Offbeat Movie Corner

Since mainstream fare has been a bit anemic lately, I've been trying to find some movies off the beaten path. The results have been reasonably rewarding when I can actually find and get to these types of movies:
  • The Matador: Pierce Brosnan does an about-face with an interesting performance as a burnt-out hitman who befriends everyman/businessman Greg Kinnear. Lots of dark humor, but solid performances and a sharp script elevate this film beyond others of it's genre. The characters' actions sometimes seem a little strange, but it makes sense in the end. This probably isn't in too many theaters anymore, but it'll probably be on video soon. Recommended (***)
  • The World's Fastest Indian: James Berardinelli gives a great summary of this film, which borrows from several genres:
    The World's Fastest Indian starts out as a mismatched buddy film, with Burt the curmudgeon hanging out with a boy named Tom (Aaron Murphy). Nearly everyone in the neighborhood, including Tom's parents, thinks Burt is disreputable and a bad influence, but that doesn't prevent Tom from spending countless hours in the old man's workshop. It has been Burt's lifelong dream to take his beloved motorcycle to the Utah salt flats to find out how fast he can go, and that dream comes a step closer to reality when Burt is able to raise the money. So it's off to Los Angeles, where The World's Fastest Indian becomes a fish-out-of-water movie (think Crocodile Dundee with Hopkins in the title role). After dawdling a while in Hollywood, Burt buys a car and heads northeast for Utah. Cue the road movie. Finally, Donaldson's mixed genre odyssey ends with an inspirational sports segment, in which Burt reaches his goal and must battle rules and regulations to get a chance to realize his dream.
    It's not a perfect film. Some sections work better than others and it's just a tad too long, but it is strange that this film didn't get a wider distribution (especially given the lack of quality films that typically occurrs at the beginning of a year). As it stood, I had to make the trek to the Ritz in center city to see it... Another one to check out on video. Recommended. (***)
  • Night Watch: One of the most popular Russian movies ever, this film following an ongoing good vs. evil vampire battle has a lot going for it. It's got a bold visual style and a lot of memorable moments, but an incredibly sloppy narrative that totally removed me from the experience. It seems that some of the most stylish moments, such as following a screw from an airplane as it careens toward an apartment building, really don't have any impact on the story itself. I suppose it could have been a lost-in-translation thing, but there were too many disconnects for me. One thing I should disclose is that my experience viewing this film was atrocious. The subtitles were cut off at the bottom of the screen and the sound was a bit off. That being said, I still think the story was disjointed, episodic, and ultimately unfufilling (especially the ending). It's one of those style over substance movies, and it'd probably be a lot of fun if you can turn your brain off (as the Cinecast guys were apparently able to do). Unfortunately, it didn't work for me, though I'll probably end up watching the sequels at some point. (**)
I've also wanted to see Tsotsi for a while, but it's only recently come to the area, and I'm probably not going to be able get to it for a few weeks... That's all for now. Happy viewing.