I’m Still Here – A Review

October 30, 2010

There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Bart dreams of being a rock star. Rather than picturing himself popular and swathed in adoring fans, instead, Bart pictures himself drunk, bloated and dyspeptic. In The Simpsons, it’s a joke. In Hollywood, it’s the truth. Fame is rotten, but the rot has allure. That’s why famous people find it so hard to be good, because people want them for their fame, and unadulterated want…won’t judge, even the most heinous crimes. Famous people act badly the way sinking ships set off distress flares. Every ugly scene is a warning: “I’m poison” it says. Joaquin Phoenix’s new movie, I’m Still Here, is a quasi-comedy about toxic celebrity. It’s the sort of movie Mel Gibson should watch on a loop.

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I’m Still Here – Trailer Review

August 23, 2010

I have no idea who’s talking to Joaquin Phoenix in this trailer, but I like what he’s saying… That’s you: drops of water. And you’re on top of the mountain; a success. But one day you start sliding down the mountain. You think: “Wait a minute. I’m a mountain top water drop. I don’t belong in this valley, this river, this low dark ocean with all these drops of water.” Then one day it gets hot, and you slowly evaporate into air; way up, higher than any mountain top; all the way to the heavens. And then you understand that it was at your lowest that you were closest to God. Life’s a journey that goes round and round, and the end is closest to the beginning. So if it’s change you need, relish the journey.

The Killer Inside Me – A Review

June 6, 2010

The song He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss) sums up all Jim Thompson’s oeuvre. When he wrote his novels (mostly in the 50s) they were rightly regarded as violent misogynist twaddle. It was only after his death that certain misguided critics mistook his nihilistic, bad-day-at-the-abattoir style for art. Thompson’s writing has all the literary merit of pissing your name in snow. Like Mickey Spillane, he saw two kinds of people in the world: bad men and the women who love them. The mistake director Michael Winterbottom makes (in his new adaptation of The Killer Inside Me) is to believe Thompson’s world view teaches us anything apart from bad taste.

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Gone Baby Gone – A Review

June 8, 2008

This is the kind of movie you expect from an actor turned director: subdued, character-led, respectable. No-one goes Herzog their first time out. Even Mel Gibson waited until his third movie before he went bananas. Actors – leading men, especially – want their first movie to announce: I’m serious. Witness Bob Redford directing Ordinary People; Mel directing The Man Without a Face. Ben Affleck has studied this model carefully during his wilderness years; chosen his source material from an approved writer (Dennis Lehane, who also wrote Mystic River); picked a lot of pug-ugly non-actors for “authenticity”. Michael Bay mightn’t love it; John Cassavetes would.

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