Saturday, 30 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 135: Sat May 14

Galaxy Quest (Parisot, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm



This 35mm screening is part of the beer and pizza night season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.


Time Out review:
The series only ran from '79 to '82, but the cast of 'Galaxy Quest' are making a living of sorts on the fan convention circuit. Facing yet more dorky devotees hardly enthuses the show's alien and science officer, Alexander Dane (Rickman), communications officer Gwen DeMarco (Weaver), and commander Jason Nesmith (Allen). Still, they need the money, so they tag along when a dweeby-looking bunch inveigles them into visiting their mock-up of the programme's old vessel, the 'Protector'. But the twist is, this time the ship was actually crafted on a distant planet, where transmissions of 'Galaxy Quest' have been mistaken for historical documents, and the misguided extra-terrestrials have gambled on recruiting heroic Allen and crew to save their world from interstellar rivals. The actors have played this script before, but now it's for real. Gently satirising the Trekkie phenomenon, Parisot's movie works a treat because it's sufficiently knowing to have the references down pat, but affectionate enough to have a soft spot for just about everyone. Effects and production design are also splendidly integrated into the overall enterprise, which is even more enjoyable for being so unexpected.

Trevor Johnston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 134: Fri May 13

Trouble Every Day (Denis, 2001): Prince Charles Cinema, 7pm


Time Out review:
It begins, innocently enough, with a kiss—tentative at first, but slowly increasing in passion and intensity. (How easy it is to lose yourself in intimacy with another.) We’ll never see these two people again; they’re just some randomly horned-up couple in a car taking advantage of the dark of night. Yet they help set the moody, libidinal tone of Claire Denis’s inimitable horror film—being rereleased in a new 35mm print—in which the real monsters are those microscopic urges that, taken too far, make mincemeat of our humanity.
There are man-size monsters here too, first and foremost newlywed American Shane Brown (Vincent Gallo). He’s ostensibly traveling to Paris with his wife, June (Tricia Vessey), for their honeymoon, but in actuality he’s looking for an old colleague, Léo (Alex Descas), to help him with some cannibalistic appetites that may have resulted from a research trip abroad. Shane’s quest to quash his cravings and keep his spouse safe is contrasted with the uninhibited acting out of Léo’s wife, Coré (Béatrice Dalle, that great gap-toothed temptress), who is similarly infected and literally devours men with rabid glee.
Denis shoots this grisly-erotic roundelay in her distinctively woozy and elliptical style. The deepest connections between characters emerge from silence as opposed to dialogue—Shane gazing hungrily at a hotel maid’s neck, Coré quietly enticing a fresh-faced neighbor boy into her boarded-up lair—while the groggy atmosphere, aided immeasurably by Agnès Godard’s grainy cinematography and the punch-drunk score of indie-rockers Tindersticks, keeps you constantly beguiled.
Gallo and Dalle are sublimely tragic figures; the scene in which Shane stalks around Notre Dame like Frankenstein unleashed is a pitch-perfect encapsulation of the way the film plays with and deepens movie-monster archetypes. Yet it’s June who ends up as the movie’s brokenhearted soul, so loved that she can never be lusted after and—in what is perhaps Trouble Every Day’s most terrifying reveal—all too aware of that fact.Keith Uhlich

Monday, 25 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 133: Thu May 12

Johnny Guitar (Ray, 1954): BFI Southbank, Studio 2.30pm & 8.50pm; NFT2 6.10pm


This film, part of the Psychological Western season at BFI Southbank, is on an extended run from Friday May 6th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Nicholas Ray's great sur-western (1954), in which, as Francois Truffaut put it, the cowboys circle and die like ballerinas. For all its violence, this is a surpassingly tender, sensitive film, Ray's gentlest statement of his outsider theme. Joan Crawford, with a mature, reflective quality she never recaptured, is the owner of a small-town saloon; Sterling Hayden is the enigmatic gunfighter who comes to her aid when the townspeople turn on her. Filmed in the short-lived (but well-preserved) Trucolor process, its hues are pastel and boldly deployed, and the use of space is equally daring and expressive. With Mercedes McCambridge, unforgettable as Crawford's butch nemesis, as well as Ernest Borgnine, Scott Brady, John Carradine, Royal Dano, Ward Bond, and Ben Cooper.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 132: Wed May 11

