Thursday, August 25, 2005

Movies opening this week

The Aristocrats (documentary, dir. Paul Provenza)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This has really been a banner year for documentaries, and a better one than last year, I think, because there is more diversity. Last year it was all (or almost all) about the political documentaries, which got a bit repetitive. This year the high-profile documentaries are all vastly different, and do a lot more to show the power and flexibility of the form. Although I've found some of the hyped entries disappointing - in particular March of the Penguins and Mad Hot Ballroom - I'm still glad to see these sorts of films getting critical and box office attention. This film in particular I think is the best of the bunch. It's the kind of thing you'd expect to be repetitive, but Provenza does an amazing job of constantly finding new angles to explore, and it really does say so much about the nature of comedy while still being consistently very funny. I hope the subject matter doesn't put off Academy voters come Oscar time. Opened limited July 19; in Las Vegas this week

The Brothers Grimm (Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Lena Headey, Peter Stormare, dir. Terry Gilliam)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Man, some critics have been really harsh on this one. Karina Longworth in Cinematical just tears it to shreds and really kind of insults Gilliam in the process. I can sort of see where people are coming from, especially given how long it's been since Gilliam made a movie and the kind of reputation that he's built up. But I think that this is a film that's getting slaughtered by expectations, that if Gilliam had released it a year or two after Fear and Loathing and on his way to something else, people would have been a lot more kind to it. It's not his best work, it's a little inconsistent, it's sort of predictable and compromised, yes. But it also looks great and has a lot of really strange, dark moments as well as a lot of really funny ones. And despite what some have said, it does have an intelligent subtext - about the way that imperialism stamps out local culture - it just doesn't explore it enough. Don't expect a masterpiece and I think you can easily enjoy this movie for what it is. Wide release


Katie said...

The Aristocrats-- I don't get it. Definitely the most disappointing movie I've seen in a long time.

As far as recent documentaries go, the best I saw was Grizzly Man. Have you seen it?

Josh said...

Katie, it makes me sad that you were disappointed in The Aristocrats. But I guess you really can't convince someone that something is funny.

Haven't seen Grizzly Man yet but I'm looking forward to it whenever it opens here.

Katie said...

I wanted to like it! I was excited about the concept, but I did find it tedious, for the most part. I guess this means I have a different sense of humor than all the critics in the U.S.

I thought Grizzly Man was really and truly great, one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. (This also suggests I should see more Herzog-- I think it's the only film of his I've seen!) So I look forward to your review when it opens.