OBSERVE AND REPORT ***
Jody Hill’s $25,000,000 follow-up to his $70,000 THE FOOT FIST WAY sort of asks the question, “What if TAXI DRIVER were a comedy?” This certainly bold film will not appeal to all – in fact, it will probably appeal only to a certain 10 percent of the movie-going public, those who are willing to see a story whose central character is almost not only almost completely unlikable but completely reprehensible. Seth Rogan plays a mall cop (not to be confused with the recent movie PAUL BLART: MALL COP) who has delusions of grandeur, terrible social skills and, most disturbingly, extremely violent tendencies and desires. With date rape not out of the question for this central loser – and with his mental illness not examined in proper detail – the movie must be admired for its boldness just as it will despised by some for its lack of heart.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED? ****
Definitely one for the movie lovers (and those who love movies about the movies), Robert De Niro gives his finest, most nuanced and most charming performance in ages as big-time Hollywood insider producer Ben (based on Art Linson) who has to deal with a spoiled British psudo-Auteur director (Michael Wincott), a VERY spoiled major motion picture star called Bruce Willis played by Bruce Willis (but based on Alec Baldwin) and his yearning for his ex-wife. Based by Linson on his own tell-all Hollywood memoir, this is surprisingly more heartfelt – and less obviously comedic – than one might imagine from its campaign. If you’re reading FILM MAFIA, you’ll probably enjoy WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
Extremely well-acted, sprawling, kaleidoscopic and uncompromising look at the Comorra crime families in the provinces of Naples and Caserta by master director Matteo Garrone from the incredibly popular novel by Roberto Saviano (the publication of which has forced him to live in hiding, and protected) shows, through five intercut stories, just how deeply violent crime and the drug trade is connected to every strata of Italian life. A bold, brave and complex film, absolutely requiring viewing on the big screen.
RIP: A REMIX MANIFESTO ***
Brett Gaylor’s entertaining and completely subjective documentary argues for a brave new world free of copyright and the tyranny of intellectual property. Whether you agree with his view or not will probably depend on your age and whether, say, you are a published author or musician who depends on royalties for your income, but regardless, his examination of the new uses of other people’s creative work through re-mixing, mashing, sampling and re-editing will probably open your eyes and cause you to question the notions of intellectual property, especially as espoused by the United States. Also a terrific look at Canada’s master of remix Girl Talk, the film suffers a little through an obviously Michael Moore style – but then, stealing other’s stuff is precisely the argument of the film!