Sex and the City 2: “The horror, the horror!”
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, June 10, 2010
… through Wednesday, June 16
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Shrek. Un long dimanche de fiançailles / A Very Long Engagement.
“Sorry, but I rather enjoyed The Losers.”
This is Issue Number 32 of Volume 5 of these listings.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Prince of Persia: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Romance – 116 mins – Based on the video game, which I’ve played and am now playing again, and enjoying. Some of the rather unique moves that you make in the game, such as running along walls at an angle to the ground, are duplicated here, and there’s some sense of the action and the visuals. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, a very enjoyable villain in Ben Kingsley, and a lot of fun with the comedy of Alfred Molina. Mixed or average reviews: 50/50 out of 100.
The story is sort of an old-style Arabian Nights story in the Thief of Baghdad mode, set in medieval Persia when a nefarious nobleman covets the Sands of Time, a legendary gift from the gods that allows its possessor to turn back time. It’s a profoundly silly story, but the silliness is okay, and beautifully done, and with a few delightful performances, but ruined for me by the editing of the action sequences, of which there are of course a lot. They’re all rapid-fire sequences devoid of any narrative structure, giving only impressions of battle, with no idea of who is doing what to whom. I’m fed up with them – these sorts of sequences of late have made a number of half-way decent movies unwatchable in my opinion.
Rolling Stone, Peter Travers: What's missing in Prince of Persia is a sense that all the running, jumping, climbing and fighting is leading to something. The best video games challenge you to reach the next level. Prince of Persia is content to skim the surface.
ReelViews, James Berardinelli: Gamers will find a lot of the jumping, climbing, swinging, and other maneuvers employed by the characters to be familiar. Of course, it's a lot more fun to play a game than it is to watch one being played, and this applies here, as well. The real standout is Alfred Molina, hamming it up as a desert entrepreneur who races ostriches and avoids paying taxes. It's a stock character, but portrayed with considerable verve. Ben Kingsley, slumming as he is wont to do from time-to-time, is entertaining, although his portrayal seems uncannily like an audition for Ming the Merciless in a new version of Flash Gordon.
Prince of Persia falls into the ever-popular category of summer cinema which was best described by Shakespeare as "sound and fury, signifying nothing." It looks impressive (all the more so because no one forced a 3-D conversion) and there's never a dull moment. Director Mike Newell understands the dynamics and rhythm of a big-budget fantasy adventure, having already taken the reins for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so he crafts something eminently watchable. But, in large part because of extreme narrative deficiencies, it's hard to see Prince of Persia as anything more substantive than drive-in fare. With lots of running around and plenty of special effects, the only thing missing for the viewer is a game controller and the ability to replay some of the most challenging moves and jumps.
Arizona Republic, Bill Goodykoontz: The audience should be given game controllers upon entering the theater. It wouldn't mean the film would make any more sense, but at least you'd feel like you had some say in the matter.
Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov: By no means a great film, but it is an entertaining one, a nearly bloodless, family-friendly throwback of sorts to a cinematic age when Persian palace intrigue, winsome princesses, and ambitious princes ruled the back lots and Errol Flynn was in like, well, Errol Flynn.
The Losers: US, Action/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – 97 mins – Delicious and delightful action film, full of fun. But it’s an action film, so if you’re not fond of fights and fury, you won’t be amused. Of its type, it has a much better script than you have any right to expect, full of laughs, and with a great attitude. It’s a tale of betrayal and revenge, in which the members of an elite Special Forces unit are sent to the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission.
The director Sylvain White on the job.
The team soon finds that they have become the target of a deadly double cross. Betrayed and left for dead, the black ops team root out those who targeted them for assassination. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana (of Avatar fame), and directed by relative newcomer Sylvain White, definitely a director to watch. I particularly appreciate the clear and understandable action sequences, where you can actually follow what’s happening – and only semi-rapid editing. Very violent, so be warned. Only mixed or average reviews: 44/46 out of 100. At Vista only.