The Story of Women (Chabrol, 1988): Cine Lumiere, 6.30pm


This film is part of the Isabelle Huppert retrospective at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A bit mislabeled—the French title is Une Affaire de Femmes, which translates better as “Women's Business”—Claude Chabrol's accomplished and generally uncharacteristic period film (1988), loosely adapted from a nonfiction book by lawyer Francis Szpiner, gives a plausible and wholly unsentimental account of a housewife and mother in occupied France (Isabelle Huppert at her finest) who becomes an abortionist and is sent to the guillotine for it. Married to a French soldier (Francois Cluzet) who's in a POW camp, she doesn't want to sleep with him after his return; she soon becomes the family breadwinner—a tough survivor who's also helping other women out. Chabrol's mise en scene and his handling of the period and performances are masterful.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 131: Tue May 10

The Naked Spur (Mann, 1953): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm


This 35mm screening is part of the BFI's 'Ride Lonesome: The Psychological Western' season. You can find full details here. This film is also being shown on May 13th.

Chicago Reader review:
An uncharacteristically nasty James Stewart plays an obsessive bounty hunter with Robert Ryan in tow in one of the very best Anthony Mann westerns—which means one of the very best westerns, period. This 1953 film has Janet Leigh in jeans, beautiful location shooting (and Technicolor cinematography) in the Rockies, and some of the most intense psychological warfare to be found in Mann's angular and anguished oeuvre. With Ralph Meeker, Millard Mitchell, and a top-notch script by Sam Rolfe and Harold Jack Bloom.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 130: Mon May 9

The Keep (Mann, 1983): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm



This 35mm presentation is part of the Michael Mann season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Forget what you know about Michael Mann's filmmaking. This is a complete one-off and hardly ever seen. Don't miss the chance to catch this genuine cult film.

Cigarette Burns film club introduction:
Deep within the borders of Romania lie mountains that were once home to folklore of the most terrifying nature, from dragons to werewolves to vampires, creatures of our nightmares have always called these mountains' peaks and passes home. In Mann's "lost" second feature, a Nazi unit have unwittingly awaken an ancient evil, Molasar. Nestled in his Keep for years, he has risen and is hungry. Ian McKellen, playing a Jewish theologian, is freed from a concentration camp to help send Molasar back from whence he came. 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 129: Sun May 8

Duel in the Sun (Vidor, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 7.50pm


This 35mm screening is part of the BFI's 'Ride Lonesome: The Psychological Western' season. You can find full details here. This film is also being shown on May 1st.

Chicago Reader review:
A big, big western (1946) from producer David O. Selznick, with Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Lionel Barrymore, Gregory Peck, Lillian Gish, Herbert Marshall, Walter Huston, Harry Carey, and Butterfly McQueen. Selznick enlisted King Vidor—one of the few directors with the logistical know-how to handle such a sprawling film—and tried to duplicate the success of his Gone With the Wind. What Selznick got instead was a screaming Freudian fantasy, full of the dark sexuality characteristic of Vidor's late career (Beyond the ForestRuby Gentry). Contemporary wits called it Lust in the Dust, and there's no doubt that it goes too far in almost every direction—but that touch of obsession is exactly what saves it.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 128: Sat May 7

The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, 1935): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm


This 35mm screening is part of an Alfred Hitchcock season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

The 39 Steps is my favourite Hitchock fim. I wrote about the movie here for the Guardian.

Chicago Reader review:
'As an artist, Alfred Hitchcock surpassed this early achievement many times in his career, but for sheer entertainment value it still stands in the forefront of his work. Robert Donat is the dapper young man who stumbles across a spy ring; Madeleine Carroll is the cool, luminous blond with whom he shares a pair of handcuffs. The ideas established in this 1935 feature lead in two different directions in Hitchcock's later work—toward the interpersonal themes of the “couple” films (Marnie, Frenzy, The Paradine Case) and the metaphysical adventures of the chase pictures (North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much)' 
Dave Kehr 

Here is an extract. Madeleine Carroll taking off her damp stockings.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 127: Fri May 6

Knight of Cups (Malick, 2015): Rio Cinema, 4pm & 8.45pm & Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


The latest film by the leading director finally gets its UK premiere. At the Prince Charles Cinema it's part of a full Terrence Malick retrospective. Full details here.

