"Enter the Void"

cover image Gaspar Noé's masturbatory Enter the Void could not be a bigger disappointment, nor a bigger fraud. Pretending cinematic and narrative innovation, Noé pirouettes through nearly three hours of sex, drugs, poor acting, and dizzying color schemes in order to achieve a thoroughly mundane experience better told by other writers and directors. On the surface, it's a movie about death, spirituality, and transformation, but the meat of it is just another drug story filled with breasts, banality, and despair. Having a soundtrack that includes Coil, Alvin Lucier, and LFO doesn't help it, unfortunately.

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"Antichrist"

cover image Lars von Trier is a controversial enough director without words like "misogyny" and "torture porn" turning up in reviews of his movies. But precisely these things are being said about his latest film: that it's misogynistic, dull, thoughtless, and glorified pornography. After viewing it for myself, I've decided these responses are thoughtless and dull, not the film. The truth is that Antichrist is one of the most provocative and layered films I have ever seen.
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The Greening of Southie

This documents the construction and design of the Macallen building in South Boston. Macallen is Boston's first residential "green" building, and the goal in desigining it was to achieve LEED "Gold" certification. The film begins with the foreman briefing the crew on day one and continues through the first residents moving in.
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Frontrunner

JalalThis follows the presidential campaign of Dr. Massouda Jalal, a woman who ran in the 2004 Afghanistan presidential election. The film moves from her impressive performance in the 2002 interim presidental election through her 2004 campaign.
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Nerdcore Rising

This is a documentary following the first national tour of the Godfather of so-called "Nerdcore Rap," Damian Hess, a.k.a. MC Frontalot, and his band. Featuring interviews with figures such as Prince Paul, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and Jello Biafra, this film spends some time upfront explaining and justifying Nerdcore as a genre. From the beginning I was skeptical, and honestly, I'm not exactly sure when a genre becomes 'real'. In fact, I suspect some of the musicians themselves are equally skeptical of the label, but I guess in modern marketing, everything needs a classification.
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Big Man Japan

This faux-documentary follows a year in the life of the current "Big Man Japan," Masaru Daisatou. Japan has employed members of Masaru's family for several generations as the first line of defense against the plague of giant monsters attacking Japan on a regular basis. Through a process involving an electrical substation, Masaru's size is increased until he is towering over tall buildings. Unfortunately, while Masaru's predecessors were treated like heroes, Masaru is practically discarded.
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Second Skin

This is a documentary focusing on gamers who play Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs). It follows a few small groups of gamers distributed around the country, all playing either World of Warcraft (WoW) or Everquest II (EQ2). All are rather committed to their games, some consider themselves addicted, with one entering himself into a 12-step program to try and break is addiction.
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Transsiberian

The Independent Film Festival of Boston opened this week at the Somerville Theatre with this new Brad Anderson film. Anderson has a pretty good record so far, with Next Stop Wonderland, Session 9, and The Machinist, so I was rather excited to see his new work.
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Inland Empire

While David Lynch's fans will love Inland Empire as the latest installment of Lynch's brand of surrealism, the film does not doom itself to discussion purely in terms of Lynch as the driving force.  It is horrifying, and simultaneously it is perversely humorous.  Inland Empire is something to be experienced, an inescapably captivating situation into a world woven by one of the remaining masters of American cinema.
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Sketches of Frank Gehry

Regardless of interest or knowledge in the field of architecture, Sydney Pollack’s documentary of world renowned architect Frank Gehry is a breathtaking experience, examining the creative process that takes ideas from two-dimensional scribble to the beautiful structure fixated in the world’s landscape.
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The Notorious Bettie Page

BettieA glimpse into sexual awakening and exploration in 1950s America, this film provides a biographical account of legendary pin-up Bettie Page and the controversy surrounding her infamous bondage photographs. Her beauty and significance to the discussion of censorship has since ascended her to the status of cult sexual icon; however, the film fails to depict Page as anything more than this emblem, glossing over the emotion or motivation possibly guiding her actions.
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Hard Candy

Hard CandyThis postmodern thriller, directed by David Slade and written by Brian Nelson, depicts a brilliant 14-year old girl, Hayley Stark, who has become close to a 32-year-old  photographer, Jeff Kohlver, via the Internet. Hayley is intelligent, but there is also no question that she is dishonest, a fact that becomes clear as the narrative unfolds.
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"The Proposition"

Directed by John Hillcoat, written by Nick Cave, and set in the arsehole of nowhere, Australia, this film is a violent story about an Irish family with a horrific past, the corrupt Australian authorities and tragedy not unknown in classical Greek theatre. The last time this particular situation was realised was in the stunning Ghosts of the Civil Dead. The Proposition has a high benchmark set against it and it manages to reach it.
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"Brokeback Mountain"

Ang Lee is hands down the master of making films heavy on the drama and weak on the plot, characters, and dialogue, but, in his defense I might have thought this was a good film if I didn't keep hearing how awesome it is.  Unfortunately, due to all the (undeserved) hype I think I was expecting something more than gay cowboys eating pudding.
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Firecracker

This film's major selling point seems to be that it stars Mike Patton (of Faith No More, Fantomas and tons of other projects). The man runs Ipecac, home to the mighty Dälek, so I can't fault his taste entirely, but after seeing Firecracker one thing is for sure: he's not an actor.
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Why Domino is the greatest film ever made

