Director: Darren Aronofsky
This almost makes me want to see a horror movie in which the villains are sullen/angry/rabid Jews. Almost.
Darren Aronofsky’s debut is a singular, though not wholly successful, experience. It explores many of the themes he revisited in later films, such as isolation, paranoia, obsession and self-destruction. The ambition of it is plain to see and it showcases Aronofsky’s talent and promise well. The scratchy black-and-white photography doesn’t add much really, other than giving it a very specific look. Sean Gullette is quite good as our protagonist, the paranoid genius Max, and he also co-wrote the story. I have to say I didn’t find the ideas and theories that so obsess Max all that compelling. It also delves perhaps a little too far into the realm of the surreal for my tastes. Nonetheless, I’m glad I finally watched it (it’s a movie that has stared at me in video shops for a long time).
Director: John Dahl
He’s an unpleasant character, but I love his dress sense. This bright red adult onesie (WANT!) with black hat ensemble is a highlight.
Flawed but watchable poker movie starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, two actors I like (which helps). It’s been called “the best poker movie ever made”, but that isn’t really saying much; how many can you name off the top of your head? Damon has sufficient screen presence to make a lot of it work, and the poker stuff is fairly engaging, particularly the hustling scenes. However, it’s brought down by a lack of subtlety, ridiculous plot points (most notably: a central character having the world’s most obvious ‘tell’ that’s somehow only discovered by another character at a climactic moment) and an awful performance from John Malkovich, who totally overdoes it with a bad Russian accent. Always good to see John Turturro in a supporting role.
Director: Larry David
Terrible comedy written and directed by Larry David. The distinctive Larry perspective is unmistakably there, but it’s surrounded by complete garbage in terms of plot, character, acting, production values and jokes. Actually, as far as production values go, this isn’t all that far removed from The Room; it has that same early ’90s TV look to it. Watching it made me very thankful for what Larry (with the backing of HBO and the help of collaborators such as Robert B. Weide and Larry Charles) has managed to do with Curb Your Enthusiasm: channel his unique voice and sensibility into something perverse and hilarious, rather than something as shitty as this.
Director: Wes Anderson
I was sure I’d watched this many years ago but rewatching it this time around I remembered nothing, so it’s possible this really was the first time. In any event, I quite enjoyed it. Wes Anderson has such a distinctive style and this epitomises it: bold and impeccably composed shots, quirky humour, killer soundtrack. Jason Schwartzman is brilliant and it’s difficult to imagine the movie with anyone else as Max. Bill Murray is also very good.