several in-depth film reviews by The Artist X, please [click
Genre: [mostly] Independent
The Brown Bunny: Yeah, yeah, so Chloe Sevigny gives Vincent Gallo a rather juicy blow job in the final scene. Grow up and get over it. If you are looking for jerk-off fodder, this isn't the movie to rent. If you are looking for a truly depressing but amazing film about the nature of men and how they handle loss, then this is the one to watch.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: I normally don't like stupid Jim Carrey movies and stupid Jim Carrey faces, but this film is an exception. And he doesn't make one stupid face in the entire film! He is actually quite a dramatic actor when he puts his mind to it. This film was directed by Michel Gondry, and written by Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, so it really couldn't miss. The plot centers around a couple who undergo a procedure to erase one another from their memories after their relationship fails. But ah, if only it were that easy. This is a great study on attraction, fate and all those other strange things which draw and hold people together. It also stars the lovely Kate Winslet, doe-eyed Elijah Wood, the always charming and funny Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst and the wonderfully wonderful Tom Wilkinson.
The Rules of Attraction: Remember cute lil' James Van Der Beek from 'Dawson's Creek'? Well, James is all grown up and sociopathic in this tale of privileged college students and their [failed] attempts at relating to one another. James plays Sean Bateman, brother of Patrick Bateman [American Psycho]. These two films are great studies on the sociopathic mind. Patrick takes his fantasies over the murderous edge, while Sean destroys people in other ways. As they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Art School Confidential: This is the type of film i probably would have hated 10 years ago, but since then i have learned that most of the "art world" is a big joke, and this film really pokes fun at the culture. And does it quite well, i might add.
Me and You and Everyone We Know: I [heart] Miranda July and i [heart] John Hawkes and this film has both of them. This is a great study on human nature, loneliness and attempts to connect to others, and it centers around a newly separated shoe salesman and an eccentric performance artist... and everyone they know.
Garden State: This great little film was directed by [and starred] the adorable Zach Braff, and co-stars cute lil' Natalie Portman. The plot concerns Andrew Largeman, an actor and [misdiagnosed and overmedicated] Manic Depressive who returns to his hometown for the funeral of his mother, and finds his soul mate in a quirky, free- spirited girl. You will love the film and you will love the soundtrack.
Fur: Maybe i loved this film so much because i have a "thing" for artists and beastie type men. Or maybe i loved this film because it was such a departure from standard Hollywood crap. Or maybe i loved this film because it was great. Either way you slice it, i loved this film. This is an imaginary portrait of American photographer Diane Arbus, and takes us on an interesting journey of what might have caused her to go from a stuffy socialite to a freak loving nudist, before her untimely and self-imposed death in 1971. Nichole Kidman stars as Ms. Arubus and she just surprises and delights me with each new and daring role she takes on these days.
Tideland: Terry Gilliam's latest film is both surreal and heart-wrenching, and centers around a little girl called Jeliza-Rose [amazingly portrayed by Jodelle Ferland] and her attempts to deal with [or escape from?] reality after the death of her junkie parents [the always attractive and talented Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly].
The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes: I love the Quay Brothers animation and i love their non-animated films as well. This film is a beautiful fairytale from the Dark-Side about an insane doctor who abducts a opera singer with hopes of turning her into an automaton. You will never, ever forget the ending of this film. It still haunts me as if i saw it last night.
A Scanner Darkly: Richard Linklater directed this great and dark 'animated' film based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, with a plethora of Richard's usual stars backing it up. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, an undercover cop who becomes addicted to a dangerous new substance and begins to lose touch with reality as a result. This one is another film with a depressing ending that you will never forget.
Happiness: Todd Solondz's strange, touching, funny and sad film based on the pursuit of the "H" word.
The Hours: Nichole Kidman amazes me. She started off with an "iffy" career that seemed to get more darkly beautiful with each new role. And she pulls out all the stops here even donning the "ugly" face of Virginia Woolf [whom i have always thought was quite beautiful]. 3 generations of women who all have some connection to suicide or suicidal behavior, are absorbed with Woolf's character "Mrs. Dalloway", who is preparing to host a party she is planning. And trust me, this film is not boring or "Lifetime Movie of the Week" as i originally thought it would be. The always amazing Ed Harris co-stars in what is one of my favorite roles he has portrayed thus far.
