This is a pretty huge week for film openings, quantity-wise, especially on the indie side. I haven’t gotten to all the new releases, but I enjoyed nearly everything I saw that comes out today. I’m a huge fan of “Hesher” and “Make Believe” and have some favor for “Everything Must Go” and “City of Life and Death,” while even the mediocre doc “Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’” brought me some subjective joys. As for Hollywood stuff, we should have Dan’s response to “Priest” later this weekend and my fiancee stepped in for a guest review of “Bridesmaids” (she’s making me see it tonight, she loves it so much).
I also really love two more films that I can’t yet properly cover here with lengthy responses: “NEDS,” which I wrote a tiny bit on for our Tribeca ’11 preview, and “Cameraman: The Work and Life of Jack Cardiff,” which I reviewed at Cinematical from the 2010 New York Film Festival. Here’s what I had to quickly say about the former:
At last, director Peter Mullan follows up his 2002 film “The Magdalene Sisters,” one of my favorite dramas of the last decade, with another powerful period film involving institutional prejudices and the teens who rebel against them. Instead of the Irish Church locking up young “fallen women,” this time it’s Scottish schools assuming boys’ delinquency based on who they’re related to. Specifically we witness the coming-of-age story of a kid who could have risen above his family troubles and reputation but instead winds up in a violent gang after getting sick of being bullied by peers and authorities. If you like Shane Meadows’ “This is England,” you’ll want to see this story, set a few years earlier when the would-be skinheads still had hair. Never mind the very on-the-nose ending, which is still in tune with Mullan’s excellent tongue-in-cheek vision. The drug-induced bout against Jesus and a number of other fantastic sequences will be the memories you’re left with anyway.
Check out an excerpt from my “Cameraman” review after the jump.
After recent docs on great editors, screenwriters and directors, it’s about time we get a proper film on cinematographers. But for now we can settle on a terrific documentary about one of the greatest all-time DPs, Jack Cardiff, whose work spans the majority of cinema’s existence. Seriously, from his days as a child actor in early silent cinema to his foundational work in Technicolor pictures to directing B-movies in the ’60s to shooting ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II’ and eventually becoming the first cinematographer to receive an honorary Oscar, Cardiff’s biography plays like a comprehensive course in film history.
This doc primarily succeeds, though, due to its humorous and revealing interviews with Cardiff himself, recorded prior to his death in 2009. As far as anecdotal documentaries about Hollywood go, ‘Cameraman’ is one of the best in a long time. Cardiff talks of an awkward moment involving a naked Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner confessing to looking worse during menstruation, a close encounter with Marilyn Monroe and a funny memory of how Humphrey Bogart and John Huston avoided an otherwise crew-encompassing sickness while making ‘The African Queen’ because they only drank whiskey, never water.
“NEDS” opens today in Los Angeles and is now available On Demand (via Tribeca Film’s cable VOD service), iTunes, Amazon and VUDU.
Recommended If You Like: “This Is England”; “The Magdalene Sisters”; “The Butcher Boy”
“Cameraman: The Work and Life of Jack Cardiff” opens in NYC today and heads to Los Angeles on June 3.
Recommended If You Like: Powell and Pressburger, classic Hollywood history, movies