ReelViews, James Berardinelli: Sylvain White, true to his origins as a music video and commercial director, adds an element of flair to his visuals by employing techniques like jump-cuts and slow-motion. One scene, with The Losers walking purposefully toward the camera would seem to be a direct nod to Reservoir Dogs. (Not that Tarantino originated the shot, but that's a touchstone for many modern directors.) White should be commended, however, for not employing a shaky cam for his action sequences - they are clearly presented and easy to follow. He also has a sense of humor, keeping his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when including a sequence in which a vehicle outraces a fireball. In fact, The Losers never takes itself too seriously (although it also doesn't try for outright parody), which is part of its limited charm.
Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert: The Losers is a classical action movie based on a comic strip. It does just enough nodding toward the graphics of drawn superheroes, and then gets that out of the way and settles down into a clean, efficient, and entertaining thriller. It's a reminder of how exhausting this kind of material can be when it's brought to a manic level by overwrought directors. But The Losers looks, feels and plays like a real movie. There is another reason to be grateful: It's not in 3-D. You have to treasure movies like this before they're entirely eaten away by the marketing gimmicks.
The Losers knows what it's doing and how to do it. Sylvain White doesn't have a lot of credits but he knows how to direct and not trip over his own feet. The movie gets the job done, and the actors show a lot of confidence in occupying that tricky middle ground between controlled satire and comic overkill. It's fun.
Sex and the City 2: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – 146 mins – “Has generated some of the most hostile and outraged reviews in recent memory. “ The horror, the horror,” wrote one critic. “Nothing says putrefying, rotten and vile quite like this sequel,” wrote another. Everything about the film has been faulted”— so says the New York Times critic Manohla Dargis. “What’s not to loathe?” critic Richard Roeper asks. However, it’s a hugely successful series in some circles, so maybe you will like it. And the powers that be at the studio that produced it are seriously considering sequel number 3.
In this unfortunate episode, the girls take off to and take on the United Arab Emirates – except that they used Morocco instead. Scathingly unfavorable reviews: 28/38 out of 100. Rated R in the US for some strong sexual content and language; 15+ in Thailand. Airport Plaza only.
Rotten Tomatoes: Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda are back to drum up business for the elite fashion designers of the world. Only this time, their adventures take them away from "The City" to the remote paradise of Abu Dhabi, where Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has been asked by a sheik to head a PR campaign. Taking place 2 years after the events of the first film, Sex and the City 2 focuses on the troubles the foursome face when life has settled down, and critics say this sequel is one they could have done without. With a running time of close to two and a half hours, most feel the plot wears much too thin to sustain its length, making it an unfortunate continuation of the wildly popular HBO series.
USA Today, Claudia Puig: Steer clear of the mortifying mess that is Sex and the City 2. An insult to the memory of the cleverly written show and its celebration of friendship, it's a slap in the face for the four gal pals (often photographed at unflattering angles) and an affront to Muslims.
A Fan, thirty3: I saw this movie with a bunch of my girlfriends and we thought it was really fun. If you were a fan of Sex and the City, don't listen to the critics. Go see it, it's a comedy!!! It’s fun.
Killers: US, Action/ Comedy/ Romance/ Thriller – 105 mins – Starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck. A vacationing woman meets her ideal man, leading to a swift marriage. Back at home, however, their idyllic life is upset when they discover their neighbors could be assassins who have been contracted to kill them. Mostly no thrills or laughs, and dull. Generally unfavorable reviews: 21/24 out of 100. Airport Plaza only.
SSG Syndicate, Susan Granger: Occasionally, a production company is so acutely aware that it's stuck with a dud that they refuse to schedule press screenings, hoping the public will blindly buy tickets. This is just such a loser.
Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani: At a certain point, it actually becomes embarrassing to watch Heigl and Kutcher play at being in love.
Shrek Forever After - 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – 93 mins – The further adventures of the giant green ogre, Shrek, living in the land of Far, Far Away, this time in 3D (at Airport Plaza). Still a fun movie for the family – at least I was solidly amused. The story: Now domesticated and bored, Shrek makes a pact with deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin to get the real ogre feeling once again, but is duped and sent to a twisted version of Far, Far Away. With Fiona, Donkey, and Puss in Boots, and the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, and Eddie Murphy. In 3D at Major Cineplex, 2D and Thai-dubbed only at Vista. Mixed or average reviews: 58/58 out of 100.
