Barbet Schroeder

Barbet Schroeder

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Love in the Afternoon (1972) Review


OK
The finale of Eric Rohmer's "moral tales," a six-part filmed essay on modern morality. Unfortunately, Love is distinguished by little more than the tepid non-choice presented by its milquetoast hero (lovely Chloe (Zouzou) tries to seduce the otherwise happily married man) and some of the worst lighting ever to sour a film (though this has thankfully been repaired in Criterion's new DVD release). The self-obsessed running commentary of Frédéric (Bernard Verley) isn't so much a bore as it is simply conceited, but there's something deep here as he wrestles with whether he should give in toe Chloe's advances or return home to his loving (though boring) wife. At least as moral quandaries go, Love has one worth pondering. And if you feel otherwise, you can at least groove on the 1970s fashions.

For more discussion of the "six moral tales," see the review of My Night at Maud's.

Continue reading: Love in the Afternoon (1972) Review

Love in the Afternoon Review


OK
The finale of Eric Rohmer's "moral tales," a six-part filmed essay on modern morality. Unfortunately, Love is distinguished by little more than the tepid non-choice presented by its milquetoast hero (lovely Chloe (Zouzou) tries to seduce the otherwise happily married man) and some of the worst lighting ever to sour a film (though this has thankfully been repaired in Criterion's new DVD release). The self-obsessed running commentary of Frédéric (Bernard Verley) isn't so much a bore as it is simply conceited, but there's something deep here as he wrestles with whether he should give in toe Chloe's advances or return home to his loving (though boring) wife. At least as moral quandaries go, Love has one worth pondering. And if you feel otherwise, you can at least groove on the 1970s fashions.

For more discussion of the "six moral tales," see the review of My Night at Maud's.

Continue reading: Love in the Afternoon Review

Claire's Knee Review


Grim
Lechery in the guise of art, and what could be more fun? Eric Rohmer's fifth "moral tale" tells us of a man obsessed with nubile young girls, particularly a young blonde's... well, you guessed it. Our hero is about to get married, you see, and he just doesn't feel ready to go through with it. So he chats up a couple of young girls, including the titular Claire, who doesn't show up until 47 minutes into the film. Eventually he gets to touch her leg. This is the only flat-out repulsive moral tale and the only one that doesn't really make much sense. Claire's Knee purports to be about love but comes across as little more than infantile.

For more discussion of the "six moral tales," see the review of My Night at Maud's.

Continue reading: Claire's Knee Review

My Night at Maud's Review


Weak
Every cineaste knows that Eric Rohmer made a series of films called the "six moral tales," but I'd wager that virtually no one has seen them all. Most knowledge of the tales begins with this, the third film in the series (which was inexplicably filmed fourth), and tragically by then they've already started a prodigiously deep decline into preachy bloviating and repetitiveness.

I realize I should expect a good amount of hate mail for panning a "classic," but here goes anyway. See if you think this sounds like a good way to spend two hours: Devout Catholic Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) decides that he's going to marry Françoise, a blonde girl he sees at mass but whom he's never actually met. After half an hour of wandering around their small town, he ends up going with his pal Vidal to the home of Maud (Françoise Fabian), a divorcee with a young child who's actually interested in listening to Jean-Louis drone on and on about his moral choices, only for him to throw them to the winds when he decides to jump into bed with Maud, mere minutes after exclaiming he'd never do such a thing.

Continue reading: My Night at Maud's Review

Bukowski: Born Into This Review


OK
Poet and novelist Charles Bukowski was a howling drunk, an unapologetic womanizer, and a smoking, gambling foul-mouthed literary sensation. He haunted barrooms and horse tracks. He brawled and hired prostitutes. He hung out with celebrities and is revered by legions of readers. No doubt his life contains all the stuff of a fascinating documentary -- only Bukowski: Born into This isn't it.

For a movie about a wild man, Born into This is awfully tame. Director John Dullaghan does a commendable job of chronicling his subject's life, using Bukowski's various novels and poems as portals into his life experiences, but Dullaghan never challenges the audience to determine exactly what to make of Bukowski, either as a human or as a writer. Was he a misogynist or a sage? Is it possible to be both? What is his literary legacy? Why don't universities typically teach Bukowski? Do English professors know something the rest of us don't?

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Claire's Knee Review


Grim
Lechery in the guise of art, and what could be more fun? Eric Rohmer's fifth Moral Tale tells us of a man obsessed with nubile young girls, particularly a young blonde's... well, you guessed it. Our hero is about to get married, you see, and he just doesn't feel ready to go through with it. Somewhere between insulting and repulsive, Claire's Knee purports to be about love but comes across as little more than infantile.

Continue reading: Claire's Knee Review

Murder by Numbers Review


Unbearable
Since her "breakthrough" performance in the Sylvester Stallone action vehicle Demolition Man, I've never much liked Sandra Bullock or her selection of films. My initial reaction to the previews of Murder by Numbers was a laughing fit. But I ventured into the theater not based upon the marquee name of Bullock, but by the crew behind the camera - renowned director Barbet Schroeder, cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, composer Clint Mansell, and screenwriter Tony Gayton (who wrote the solid, upcoming film The Salton Sea). In the end, I didn't know who to blame for this awkward and schlock-filled "serial killer" flick, which is about as enjoyable as watching that new Andy Richter TV show.