The Pillow Book: Peter Greenaway directed this tale of a Japanese girl whose father once painted characters on her face, thus leading to a lifetime sexual fascination and fetish regarding words on skin. I have this same fetish even though i don't know my father and he certainly never painted anything on my skin.
Mysterious Skin: And speaking of skin... I may have to eat my words about "Nowhere" being Gregg Araki's most finest moment. This one does have a few corny moments and i had the "punchline" figured out early on, but other than that, it is a perfect tale of two boys who are a lot more alike than they seem. One is a male hooker and the other is someone who believes he has been abducted by aliens. And that plot description doesn't even begin to touch the deeper and darker themes that Greg so famously pulls us into.
Big Fish: I love when great directors mature and get even greater. And such is the case with Tim Burton. Billy Crudup [i just love this man!] stars as a young man coming to terms with his dying father and their estranged relationship due in part to the "tall tales" his father told him, which turn out to be not quite as tall afterall.
Jesus' Son: Another fine Billy Crudup moment, this time as a heroin addict seeking redemption.
Tarnation: Jonathan Caouette directed, wrote and starred in this auto-biographical tale of a child growing up with a Schizophrenic parent. The story is told via actual Super 8 footage, answering machine messages, videotape and other creative mediums. Jonathan's strange and often sad relationship with his mother was so close to my own experience with a mentally ill parent that it was down-right eerie at times.
Wings of Desire: Two
German angels wander around the streets of Berlin ,while one of them
ponders what it means to be "human". Based in part on a poem
by Rainer Maria Rilke . Beautiful imagery and depth!!
Malick directed this wonderfully beautiful film, about the 1958 murder
spree of Starkweather and Fugate [Mickey and Mallory, eat your heart
out!]. Although the film is highly romanticized and no doubt fictionalized,
there is a tragic beauty and sadness to both the visuals and characters
that i just fell in love with.
Harold and Maude: Definitely
one of the most unconventional love stories ever made. A young man who
is obsessed with death, meets an old woman who is in love with life.
Funny, sad, wonderful and brilliant!!!
Pulp Fiction: I
don't even have to describe this film, because i am sure that everyone
has seen it, but, if you haven't, get out and see it now!
tale of a British psychiatrist who has to face his own demons when he
encounters a patient who was accused of blinding 6 horses. Not for
everyone's tastes, but i found it strangely captivating and interesting, and not so strangely, disturbing. Amazing film, considering
the time period in which it was made .
Betty Blue: Down
on his luck writer meets a seemingly inspirational waitress. Boy, is he
in for a surprise!!!
The Unbearable Lightness
of Being: This film
explores sexual/emotional "lightness/heaviness" between a
womanizing Chezch doctor, his wife, and his complicated mistress amidst
political turmoil in 1960's Prague.
The Piano: Lyrically
and visually beautiful. It was a painting on film. A must for anyone
who has ever had an internal battle of the wills. The main character
in this film is about as close to my personality as one can get, without
sharing the same DNA.
Korine wrote and directed this film which chronicles the anti-social
adventures of two teenage boys living in Xenia, Ohio, and their interactions
with the other strange residents of this town. A truly disturbing
tale of the "forgotten" people in society. The conclusion
culminates this observation in a most horrifying way.
My Own Private
Idaho: Wonderful modernized "gay" version
of a Shakespeare tale. Lots of symbolism and imagery in this one....
see if you can figure it all out! For an in- depth review of this
film, please [click
Down By Law: Tom
Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni star in this delightfully interesting,
and often funny tale of a DJ, a pimp and an optimistic Italian tourist,
who find themselves on the run from prison in the Louisiana Bayou.