The New York Times Stephen Holden: What fortifies Shrek Forever After are its brilliantly realized principal characters, who nearly a decade after the first “Shrek” film remain as vital and engaging fusions of image, personality and voice as any characters in the history of animation.
Boxoffice Magazine, Pete Hammond: If Shrek Forever After truly is the final installment of the Shrek franchise ... it's a great way to go out. Hilarious and heartfelt from start to finish, this is the best Shrek of them all, and that's no fairy tale. Borrowing liberally from Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, this edition blends big laughs and emotion to explore what Far, Far Away might have been like if Shrek never existed. We might wonder the very same thing about Dreamworks Animation without this multi-billion dollar franchise that has spawned four movies, TV specials, a Broadway musical, and more merchandise than you can shake a Donkey's ass at. ...
Robin Hood: US/ UK, Action/ Drama – 140 mins – Ridley Scott's visit to Sherwood's most famous forest is something of an origin story, finding historical context in the legend by telling of Hood's days as an archer in the service of King Richard. Russell Crowe stars as the hero, returning to Sherwood Forest from the Crusades, reluctantly deciding that England needs some cleaning up. Mixed or average reviews: 53/54 out of 100. At Vista only.
It does have impressive visuals and some great sweeping battle scenes, and strong performances, by Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchet, William Hurt, Max van Sydow, and Mark Strong among others. But it took me a long while to get interested in the main characters during the back-story, and the 1199 AD events of King Richard on his last crusade.
After the story got going, it was okay. It’s loud, noisy, and confusing in the modern way of showing battles, where clarity is sacrificed for jittery, jumpy editing, and you are left with visual impressions, not information, and get visual rhythms rather than storytelling. If you like this sort of thing, well, you will like this, because it’s this sort of thing.
New York Times, A.O. Scott: A spectacle very much in the Ridley Scott tradition (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and American Gangster).
Poh-Tak / Po Taek / โป๊ะแตก: Thai, Comedy – 90 mins – Directed by popular comedian-turned-director, Mum Jokmok, this is a comedy parody that explores lives in front of and behind the cameras of the Thai film industry. Features many of the regulars on Mum’s very popular TV show.
Scheduled for June 17
The Karate Kid: Untalented kid given starring role in movie produced by his doting Dad. It stars a talentless kid who is only in films because his father is so powerful in the business. The kid is a spoiled brat, nay, a little snot! Responsible single-handedly for ruining the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Rotten Tomatoes: Produced by Will Smith and featuring his son, Jaden, in the title role and Jackie Chan as the martial arts mentor, The Karate Kid remake crane-kicks into action on June 11, the same weekend as fellow 1980s retread the A-Team. It appears to be less faithful to its source material than A-Team is. Key changes include a younger Kid than Ralph Macchio was in the 1984 smash, a new location that he moves to (China instead of Los Angeles; a big change because both the Kid and his mentor were cultural outsiders in the original, now it's just the Kid), a glossier veneer and a different martial art: kung fu instead of the titular karate (the picture has sometimes been called The Kung Fu Kid by its producers).
And looking forward
Jun 24: Knight and Day: The film where Tom Cruise gets to show his chops again, after some absence. And early reports say this is a superior film in every way, with the old Cruise magic in place. And the magic of Cameron Diaz.
Jul 15: Inception: Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard; Directed By: Christopher Nolan.
Rotten Tomatoes: Just what exactly does Christopher Nolan have in store for us with Inception?
The Dark Knight director has mostly kept his lips sealed on his movie's plot details, other than that it's a sci-fi thriller set in the architecture of the mind. What we do know is that Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a new kind of corporate spy – one who steals ideas from the minds of others by hooking them up to a machine in a drug-induced haze. Promotional material has been enigmatic: a droning teaser trailer featuring fist fights where the rules of gravity seem to keep changing, another trailer posing questions about the power of ideas, and a poster showing DiCaprio standing tall as water rushes into the city.
Marketing efforts based on mystery have paid off for Nolan so far in his career: he gets us curious, then follows through with some of the best movies of their respective years. In what is likely this Summer's most mysterious potential blockbuster, we'll all uncover what tricks Nolan has up his sleeve this time around on opening weekend.