 On one end of the filmmaking spectrum are the truly great directors of cinema; pioneers, artists, provocateurs and experimenters who have constantly pushed the medium to ever more brilliant and awe-inspiring levels.  The names of these auteurs are familiar to any true cineaste: Griffith, Keaton, Welles, Lang, Wilder, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Lynch, etc.  On the other end of this large and varied spectrum are the great scoundrels of cinema; those out to make a quick buck, playing to the pit, making high-concept, high-budget, lowest common denominator trash for the great unwashed masses of the world, doling out tasteless slapstick comedy, saccharine romance, senseless violence and consumerist propaganda to a culture weaned on fast food and television.
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Capote

Truman Capote elegantly described the brutal murder of a family in the midwest through his famous book In Cold Blood.  The book birthed a genre: the "nonfiction novel" by means of poetic license: making a very cold, dark story something captivating enough to win the affinity of the public, and that's exactly what Bennett Miller does with his movie Capote.
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Le Fantôme d'Henri Langlois

Consider yourself fortunate.  Since you're reading these words you have access to a computer, the Internet, and an endless repository of film, music, art, and culture.  It wasn't always this easy.  In the 1930s, Henri Langlois founded the Cinémathèque Française, both an archive and a theater, holding on to every film he could get his hands on under the notion that all film had some value to society.
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A Dirty Shame

I've been a huge fan of John Waters since the moment I heard that he made a film where for the final scene, the lead actress—a 300-pound drag queen—ate dog shit live on camera. After spending the whole decade of the 1970s making a series of underground films each more obscene, trashy and hilarious than the last, John Waters suddenly and unexpectedly went mainstream, helming films like Cry Baby and Serial Mom, which were still campy and offbeat, but appealed to a much wider audience. Now, on the eve of the breakthrough success of the Broadway musical version of his 1988 hit film Hairspray, John Waters makes a calculated move back into obscenity and audience-baiting, with the NC-17 rated A Dirty Shame. The premise of the film is pretty simple: Tracy Ullman plays Sylvia Stickles: a normal housewife in an upper-lower class Baltimore neighborhood who gets whacked on the head and becomes a raging sex addict. This sets in motion a conflict between a religious cult of sex addicts led by Ray-Ray (Johnny Knoxville) and the normal, sex-hating neighbors, who proudly refer to themselves as "neuters." The plot exists merely as an excuse for Waters to pack in as much juvenile potty-humor, sexual euphemisms and pet fetishes as possible. The movie revels in its own bad production values, from trashy set design to terrible CGI effects. Good performances are truly beside the point for actors in any John Waters film, as the script basically consists of a series of monumental declarations and absurd monologues in which every word is viciously screamed. The real value of a John Waters film is the laughs and the groans, and this film has plenty of both. I learned about sexual fetishes I hadn't been aware of previously, including mysophilia (sexual attraction to dirt and germs), and lots of old favorites like autoerotic asphyxiation, infantilism and "bears." There's a great scene where Sylvia picks up a plastic water bottle using a method I've only ever seen at a Tijuana donkey show. Waters also includes an affectionate homage to the late, great director Russ Meyer with the character of Ursula Udders (Selma Blair) the prodigiously endowed stripper desperate to escape her past. There is also some startlingly blasphemous material here, seemingly tailored as a response to The Passion of Mel Gibson, as the head sex-addict Ray-Ray eventually takes on Christlike qualities, healing the blind and walking on water. In the final analysis, it seems that this particular assemblage of scatological jokes doesn't hold together nearly as well as John Waters' best work (see Female Trouble or Pink Flamingos), but the film still has a manic energy and infectious joy that make for a very entertaining trip to the local arthouse or gay porn theater.

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Jandek on Corwood

www.jandekoncorwood.com
Finally making its way into select theaters right now is probably one of the most anticipated films by the tiniest subset of outsider/fringe music fans. For those reading who don't know, Jandek is an enigma shrouded in mystery: a one man band who doesn't give interviews, doesn't perform live, and only releases records from beind a post office box registered to Corwood Industries. Unsurprisingly, this film is far from a conventional music documentary. Jandek on Corwood is more of a documentary of the mystery of Jandek rather than the man behind Jandek, himself. There's no live concert footage, there are no artist and friend accounts of influences and origins, and there is no information of the inspiration behind the man often accused of not knowing how to tune his own guitar. With the surprisingly small amount of material to work with, filmmakers Chad Friedrichs and Paul Fehler have done an amazing task of incorporating a lot of stylistic images to go hand in hand with the photographs that grace the covers of the Jandek album releases. Interviews are held with fringe music store employees and a handful of music journalists who have had the rare brush with Jandek, via mail or phone. It starts off interesting but after a long time it becomes tiresome. The stories of other people's experiences and ideas and imaginations begin to grow old along with the repetitious usage of the small amount of photos available. At this point, everything changes and what emerges changes everything and in any screening room, movie theater, or house, silence falls. As the voice appears through the movie a pin drop could have been heard where I saw the film. We might never know the answers but then again, maybe we're not supposed to. Honestly, our imaginations have the potential to be far more interesting than the truth. If the film has passed you by or isn't coming close, a DVD is due very soon, but I would say this is one of those things to see once in a theater with your closest music geek friends, whether you love, hate, or haven't even heard Jandek.
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