Monday, July 25, 2011

UNCLE BOONMEE and InRo's Halftime Films of 2011


If saintly Mother Grace of this year's Palme winner got lost in the tangled foliage of last year's winner, she'd see divinity much closer than the sky above her. "God lives here and there and everywhere," she might whisper, among simian specters and translucent relatives. Then she'd discover the unique talents of Thai catfish and wonder why nobody told her about that way of nature. Once you go Weerasethakul, you never go back.

See the rest of InRo's list of the best of 2011 (so far) here. It's shaping up to be a hell of a year for movies.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

PUBLIC SPEAKING (2011)


You don’t have to know a thing about Fran Lebowitz to get a kick out of Public Speaking. You do, however, have to be a fan of caustic wit and sharp, opinionated monologue. A perennial Manhattanite and revered essayist—her two major collections are Metropolitan Life and Social Studies—Lebowitz certainly possesses the gift of gab. Which is fortunate, because Martin Scorsese’s HBO-produced documentary is basically nothing but chatter, with Marty toggling seamlessly between a long-form interview with the the 61-year-old Jewish writer and an onstage Q&A between her and Toni Morrison. Throughout, Lebowitz sounds off on everything from city living to the role of the media to slightly touchier subjects like the changing nature of the civil rights movement. (“There’s a difference between being marginalized and being oppressed,” she offers, when asked about where gay rights figure into the discussion.)

Scorsese echoes the author’s sentiments with complementary film clips, setting a scene from his own Taxi Driver to her screed against the touristification of NYC. (Later, in one of the film’s few overtly stylized gestures, he recreates the same footage, with Fran now sitting in for Robert DeNiro.) By her own admission, Lebowitz prefers lecture to conversation. As such, Public Speaking offers little in the way of back-and-forth dialogue—it’s basically a one-woman show. Thankfully, this one woman is a totally engaging subject, though you can’t help but wish that Scorsese had prodded his New York contemporary into a little healthy debate. Would the famously verbose filmmaker have gotten a word in edgewise? With Lebowitz, he seems to have met his motormouthed match.