Month: October 2005

Cocksucker Blues (1972), Robert Frank, C

Yikes. I need to take a shower. This legendary documentary, available only on bootleg, may indeed be the best representation of life on the road with a 70s rock band. And it ain’t as fun as it looks in “Almost Famous.” The Stones’ 1972 US tour supporting “Exile on Main St.” is presented here as a demoralizing slough of drugs, sex and cameras. I know — how can this be bad? Trust me, it is. It is disorienting, boring, almost sickening. The footage looks like hell (I think even the original did, too — much of it is shot on B&W Super 8) and everybody looks nauseous. Some moments are just so awful you have to laugh — a spread-eagled naked woman with semen on her abdomen mumbling “I saw fireflies last night” is, in this regard, the summit. Mick wears cool outfits and Keith tries to order room service in a scene straight out of Spinal Tap. Lots of celebs pop by (Dick Cavett, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Tina Turner, Terry Southern) but when they leave it is just back to the boredom. Waiting backstage. Waiting for the plane. Waiting at the hotel. Driving for hours to go play pool with Muddy Waters. I guess. . .I guess it is possible this is exactly what Frank wanted. Who knows? All I know is that it gave me a...

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I Didn’t Get What I Wanted For Fitzmas This Year

You’ve got a stolen administration leading the nation into a poorly planned war based on a foundation of lies for personal profit, then maintaining the fiction of jingoism with mafia techniques of extortion (at home) and torture (abroad) — and you expect me to jump for joy over the indictment of Scooter Libby?!? No — I didn’t get what I wanted for Fitzmas this year. But I was a fool to think I would get anything...

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An Amazing Couple (Trilogy: Two) (2002), Lucas Belvaux, B+

Strange, strange comedy about a paranoid husband and his distrusting wife. One misunderstanding leads to another and eventually everybody starts running around (I think) Belgium as zany-ness ensues. The hidden gem of Belvaux’s Trilogy is to see the films overlap. They are concurrent stories with shared peripheral characters, so it is quite exciting to see how the same moment in time plays differently in a thriller like On The Run versus a comedy like this. Ornella Muti, born 1955, is one of the sexiest women I’ve ever seen in a film. And she wears a sweater and coat throughout the entire film. Go...

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Good Night, And Good Luck. (2005), George Clooney, A

I would argue that perhaps that this may not be as great a movie as I let on, but I am so personally fascinated with both its content and its form that I am giving it an inflated grade. I would argue that Mr. Clooney, director of the unwatchably vapid Gong Show movie, has made a film that is quite unique and quite unorthodox. It is heavily stylized, yet it is ruthlessly minimal. It is grounded in realism, yet the dialogue is uncommonly florid. It is filled with tension, yet has no traditional climax. And a lot of it is just watching old news footage. Many will see this film and ask “Where are today’s Ed Murrows and Fred Friendlys?” They are out there, but they don’t (and probably never will again) have the kind of access and audience in America that they once had. Lament not only this, but of the destruction of the level of discourse in American media, American society today. Even the bad guy — McCarthy — the language, the verbiage, the syntax — think of some of the clowns you work with. You think they’d be able to follow this movie? It’s almost as if it should be listed in the foreign language category — as different from today’s mediaspeak as Shakespeare’s English is to that of the authors of The O.C. A very...

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Capote (2005), Bennett Miller, A-

This movie comes so very very close to being utterly fantastic. We’ll have to settle simply for great. What’s great is my cousin Philip. A totally unique performance, ranging all sorts of personas and emotions and depths and contradictions. I’m one of those obnoxious cineastes who hates to talk about awards but, seriously, dude’s locked himself an Oscar. (Then again, I said the same thing about Paul Giamatti.) Another important plus is the respect Truman Capote shows for Tabasco Sauce. As if being a great writer weren’t enough. What I found disappointing were the depictions of Perry Smith and Alvin Dewey. At first I thought that this was just because I had just read In Cold Blood and, as is almost always the case, films never provide the depth books do. But I don’t think that’s it — especially considering how well Truman is presented in this film and even more because the whole crux of the movie is based on the fact that Truman finds Perry fascinating. The trouble is — Perry, in this film, isn’t all that fascinating. Yeah, he shotgunned four people for no real reason, that makes him ipso facto fascinating, I suppose, but I know (from reading the book) that Truman discovered much more about him. And almost none of it is in the film. Still — a fascinating movie, well told and highly...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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