Jul 22: The Last Airbender: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – The story follows the adventures of Aang, a ten year old successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations. Starring Dev Patel, the contestant in Slumdog Millionaire. Based on the hugely successful Nickelodeon animated TV series. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel, and Jackson Rathbone.
Rotten Tomatoes: M. Night Shyamalan makes his return to theaters following 2008’s The Happening with The Last Airbender, a movie that feels like it has been in theater previews forever because, well, it has been. Now, finally, the airbending shall commence.
Airbender tells the story of a force known as The Avatar, the only one in the world with the power to control the elements of earth, wind, water, and fire to maintain peace between the tribes of the elements. After The Avatar disappears, a 12 year old by the name of Aang has to master the elements, embrace his destiny, and restore peace after a hundred year war begins between the tribes.
Nickelodeon fans will recognize the story and characters from the original animated Nick series. Rumor has it that this could be the first of a series of Airbender movies, so there will be a lot riding on the young boy's abilities this summer. No pressure, Aang
Jul 22: The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer, and Alfred Molina; Directed By: Jon Turteltaub
Rotten Tomatoes: You have to wonder if German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe realized he was creating a timeless classic when he penned his poem Der Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) in 1797. After several interpretations in print, on television, and in film, most notably by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, Disney has decided to completely reimagine the poem once again, this time in a live-action film starring Nicolas Cage as the sorcerer and Jay Baruchel as his titular apprentice.
2010's Sorcerer’s Apprentice is set in contemporary New York, where a college kid (Baruchel) is recruited by a wizard named Balthazar (Cage) to undergo training for an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. In other words, you probably won’t see Baruchel chasing down any dancing brooms with an axe. What the film does promise, however, is a bit of Cage’s trademark loopiness, some grand action sequences (the movie’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, after all), and plenty of jokes that take advantage of the "everyman in over his head" premise.
As for the talent involved, Baruchel is an up-and-coming hot commodity these days, and Nicolas Cage is, well, Nicolas Cage. The supporting cast is bolstered by the presence of people like Alfred Molina and Monica Bellucci, and there are few names who are as synonymous with big, blockbuster action as Jerry Bruckheimer, so this could turn out to be a tidy little crowd pleaser.
Jul 29: Splice: Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chaneac; Directed by: Vincenzo Natali.
Rotten Tomatoes: Another Sundance premiere hits the big time with the sci-fi/thriller Splice, directed by Vicenzo Natali (Paris je t’aime, Cube). Splice tells the story of two genetic engineers who combine the DNA of animals to create hybrids; when they decide to ignore protocol and, without permission, fuse human DNA into a new hybrid, well, it's safe to say the creation goes mildly bonkers.
Audiences will get a double paranoid dose of Adrian Brody, as his roles in Splice and Predators have him running from plenty of monster types all summer long. Joel Silver said that "Splice is like nothing you’ve ever seen before" upon acquiring the Sundance film, and the CGI used to create "Dren," the hybrid creature, is said to be particularly impressive in a summer filled with plenty of special effects.
Will Splice end up being another sleeper hit? The genetically modified thriller has generated a fair amount of buzz, and Dren will have a lot to prove to audiences that have been anticipating the film since January.
Aug 19: Salt: Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chjwetel Ejiofor, and Andre Braugher. Directed By: Phillip Noyce.
Rotten Tomatoes: It has been said that sex and violence are closely related, and nowhere is that marriage of ideas more evident than in the transformation of Angelina Jolie into one of this decade’s hottest action stars.
And this transformation has come full circle to the point that she’s even taking roles away from Tom Cruise. Originally written with a male lead in mind, Salt is the story of a CIA operative who is accused of being a Russian double agent intent on assassinating the president and must evade capture long enough to prove her innocence. The role was repurposed for Jolie, but being that she’s a bona fide action star now, little needed to be changed specifically for her; it still looks to be an explosive thrill ride, with all the sex appeal that comes out of the box with Jolie.
Phillip Noyce is directing this government funded chase, and he’s worked with Jolie before on The Bone Collector. Plus, she's being backed by a couple of strong supporting roles in Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, so this has the potential to be another fun straddling of the lines of sex and violence.
At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon." A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.
