Billy Gray

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Solitary Man

In Movie Reviews on June 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm

What is it about Jesse Eisenberg that attracts exactly the wrong kind of movie mentor? First came his character’s lecherous uncle Roger (Campbell Scott) in Roger Dodger, who taught his teen nephew about love by depositing him in a basement whorehouse. Now, in writer-director Brian Koppelman’s Solitary Man, Eisenberg plays Daniel Cheston, a dweeb undergrad who falls under the broken wing of Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas), a grayer tutor than Roger who is only interested in getting Dan laid so he can swipe the unlucky girl.

Ben is even more pathetic than Roger thanks to advanced age that makes smarmy, horned up narcissism grotesque rather than impishly charming. The role is a triumph for Douglas, who inhabits the deeply unlikable character without repulsing the audience or eking out 11th Hour sentimentality that would elicit undeserved pity. Ben is an arch subversion of the strapping younger man Douglas defined in his tawdry blockbuster phase: affluent, selfish, promiscuous and strutting blindly along the edge of a cliff. Read the rest of this entry »

Two in the Wave

In Movie Reviews on June 15, 2010 at 11:24 am

The New Wave was such a seismic event in film history, its influence felt to this day; it’s tough to believe it was over and done with in nine years. But Two in the Wave posits that the movement kicked off at the Cannes Festival in 1959 and crashed alongside so many Parisian police barricades during the spring of 1968.

How did the student political protests of May ’68 bury the protest movement of a bumper crop of film students? Emmanuel Laurent’s documentary about the parallel, meteoric rises of Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard doesn’t break ground like those directors did. But its take on their artistic symbiosis and notorious falling out will appeal to any movie fan who has tried to cop Jean Paul Belmondo’s effortless, ungainly cool or Jean-Pierre Léaud’s teen angst and cherubic mischief.

Truffaut and Godard are arguably the most prominent figures to come out of La Nouvelle Vague. There’s no question the two of them would argue about, and probably against, that themselves. Both started as critics at Cahiers du Cinéma, a journal that combined academic, though passionate and unorthodox, film criticism with mass appeal and influence. The likes of it will never be seen again. Read the rest of this entry »