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Category: Movies Page 1 of 24

Appreciating “Tamara Drewe”

A once ugly young woman, Tamara Drewe, has always liked and fallen for men; and now beautiful, she turns their heads as well. She does so in the dull English village to which she returns, and what vexing scrapes—in Stephen Frears‘s film Tamara Drewe (2010)—the poor, straying girl gets into!

Based on a decent graphic novel, the movie is very enjoyable, even if it ends with a certain triumph for a disgustingly mischievous teenage girl (Jessica Barden). Gemma Arterton is pleasant as Tamara, but strikingly, delightfully true are most of the other actors, such as Roger Allam (Nicholas) and Bill Camp (Glen). I haven’t paid much attention to Frears’s direction over the years; here, it is excellent.

Hey There, Gorgeous Girl: “Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me”

Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me (1972) is a Francois Truffaut comedy—really, a tragicomedy—in which a woman accused of murder tells her tale to a sociologist penning a thesis. Camille Bliss, acted by Bernadette Lafont, was mistreated as a child but got her own back. Is she a mere tramp through her present behavior? Dunno, but this is a typical slapdash-for-entertainment piece from Truffaut, the best thing about it being the cast. Charles Denner, Guy Marchand, Andre Dussollier are all here.

Notwithstanding she makes too many faces, Lafont is terrific, an intelligent farceur, her screen presence necessary. She has a European look with gorgeous brown hair and perhaps the most comely bosom ever put on film.

By the way, yes, Kid contains a maddeningly silly story.

(In French with English subtitles)

Again, “The King of Marvin Gardens”

I have already reviewed The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) but was unfair to the film by claiming that Bob Rafelson‘s direction is derivative of Fellini and Antonioni. I don’t believe it quite is. Rafelson is his own man, one who regrettably settled for a clearly second-rate story idea and script, written by Jacob Brackman, for his art picture.

I still say King is about the tragic unfulfillment of dreams taking place amid fading respectable culture. It’s a culture Jason Stabler (Bruce Dern) sinks his claws into, whereas his brother (Jack Nicholson) is reluctant. But then, he is a frustrated and sometimes dishonest artist of sorts—and sexually restrained to boot. From beginning to end in the film, there is empty-world shabbiness. But also there is too little drama until the last twenty minutes—and even too little poetry so the picture is not much like, say, Antonioni’s Eclipse. It’s just not wholly uninteresting.

The Eccentric “Fantastic Planet”

On a Fantastic Planet, blue giants enslave humans, except for the feral ones, until they get bothered by them. Then the giants intend to exterminate the humans.

This is an animated French film, from 1973, and it’s relentlessly weird. In large measure it is Yellow Submarine without the frivolity (and the music). Too, a lot of usually naturalistic nudity is featured. Civilization in Fantastic Planet is not civilized. Death and malevolence are everywhere, although so is the cruelty of nature. The film’s images can be mesmerizing, but what the narrative offers is obscure and unexplained and desultory.

(In French with English subtitles)

No Smoochy For Me

Directed by Danny DeVito, Death to Smoochy (2002) is a satirical comedy in which Smoochy, a fake rhino in a kids’ TV show, induces in others hostility and the hard-charging lust for money. Why did scriptwriter Adam Resnick think the film would be artistically successful if he unleashed a string of criminal mooks who would try to murder Smoochy (real name: Sheldon Mopes)? It merely causes the piece to be tiresome and obtuse. It is not even clear what DeVito’s Burke Bennett hopes to gain by knocking off the entertainer. No entertainer, this movie.

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