173. Saint (B)
An odd Dutch slasher film from director Dick Maas, who is apparently quite famous in the Netherlands, but is almost unknown here in the states. The killer here is St. Nicholas, complete with the trappings of the holidays, and although it never exceeds the expectations one has for a horror film like this, I felt it met them. At times, it might be a little too dark (a bunch of children are seemingly slaughtered in the finale, for little reason that I can see -- it doesn't even work as shock value, as everything is kept at arm's length), but for the most part the movie realizes that the tone should be firmly tongue in cheek.
174. Winnebago Man (A-)
I still think this is one of the best documentary features I've seen in a while, although the impact is slightly less effective upon second viewing. For one thing, I was more aware of some selective editing, especially near the end, to make the central figure a little more sympathetic. Still, the film's exploration of internet celebrity, and the unintended or unwanted consequences that come with that, is fascinating, and Jack Rebney (the legendary "Winnebago Man"
) couldn't be a better foil for the director.
175. Jackie Brown (A)
I'm a big fan of Inglourious Basterds
, but other than that movie, I think this might be Quentin Tarantino's sharpest work. It's certainly the most sedate film he's written and directed, and the cast -- rounded out by a number of veterans who wouldn't be starring in a heist movie if anyone else was behind it -- is excellent. On Blu-Ray, the film looks terrific, although the only new special feature is a rather boring panel of film critics who discuss the film and its effect (or lack thereof) upon the film industry. It's a shame a label like Criterion hasn't been able to get their hands on the filmmaker's work, but alas.
176. The Return of the Pink Panther (B-)
Probably on par with Seller's first Closseau film, this one is never as finely tuned as A Shot in the Dark
. For one thing, Closseau couldn't have less to do with the plot for much of the time, which means that Christopher Plummer (like David Niven before him) is really the protagonist here. This is also when Seller's accent starts to get quite ridiculous, which is good for a few gags, but I imagine will become tiresome if I stick to the series through the end of it.
177. Carnage (B)
Roman Polanski's new film, a comedy adapted from the play "Gods of Carnage," takes a while to find its footing, but once it does, it's hilarious, dramatic, and filled with energy. For the first 20 or 30 minutes, though, much like the characters, it's a bit awkward, and one starts to wonder how the film will justify keeping them all in the same apartment for the entire 80 minute running time (except for the credits). Once the characters (played by a superb cast -- Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz [getting better and better at an American accent], and John C. O'Reilly) start to get agitated (and intoxicated), though, everything takes off. Who knew that these actors would be doing barf jokes -- or that they would be so effective, for that matter. Like much of Polanski's more recent work, this won't go down as one of his best films, but it's worth seeing nonetheless.
178. V For Vendetta (C+)
The politics are simplistic, the characters two-dimensional, the action ludicrous, and Evey's (Natalie Portman) belief in V's cause utterly unbelievable, given his actions, but it's not a bad
movie... It is well produced, and the cast is good. It's just too bad that a more literal adaptation of Moore's work wasn't made, but it's not surprising that it wasn't.
And with that, I'm finally caught up with all the films I've seen this year.