Billy Gray

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

I’m Still Here

In Movie Reviews on September 20, 2010 at 11:10 am

It’s hard to swallow criticisms of celebrity that come from celebrities. But only stars who have experienced stardom have the right to complain about it. It’s a paradoxical perk that the famous inevitably deploy to gripe about the undeserved perks that fame affords them.

Woody Allen made Celebrity, a movie lambasting, well, you know. Britney Spears sang “Piece of Me”, a tune about the travails of global superstardom in the TMZ Era. It helped revive Spears’ career and land her dozens of magazine covers. Now Joaquin Phoenix stars in I’m Still Here, a “maybe, maybe not” documentary about the actor’s undoing by the corrupt and phony business of being famous for losing his identity to the cameras. Friend and fellow movie star Casey Affleck directs, and diligently films everything short of Phoenix’s bowel movements. Don’t worry; Affleck does shoot Phoenix’s friend/hanger on Antony taking a crap. It happens to land on Phoenix’s face. Read the rest of this entry »

Animal Kingdom

In Movie Reviews on September 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

The criminal underworld is a murky place.  It’s filled with gangsters with ulterior motives; scheming molls; tenuous, shifting allegiances; and well-laid plans gone awry. The Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom doesn’t attempt to sort out this mess. But instead of feeling accurately inaccurate, David Michôd’s film winds up more muddled than its thorny subject.

A good gangster movie needs a protagonist to corrupt. Here it’s J (a stolid, forgettable James Frecheville), whose mom ODs in the opening scene, leaving him in the care of his drug-running, gun-toting extended family. The cops are after J’s uncle, “Pope” (Ben Mendelsohn), who comes out of hiding to have the usual ragtag crew of fools do his sinister bidding. This includes gunning down a couple of police officers after the authorities shoot Barry (Joel Edgarton), an underling who was on the verge of giving up the game and becoming an upstanding citizen. Needless to say, things go downhill until the very last frame.

Animal Kingdom plays like a highlight real of mob saga components. Cocaine is hoovered. Blood splatters over rental-white walls. And inane Top 40 songs make for jarring background music to the violent mayhem. But the film doesn’t feel like a knockoff. It might have been great, instead of very good, if it had. Read the rest of this entry »