Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors

The employment of a narrative of diptychs, title cards, and the artistic decision to shoot in monocolor alone would have vaulted Sang-soo Hong's ode to cinema halfway to realization without factoring in his recurrent and self-referential character stocks. Screenwriters and filmmakers. Such archetypes while not constants in his work still are reliable regulars in an oeuvre one would be wrong to classify as entirely meta. Continue reading

Miami Vice

Somewhere between the speed boats, standard-issue supercars, and deep cover meet-ups, Miami Vice demands an increasing threshold of incredulity. By no means is this a flaw except while on the one hand you have to contest with suspension of disbelief to a point, you also end up struggling to keep up. Lost in the curt retorts and snappish dialog—mostly Sonny’s murmurs—is half the spoken lines in Mann’s script, notorious as ever for dropping pronouns and use of jargon-heavy dialog. Couple that with a possibly botched boom job and inaudible lines and it’s a jumble too difficult to follow without subtitles. And that’s the way most cinema was intended to be consumed. Vice fails there. And yet somewhere in the mess is film to be salvaged. So it either demanded boundless reserves of toleration or an outright reinterpretation of the shifting stakes throughout its duration. I prefer the latter, although the two are not mutually exclusive. Continue reading

EL TOPO

“Credit the sixties for giving us the acid strip, jazz and now the Western,” I assume was the opening line of many an El Topo review had there been edgy online publications like Cinemaholism in 1970. Alas there wasn’t. And so it was now, in 2017, certainly overdue but not quite too late, that somebody had the opportunity to open with those precise words. And if it were up to me I’d go one further except modern time constraints prevent me from doling out more puns. Continue reading

A Quiet Life

Often misunderstood and mis-romanticized—and such was the power of Mario Puzo’s Godfather screen adaptation—the mob genre is mistakenly celebrated at each cycle of reinvention. The Italian mafia in films has undergone a persistent makeover, resurrecting in newer, grimier skin each time around to the shortsighted delight of amnesiac critics. When The Sopranos was hailed as a gritty ode to America’s ages-old vicarious thrillseeking via its Italo American diaspora, it was as if backroom deals weren’t incessantly struck in hole-in-the-wall Missouri diners and ethnic markets courtesy of Scorsese a decade or so prior. Continue reading

Thesis on a Homicide

Your reception to Thesis on a Homicide will vary depending on your appreciation for ambiguity and tolerance for redundancy. Thankfully, Thesis keeps both criteria to one instance of each. But before another word is said, it is incumbent upon your boy to point out that this is a film literal in name and intentions. There are no thematic allusions or double meanings. Thesis, you guessed it, revolves around a law school murder with the added caveat of the thesis in question being an actual fucking murder investigation! The school of applied sciences, indeed. Political sciences, that is. Granted, the story (ahem) freely plagiarizes a similarly conceived film by none other than Chile film ambassador to Spain meaning not even the colossal Andes range can stop these two nations from adhering to boundaries. Continue reading

The Descent (2005) Re-Appraisal

It is something of an ongoing (budding) practice here at Cinemaholism to not only take a respected critic up on their recommendation via the films they review—usually favorably—but to attempt the same. And what better way to uphold tradition than by keeping a focus on films I’d seen some time back to discover whether the reception has changed? Think of it as the meta in film reviews; reviewing my own mental review. Real talk though, the viewing habits of film freaks allow for a variety of consumption patterns. You can watch them in marathons of one particular director’s films, by movement, genre, or year of release, etc. Besides it makes the site portfolio that much more dynamic and compelling in its content for the time 30 hits per day comes. Haha. Not that I do a write-up on every single film I see, but having just gotten finished watching the spelunking nightmare The Descent I’m amped to put the final word on a one-time personal favorite. Oops, guess that gave away which way the verdict is headed. But I liked The Descent very much in 2006, as it left me with a visceral after-effect. It was a gut-punch of a movie then and still is today. Depending on which ending you saw first, a picture has never spoken a thousand words so resoundingly as its last frame, and luckily for me, I believe I saw that version in both cases. Little things like this, when they tie into the whole piece, do wonders to an otherwise frugally set film. Continue reading