The Cook, The
Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover:Genius
of modern day cinema Peter Greenaway directs this oft surreal and
dreamlike political allegory of a boorish misogynist who gets his
just desserts after he murders his wife's lover. Great lighting,
music and costume with a stellar performance by the always amazing
Helen Mirren only add to this already perfect visual poem. Betrayal,
revenge and cannibalism.. what more could you ask for?
Lost Highway: I
know that most David Lynch fans will not agree with me, but i find this
to be his most deep and intelligent film yet. A jazz musician murders
his wife, slips into amnesic denial, and suddenly morphs into another
man's life while in prison. This leads him on a strange and disturbing
journey which teaches him that you cannot escape fate. Intense and
hypnotic with a kick ass soundtrack.
highly romanticized, this film which is about the life of urban artist
Jean-Michel Basquiat is quite wonderful. A great cast just makes
this film more enjoyable all around. I find myself watching it over
and over, and i always seem to find some new inspiration in it.
American Beauty: What
begins as a post yuppie drama, quickly turns dark and beautiful. I
am in love with this film.
version] The classic Russian novel by Nabokov comes to the screen with
a fair amount of accuracy. This movie made me want to cry within the first 5
minutes, and it only gets worse [ better ?? ] from there. Plus,
Jeremy Irons [the great actor with the most comforting voice EVER] is
in it..... need i say more????
Velvet Goldmine: Great
film about the birth and death of the Glam movement in the UK. Great
soundtrack and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is in it.... any questions???
Lee directed this amazing character study of an aimless, depressed British
genius who wanders the streets of London, meeting up with odd people
and discussing his left of center beliefs with them.
third film in the Gregg Araki trilogy, and quite possibly the finest. This
one concerns a boy who is being mysteriously followed by an alien, as
he searches for deeper meaning in life and love amidst his friends:
a group of apathetic So. Cal teens. The ending has a great [and depressing]
twist, that matches my rather jaded view of relationships ..... :)
on Shakespeare's most bloody play "Titus Andronicus", this
film IS art. I loved how director Julie Taymor added a twist to the
story, by using imagery that was not completely typical of traditional
Aronofsky directed this movie about a mathematician suffering from headaches,
who is obsessed with numeric patterns that he believes to be the key
to understanding the universe. Intense and amazing and a great soundtrack
to boot. I truly related to the end of this film.
Requiem for a
Dream: Another hit for Darren
Aronofsky. This one deals with four people, and their addictions.
The beginning of it reminded me of an amateur student film, but it
quickly gets distubingly beautiful as these character's lives spin
out of control. Another great and depressing ending. I HAVE
to meet this director someday.... i love his visions. For an in depth
review of this film, please [click
Almost Famous: This
movie is loosely based on writer-director Cameron Crowe's adventures
as a teenage journalist who goes on tour with an up and coming band
and their adoring groupies. While this film is not exactly deep
nor intellectually transforming, it is a fun piece of fluff which pleasantly
surprised me. The chemistry between the actors in the cast just makes
this movie that much more fun and enjoyable.
The Virgin Suicides: This
amazing film, which was a first for director Sofia Coppola is probably
among my top ten favorite movies of all time. Reminiscent of "Picnic
at Hanging Rock", this film seems somehow more haunting, mysterious
and tragic than the latter. It centers around 4 boys who come together
as adults, to try to piece together a story that has intrigued and saddened
them for over 20 years. The story of the Lisbon sisters and their doomed
fates. Wonderful cinematography, atmospheric music by 'Air', and a beautifully
poetic narration by Giovanni Ribisi only adds to the overall mystery
and melancholy of this story. A story that is important. One that pulls
us in, surrounds us, and somehow leaves us changed. For an in depth review
of this film, please [click
Mulholland Drive: It
is possible that i may have to eat my words about "Lost Highway" being
Lynch's most intellectual film, but the verdict is not yet in. At any
rate, it is a GREAT film, with much symbolism which centers around a woman
with amnesia, and another woman who is determined to help her find out
the truth about her identity. But, as in every Lynch film there are
disturbing twists and turns at every corner. Do not miss this one! For
an in depth review of this film, please [click
Donnie Darko: This
had to be one of the best films of 2001. The adorable Jake Gyllenhaal stars
in this film about a disturbed young man who has visions of the end of
the world, via his conduit, Frank... an overly tall and skeletal rabbit.