Review:
(Presumably) completing his spiritual-quest trilogy which began with the cosmogonic, bewilderingly diffuse Palme d’Or winner “The Tree of Life” (2011) and continued with the more overtly (and detrimentally) evangelical “To The Wonder” (2012), Malick has delivered an exasperating, exhilarating magnum opus, a film with unapologetic, vaulting ambition that is to be prized, even cherished. That said, those who found “Tree of Life” and “To The Wonder” too elliptical, too whispery, too grandiose, too “Malicky” will want to steer well clear of this elliptical, whispery, grandiose enterprise, which conjures sharp shards of narrative and assembles them not into a coherent, conventional narrative, rather a glittering kaleido-mosaic. It’s held together by a loose Tarot-inspired structure (prologue and eight chapters, each of the latter named for a particular card); by a haunting score (original compositions by Hanan Townshend intermingle with a slew of classical samplings); by Emmanuel Lubezki’s swooping, prowling, never-resting camerawork (widescreen images run the gamut from crystal-def to GoPro, including a handful of near-subliminal glitches presumably left in on purpose ); and by the central figure of Rick, a mega-successful Hollywood screenwriter played by Christian Bale (returning to the Malickverse a decade after “The New World”).
Neil Young (you can read the full review here)

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 126: Thu May 5

Steamboat Bill Jr (Reisner, 1928): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This film features as part of the Classic Film season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Buster Keaton's beautiful 1928 comedy equates parental rejection with the most violently destructive forces of nature; behind the elegant slapstick is an eloquent fable of survival. Buster is a beret-clad college boy abruptly reunited with his long-lost father, the fierce, bearish captain of a Mississippi riverboat (Ernest Torrence). The father's attempts to make a man out of his boy lead with perfect emotional logic to the famous final sequence, in which Buster rides a tornado that rearranges his town as he walks through it. Charles Reisner is the director of record, but the mise-en-scene is unmistakably Keaton's own.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 125: Wed May 4

Thief (Mann, 1981): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


Time Out review:
A silently professional night-time jewel robbery, reduced to near-abstract essentials and paced by a Tangerine Dream score, sets the electric tone for Michael Mann's fine follow-up to The Jericho Mile: a philosophical thriller filled with modernist cool. Caan's the thief, contradictorily building and risking a future mapped out as meticulously as any of his lucrative hi-tech jobs; testing his emotional and criminal independence to the limits; eventually recognising that he's either exercising or exorcising a death wish.
Paul Taylor

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 124: Tue May 3

Badlands (Malick, 1973): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm




Ahead of the release here on May 6th of Knight of Cups, the Prince Charles Cinema are screening a full Terrence Malick retrospective. You can find the full details here.
Chicago Reader review:

'Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as an aw-shucks madman killer and his fudge-brained girlfriend. Loosely based on the Starkweather-Fugate horror show of the late 50s, writer-director Terrence Malick's 1973 first feature is a film so rich in ideas it hardly knows where to turn. Transcendent themes of love and death are fused with a pop-culture sensibility and played out against a midwestern background, which is breathtaking both in its sweep and in its banality. Days of Heaven put Malick's intuitions into cogent form, but this is where his art begins. With Warren Oates and Alan Vint.'
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is a clip.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 123: Mon May 2

Pursued (Walsh, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 4pm


This film, which also screens on May 1st and 5th is part of the Rise Lonesome: Psychological Western season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Screenwriter Niven Busch (The Postman Always Rings Twice) designed this 1947 film as the first Freudian western, and it does handle Freud's “family romance” with an unusual degree of sophistication. But the film is mainly notable as the personal expression of its director, Raoul Walsh, who here found the opportunity to treat his self-creation themes with a new, subjective intensity. The enveloping tone is horror at one's own existence, sublimely expressed through Walsh's deep-focus style, which makes a philosophical challenge of every movement through the elongated frames. With Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright, and Judith Anderson; strikingly photographed by James Wong Howe.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 122: Sun May 1

The Lacemaker (Goretta, 1977): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


This film is part of the Cine Lumiere's Sunday French Classics: Cannes Film Festival's Hits season. Full details here.

Tine Out review:
As much as anything, it's probably the intriguing ambivalence of a narrative in which connections are never overtly made that turned this into an unexpected box-office hit. Where A Girl from Lorraine treads a clearcut feminist path, The Lacemaker lurks in more shady byways. Its heroine (beautifully played by Huppert as a passive object) seems less a candidate for women's lib than a helpless prisoner of the incommunicability Goretta had in mind when he defined the film as being about the problem between two people 'who are unable to love each other because they do not express themselves in the same way'. The refreshing quality of the film, as one listens to the expressive eloquence of its silences, is that it cannot be reduced to ideological terms. The heroine may be a victim of both social convention and a suave though sympathetic seducer, but with a mysterious inner radiance glowing behind her patient suffering, she is also much, much more.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 121: Sat Apr 30

