09 May 2007

The inglorious return of SIR (Short, Incompetent Reviews)

Borat (****) There's a certain point at which I just can't appreciate cruelty, even when it's done to people who have it coming. In theory, I'd love to go bash some Confederate antiques, but I'm just too damn polite. It's a personal failing.

A Scanner Darkly (*****) How do you make Keanu Reeves something other than stiff as a board? By making him a cartoon! Worth it for Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance alone, though I've never read the book, so I can't compare.

Shut up and Sing (**) There's a good story to be told on how country music went from appreciating solidarity with working-class people everywhere to close-minded fascist pablum, which I suspect would parallel the some progression in rural America in general, but this movie doesn't tell it. While one can feel some appreciation for for the Dixie Chicks bucking the disturbingly mainstream Bush-worship in 2003, it was hardly the career-ruining movie it is sometimes made out to be, and this is only marginally better than an overblown Hollywood sob story.

American Hardcore (***) A documentary scrapbook of the hardcore punk scene in the early 80's. The grainy video footage of Minor Threat, Bad Brains and co. is cool to look at, but the movie itself feels disjointed, and there's too much inside baseball with little exposition for people who weren't around at the time.

The Cave of the Yellow Dog (****) This is the second film of Mongolian life from Mongolian-German director Byambasuren Davaa. It drags on at times, and the "docudrama" format left me scratching my head wondering how much of it was real, but the photography of the Mongolian countryside is lovely, and the fascinating glimpse at the daily life of the nomads who still populate some of the country is enough to recommend it.

Land of Plenty (**) A tale of two stock characters who begin the movie at opposite ends of life who slowly help each other reach Mutual Understanding. Save for a few fleeting moments, it's mostly trite.

My Country, My Country (****) Now here's an idea for a movie. Let's go to Iraq and actually follow a Sunni family around to see how they feel about the "elections" held in 2005. Nah, that would force us to consider them as something other than spoiled, ipetulant brats.

Children of Men (*****) Did I read somewhere recently that we are now rounding up illegal immigrants in camps and sorting out the ones who get to stay and shipping the rest out? Or was that one of the strange dreams I've been having lately? Considering last night I had a dream about a store full of Wal-Mart employees who committed a mass suicide by frustrating customers into choking them to death, that's certainly possible. I'm pretty sure that dream was brought on by the next movie....

Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple (****) I would be interested to see someone compare "Jonestown" side by side with Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" and compare the psychopathy of Jones and Tim Treadwell. I don't know why I feel compelled to apologize for Jones' socialist leanings; he was a charlatan swindler who latched on to a message that would get him followers, much like any number of oily preachers holding forth on Capitalist Calvinism in the past 20 years.