Sunday, April 15, 2007

Movies: In Theaters Now

A pair of winners.

The Hoax. Richard Gere gives great flop sweat as Clifford Irving, attempting to pass off a phony Howard Hughes autobiography as the genuine article. Fast-moving fun with a terrific cast. Additional weirdness points for having Julie Delpy play Irving’s mistress Nina Van Pallandt, who would become an actress and appear in American Gigolo opposite ... Richard Gere.

Random note: Every time a character hoisted a 1970s pull tab can, it almost knocked me out of the movie. “Look at the size of that! How did people drink out of those? What’s in that, Tab or Valvoline?” Some period details are too real to be real.

Black Book. In WWII Holland, a Jewish resistance fighter dyes her hair – all of it – blonde so she can start an affair with a Gestapo officer. Said Gestapo officer, played by The Lives of Others’ charismatic Sebastian Koch, is presented in something of a heroic light. The resistance fighters aren’t all good. And things get really bad once the war is over. I suppose I can see why some critics have called Paul Verhoeven’s drama ‘misguided.’

These critics are dead wrong. True, Black Book isn’t a serious exploration of the resistance like Melville’s Army of Shadows or Verhoeven’s own Soldier of Orange. It isn’t meant to be. It’s an engine of pure, delirious narrative. Epic romance, suspense, tragedy – everything you want is in this movie, and it never lets up. Carice van Houten is destined to be a huge star, which will only help her little brother Milhouse.

Random note: Black Book was part of a Saturday afternoon out. Matinee, book store, record store. All of them sparsely populated. Maybe everybody really does do everything via the Internet now. The people who were out could be split into two camps, hardcore obsessives and aimless drifters. Or, those who have nowhere else they’d rather be, and those who have nowhere else to go.

Miscellaneous: Next Caller, Please

I’ve foolishly ignored caller ID and am on the phone with a telemarketer pitching a dubious-sounding charity. But I’ve played this game many times before. I’m saying ‘no’ without providing reasons, leaving him no options. He started out asking for a hundred bucks and is now down to twenty-five.

Me: Sorry. Can’t do it.

Him: Can’t is a word of defeat. What do the last three letters of ‘American’ spell, my man?

I almost cracked. Almost.

Miscellaneous: Link

Terrence Rafferty on Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, a movie that is in no way controversial in the mystery community.