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Posts from the ‘Tom Nixon’ Category

30
Jun

DVD of the Week – Review of Gran Torino (2008)

by TOM NIXON

Sixteen years after his classic anti-western Unforgiven, Clint finally grants himself some semblance of forgiveness with its more lighthearted vigilante analogue. Wisely avoiding a retread of Unforgiven’s thunder and grace, Eastwood maintains a different kind of contrast in Gran Torino, pitting his signature sentimental touch and some hilarious, oft-tacky camp against a self-represented grizzled hardass. When it works, it works in the same way all the unrelatable rubbish in The Searchers works; it gleans pathos from the man’s self-imposed alienation and repressed guilt, leading the way to a surprising grasp at redemption. Read more »

21
Jun

Movie Review – Woman in the Dunes (1964)

by TOM NIXON

Sporting an existential prison before which even A Man Escaped and Last Year At Marienbad must bow, with Sisyphus re-imagined as dung beetle and all the more loaded with metaphorical weight, Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes also dwells on the borders of territory Lynch and Cronenberg would later pillage in its uneasy, wormlike familiarity. Maddeningly gorgeous, it might as well be shot on Mars for the way its sands ebb and flow with endless, aimless mutability; a ghostly demonstration that sometimes the greatest metaphors are the simplest. Read more »

4
May

Movie Review – Unforgiven (1992)

by TOM NIXON

In 1992, the Western and its heroes lay in ashes; old and weathered has-beens usurped by civilization, forgotten. Aptly, Unforgiven takes place amidst the winding down of the old school under crisp red sunsets, its heroes now struggling farmers and carpenters, or pompous self-parodies followed around by doting biographers. But Clint Eastwood knew that his beloved genre still had something to offer; understood our notions of propriety and civility to require deeper examination. He also knew that he, uniquely placed as a touchstone of the Western mythos, should be the one to attempt such an examination; a revival tempered by the wisdom, and the regret, of age and hindsight. Read more »

18
Feb

Top Ten Films of 2008 by Tom Nixon

by TOM NIXON

flight-of-the-red-balloon

I just love those moments when I’m reading a list and, say, my own top three occupy the 2, 3 and 4 spots below an unknown champion; that number 1 suddenly takes on an inordinate amount of power in my mind, a great potentiality shrouded in mist. In that way, a list can communicate excitement for a movie better than any number of superlatives, and this may be why I enjoy the process of list-making far too much. At the same time of course I recognize that such lists tend to be flippant, or self-indulgent with ridiculous pretensions to objectivity, and that taking them with less than a pinch or two of salt is a kind of madness. Read more »

13
Feb

Movie Review – Milk (2008)

by TOM NIXON

Earlier in the year Gus Van Sant churned out the desperately self-indulgent Paranoid Park, sporting the kind of disaster in tone characteristic of mid-life crisis filmmaking. Milk unfortunately flies off in the other direction; a by-the-numbers biopic of assassinated gay rights activist Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) which tends to just sit there like an old man’s movie, making you long for that distinctive Van Sant seal irrespective of application. Read more »

10
Feb

DVD of the Week – Review of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

by TOM NIXON

I was originally wary of Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, its title and premise indicative of an increasingly pervasive tendency to make overt and digestible the lurking subtext of ’70s revisionist classics. Altman understood with McCabe and Mrs Miller the necessity of a less-is-more approach amidst an age of information overload; only absences speak magnitudes in a world where, to paraphrase a certain emblem of our era, here we’re allowed everything all of the time. You’ve got to revolve around tone and rhythm – it’s the only way to bring anything meaningful to the field outside of intellectual posturing. Fortunately, where Jesse James was concerned I needn’t have worried. Read more »

8
Feb

Movie Review – Frost/Nixon (2008)

by TOM NIXON

Very contrived, very hammy, very Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon is the year’s mindlessly entertaining underdog sports blockbuster thinly disguised as political biopic. Guiding you through the action with the most condescending framing device available (a host of explicatory documentary-style interview segments), it milks every last drop of drama out of its subject without staking a single claim to profundity. In that way it’s hard to dislike, and impossible to respect – after all, it sure as hell doesn’t respect you. Read more »

30
Dec

DVD of the Week – Review of Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

by TOM NIXON

Animation is typically reserved for children’s stories, but what’s ignored all too often is that the innocence now inseparably associated with the medium can render it extraordinarily evocative when applied to bleaker material. Using contrast with its own norms Isao Takahata’s intricately woven animated language conveys horror with astounding clarity. Also harnessed is its capacity for expressionistic imagery; every shot bleeds pathos and poetry, every scene is alive with spontaneity, tone pitch-perfect. Read more »

18
Dec

Movie Review – The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

by TOM NIXON

The original The Day the Earth Stood Still saw alien-meets-Christ figure Klaatu come to Earth with the warning that various galactic leaders are concerned by our new found nuclear capabilities. He’s a savior, remaining optimistic about mankind’s ability to turn things around despite getting contained, shot at, even killed. Keanu Reeves’ incarnation is past the point of warnings, his stance towards mankind is more cynical and his task more gruesome. This time galactic leaders aren’t concerned for themselves but for Earth itself, precious in its ability to house life; the destruction of man has become a necessary evil. Read more »

2
Dec

DVD of the Week – Review of Mulholland Drive (2001)

by TOM NIXON

Where to begin with Mulholland Drive? Black Hollywood satire, grotesque horror, tragic romance, thriller with a twist, the film could be described a hundred different ways. Lynch doesn’t follow genre blueprints – aside from dipping into similarly enigmatic Bergman and Hitchcock projects, he is what he is and so are his films. But this blurring of boundaries, this abolition of absolutes and categories goes much deeper, pinpointing and exposing our reliance on order, the chaotic core of our nightmares from which we perpetually flee. As Betty’s reality deconstructs, so does our own, until nothing is left but cold, horrified silence, the sense that everything has broken down and nothing means anything anymore. Read more »