Month: February 2006

Cross of Iron (1977), Sam Peckinpah, B

Weird movie. James Coburn, playing Lee Marvin, is the killingest grunt, the man of the people. Maximilian Schell is the snotty patrician officer. Both are fighting for Germany in WWII, but don’t call either of ’em a Nazi. Whenever the storyline gets too predictable there is another wildly edited sequence, usually involving slo-mo explosions and cartoonish screams of terror. David Warner and James Mason have a go-nowhere subplot and God knows what the message of this film is, but I do recommend...

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Strange Plates V: Strange Journey

You’ll recall the Hatian Strange Plates I, the Thai Strange Plates II, but Ann and I missed excursion III (Ghananese in the Bronx) and IV (Italian in Dyker Heights). Excursion V was a trip to the vaguely French Aesop’s Tables in (please inhale) Staten Island! (Now exhale in shock!) We had to ferry, then cab. (We bussed it back to the ferry, and coulda done so there if we knew where we were going.) I didn’t take that many photos of the food (the setting was too nice for that behavior) and most of my shots on the Ferry came out blurry. But anyway — Welcome to New York! Here are your guides. From L-R: Tony DiSante, Mahalia Stines, Jordan Hoffman, Mark Levy, Sean Parrot, Gideon Levy, Andy Sydor. Kim is freezing. Rob is freezing. Before the ferry I made mine a Guinness at the White Horse. No not that White Horse. This White Horse. Ann vogues at the White Horse. And here are the snails that I ate. Yum factor...

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Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997), Guy Maddin, F

The problem with being an experimental artist is that sometimes your experiments will fail. This movie is unwatchable. We tried twice. It is actually painful to look at — the harshly lit video, cheaper-than-Querelle sets, the awful dubbing. We just couldn’t make it past the 30-minute mark. Stick with Guy Maddin’s Saddest Music In The World, Archangel, any of his shorts or even the vexing Cowards Bend The Knee. If this had been my introduction to Maddin I’d never want to see any of his films...

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Archangel (1990), Guy Maddin, A-

A witty, literate and dreamy meditation on lost love, set in the snowy, foggy Russian WWI front of cinema’s imagined past. I’d seen two of Maddin’s other features and a handful of his shorts before this — this may be a good place for newcomers to start. The Eisenstein-on-speed element is here, as is the post-modern...

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Current Spins

These CDs are what’s been spinning a lot these last few days. When I first got this latest Daniel Lanois CD I was a little disappointed it was instrumental-only. But after some mental readjustment it has earned a place as perfect chill-out music. It does, though, sound exactly like any of Lanois’ last two albums but with the vocal track removed. Was someone pressed for time? Another great mellow album is The Gasoline Age by East River Pipe. Very simple, basic songs — but it is amazing what effect a little echo has. You won’t even notice at first that many of the lyrics are tongue in cheek. The closing symphony of Atlantic City slot machines is mesmerizing. My least favorite of the prog rock titans (I’d even place the dreaded ELP above ’em) King Crimson’s second album “In The Wake of Poseidon” is still some fun stuff. Cat food! The later, Adrian Belew/Tony Levin – ProjeKCt Space Vector 9 mishigoss is a long way away from some of this airy material. All I remember from the movie Gattaca is Ethan Hawke running, Jude Law’s dreamy eyes and this dare-I-say haunting score. I’ll have to slip this one back on my Netflix queue. Not that I don’t have all the original albums, but it is a convenience to have all the great early Stones material in one place. I’ve...

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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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