Movies this week – Pulp Fiction revisited
Plus – King of Comedy, Incendies, Carnage, and a Canadian Christmas flick
I’m a little late, but in future I’ll be trying to post each Monday (or even Sunday) about the previous week’s watched movies.
The edition is for movies watched between Dec 5 – 11.
Pulp Fiction (DVD rental; Mon) – For some reason I wanted to revisit this and, you know, it doesn’t quite hold up.
It’s still thrilling in some spots – when Tarantino lets loose and just revels in the joy of moviemaking, such as in the pawnshop scene and the stoned-out milieu at Eric Stoltz‘s drug-den – he’s like a kid in a sandbox.
But at other times he falls prey to his own hubris. The sequence in which he’s cast himself with Harvey Keitel is unbearable, for instance, and the diner robbery with Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth that bookends the flick is just a whole lot of scenery chewing.
In fact, for all of the director/writer’s much-vaunted dialogue, much of Pulp Fiction‘s chit-chat is just hot air, though of an above-average quality. Tarantino would go on to write much better scenes, if not whole movies, than anything in Pulp Fiction.
Incendies (DVD rental; Tues) – Canada’s entry for last year’s Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards, this play-based nail-biter looks at the aftermath of war with many unusual, and finally heartbreaking, twists and turns. One of those movies you don’t want to say too much about, just grab people by the lapels and say, “Watch this.”
Carnage (press screening; Wed): Roman Polanski directs a movie based on a hit Broadway play from last year. I was riveted by the fast-paced dialogue, the jockeying for the moral upper-hand between the four New Yorkers, and particularly by Christoph Waltz‘s edge-of-calm, teeth-grinding performance, but critics have taken a seen-it-all-before stance to the story’s themes.
The King of Comedy (DVD rental) – This unjustly overlooked and at the time seemingly out-of-character movie from Martin Scorsese is a character study, really, though I remember it more as a kidnapping film – but the kidnapping doesn’t happen until halfway through. Robert De Niro is mesmerizing as the delusional comedian of the title, Rupert Pupkin, and Sandra Bernhard has a comic, slapstick-y presence that has never been better utilized; it’s like she was born 50 years too late, after the era of the great screwball comedies.
Though it had been years since I’d seen it, there are moments – Pupkin waiting to see the talk show host played by Jerry Lewis at the host’s TV studio office, invading the Lewis character’s summer home – that have stayed with me all these years. Still a terrific film, and a great snapshot of the ’80s, too (members of The Clash make cameos on a street scene!).
One Magic Christmas (YouTube, Fri – Sat) – One of my girlfriend’s favourite Christmas movies growing up, One Magic Christmas (1984) piles on the tragic events in this tear-jerking twist on It’s a Wonderful Life.
Mary Steenburgen, Harry Dean Stanton and a moppet-ish Sarah Polley star in this cardboard-looking, Ontario-shot Disney-Telefilm Canada co-production, but darned if it isn’t kind of affecting. Directed by Philip Borsos (the Whistler Film Festival named an award after him).