This film also has an amazing soundtrack... all those dark '80's songs
that no one dared to put in a movie.... until now. See it.... several times,
even! For an in depth review of this film, please [click
The Man Who Wasn't
film gave me a whole new appreciation for Film Noir, and reaffirmed
my belief that Billy Bob Thornton is one of the most brilliant actors
of our time. The story centers around a quiet barber, his philandering
wife, and her jovial lover. And yet, this description cannot even skim
the surface of one of my favorite films of all time. For an in depth
review of this film, please [click
as a 'Pulp Fiction for Slackers', this film is a masterpiece
on its own. A grocery store clerk who is about to get evicted from her
apartment decides to screw a drug dealer out of some cash. And then
the real fun begins!
Dog: The Way of the Samurai: Who
else besides Jim Jarmusch [or David Lynch] could combine elements of
The Mafia, Eastern Philosophy, Best Friends who don't speak the same
language, Misplaced Rappers and other oddities and make it all work?
NO ONE! see this film now!
Donkey-Boy: This is a strange
and sad mish-mash of a tale, regarding the demise of a young man with
Schizophrenia. Directed by Harmony Korine, and not as viewer friendly
as his earlier films such as 'Gummo' but never the less a masterpiece.
Look for the amazing Werner Herzog who plays Julien's highly dysfunctional
father. With a Dad like this how could poor Julien have turned out
even half ok?!
The Piano Teacher: This
film centers around sexually repressed music instructor, Erika, and her
relationship with her mother and a young male student whom she becomes involved
with. It is a hard film to watch, but i was somehow compelled to do so,
and although it has a VERY disturbing conclusion, i recommend it!
Ghost World: Loosely
based on the comic book of the same name by Daniel Clowes, this film
centers around the lives of two misfit, recent high school graduates,
and the people whom they live to torment. I loved the ending of this
film, and could relate to it on many levels.
[Long Island Expressway]: I
loved this film, which is an interesting study of a Pedophile who
forms a rather strange, yet innocent attachment to a young boy whose
parents are absent.
of 'Pedophile's', Larry Clark is back once again with another interesting
film about a group of Florida youths who plan the brutal murder of the
class bully. Based on a true story, i found this film dismal, disturbing
and yet highly compelling to watch.
Charlotte Sometimes: This
is one of those films where "nothing really happens", but i
liked it regardless. An Asian man who is attached to his unavailable
neighbor, meets a mystery woman who has ties to his amour.
Chelsea Walls: This
is another amazing little film where nothing really happens, and yet, you walk
away feeling inspired and fulfilled. It takes place in the famed hotel,
over the course of one day where several people hope to feed off the creative
energies of those who have lived there before them.
The Business of
Fancydancing: Native American best
friends/writers Aristotle Joseph and Seymour Polatkin meet again, sixteen
years after their high school graduation at the funeral of a mutual
friend. Poetic, moving and brilliant tale of the choices that one makes
in life, and the consequences which ultimately follow.
The Isle: A
truly strange, creepy and disturbing tale of a Korean detective on the
run after killing his girlfriend in a jealous rage. Hiding out in a floating
cabin on a river, he meets a mute prostitute, with whom he enters into
a strange, and ultimately tragic, sadomasochistic relationship. I will
forever have nightmares each time i see a fish hook from this moment
Spring, Summer, Fall,
Winter and Spring: Korean filmmeister
Ki-duk Kim [The Isle] directs this beautifully crafted and touching film,
which tells the tale of a young monk in training and the consequences
that his cruel actions have on himself, and others whom are in his life.