Bullock plays hard-nosed, seasoned homicide detective Cassie Mayweather, who has more issues than four of my ex-girlfriends combined. After a young woman is found dead in her district, Cassie and her new partner Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin) take the case and discover conflicting evidence. Using techniques she must have picked up by watching CSI, Cassie's intrepid sleuthing leads her to cocky high school student Richard Haywood (Ryan Gosling, who eerily resembles a Muppet), who owns a unique pair of boots linked to the crime scene but were stolen weeks before the crime. Richard's airtight alibi and carefree nature only confounds Cassie's intrepid sleuthing skills and brings to surface memories of a tragic event in Cassie's life, involving a bitter husband and 17 stab wounds.

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Kiss of Death (1995) Review


Excellent
Ever get the feeling that no matter what you do, you're screwed? That basically sums up the life of Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso), an ex-con trying to go straight in the new feature, Kiss of Death.

Jimmy, his wife Bev (Helen Hunt), and their daughter live an inner-city dream, trying to make ends meet. When Jimmy's cousin Ronnie (Zebrahead's Michael Rapaport) shows up, begging for a driver for his chop shop caravan, all hell breaks loose. Jimmy is busted, and his descent back into the pit of crime, prison, betrayal, and the government begins. Soon, Jimmy and his family are hounded by cop Calvin (Samuel L. Jackson), asthmatic psycho kingpin Little Junior (Nicholas Cage), and a host of other unsavory players. We are invited to watch and see how Jimmy extricates himself from the mess.

Continue reading: Kiss of Death (1995) Review

Before And After Review


Weak
(Not to be confused with last year's Now and Then.) And aside from that brief statement, I scarcely know where to begin trying to critique Before and After. I don't even quite know how to describe it, but I do know that it isn't a good sign.

Let me try my best here, in the process trying to spoil the plot as little as possible. In small town Massachusetts, the Ryan family lives a semi-typical semi-functional family life. Carolyn (Meryl Streep) is a physician. Ben (Liam Neeson) is an avant-garde artist. Daughter Judith (Julia Weldon) is a precocious elementary school student but is wise beyond her years, and son Jacob (Edward Furlong) is the typical bratty teenager.

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Our Lady of the Assassins Review


Terrible
Inner city intrigue in Colombia never looked so lifeless. This violent, gay, 45-years-difference love triangle set in Medellin is a complete misfire from the first frame (it's all done on chintzy video) to the last. City of God it ain't.

Continue reading: Our Lady of the Assassins Review

Desperate Measures Review


Grim
Michael Keaton as a serial killer? Well, why not, I guess. He was the original Batman, after all. But Michael Keaton as a serial killer who happens to be the only man alive whose DNA matches the son of the cop who busted him and needs some kind of transplant? Er, someone needs to go back to reality school.

Chloe In The Afternoon Review


Grim
The finale of Eric Rohmer's "Moral Tales," a six-part filmed essay on modern morality. Unfortunately, Chloe is distinguished by little more than the tepid non-choice presented by its milquetoast hero (lovely Chloe (Zouzou) tries to seduce the otherwise happily married man) and some of the worst lighting ever to sour a film. Especially a French film. The self-obsessed running commentary of Frédéric (Bernard Verley) isn't so much a bore as it is simply conceited. Oh, and the 1970s fashions are difficult to look at -- even if they're out of focus and hard to make out in the dark.

Continue reading: Chloe In The Afternoon Review

More Review


OK
Movie fans will remember More primarily for the fact that it's the one movie (that's not The Wall) which Pink Floyd provided the soundtrack for. Pink Floyd fans will remember More as that movie they bought the soundtrack to which they only listened to once.

Barbet Schroeder's first film, More isn't much of a movie. The story follows German Stefan (Klaus Grünberg) as he meets a blonde vixen (Mimsy Farmer) and follows her to Paris, where he is quickly indoctrinated into the joys of heroin. Eventually they're off to Ibiza for more drugs and, well, you get the picture.

Continue reading: More Review

Maîtresse Review


Weak
Yes, that's a young Gérard Depardieu (27 at the time) in Maîtresse, and that's probably the reason that Barbet Schroeder's scarcely seen but notoriously scandalous film is being released on DVD by masters of fine cinema, The Criterion Collection.

For the uninitiated, and I expect that's most of you, Maîtresse tells us the story of a thief named Olivier who robs the apartment of a mild-mannered woman (Bulle Ogier) he's encountered earlier in the day. Much to his surprise, he discovers a dungeon on her bottom story. Ogier's Ariane is secretly a dominatrix, stomping genitals, stretching guys on the rack, and otherwise abusing her clients into oblivion. This discovery leads to all manner of unexpected hijinks, as Olivier and Ariane begin a torrid affair while he tags along on her jobs, Olivier becomes obsessed with one of Ariane's clients, and a horse is slaughtered on camera; a horsemeat filet is consumed in the following scene. The lattermost among those is only one reason why this film is X-rated.

Continue reading: Maîtresse Review

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