Movie Journal
J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Time is the Essence in “Cousin Jules”

A documentary classic that slipped through the cracks, the late Dominique Benicheti’s 1973 Locarno prize winner “Cousin Jules” gets its belated US theatrical premiere
 at Film Forum in a new 2K digital restoration.

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The Edge of “Night Tide”

Literally as well as figuratively, Curtis Harrington’s first feature—the stilted but effectively moody nocturne “Night Tide”, newly out in a restored Blu-Ray—is a product of the Hollywood fringe.

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“Narco Cultura”: Day of the Dead 4 Ever

Musicians brandishing bazookas on stage, cops masked like El Santo, a posh Sinaloa necropolis in which the tombs have bullet proof glass, mutilated corpses in the streets of Ciudad Juárez: Mexican photographer Shaul Schwarz’s “Narco Cultura” is the most scarific doc I’ve seen since “The Act of Killing.”

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Payne’s “Nebraska”: On the Road Again

Underachieving son (played against type by the comedian Will Forte) drives his near demented, alcohol sozzled old father (Bruce Dern) across the Midwest in search of a nonexistent pot of gold: Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” is a slow-burning heart-warmer that neatly dodges the cornball bullet of a climactic manly hug. Indeed, it’s Payne’s best movie since his old Jack Nicholson road movie “About Schmidt”—and, in its absence of grandstanding, perhaps better than that.

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Miyazaki’s “Wind Rises” Briefly

With one-week Oscar qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles, anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” is getting an extremely careful roll-out from distributor Walt Disney—as well it might. The animated feature that the 72-year-old Miyazaki has said will be his last, is a fanciful bio-pic of the aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, introduced as a boy who dreams of designing airplanes that somehow become Japan’s most feared World War II weapon, the Mitsubishi Zero fighter.

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On Screen, Around the Quad: “At Berkeley”

Frederick Wiseman, now well into his 80s, returned to school a few years ago, “At Berkeley.” For the better part of the Fall 2009 semester (and perhaps into 2010), America’s preeminent documentary filmmaker audited America’s preeminent public university, distilling 250 hours of footage into a four-hour mosaic.

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“Golden Slumbers”: Ghost of Cinema Past

An exotic and elegant meta movie, “Golden Slumbers” shores the fragments of a ruined cinema—namely the 400 or so films made in Cambodia between 1960, when an indigenous movie industry was inspired by king and sometime filmmaker Norodom Sihanouk, and 1975, when that industry was destroyed in the Khmer Rouge bloodbath that murdered over a million people.

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“I Married a Witch”: Whatcha See, I Don’t Get

Rene Clair’s 1942 fantasy “I Married a Witch” has some distinguished artists among its fans. Jack Smith included it in the syllabus for a class he never ever came close to teaching; Guy Maddin writes a long appreciation for the new Criterion DVD, out in time for Halloween. But I’m afraid I can’t join the club.

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Kechiche’s Cannes-Winning “Blue” Movie

One is the loneliest number in “Blue is the Warmest Color,” Adellatif Kechiche’s inflated but not inconsequential lesbian love story. The French-Tunisian filmmaker’s fifth feature caused a sensation last May at Cannes. The conclusion of the long, explicit sex scene that is the movie’s set piece was reportedly greeted with applause at its press screening and received maximum ink in the ensuing coverage. The jury headed by Steven Spielberg gave “Blue” the Palme d’Or with a special ooh-la-la twist, honoring a threesome with the movie’s intrepid co-stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos laureled as equal creators alongside its writer-director.

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Image: IFC Films

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Hyperactive “Fifth Estate” Taxes the Mind

The latest installment in the post-internet multimedia extravaganza that might be called, after Trollope, “the way we live now,” Bill Condon’s portrait of Julian Assange is an appropriately zappy torrent of computer screens. Think “The Social Network” + “Tron” with a soupçon of “Zero Dark Thirty.”

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