PERFORMANCE ANXIETY: Movie Reviews of Green Room and Viva by Howard Casner

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rev 1Green Room, the new thriller from writer/director Jeremy Saulnier (the follow up to his well-received indie film Blue Ruin, but no, he’s not doing a series of titles with color in them), has a marvelous set up. 

A group of head banger musicians take a last minute job to play at a remote white supremacist bar (does it bother anyone else in the audience that neo-Nazis and Washington DC millennials like the same type of music) because, well, their last gig got cancelled and they’re desperate for money (Saulnier does a clever thing here—as the first number the band plays, they assert their artistic integrity by singing an anti-Nazi song; it serves to help give them sympathy from the audience for taking the job in the first place). 

After the show, they accidentally walk in on a murder and are then trapped in the titular location and must figure a way out of the mess they’re now in.

I mean, it’s a really neat little first act.  It’s certainly gets one empathizing with their situation, wondering what you could possibly due in the same situation. 

At the same time, this is also where the movie, for me, stopped fulfilling its initial promise.  Read the rest of this entry »

LOVE, DEATH and LOVE & DEATH: Movie Reviews of Fading Gigolo, Blue Ruin and Nymphomaniac: Vol. II by Howard Casner

fading gigiloFading Gigolo is about a man, Fioravante, who, without intending to in any way, shape or form, falls into being a gigolo (don’t you just hate it when that happens?).

It’s written by, directed by and stars John Turturro. But it probably should be noted that it co-stars Woody Allen. The reason this is significant is that in many ways, Fading Gigolo is a Woody Allen film that isn’t written by, isn’t directed by, and doesn’t star the famed writer/director himself.

It has the wit of a Woody Allen film. It deals with the Woody Allen themes of love and neuroses. It takes place in New York. Woody Allen is in it.

Hamilton Burger, I rest my case. Read the rest of this entry »