In Your Queue: Gimme the Loot, Fat Kid Rules the World


Holy Motors – Leos Carax 

Nothing makes a bit of sense in Carax’s surrealist-absurdist masterpiece, but if it did, it would almost be a crime against cinema, so brilliant is its outcome. Set almost as a fluid series of short films that all feature the same morphing lead, played by Denis Levant, his French film works better the less you know going into it, but rest assured: You’ll either love it for its left-field inventiveness, or hate it for its strange, reckless meandering. For those of you who have seen Tokyo!, keep an eye out for the return of Mr. Merde, as well as a little number by Kylie Miogue. Available to stream on Netflix.

Gimme the Loot – Adam Leon

This recommendation unfortunately comes sight unseen, which I do feel very uncomfortable about, but as of this writing the film hadn’t filtered through to the various streaming platforms that it’s supposed to be available on (Amazon, YouTube, Playstation, Xbox). It’s an exciting film prospect nonetheless, or maybe it just seems that way to me because it’s a story so close to my wayward youth when I would have liked nothing better than to be the biggest writer in New York, as the films stars, Malcolm and Sofia (Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington), aim to accomplish by tagging the Mets’ homerun apple at Citifield. In a time when subway cars have all become graffiti resistant and derelict buildings all inhabited by young white people in fedoras, it’s a daring and novel — and kind of charming — way to go about it. The apple is both a mythic legend and a joke in New York, and perfectly encapsulates the Mets’ lovable losers syndrome, which appears to parallel Malcolm and Sofia extremely well, even though they’re from enemy territory — the Bronx. I hope the film succeeds, but it seems worth a few bucks to stream even if it doesn’t.

Fat Kid Rules the World – Matthew Lillard

It’s strange to be recommending something — anything — that Matthew Lillard is involved in, but he’s got a strange winner of a film here in his adaptation of a YA novel about a fat kid who tries to step in front of a bus to end his daily dose of torment but is saved just as the bus is screeching to a halt by a ragamuffin street kid, who shakes the fat kid down for a few bucks immediately after. It’s Lillard’s first film as director and it shows a little bit in the structure and execution of the film, especially in the first act, but it’s not hard to get past when you look straight at the Angus-like story that ends up avoiding most of the pitfalls of the awkward coming-of-age story. Jacob Wysocki and Matt O’Leary work well enough in tandem as the nervous, overweight Troy and the druggie friend you hope your kid doesn’t make, Marcus, and the story fits so well in its Seattle backdrop, that it lands firmly outside of the realm of first time film. It’s not an Earth shattering film by any means, and stories about weight are hard to look at sometimes, but it’s a fitting and endearing movie for the times, that’s for sure. The film is available to stream on Netflix.

2012 Top 10

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I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to finalize my list, but here it is.

01) Monsieur Lazhar – Philippe Falardeau (Canada) *****
02) Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson (USA)
03) Holy Motors – Leos Carax (France)
04) Beasts of the Southern Wild – Benh Zeitlen (USA)
05) The Kid with a Bike – Dardenne Brothers (Belgium) **** 1/2
06) I Wish – Hirokazu Koreeda (Japan)
07) Lincoln – Steven Spielberg (USA)
08) Wreck-It Ralph – Rich Moore (USA)
09) Goodbye First Love – Mia Hansen-Love (France)
10) End of Watch – David Ayer (USA)

In Your Queue 3/12: “We Have a Pope”, “For Ellen”


We Have a Pope (streaming on Netflix, Amazon) When it comes to picking a new pope, the Vatican plays it pretty close to the chest. Rumor and speculation aside, no one really knows what happens except the cardinals. Since we have no evidence of what happens when they pick the pontiff, Palme d’Or-winning director Nanni Moretti fills the knowledge gap in the most Catholic way possible: through absurdity.

Michel Piccoli plays an obscure cardinal named Melville who, after many deadlocked ballots, is unexpectedly named pope. As he is being announced to the masses in Saint Peter’s Square he is struck by the mother of all existential crises, and the anxiety-stricken Pope runs away from the Vatican, leaving the College of Cardinals and Catholic bureaucrats sequestered with the Pope’s unwilling shrink (Moretti) as the pope traipses around Rome anonymously, trying to figure out what to do.

Moretti’s intense focus on the absurdity of the situation is a grace stroke, making it specific without being an in-joke for Catholics-only. Piccolo is wonderful as the pope, but Gianluca Gobbi, as the Vatican guard who is charged with ruffling the pope’s curtains every now and then so no one figures out what’s going on, really steals the show.

For Ellen (streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime) Seeing the trailer for it, I thought it was somewhat surprising that For Ellen couldn’t gain a real foothold once it came to market. It stars Paul Dano in an intense performance as an almost-famous musician named Joby who’s returned home to sign divorce papers. His wife, Claire (Margarita Levieva), is about to get remarried and wants him out of her life. She wants him out of their daughter Ellen’s life too, which is something he wasn’t expecting. Joby goes to devious means to spend some time with Ellen in this almost one-man show.

Dano, who played a mute for much of Little Miss Sunshine, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, though he puts in a strong performance here. It’s an interesting portrait of an uninteresting man – a character we’ve seen many variations on in the past – made palatable by his surroundings.

All Around the World: Foreign Film in 2013


Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five: (soon)