Wednesday, May 30, 2007

tears of the black tiger (sasanatieng, 2000)

A characteristic moment in a film that does not want for character, a protagonist punches a wall to release his frustration (self-directed denial of yearning for childhood sweetheart), and the wall is colored pastel pink. Now here's the thing: by punching the wall his knuckles are bloodied, but the blood is the color of the wall, not the color of blood.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

pan's labyrinth (del toro, 2006)

For a director whose ideas of "keep it in motion" seem modeled on Spielberg's, Del Toro's elaborate tale of fairies and unfairies is a curious reverse of what the critics have said about, for example, War of the Worlds ... Del Toro's a director with a weak serve and strong follow-through. I, for one, prefer Spielberg's gusto and fascinating grotesquerie, but for what it's worth, Mr. Del Toro, thanks for not kid-gloving this down to PG-13.

the shield: "man inside" (d. white, 2006); forest whitaker

After a lackluster first half dozen episodes that seemed to indicate a cast & crew whose interests were elsewhere, Season Five of The Shield begins to pick up interest, and the result is the best episode since the show's producers decided they could afford Glenn Close (or vice verse). Paradoxically, the material is at its most mawkish - Claudette's post-interrogation breakdown is straight out of '30s melodrama, and some of the dialogue is awful - so what attracted me was the remarkably supple deployment of the "typical" Shield camerawork with some really fluid editing. (For the first few episodes of the season, I frequently wanted to cry out that the cutting was "all wrong!" - specifically its narcotic dependence on aimless, drama-less parallel editing.) Here is an example of style transforming lame material into something pretty close to great.

The subsequent episode - "Kavenaugh" - is nearly as strong, and suggested to me that "Man Inside" wasn't a fluke. Forest Whitaker continues to be the show's strangest - possibly the worst, possibly the best - onscreen performer. He is to The Shield what Rod Steiger was to Jubal, both in his character's Iago-ized villainy and in his predilection towards giving just a lotta bit more than a scene needs.