology_poster

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

 

 




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