Each season represents a different time period in the Monk's life, and
we get to see the monk go from young child, to older man as he learns
a rather harsh lesson in sorrow and salvation. Man... atonement sucks!
is one of the best films that i have seen in years! Directed by Mark
and Michael Polish [i love these guys!] the cinematography is beautiful,
but it pales in comparison to the tale which is being told. The tale
of a young orphan in the 1950s named Irwin, who lives in the town of
Northfork Montana, which is being evacuated to make way for a new dam.
The film is not only about the physical death of a small town, but about
the death of innocence, and the spiritual death of its residents. And
beyond this there is so much more. Look for Daryl Hannah as a hermaphrodite
angel named Flower Hercules. Robin Sachs [Ethan Rayne of BtVS], Ben Foster,
and Anthony Edwards star as Flower's band of renegade [and very strange but
cool] angels. And do not miss Nick Nolte's amazing performance as Father
Harlan. Keep an eye out for an Autopsy on this film, at some point in
Benjamenta: This film
by the Quay Brothers revolves around a school where down on their
luck people go to be instructed on how to become servants. Their
lessons are repeated the same way daily, and each day drones on for
these cast-offs of society. Despite this, there are so many beautiful moments
in the film and the presence of the ever lovely and ethereal Alice
Krige as the ghostly school mistress, just make this film even more
compelling to watch.
The Brothers Quay
Collection: Oh how i love The
Brothers Quay! Are either of these guys single? :P Ok,
back to the film. TBQC is a collection of short films by Timothy
and Stephen which feature the coolest vintage dolls, stuffed bunnies,
strange bird-like automatons and top notch animation. It is very
hard to describe this film. You just have to see it to know what
i mean. There is a dreamy, Kafka-esque quality that connects these
tales, and keeps the viewer wanting more. Don't miss "Street
which just might be the best piece in this collection. Music by "His
Name is Alive".
Some Girl: I
don't know why i liked this film so much, but i did. Girl meets boy and finds out that her best friend
has had a one night stand with him already [which shouldn't be too
surprising since she has pumped half the town]. The fun starts here,
and a great cast [Marissa and Giovanni Ribisi, Juliet Lewis, Jeremy
Sisto, Michael Rapaport and Pamela Segall] just make the film more
enjoyable to watch.
Audition: Lonely Japanese man decides to hold a fake screening audition to help himself find a new wife. The object of his affections turns out to be nothing like the sweet and innocent lil' thing he imagined her to be. This one is hard to watch in some spots. I cringed. Several times, even.
of a Serial Killer: This film
is based in part on the adventures of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.
There are a few scenes that are hard to watch, but you will NOT soon
forget this film. Look for Tom Towles doing a great job as the
ever smarmy Otis . I saw this one years ago at a late show, and i had to walk
home alone.. freaky, freaky!!
Massacre: Yeah, i know... but
it WAS scary!!!
The Road Warrior: Yeah,
i usually hate Action Films where you can almost smell the testosterone
and gasoline but this one is an exception! My personal favorite of the
Mad Maxx series.
Rosemary's Baby: This
movie IS classic horror! I am sure that you have all seen it, but
if you haven't, then you should! Wonderful performance by the late, great Ruth Gordon, reminded me why i make it a point to never eat things
that old people have cooked. The scene where she serves the cake off
the fork that she has eaten from, was one of the most frightening in
the film, hehe. Don't miss the amazing and strange dream sequence with
The Pope, John and Jackie Kennedy and a Satanic orgy on a yatch!
The Wicker Man: This
British made film concerns a Scottish detective who goes to a remote
island to investigate the disappearance of a local girl, and makes a
few discoveries that he wishes he hadn't. Eerie, atmospheric and creepy.
One of my favorite scenes in the film is where a virgin boy goes to
receive the kindly services of "the landlord's daughter", and
we see artsy splices of two snails having sex while the couple goes
at it to the sound of some strangely cool music and chanting. Warning:
avoid the edited version as well as the 2006 remake with Nicolas Cage!
bad '70's fashion just added to the creepiness of this amazing film about
an American student who goes to a German dance academy run by witches. Someone
get that headmistress a respirator!!!
