« August 2012 | Main | October 2012 »

September 2012

Reservoir Dog Pile

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films

“Seven Psychopaths” brings to mind the Tarantino knockoffs that Miramax used to crank out on the assembly line during its mid-1990s heyday, when such movies were de rigueur among neophytes straight out of film school. Their snappy one-liners, gratuitous gore and self-aware metaness have often seemed more impressive to the filmmakers themselves than to card-carrying cinephiles. While Quentin Tarantino himself references iconic filmmakers from Jean-Luc Godard to John Woo, those who reference Mr. Tarantino instead merely expose themselves as blissfully ignorant hacks who could really use a college-level introductory film course.

Continue reading "Reservoir Dog Pile" »

Love Crimes

Anna Karenina (2012)

Laurie Sparham/Focus Features

Joe Wright and Tom Stoppard's bracing adaptation of "Anna Karenina" throws its roots out in all directions. Set 90 percent of the time in an impossible theatrical limbo of sets and stagecraft - in which reality warps every time anyone opens a door - and the other 10 percent in a calm pastoral outdoors where nature seems to have paused for breath, the film gingers up its costume drama with luscious practical effects and a Brechtian grit. Threads from relatively unusual suspects such as Richard Attenborough's "Oh! What a Lovely War" mix with the modern self-conscious fizz of Baz Luhrmann and the model train work of Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula." It's a big risk, and it pays off more often than not.

Continue reading "Love Crimes" »

Down by Law

Dredd 3D (2012)

Joe Alblas/Lionsgate

Judge Dredd, Britain's lawman for all seasons — his passport stamped as Robocop's cousin for American purposes while actually being as site-specific as the early works of Johnny Rotten — rides again. And does so in a film stripped down to the bone, all froth removed jointly by author and budget until there's nothing left but sinew and gristle, globs of which then splash across the screen. Arriving just as the doors shut on Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" odyssey and its many tons of polished microengineering, "Dredd 3D" turns the dial back to a point nearer John Carpenter and Richard Stanley, to films set 20 minutes into the future, where the neon doesn't work and the daylight doesn't penetrate, and around the corner someone with an overdraft waits to separate you from your head.

Continue reading "Down by Law" »

The Foster Home Straight

Wuthering Heights (2011)

Agatha Nitecka/Oscilloscope Laboratories

With “Wuthering Heights,” Andrea Arnold confirms herself as the most important directing talent to emerge from Britain since Stephen Daldry and Sam Mendes. She has also achieved this via an unconventional path: by winning an Oscar with a live-action short film (2003’s “Wasp”), working under the restrictions of Dogme (2006’s “Red Road”), building a movie around a pregnant teenager found having a screaming argument with her boyfriend in a train station (Katie Jarvis from 2009’s “Fish Tank”) and now “Wuthering Heights.” Once again, Ms. Arnold has crafted something amazing by working primarily with nonprofessional actors and shooting on location, this time on the Yorkshire moors.

Continue reading "The Foster Home Straight" »

© 2008-2023 Critic's Notebook and its respective authors. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Subscribe to Critic's Notebook | Follow Us on Twitter | Contact Us | Write for Us | Reprints and Permissions