Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald

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In The Electric Mist Review


Excellent
French filmmaker Tavernier captures Louisiana with a remarkable eye. Even though the film meanders a bit, the skilful direction and camerawork combine with strong acting to create an engaging, insinuating thriller.

Dave (Jones) is a detective looking into the violent murder of a prostitute when movie star Elrod (Sarsgaard), filming nearby in a swamp, stumbles across the decades-old skeleton of a chained-up black man. In Dave's mind, the murders are linked, and as he questions a local mobster (Goodman), a partying investor (Beatty) and the film's director (Sayles), both cases get increasingly haunting. Dave also imagines that he sees a Confederate general (Helm) roaming the bayou around his house. And within this swirling mist, things start to make sense.

Continue reading: In The Electric Mist Review

Wise Blood Review


Excellent
John Huston's Wise Blood isn't bold-faced Americana. Rather, it is an alien planet of such thick perversity and everyday grotesqueries that one has to take pause and consider how close Mr. Huston's dystopia is to the American South. It is adapted from the fine first novel by Flannery O'Conner of the same name and it is the only time an American director has successfully translated the late O'Conner's haunting prose. Completed in 1979, it is also perhaps the most ballistic of Huston's late-period films.

Hazel Motes, played by Brad Dourif in a brilliant, physical performance, is a character John Huston would have had to create if O'Conner hadn't already written him. Aggressive and hissing like an angry cobra, Motes slithers his way into town from a stint in the army and begins yelling about a "Church Without Christ" that he will begin. He finds a believer in the young, brainless Enoch Emory (Dan Shor) who tells Hazel about the "wise blood" in his veins that tells him things no one else can hear.

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In The Electric Mist Review


Weak
This isn't the first time auteur director Bernard Tavernier has waded through the American south... though if you've even heard of (much less seen) his Mississippi Blues, give yourself a gold star.

In the Electric Mist -- my nomination for the worst-titled film since Quantum of Solace -- is likely destined to meet a similar fate. Despite star turns from Tommy Lee Jones, John goodman, Mary Steenburgen, and Peter Sarsgaard, Tavernier's rural Louisianan tale of murder, mobsters, and, er, dead Confederate soldiers, is a rocky affair that makes next to no sense at all.

Continue reading: In The Electric Mist Review

Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story Review


OK
Talk about your reputation preceding you. In Alan Conway's case, however, it wasn't his reputation, but that of a certain notoriously elusive filmmaker named Stanley Kubrick. Brian Cook's Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story follows the true-life exploits of a down-and-out, gay boozehound who managed, by passing himself off as Kubrick, to gain adoration and material support from a cross-section of London's gay artists and culture vultures in the 1990s. Of course, suspicion eventually caught up with Conway and his cover was blown by a Vanity Fair article and a police investigation that followed his trail of hoodwink and swindle.

Playing Conway-as-Kubrick is John Malkovich. He's the main attraction here, and for all of Colour Me Kubrick's considerable flaws, you can't take your eyes off Malkovich's flamboyant take on Conway. Depending on whom Conway's trying to hustle -- whether it's Jasper (Richard E. Grant), a hard-luck restaurateur; Rupert (Luke Mably), a studly would-be fashion designer; or Lee Pratt (Jim Davidson), a cut-rate Tom Jones-wannabe -- we see him adapting wildly different variations on the "Kubrick" persona. He's the sly English fop for the gay scenesters, or a variation on the brash, business-minded American (often with a shrill Brooklyn accent) for the investors and entertainers. Always, though, he dresses with the sensibility of a natty, low-rent hipster -- as if Kubrick must dress dowdily, yet with an impeccable sense of thrift-store chic. Conway's coup de grace involves conning the aforementioned Pratt, the English crooner, into believing he -- Kubrick -- is going to help him score a show in Vegas. After Pratt calls his bluff, the balance of Conway's vodka-loving life is spent in a rehab facility for the fancy rich. What we marvel at, beyond the gullibility of his victims, is how Conway is always playing a role, and getting away with it, right up to the very end.

Continue reading: Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story Review

The Pledge Review


Excellent
An early note to parents with young, blonde daughters: Think twice about seeing The Pledge, and if you must go -- if you're eager to see Jack Nicholson give one of his best cinematic performances ever -- then take a Valium before entering the theater and practice saying, "This won't happen to my family! This won't happen to my family!"

From the opening shot, where we see the top of Nicholson's half-bald, hair-transplanted head, The Pledge is an exercise in stomaching an ugly truth. Body parts, pony-tailed girls splotched with blood and bruises -- this isn't a film about happy endings and human triumph. Suspected sex perverts lurk down every road in The Pledge, causing Nicholson's character, a retired homicide detective, so much angst that he becomes his own worst enemy.

Continue reading: The Pledge Review

Kingdom Of Heaven Review


Weak

For almost five years now, Hollywood studios have beentrying to duplicate the success of "Gladiator"by making the same big-budget historical battle epic over ("TheLast Samurai") and over ("Troy")and over ("KingArthur") and over ("Alexander").

Each movie has re-imagined history from a modern, let's-keep-an-open-mindperspective and hewed to a shopworn formula in which the hero rallies hismen against great odds and for a greater good. He invariably leads theminto the same blood-and-mud war scenes, which are always shot in the samestaccato slow-motion that characterizes the chaos of combat but forgetsthe audience needs to be kept abreast of who is winning. The hero alsoalways finds time to romance a beautiful woman from another culture.

Aside from having different casts, the only significantvariations between these films seem to be 1) whether the hero was of noblebirth or came up from nothing to become a great leader, and 2) whetherthe battlefields are green and forested or brown and sandy. One thing mostof them definitely have in common is that they've bombed at the box office.

Continue reading: Kingdom Of Heaven Review

Michael Fitzgerald

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Michael Fitzgerald Movies

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Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story Movie Review

Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story Movie Review

Talk about your reputation preceding you. In Alan Conway's case, however, it wasn't his reputation,...

The Pledge Movie Review

The Pledge Movie Review

An early note to parents with young, blonde daughters: Think twice about seeing The Pledge,...

Kingdom of Heaven Movie Review

Kingdom of Heaven Movie Review

For almost five years now, Hollywood studios have beentrying to duplicate the success of "Gladiator"by...

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