Billy Gray

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Please Give

In Movie Reviews on May 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Mortality is very much alive in Nicole Holofcener’s Please Give. Kate (Catherine Keener) and Alex (Oliver Platt) are antiques dealers who stock their Village store with furniture recovered from the apartments of the recently croaked. Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) administers mammograms to patients whose diverse parade of breasts march alongside the opening credits. And no one shuts up about seeing “the leaves” in their autumnal brilliance just a short drive upstate from New York City, a setting Please Give nimbly embodies.

And that’s before you get to the meat of the plot. Kate and Alex daydream about the death of their cantankerous fossil of a neighbor Andra (Ann Guilbert), whose apartment they plan to merge with their own.

Despite their bourgeois goal, Kate and Alex look and act like the quintessential downtown bohemians you can’t avoid on any jaunt below 14th Street. Maybe bohemian isn’t the right word. It’s more that they strive for bohemianism and cling to any notion of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Exit Through The Gift Shop

In Movie Reviews on May 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Exit Through The Gift Shop doesn’t take much seriously, least of all itself. Part street art documentary, part art world farce and maybe all a hoax, the Banksy-directed (sort of) movie has moments of striking power despite its nebulous form and non-stop winking.

Most of those powerful moments come from Banksy as subject rather than director. The enigmatic graffiti artist, who is filmed in shadow and speaks through a voicebox (“some of my work falls in a legal…gray area,” he explains) didn’t set out to make a movie. A Frenchman named Thierry Guetta planned to shadow him and his rouge peers for a documentary about the members of the graffiti subculture who set out at night to transform bland urban landscapes into cheeky visual statements.

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Everyone Else

In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 3:01 pm

The German tourist, that perennial sandals-and-socks-wearing butt of jokes, often sticks out like a sore thumb. But a stark white, very German couple sturming and dranging during a vacation on the lazy sun-soaked Sardinian coast in Maren Ade’s Everyone Else is exceptionally incongruous. Unfortunately for Chris (Lars Eidinger) and Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr), la dolce vita does little to mellow their fractious but convincing, and maybe inevitable, romance.

Chris is an architect, the only one who his mentor Hans (Han-Jochen Wagner) has ever called a genius. But his formally flawless designs are often deemed “too complicated” and seldom built. He feels like a failure, and is at the age where he’s not sure he can make up for it. (His bald spot, practically blinding when shot from above, says it all.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Most of The Disappearance of Alice Creed takes place in a small, sound-proofed room where two kidnappers hold the title character hostage. But the movie makes room for some dramatic twists and turns. And if you can’t forgive their implausibility, you might feel like a prisoner of the theater. –

Vic (Eddie Marsan) is the wizened brains of the operation to Danny’s (Martin Compston) anxious amateur. They snatch up Alice (Gemma Arterton) and chain her to a bed while they wait for her father to deliver the ransom. As is par for the course in abduction sagas from Fargo to Ransom, the kidnappers’ are as distressed and impotent as their victim and infighting threatens to blow the entire operation. Read the rest of this entry »


In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Monogamy‘s Theo (Chris Messina) and Nat (Rashida Jones) are a very Brooklyn couple. He’s a photographer. She’s a singer-guitarist. But Theo’s fear of settling down is exacerbated by a kinky muse and a glittery Manhattan backdrop.-

Theo pays the bills as a wedding photographer. But he’s more interested in a side project he started in which internet strangers arrange to be snapped by him as they go about their daily business. They tell Theo where they’ll be and what they’ll be wearing and he slyly goes about his Peeping Tom business.

All is well until Theo starts to fixate on an exhibitionist client codenamed Subgirl (Meital Dohan), who he tracks as she engages in all sorts of sexual hijinks around downtown Manhattan. Read the rest of this entry »

James Franco Sulks Through “William Vincent”

In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I’m starting to worry about James Franco. The quirky Renaissance Man is popular and handsome enough to survive increasingly strained divergences from the Hollywood norm. But the artsy, interminable William Vincent makes you long for the actor’s return to the Spidermanfranchise.

William Vincent is directed by Jay Anania. Anania is a professor at NYU’s graduate film school. But his latest feels like an unusually slick and ambitious student film.

Franco plays the title character. He’s not so much a drifter as a specter. William (an assumed name, natch) skulks around downtown New York streets and cafes, punching random strangers in the face one night, chastising a hipster for leaving a small tip the next and picking pockets all along the way. He’s the perfect sociopath. Read the rest of this entry »

Keep Surfing

In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Hundreds of locals and tourists flock daily to Munich’s Eisbach canal to gawk at the improbable landlocked capital of urban river surfing. Keep Surfing, the infectious documentary playing at Tribeca, should find a much larger, equally transfixed audience.-

If you’re a klutz like me, the thrill of catching a wave might just be eternally elusive. Björn Richie Lob’s engaging adrenaline rush of a movie, which was 10 years in the making, is a worthy substitute. Read the rest of this entry »

Sex-Laden”brilliantlove” Neither Brilliant, Nor Loved.

In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Falling somewhere between Skinemax and Last Tango In Parisbrilliantlove undermines a decent art world premise by falling in love with its sexual frankness. But there’s nothing new about the movie’s rampant nudity and simulated sex, which in the age of RedTube has lost the ability to shock anyhow.Manchester (Liam Browne) is an artist, a hipster marooned in the English countryside. His girlfriend Noon (Nancy Trotter) is a taxidermist. She says taxidermy means “rearranging skin.” Which is something director Ashley Horner does plenty of in his sophomore film.

Manchester and Noon are usually drunk, on E and screwing. If you look closely, you’ll see Browne’s penis in the closing credits. Most of the major bodily fluids make cameo appearances. This isn’t offensive—although the blue-haired old lady next to me made a hasty exit—but just kind of boring and not worth such relentless exposure 30 years after these taboos were broken. (One line about masturbating into a cat saucer is straight out of Godard’s Weekend, from 1967.) Read the rest of this entry »

Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Casey Affleck Star In Career “Killer”

In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Do you hate Jessica Alba? Would you like to see Casey Affleck punch her face in, in excruciating close-up? How aboutKate Hudson? Would seeing her spat on and slammed in the gut make your day? If so, The Killer Inside Me is the movie for you.

Michael Winterbottom directed. He’s done the provocateur bit before, most recently in the sex, drugs and rock & roll extravaganza 9 Songs. That movie benefited from not even pretending to have a plot, just concert footage and porn-grade explicit sex. Read the rest of this entry »

Pluck Of The Irish: My Brothers

In Movie Reviews on May 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Ireland is known for producing literary greats at a rate wildly disproportionate to its size. The last few years have seen a similar output in small, affable indie movies. My Brothers debuted at theTribeca Film Festival this week and, like Once andThe Eclipse, is a simple movie that will charm most viewers, not to mention the Irish tourism board.

Noel (newcomer Timmy Creed) is the oldest of three brothers whose father is on his deathbed. Noel takes one of his dad’s more inexplicably charmed possessions, a cheap watch won in a seaside arcade, and accidentally breaks it. Along with his younger brothers Paudie (Paul Courtney) and Scwally (TJ Griffin), he goes on a road trip to score a replacement before his dad takes his last breath. Read the rest of this entry »