Month: April 2008

The Transporter (2002), Corey Yuen and Louis Leterrier, B-

I’ve seen Transporter 2 (okay, most of Transporter 2) but not this and since every article I publish at UGO seems to reference this film as a hallmark of our time I thought it appropriate that I check this out. The action sequences are indeed dazzling and the bizarre choice of music on the soundtrack makes it clear that you should be having fun. And much of it is fun. Lots of jumping and stuff. Now I’ve seen The...

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Lacombe, Lucien (1974), Louis Malle, A

There are a hundred different ways to interpret Lacombe, Lucien and that ambiguity is part of its perfection. On the surface, it is a GoodFellas-like look into the waning days of Vichy-France. A young, dumb kid wanders his way into being a member of the Gestapo. Is the propaganda forcing him? Is he just naturally a brute? Is he just trying to impress the girls? Doesn’t he realize the girl he is trying to impress is Jewish? Malle offers no answers, just observation, and lets you draw the line of culpability. One thing is clear: so much of history goes the way it does for “unofficial” reasons. Had Lucien been a little bit older (or the recruiter less of a stickler) he would have joined the Resistance. Had his mother not been sleeping around once his father had been takes as a POW, he might have just stayed on the farm. And on and on. There are many remarkable settings in this film – the police station in the converted hotel with its never closing bar, Django Reinhardt records, aging film star and upstairs torture chamber. The ant-ridden, Malick-esque rural retreat where Lucien and “France” (the Jewish daughter of the patrician Parisian tailor) make their last stand. The Resistance-sympathizing doctor’s home where Lucien goes on a loot-filled sting. The detail is remarkable (lots of animals get killed in ways...

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Star Trek: Gold Key Collection #1

Some months back I read collection # 3 and thought, man, this is such utter crap I won’t ever read another of the Gold Key collections. Yet, here we are. There is a rare level of enjoyment in these dated, completely un-Trek like first comics. I mean, even the GOOD comics have their ridiculous qualities. Take the rather artfully painted TNG graphic novel The Gorn Crisis. Who can deny that part of its pleasure is that the baddie is named Captain Slesssh?!? Anyway, with these early stories you get a crew that says things like “Holy Asteroids! What in Blue Blazes IS that thing?” The bridge looks like the inside of a submarine with planetarium equipment. Away teams beam down in teleport chambers, sending “radio TV transmissions” (read on reel-to-reel tapes.) Warp drive takes a back seat to “rocket power” and various nebulae are known as “space walls.” Spock only acts like a Vulcan when the writers seem to remember, the rest of the time he is quaking in fear or shouting. This collection is pretty massive – 200 or so pages – and there’s a moronic chuckle on each...

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Un Coeur En Hiver (1992), Claude Sautet, C-

French cinema is often unfairly dismissed as slow, talky and plotless. A ridiculous statement, obviously. Which is why a movie like this is doubly awful. It is a carnival of French movie stereotypes. And also – flat out lies if you read the back of the DVD box that calls it sexy and sensual. As far as I can tell it is about a violin repairman who is a snooty douche who is quiet all the time. A violinist decides she is in love with him, but he doesn’t much care. Then everyone looks sad. Seventeen hours later, the damned thing ends. Some good music,...

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King Corn (2007), Aaron Woolf, B+

Everything is made of corn! Even your hair! And it isn’t really good corn, unfortunately. This well-told and humorous doc manages to be informative and helpful without being a pain in the ass. Unlike other, better known documentarians, the King Corn team lets you draw your own conclusion and goes easy on the pedantics. On the surface, just watching the way modern corn is grown, sold and used is pretty fascinating. I know so much more about corn, now. And I’m never drinking soda...

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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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