Deep End (Skolimowski, 1970): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This film is part of the Masters of Polish Cinema season at Close-Up Cinema. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jerzy Skolimowski's first English-language film (1970), made just after his departure from Poland—which may help account for the film's unusually strong sense of displacement, unfamiliarity, and isolation. These are feelings shared by the film's protagonist, a British teenager (John Moulder-Brown) whose job as an attendant at a public bath brings him his first experiences with sexuality and mortality. It's one of the most authentic films about adolescence that I know, yet through mise-en-scene Skolimowski effortlessly expands detailed, specific situations into haunting universal images, much as he did in his later masterpiece Moonlighting. With Jane Asher and Diana Dors.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 120: Fri Apr 29

Vampyres (Larraz, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


Here is the BFI introduction:
Two beautiful seductresses roam the English countryside, searching for blood and the pleasures of the flesh in Jose Ramon Larraz’s most notorious work. With a singular style and sophistication that sets it apart from the vast array of vampiric lezsploitation Euro-horrors that flooded the market in the mid-70s, this libidinal treat comes soaked in cool sweat and warm blood.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 119: Thu Apr 28

Road (Clarke, 1987): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This screening of a 1987 BBC production starring David Bowie in the title role is part of the Alan Clarke season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details of all the films by the director being screened at the BFI here. Road + 'Christine' are also being shown on 30th April.

BFI introduction:
Clarke’s terrific adaptation of Jim Cartwright’s successful play centres on youths in a Northern industrial town desperate to stave off crushing boredom. On screen, the drama is energised by brilliant ensemble acting and John Ward’s dynamic Steadicam work.

Here (and above) is a clip.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 118: Wed Apr 27

Persona (Bergman, 1966): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This (35mm) screening is part of a short Ingmar Bergman season. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Bergman at his most brilliant as he explores the symbiotic relationship that evolves between an actress suffering a breakdown in which she refuses to speak, and the nurse in charge as she recuperates in a country cottage. To comment is to betray the film's extraordinary complexity, but basically it returns to two favourite Bergman themes: the difficulty of true communication between human beings, and the essentially egocentric nature of art. Here the actress (named Vogler after the charlatan/artist in The Face) dries up in the middle of a performance, thereafter refusing to exercise her art. We aren't told why, but from the context it's a fair guess that she withdraws from a feeling of inadequacy in face of the horrors of the modern world; and in her withdrawal, she watches with detached tolerance as humanity (the nurse chattering on about her troubled sex life) reveals its petty woes. Then comes the weird moment of communion in which the two women merge as one: charlatan or not, the artist can still be understood, and can therefore still understand. Not an easy film, but an infinitely rewarding one.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 117: Tue Apr 26

A Fistful of Dynamite (Leone, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.40pm


One of Sergio Leone's most underrated movies gets a rare (35mm) screening.

Chicago Reader review:
Sergio Leone's elliptical style and good performances from Rod Steiger and James Coburn combine to produce a vastly entertaining film (1971), also known as A Fistful of Dynamite, about the aftermath of the Mexican revolution. Coburn, a fugitive from the Irish "troubles," and Steiger, a Mexican bandit, team up to rob a bank and unwillingly become the focus of the counterrevolutionary forces. A marvelous sense of detail and spectacular effects--good fun all the way.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 116: Mon Apr 25

Baal (Clarke, 1982): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm



This screening of a 1982 BBC production starring David Bowie in the title role is part of the Alan Clarke season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details of all the films by the director being screened at the BFI here and this TV play also screens on 26th April.

BFI introduction to tonight's film:
Clarke was obsessed by Brecht, and here committed to video a version of the great man’s earliest play – the story of a chaos-creating, unkempt poet who crashes into Bavarian high society. The late and lamented David Bowie is suitably debauched as the eponymous anti-hero, and lends his vocals to several Brecht ballads.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 115: Sun Apr 24

¡Que viva México! (Eisenstein, 1979): Regent Street Cinema, 3pm



A Nos Amours joins forces with Kino Klassika Foundation to present:
Eisenstein in Mexico: thinking about birth, death and rebirth of film works 

Cinephilia wants us to resuscitate older works, keep them alive somehow. But what kind of life can be breathed into an old work? Is restoration much more than a perverse form of taxidermy, preserving the appearance of life, but in fact only parodying life? What about the status of special editions, out-takes, and director cuts? And how can films live when not much seen, at best items ticked off on lists of great films, admired but visible only on a small screen competing with pop up ads?

