Yesterday's birthday was a nice, mellow one. And then it ended in disaster. Knowing full well that I likely wasn't going to enjoy it, a friend and I went to see The Black Dahlia last night.
Let's put it this way ... I don't know where to start, so I'm not going to yet. I'll make this simple statement, though for now: Brian De Palma needs to stop making movies!
I can't write much of anything today. I'm actually angry about Dahlia because as low as I had made the expectations for this film, it managed to crash through the floor, not only trashing everything good about the novel but simply being a bad film even if you know nothing about it. Then this morning, I was at Lincoln Center for the press screening of Little Children, which I liked but didn't love, and it still finds itself swimming positively and negatively around my brain.
Meanwhile, I haven't had a chance to say anything about the films opening this week that I want to talk about. I did mention Old Joy, which opened at Film Forum on Wednesday -- a highly recommended choice; and I can't yet comment on The Science of Sleep, but being the Michel Gondry fan I am, I can't wait to get to it. However there are four movies opening today I do plan to discuss, and one of which you should all go see.
The two thumbs down go to Flyboys and Renaissance, two films I really wanted to like based on the concepts and subject matters, but both are just big flat bores. Then there's the documentary American Hardcore, which carries the subtitle "The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986." That's precisely the problem with the film, at least the version I saw back in January -- it's too much. It literally tries to touch on the entire history of American Punk Rock and discuss the scenes going on in so many different places that the film really has no center, nor does it spend enough time on any one subject to make anything seem important or truly interesting. It's like a survey course textbook -- lots of info, very little analysis, no depth.
The film you should rush out to see, however, is the documentary Jesus Camp which premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival and received a "Special Jury Award." Jesus Camp is, in its own way, the scariest film I've seen in years. What's truly marvelous about the filmmaking, however, is how distant the filmmakers Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady manage to stay from the subject while portraying the participants quite intimately. It seems, at least, to be a very non-judgmental film, so depending on one's viewpoint going in, one might get very different ideas about it coming out. To their credit, Jesus Camp is not a polemic, and because of such, it's a film that everybody should see regardless of the depth of their religious convictions.
More TK ....