At Alliance Française on Friday, June 11, 8 pm: Un long dimanche de fiançailles / A Very Long Engagement (2004) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet – 133 mins – France/US Drama / Mystery / Romance. English subtitles. Rated R in the US for violence and sexuality. Generally favorable reviews 76/74 out of 100.
With Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Dominique Pinon, Clovis Cornillac, Jérôme Kircher, Chantal Neuwirth, Albert Dupontel, and Denis Lavant.
Five desperate men shoot themselves in order to be relieved from the horrifying frontline at the Somme, in WWI. A court-martial decides to punish them by leaving them alone in no-man's land, to be killed in the crossfire. Then all hell breaks loose and they all die. Or not? One of these men's fiancée, a young girl who can't walk since age 3, receives information that makes her suspect her boyfriend might have gotten away alive. So she embarks in a painful, long, and often frustrating ordeal to find out the truth.
Rotten Tomatoes: This World War I mystery finds limitless beauty in the nostalgia of loss. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, whose whimsical Amelie riveted audiences, A Very Long Engagement also stars Audrey Tautou -- the 21st century's Audrey Hepburn -- in the stubbornly emotional role of a widow in denial. Here she is Mathilde, a waifish young woman with a pronounced limp from childhood polio. Living with her quirky aunt and uncle in a farmhouse by the sea, and waiting desperately for her fiancé Manech (Gaspard Ulliel) to return from the war, she believes that if he were truly lost she would feel it in her heart. Thus, when the bad news arrives -- Manech and five fellow soldiers were exiled to No Man's Land for shooting off their own fingers in hope of being discharged -- Mathilde refuses to believe he is dead. Instead, she begins her own investigation into Manech's infantry, hiring a private detective and tracking down the wives and girlfriends of each of Manech's compatriots. Conducting countless interviews, Mathilde pieces together Manech's war stories -- which are told in earthshaking flashbacks involving gruesome explosions, flying guts, and massive suffering. And yet, the all-in-this-together humanity of these awful scenes, and the heartfelt bravery with which Mathilde absorbs the details of each battle, is undeniably moving. Jodie Foster appears as Elodie, one of the widows, in a charismatic yet muted performance and with a flawless accent. However, the most intriguing of the widows is Tina Lombardi (Marion Cotillard), a thrilling dominatrix-assassin bent on avenging her lover. A timeless masterwork that raises the bar for breathtaking camerawork, vivid landscapes, and fantastical storytelling, A Very Long Engagement is adapted from the novel by Sebastien Japriscot.
Robert A. Nowotny: Not since Stanley Kubrick's haunting Paths of Glory (1957) has the absurdity of war and the tremendous cost of each and every life lost been so compellingly portrayed. Appropriately, such an epic theme deserves epic treatment. What makes A Very Long Engagement so effective and so engaging is that Jeunet's stylish blend of visual mastery and emotional intimacy combine to not only deliver an extremely visceral anti–war film, but an intricate, unforgettable, heartfelt love story as well.
At Alliance Française on Friday, June 18, 8 pm: Je crois que je l'aime / Could This Be Love? (2007) by Pierre Jolivet – 90 mins – France, Comedy / Drama / Romance. English subtitles. Lucas, a rich 43 years old industrialist, is just getting over a terrible breakup when he meets Elsa, a nice looking, famous, 38 year-old ceramist to whom he commissions a fresco. Irresistibly attracted to the young lady, Lucas tries to conquer her. But even though he is a highly-skilled business man, Lucas lacks assurance when dealing with love. He therefore hires Roland Christin, a private detective from his firm, to spy on Elsa and find the reasons behind Elsa’s celibacy. Roland uses all the latest investigation techniques at his disposal for an ancestral feeling : love.
With Vincent Lindon, Sandrine Bonnaire, François Berléand, Kad Merad, Liane Foly.
Forty-three-year-old Lucas, a rich, divorced industrialist, is irresistibly attracted to thirty-eight-year-old Elsa, a renowned ceramist whom he’s commissioned to create a fresco for his office foyer. But, still smarting from a recent disappointment in love, he asks Roland Christin, a private detective from his company, to discover the reasons why this lovely woman is still single. Without the slightest scruple, Roland puts the most modern of surveillance methods into operation. Lucas better beware if Elsa finds out...
