Thursday, August 23, 2012

Compliance, Premium Rush and More

I was as surprised as anyone to see the outpouring of critical acclaim for Craig Zobel's Compliance, a film that apparently divided critics and audiences during its run on the festival circuit, but met with near universal accolades upon its recent theatrical release. I found this to be especially disheartening as Zobel's film is one that really rankles, a work full of unjustified sadism, couched in a dishonestly presented framework. I also felt that too many critics were too willing to take the movie at its word, arguing that it successfully implicates the viewer's (inevitably) passive observation. As I wrote (via e-mail) to a colleague:

The thing everyone says is that Zobel "implicates" the viewer. This is only half true. He would certainly like to implicate the viewer but he doesn't really know how. He gives us no choice but to watch passively what goes on, so, yeah, in that sense we're implicated, but he also lets us off the hook (not in the sense that we're not subjected to much unpleasantness though) by placing us in a superior position to everyone on screen. It's a bad faith manipulation that makes nonsense of any constructive purpose Zobel might imagine he's attempting.

So, yeah, I didn't like the movie for reasons stated above - and below in my review. But, in other, better news, there's also Premium Rush. Also, I tried my hand at another music review.

Premium Rush (Slant)
Compliance (Slant)
Why Stop Now (Slant)
Somewhere Between (Indiewire)

Henry Threadgill & Zooid: Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp (In Review Online)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Diary of Two Weeks at the Cinema

The tween-oriented franchise Diary of a Wimpy Kid unveiled its latest hotly anticipated entry and I was on hand to report. But there was more to the last cinematic fortnight than Dog Days. Of special interest is the low-key doc Drought, a portrait of a communal Mexican village and the parched landscape and arid conditions that define its existence.

Drought (Slant)
Supercapitalist (Time Out New York)
You've Been Trumped (Indiewire)