Billy Gray

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Look of Prophets

In Movie Reviews on March 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) enters A Prophet’s French prison looking like a wounded animal. We never really know why he’s been sentenced to six years in the pen—there’s a vague mention of assaulting a cop—but at 21, he’s not exactly a hardened criminal. He shyly cups his crotch during the welcoming strip search.

But if growing up poor, illiterate and apparently alone as a young Muslim on the fringes of French society didn’t coarsen his spirit, time spent “rehabilitating” behind bars will. But as cliché as it sounds, his jail time, like a delayed adolescence, forges his identity. It sets him free. Read the rest of this entry »

Aging Bulls

In Movie Reviews on March 3, 2010 at 11:33 am

The movie opens on a ferry off the coast of Massachusetts. Stormy weather and pounding waves compound the vague unease of being at sea. The protagonist’s isolation builds when he steps off the boat and onto a sparsely populated island. He’s here to pick some scattered brains. He starts to lose his own. The foul weather never lets up.

The plot summary fits Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. Scorsese and Polanski: two of the greatest living directors who helped define Hollywood’s Second Golden Age. Whose paths took dramatically different turns (Scorsese’s to towering commercial success and Polanski’s to European exile from Hollywood, if not the industry’s heart) just as that gushed-about era became a victim of its own Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll-fueled success. 30-odd years later, they opened movies on the same weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Remorse, Italian Style

In Movie Reviews on March 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Making a documentary that indicts a country’s shallow, glossy, exploitative reality TV culture is risky: the movie sets itself up for failure if it holds a mirror up to its inane subject without exposing its blackheads.

Erik Gandini’s Videocracy, an expose about Italy’s government-run television (slimy president Silvio Berlusconi controls 90% of broadcast media) has more bite than the endless montages of ¾-naked women and shallow decadence shown on the Television of the President. But I left the theater feeling Gandini could have dug deeper. Videocracy paints a nasty picture that is just disturbing enough to demand a harsher condemnation. Read the rest of this entry »