TEXAS Italy 2005; 104 min.
Written and Directed
by Fausto Paravidino
First off, the film has absolutely nothing to do with any of the states of the union. “Texas,” if this film is to be believed, is a synonym for “the middle of nowhere, and the middle of this nowhere is the outer suburbs of Genoa, Italy, where little of importance happens and a merry band of post-teenagers likes to hang out and get drunk. Little do we know we're going to get blindsided.
For the first third of the film, Enrico (Fausto Paravidino) takes us on a tour of the people in his life. Apparently one of them is going away for military service and everybody is going to get stinking drunk, something they do all the time. We get to know these people as we prepare ourselves for the merry romp that's advertised at the beginning of the film.
But then one of them, a hansome slacker named Gianluca (Ricardo Scamarcio) starts two-timing his girlfriend. Cinzia (Iris Fusetti) with a married schoolteacher named Maria (Valeria Golino), who's husband Alessandro(Valerio Rinasco) isn't too happy with the situation. This could have been, and has in other films, been treated with a very light hearted touch, but Paravidino doesn't. What he does, is basically drop himself from the film somewhere near the beginning of the middle and change the tone of the film dramatically. In other words, the comedy vanishes and we have a romantic tragedy,
As a minor character says “This is getting too heavy, man.”
Indeed it does, but we've got some terrific performances here, and when we finally get into the real plot, as opposed to the party of a prologue, what might be termed “the second movie” becomes really dramatic.
Worth a look.
INTO GREAT SILENCE Germany, 2005; 162 min.
Written and Directed
by Philip Gröning
As a novice filmmaker, Philip Gröning asked the Carthusian monks of the Grand Chartreuse, a monastery in the French Alps, for permission to make a documentary about them. They said, “we'll think about it” and a dozen years later they actually said yes.
So, he actually goes there and starts filming. Now if you were expecting a gay romp through the Alps with happy-go-lucky monks dancing in the snow, you've got another thing coming.
What's coming is almost three hours of deathly dull tediousness, the Carthusians have taken a modified vow of silence, in which they can only use their vocal cords when singing hymns or praying in the chapel or during a once-weekly walk through the woods. Otherwise thy just do chores and read, entirely in silence.
If you really want to know what it's like to be a monk or nun in one of the strictest orders, see this, but beware, being bored out of your skull is not anyone's idea of entertainment.
THINGS THAT HANG FROM TREES USA, 2006; 98 min.
Life in a small town can be painful if you're weird. We're in St. Augustine, Florida, and it's September, 1969, The city is going to be major fireworks display to celebrate the place's anniversary and everybody's excited. Tommy Wheeler (Cooper Musgrove) is an odd duck for sure. His best friend Bear Hadley(Ryan Parker) loves nothing more than to torture our hero, something his other pal Tony Mazziati(Antony Del Rio) tolerates. Only the town drunk, Ump (Peter Gerety) is willing to stand up to this kiddie injustice.
But for the most part, we've got a gritty little comic soap opera, as Tommy's
his dreamy mother Connie Mae(Deborah Kara Unger) poses in sexy laingeree in the window of her sex shop and George Burgess (Daniel von Bargen), the local barber and religious fanatic, eats his lunch in front.
This was supposed to be adapted from an award-winning novel for children, but if it was, the adaptation isn't particularly good. The film is, in fact, quite a snorer, and we don't really care what's going on with the grownups and even with his eccentricities, Tommy just isn't that interesting a kid to really stay awake for.
The ending is a bit of a shocker, as it comes completely out of left field. The whole experience is something that's not worth the time or money.
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY USA, 2005; 90 min.
What's perplexing about this film is the point of view. Is Laura Poitras in favor of the event she is filming or against it? We're never entirely sure as we follow her around from place to place around Iraq as it prepares for it's first free election in decades, if ever.
Her main focus is a certain Dr. Riyadh, a notable in the neighborhood where he lives, he's a doctor in the old school, and everyone in his neighborhood loves him. Fine. So he decides to run for the Baghdad city council and lets Laura Poitras and her crew follow him around for while he runs for office.
This is not the only thing Piotras does. She goes to a number of Iraqi cities and follows the election process elsewhere, and it's all very interesting. The picture she paints is actually pretty positive, even though the outside security firm as to by weapons on the black market in order to protect the ballots and polling stations from
WILD TIGERS I HAVE KNOWN USA, 2006; 93 min.
Written and Directed
by Cam Archer
Logan(Malcolm Stumpf) is one of those kids who doesn't have it all that good in Junior high. Come to think of it, almost nobody has it really good in Junior high. The asshole gene begins to kick in just before the hair starts growing in the groin and armpits and except for the top ranks in the clic system, pretty much everyone has a lousy time.
Of course, our hero lives with his single mother(Fairuza Balk) and is gay. Now, with most of the kids being homophobic and all, he gets pretty much razzed about it, but then he meets the über-cool rebel of the 10th grade, whom everyone calls Rodeo(Patrick White). Soon Logan has a major crush and is soon disguising his voice and having phone sex(using the voice of ). Soon Logan is dressing up in Mom's clothing and even former best pal Joey (Max Paradise) is wondering about his sexuality. This only makes things worse for his almost non-existent social life.
This thing is too poetic for it's own damn good. While we feel for Logan at the beginning, his actions soon become annoying and near the end the film becomes almost unwatchable, making you actually sympathize with the evil straight prom queen-type. It's pretty sure that Cam Archer is going to graduate to bigger things, like gay soft porn, or homicidal gay screenwriter psychodramas.
Meanwhile pass this by. It's all old hat.