Pinhole Movie Reviews

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.

The Ice Storm


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.


Dead Man

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro / ルパン三世カリオストロの城 by tincolor

Lupin the Third is one of the best known Manga and Anime characters in Japan. He’s a world-trotting charismatic thief and in this film we find him in Monaco just as he is being duped into stealing a large sum of counterfeit bills from a casino. Not the type to have the wool pulled over his eyes, Lupin decides to find the source of the bills, which ultimately leads him to Cagliostro Castle and on the trail of a sinister plot. This is the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki and as far as I know, his only film that features characters he didn’t create. There is a lot to like about this film, from Lupin and his hard-boiled group of allies to the art direction and fluid animation that Miyazaki would become famous for. The only disappointment is when you realize that there has never been a Lupin film as good as this one. Worth watching.


Metropolitan by tincolor
August 30, 2014, 6:15 am
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A group of Freshmen are back home in Manhattan for winter break and enjoying the debutante ball season, which is apparently a thing that still exists today. The dialogue is stilted, the acting is not great and there really isn’t very much action, but if you give it a chance, Whit Stillman’s Academy Award nominated film is actually really great! This came highly recommended to me, and if it weren’t for that, I never would have watched it all the way through, and basically, it took the length of the entire movie for me to get into it, but once I did, I wondered how I couldn’t have been completely in love with it from frame one. Think “Diner” meets “Rushmore” meets any Robert Altman film. Worth watching.


The Turning Point (1977) by tincolor

Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft star as friends who studied ballet together in their youth. MacLaine left the school to start a family and Bancroft stayed on to become a star. When Bancroft invites MacLaine’s daughter to join her ballet company, old tensions flare between the two friends as each is forced to reassess their life choices. Also staring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Tom Skerritt. Despite the painfully dated look and sound of this film, just about everything else is really strong; the dialogue, the acting and in particular Baryshnikov’s dancing are all amazing! And amazingly, it didn’t win one of its 11 Oscar nominations. Worth watching.


Neighboring Sounds / O Som ao Redor by tincolor

There is no good way of describing what this movie is about. On the surface its about the mostly insignificant daily happenings of a group of neighbors in a mostly quiet area of Recife, Brazil. But just below that surface there is something sinister going on that is paradoxically both imperceivable and also somehow weighing on everyone’s conscious. I have no idea what this movie is actually about but a little bit a internet research and some shaky speculation tells me it has something to do with economic disparity. I don’t know…it could be about that…but then again this movie is so cagey about its true intentions. More than anything this film is slow and lacks a traditional narrative structure, so there’s no real ending, no real conflict and no real plot. It’s a pretty film and that fact, along with the hope that at some point everything would come together and make sense (which it didn’t), kept me watching through to the end. It’s hard for me say whether or not I liked this movie so it’s even harder for me to decide how recommendable it is. Based on that solid logic, my rating is this: watch the trailer below and if that doesn’t make you want to see it, just don’t watch it. So there you go, a movie with no real rating. (Pst! In all honestly it’s probably barely watchable but it may be as high as worth checking out, it’s just so hard to decide!)


Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple by tincolor

Stanley Nelson’s documentary about Jim Jones and his role in the suicide/murder of over 900 of his followers, a news camera man and a US Congressman, in Jonestown Guyana, is EXCELLENT! I generally consider all documentaries to be nothing more than stylized propaganda, and while this film is ultimately propaganda for the survivors, it avoids the pitfall of trying to answer the question, “why?” While most of us may know about the tragedy of Jonestown, to many people, Peoples Temple started out as a group of progressive Americans that practiced racial and social equality beginning the same year that Rosa Parks got on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. How did someone who founded such a promising movement ultimately take part in the deaths of so many people? Who exactly was Jim Jones? Why did his followers trust him so devoutly and why did so many people accept Jones’s order to end not only their own lives by the lives of their infant children? There are so many compelling “whys” and so many tempting answers, but the truth is, no adequate answers exist. The closest we can get to the truth is through the testimonies of those that survived the massacre, those that left the church before it moved to Guyana, and through the many images and sound recordings that were made by and of Jim Jones himself. Admittedly that only gives us the perspective of those who were directly involved with Jim Jones, but thankfully, that’s all this film purports to be. Absolutely worth watching!

Bonus: The entire film is currently available on Youtube:



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