Cemetery Man: Based
in part on the Italian graphic novel series "Dylan Dog", this
piece of cinematic brilliance is NOT just a spoof on zombie films as some critics will lead you to believe. VERY intense and symbolic
and it has some funny and deeply beautiful moments. For
an in depth review of this film, please [click
The Reflecting Skin: This
movie is billed as a "vampire" flick, but the real horrors
have to do with the fears of a child as opposed to the fears of an adult.
One of my favorites!!
Dead Ringers: FASCINATING
study of twin brother gynecologists, and their strange connection. Jeremy Irons is
amazing in a double role.
When the Wind
Blows: This British classic
is actually an animated "children's" movie, but it is definitely
for adults. Two elderly survivors of a nuclear war STILL trust what
the government tells them.... even as they start to dissipate from
Night of The
Living Dead: [1990 remake]:
I enjoyed this film much more than the original, and you will probably
disagree with me, but oh well.... i loved the character of the new
Barbara, as she transformed from sniveling mouse, to gutsy commando...
in the original film, i kept rooting for one of those zombies to kill
Barbara, just so i wouldn't have to hear her semi-catatonic whimpering
anymore... i also loved the fact that Tom Towles, and Tony Todd were
in the remake... gotta love those guys!!.. and, that Ethiopian zombie freaked the hell out of me, when it popped through the doorway
Return of The
Living Dead: Yeah, yeah,
but i liked it! This movie contains every element of cheese that
i usually despise in a film, but for some reason, it works here. James Karen is absolutely hilarious [if a tad over-acting] in the role of Frank. If you are feeling brain dead [please forgive the pun] and
you want to just sit back and forget about everything, then THIS is
the film to watch.
Silence of the
Lambs: I am not usually a big
fan of Hollywood films, but this one is an exception. All around
creepy plot + stellar performances by Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins,
and Ted Levine = horrific perfection.
Scott directed this third installation in the Hannibal Lecter Trilogy,
which finds Dr. Lector, lured out of hiding in Florence, Italy, when
he learns that Agent Starling has been suspended from the FBI, but is
conducting her own investigation as to his whereabouts... while this
tale is not as suspenseful or "audience friendly" to the average
moviegoer as "Silence of the Lambs", it is indeed interesting,
and beautiful to watch, although it does have more than a few cheesy
moments.... i find myself both fascinated and attracted by the character
of Dr. Lector [flawlessly played by Anthony Hopkins], a person who is
eloquent and intelligent, and yet not above consuming those whom he considers
to be rude, useless or uncultured, lest he finds something in them which
is beautiful to his senses.... i also find the tension between him and
Clarice, to be most interesting, albeit a bit on the depressing side,
but hey... i like that sort of thing :)
Ginger Snaps: At
last.... a werewolf film that i actually loved! This story centers around
two teenage misfits, who are preoccupied with death and dying. One of
them is bitten by a werewolf and slowly begins to transform into something
quite alien to her horrified sibling. A great allegory of the fears that
we all face when growing up and away from those people and things which
were once dear to us. For an in depth review of this film, please [click
put this in the horror section, because, when you get down to the basis
of this story, it has roots in horror, although not the horror that we
typically associate with this word. A young man begins seeing secret
messages in his television, and becomes convinced that an underground
organization is responsible. This film does well to cross the boundaries
between imagination, and something much, much worse, and leaves the viewer
with a sense of fear and paranoia, as well as the thought "Thank
Goodness that this didn't happen to me!"
of the best indie horror films of last year, and perhaps of all time!
This one centers around a shy and disturbed girl, who cannot seem to
find the perfect friend, so she decides to make one :). Look for an Autopsy
on this film, coming sometime soon!
My Little Eye: The
title of this film comes from the children's poem "I spy with my little
and it concerns a group of young adults who agree to appear on a Internet
broadcast reality show, where they must live in total seclusion for 6
months in order to win a 1 million dollar prize. There is just one catch... but
i am not going to tell you what it is, because it will ruin the film
for you. Keep in mind that this is a horror flick, so the catch probably
isn't a pleasant one :)