Eisenstein shot 50 hours of footage on location in Mexico in 1931 and 32, but was not able to finish the film. Despite luminous, astonishing images that leap from the screen, the film became mired in proprietorial scuffles. The project is one of cinema’s most beguiling objects; what would it have been had master finished work? This event will screen three hypothetical versions of Eisenstein’s film – as prepared by Marie Seton (Time in the Sun, 1939), by Pavel Sergeyevich Alexandrov (¡Que viva México!,1979) and by Oleg Kovalev (Mexican Fantasy, 1998). The three versions offer wildly different approaches to what the film might have been. They range in run time between 90 and 50 minutes. They are structured differently. They built from different shot selections. And yet, we want to say that they stand for one imaginary film.

These screenings will hopefully provide a springboard to discussion of what exactly restoration can and should be, and what sort of thing we are looking at when we look at an old film, to a critique of the notion of authenticity, and to a consideration of nostalgia and the persistence of cinephilia despite the odds. Guests and speakers to be announced – but happily Ian Christie (Professor of Film at Birkbeck College, London) is confirmed.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 114: Sat Apr 23

Lost and Beautiful (Marcello, 2015): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm



Here is the ICA introduction to this documentary, part of the Frames of Representation season at the cinema:
There is a Q&A with filmmaker Pietro Marcello and film editor Sara Fgaier following the screening, hosted by Andrea Lissoni, Senior Curator, Tate Modern. A mythical journey into Italian nostalgia. From the bowels of Vesuvius, Pulcinella, a foolish servant, is sent to present-day Campania to grant the last wish of Tommaso, a simple shepherd: he must rescue a young buffalo called Sarchiapone. In the Royal Palace of Carditello, an abandoned Bourbon residence in the heart of the ‘Land of Fires’, the ruins of which were once looked after by Tommaso, Pulcinella finds the young buffalo and leads him North. The two servants, man and beast, embark upon a long journey throughout a lost and beautiful Italy, at the end of which they will not find quite what they had expected.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 113: Fri Apr 22

Identification Marks: None (Skolimowski, 1965): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This screening is part of ther Kinoteka Polish Film Festival season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details here. 

Chicago Reader review:
Few movies have portrayed killing time with as much urgency as Jerzy Skolimowski's debut feature (1964), completed when the director was only 26. It takes place over several hours before a young layabout (played by Skolimowski in a deadpan performance) has to leave town for two years of military service; the character's impending loss of freedom gives way to a film of unfettered imagination, with a narrative that zigzags from one digression to another and ambitious camerawork that transforms the dreary industrial town of Łódz into something out of a dream. The freewheeling vibe might remind you of contemporaneous films by Richard Lester (The Knack . . . and How to Get It) or Jean-Luc Godard (Band of Outsiders), though Skolimowski's fantasy of youth is distinctly more acrid. For all his liberated behavior, the hero never manages to transcend the repressiveness of Soviet bloc culture--nor, for that matter, his inherent selfishness.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the opening to the film.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 112: Thu Apr 21

Drop Dead Gorgeous (Jann, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm


Here is the Prince Charles Cinema introduction to the film:
Bring your tiaras and don your beauty queen sashes as Bechdel Test Fest team with LoCo film festival to present the hilarious all-female comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous in 35mm. Preambling this rare screening of the cult classic written by Lona Williams will be a special guest panel intro: The Last Laugh: Why do female-led comedies do better than other genres? With Trainwreck pulling in over $110m at the box office, Ghostbusters proving one of the most anticipated films of the summer and Pitch Perfect due its second sequel in 2017, funny women are making a bigger mark on the industry than ever before. So why is comedy the only genre that seems to accommodate leading women, especially an ensemble cast, and could other genres learn to do the same?
You can read more on the Facebook page for the event here.

Chicago Reader review:
Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Kirsten Dunst, and Denise Richards star in this uniquely mean-spirited skewering of teen beauty pageants (1999). An intermittently enjoyable bad movie that never knows when to stop, this heaps scorn not only on every aspect of (and participant in) the pageant but also on mental defectives, signing for the deaf, and Japanese-Americans eager to assimilate. All the leads play their roles like strident amateurs (only Allison Janney, as Barkin's best friend, emerges relatively unscathed), and the film's so aggressive about its bad-taste agenda that the early John Waters seems a pussycat by comparison. There's something bracing about the unleashing of so much unbridled negativity, especially for anyone who's ever suffered through small-town pettiness and mediocrity, but this 1999 release eventually outstays its welcome. Still, if you come to it in a sufficiently foul mood, it might cheer you up. Michael Patrick Jann directed.
Jonathan Rosenabum