Another five film day. I was running around in the snow and cold and discovered that the New York state film board has set up a coffee shop. They serve free Choc Full'o'Nuts coffee, which I though had gone out of business years ago. Now for the new batch:
BATTLE IN HEAVEN (France/Belgium/Mexico),
Written and Directed
by Carlos Reygadas
Marcos(Marcos Hernandez) and his wife(Berta Ruiz) kidnap a baby for ransom money, but it goes tragically wrong when the infant dies. We never see the crime take place. The couple area arguing about it the next day when we meet them, and then Marcos goes to the airport to pick up Ana(Anapola Mushkadiz), the general's daughter that our “hero” has been hired to drive every now and again.
He's upset, she's not to thrilled with the situation and there's very little going on for most of the film besides Marcos driving Ana around. She takes him to her place of work, a brothel, and tries to get him laid. There's lots of sex here, but none of it is in the least bit scintillating. It's some of the most boring sex in the history of cinema.
We don't really know why Marcos and his wife did the crime. They don't seem to be that badly off. They're both quite fat and so are their kids. The girth of the family may be symbolic of something, I'm not sure, but what is sure is that this film is overrated. It's been given kudos in a number of film festivals and it may be due to the theme of people suffering and how justice is done. There's also a religious angle, but the fact is that most of the film is deathly dull, and during those few moments near the end when the pace begins to quicken, we're faces with a film so boring that the characters begin to fall asleep before we do.
Don't waste your money.
Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That!/U.S.
On Oct. 9, 2004, the Beastie Boys handed out 50 HI 8 cameras to audience members at their sold-out performance in New York's Madison Square Garden. The footage shot by a crowd of amateurs was knitted together into a film
Now this is a pretty nifty gimmick. But that's all it is. What we've got is a rather pedestrian concert film completely gunked up by some really horrible post-production visual effects which make the whole thing look bad, and in some cases headache inducing.
On the one hand, I've really nothing against rap and hiphop. The Beastie Boys aren't all that bad, and they've got lots of fans. Fine, if those who like the music want to see a concert experience at popular prices, fine. But the visuals stink. Granted some of the great directors of our time have done concert movies, but still it's the cinematography and the visual effects that make a really good concert film. Whether the music is good or bad is generally a matter of taste. If you're a fan, this might be worth a look, but for everyone else, this is a fucking piece of shit. I can say that because the word fuck is in the title. Blame the director, not me for that.
Written and Directed
Every filmfest needs a stinker that's why they invited this. I think that someone on the Sundance selection committee should be fired. For this is one of the worst films I've seen in months and months. Ewww!!
We begin with the Reverend Hill (Tyler Craig) giving one of those stereotype black gospel performances aided by the over serious Deacon Thomas (Eric L. Register). It's entirely pathetic.
Forced to sit through this is Scottie(Hadjii) who is a pre-alchaholic college student, who had to go because otherwise Officer Milton (Ako Cromwell) would put his ass in jail faster than you can say “Stepin Fetchit.”
This is what might be termed a “neo-Minstrel show.” The kind that Spike Lee tried to lampoon in his notorious “Bamboozled.”
His friends Six (Quante Strickland) Jelly (Corey Redding),and Marlo (Nard Holston) are a bunch of stoners who talk jive and rap his new girlfriend Diva (Kaira Whitehead) is a religious sex maniac who has rapid and bizarre mood swings. Our hero's relatives(Carlos Davis, Patt Brown, Roland Williams, Jr and David “Nick” Lewis.) are a bunch of morons who talk in a dialect right out of the worst days of the radio version of “Amos and Andy.” This thing could have been written by the propaganda committee of the KKK itself, Jeez!
Yeah, some of the jokes work. A scattershot work such as this always accidentally has a few good laughs, but most of them were of the nervous variety.
They should burn this piece of shit and take away Hadji's cinematic learner's permit. FEH!!!!
"13 Tzameti"/ France
Written and Directed
By Gela Babluani
Sports is one of those activities that are stuff of legend. There are thousands of sports films, and many of them are quite good. But precious few have come from France, almost none are as perverse as this one. There was something like it recently called “Hostel,” and that was anything but a sports story. But what if it was?
Sébastien(George Babluani) is a young contractor fixing up the house of a strange drug addict named Jean François Godon(Philippe Passon), who's nagging wife is sure that he's going to kill himself. He's also broke, and needs the money to pay our hero. He has a plan. A mysterious stranger has just sent a certain offer in the mail, and soon after getting it the expected happens. J-F ODs.
Through a bizarre happenstance, our hero gets his hands on the letter, which contains instructions, a train ticket and a prepaid hotel reservation. Sébastien decides to follow the instructions and maybe get the loot that he surreptitiously heard about.
So where does sports come in to it? Our hero finds himself in the world of professional Russian roulette.
Now this might seem a spoiler, and it probably is, but the most of the film is about the tournament, the guys who bet on who's going to get a shot in the head, and how the players and the officials interact, and the like. This is, in a way just like any other sports movie except for the fact that it's about random murder.
The acting is superb, the script brilliant, and it's really exiting. This is the best film out of France in quite a while.