– Alliance description
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
June is “The Month of Alpha and Omega” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave at least 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
“Nature is Satan’s Church.” – Antichrist
At Film Space Saturday, June 12, 7 pm: Antichrist (2009) written and directed by Lars von Trier – 108 mins – Denmark/ Germany/ France/ Sweden/ Italy/ Poland, Drama. Only two actors, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Defoe, inhabit the space of this supernatural thriller directed by Lars Von Trier. The stars play a couple who attempt to grieve for their dead child by living in seclusion in the middle of a forest. But their story does not end there: in the forest, they encounter pure evil in Satan. With Von Trier at the helm, Antichrist is a challenging, intelligent film that doesn’t adhere to the conventions of cinema or religion. The film is not rated, but definitely not for anyone under 18 (my opinion). Mixed or average reviews: 49/54 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Gruesome, explicit, and highly controversial; Lars Von Triers arthouse-horror, though beautifully shot, is no easy ride.
Salon.com, Andrew O'Hehir: It offers more proof, if we need any, that von Trier is one of the most accomplished cinema artists of our time, and also perhaps the most deeply trapped in his own head.
Metacritic viewer: The prologue, epilogue, and first three chapters contain some of the some of the most beautiful and mysterious and exciting filmmaking I've seen in ages. The fourth chapter is the most horrific and insane and upsetting filmmaking I hope I'll ever see. But that's all to be expected from a film about nature, I guess. The performances are, as usual for a Lars Von Trier film, riveting and seductive. This is certainly his coldest and most brutal film, and also his lushest. And, as usual, he raises more questions than he answers, and for the people who hate Lars and his cinematic provocations this is just the most potent fuel for the fires of their contempt. But I think he's one of the most consistently fascinating filmmakers working today.
Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov: Possibly the best argument against couples therapy ever, Antichrist is a tour-de-force trip inside the mind of a dangerously depressed man. That man is Danish filmmaker von Trier, and he has gone on record as having conceived and executed Antichrist in the wake of a deep depression.
Boston Globe, Ty Burr: Like a nightmare you recall during waking hours, and then only in its vast outlines, Antichrist has the power to haunt beyond words. For better and for worse, it is exactly the movie von Trier wanted to make and a piece of staggeringly pure cinema.
San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle: For 70 minutes, Antichrist is a rare exploration of pain, featuring two actors collaborating with each other in agonizing and intimate ways. It also contains some of the best work Gainsbourg has ever done on screen. And then - if I put it more gently I wouldn't really be saying it - director Lars von Trier loses his mind.
Trailer at this link.
At Film Space Saturday, June 19, 7 pm: Dogma (1999) written and directed by Kevin Smith – 130 mins – US, Adventure/ Comedy/ Fantasy. Eschewing any form of conventional narrative in favor of a series of surreal sketches, this Japanese experimental comedy features a set of quirky and dysfunctional characters. Among them is the... Starring Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Alan Rickman. I loved George Carlin’s portrayal of Cardinal Glick! Rated R in the US for strong language including sex-related dialogue, violence, crude humor, and some drug content. Generally favorable reviews: 62/63 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Imaginative theology and a bigger than usual budget make Kevin Smith's fourth film a kind of post-Catholic fantasy that only a comic-book enthusiast of his caliber could dream up. The plot is set... Imaginative theology and a bigger than usual budget make Kevin Smith's fourth film a kind of post-Catholic fantasy that only a comic-book enthusiast of his caliber could dream up. The plot is set in motion by two banished angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck). After a few millennia in Wisconsin, they've discovered a loophole in Catholic doctrine that would allow them back into heaven--but prove the fallibility of God and destroy the universe. Unaware of the peril, they make their way to New Jersey to receive a plenary indulgence. Meanwhile, God has dispatched a seraphim (Alan Rickman) to recruit lapsed-Catholic Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) to stop the angels. She finds help in muses, prophets (Jay and Silent Bob), and the forgotten 13th apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock). Before long, all hell breaks loose (literally), and God (Alanis Morrisette) has to put in an appearance of her own. The success of the film is in the juxtaposition of Smith's trademark acerbic attitude and witty dialogue against the enormous canvas of Christian iconography and apocalyptic conflict.