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Capone's Art-House with WILD GRASS and THE LIVING WAKE!!!

Hey, folks. Capone in Chicago here, with a couple of films that are making their way into art houses around America this week (maybe even taking up one whole screen at a multiplex near you). Do your part to support these films, or at least the good ones…
WILD GRASS I may have mentioned this before, but I'm a huge fan of French cinema. In particular, their dramas and suspense works from just about any and every decade. The new film WILD GRASS is a bit of both, as it starts out about an older woman (and oral surgeon) named Marguerite (Sabine Azéma) with flaming red hair, who is mugged on the street and her purse is stolen. More than you might suspect, this incident leaves her rattled to the point where she feels she must recover from the invasion (she isn't hurt) before she can go to the police. Her wallet is found by an elderly gentleman named Georges (André Dussollier), and all seems normal and fine. But two unexpected and entwined things occur, we discover that Georges is a bit of a psychopathic stalker who insists on meeting the unsuspecting Marguerite, who is admittedly intrigued by Georges aggressive behavior. The pair seems attracted and repelled by each other simultaneously. Did I say I love French cinema? An impossible movie to categorize or properly explain, WILD GRASS loops around from humor to danger to tension to absurdity thanks to a versatile cast that also includes Mathieu Amalric as a police officer who oversees the wallet's transition and is called in to investigate Georges stalking, Emmanuelle Devos as Marguerite's surgery partner, and Anne Consigny as Georges' wife, who seems weirdly unaffected by his behavior, especially once she meets the other women in Georges' life. To say the film is odd would be overly simplistic, but it's the first step in a direction that borders on the unexplainable. Motivations are rarely explained in a satisfying manner, behavior that would be considered bad in other films is given a pass here, and everyone acts just so damn French. I love it. I would absolutely suggest to sample WILD GRASS, but don't be too jolted when the film ends and you're left with more questions and confusion than you can handle. That's part of the twisted fun.
THE LIVING WAKE Here's the thing: I'm something of a fan of comedian Mike O'Connell. His delivery is like that of a carnival barker crossed with a raving lunatic, and his mind functions much the same way. That being said, I loathed THE LIVING WAKE, which was written by and stars O'Connell as K. Roth Binew, a misunderstood artist (or so he claims) who embarks on a bicycle road trip leading to a gathering that will serve as his final performance honoring his life in front of an audience of those who know him best (and largely hate him). The strange thing is, there is an exceptional film called GET LOW coming out in a few weeks, starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, that covers some of the same ground with a level of sophistication and humor that THE LIVING WAKE can't even touch. Save your money for that movie. On his bike journey, Binew travels with his mild-mannered sidekick Mills Joquin (ADVENTURELAND and ZOMBIELAND star Jesse Eisenberg). I say mild-mannered because Mills rarely gets to speak, since Binew never shuts the hell up with his series of declarations about his greatness and misunderstood nature. His family doesn't see his genius; the general public isn't clued in either. In fact, it would appear that no one but Binew gets what Binew is all about. The trip is structured as an "Odyssey"-like exercise in self-discovery, and I found the entire thing an endurance test that I'm afraid I failed. By the time we get to the final stage performance, I was about ready to throw bricks at the screen to make it stop. And I felt bad for Eisenberg, who has a real flair for delivering lines, and is reduced to a mumbling sycophant in this film. I felt sorry for the guy. Directed by Sol Tyron, THE LIVING WAKE has been sitting on the shelf for a couple years, and I'm not sure why it's final getting this micro-release now--perhaps because of Eisenberg's rising popularity. Whatever the reason, the two or three of you who might be considering checking this out should just stop.
-- Capone Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback
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  • July 16, 2010, 9:01 a.m. CST

    Jesse Eisenberg...

    by LordPorkington

    Thought he'd ruin Zombieland, but he didn't. So well done.

  • July 16, 2010, 9:01 a.m. CST

    I don't know...

    by wampa 1

    ...but it sure smells good!

  • July 16, 2010, 9:02 a.m. CST

    I thought Wild Grass was a new Cheech and Chong movie.

    by cookylamoo

    To bad it's not.

  • July 16, 2010, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Wild Grass' Notable Director

    by irishrogue65

    Can't believe this guy is still churning out noteworthy films. He is in a class by himself in French cinema.

  • July 16, 2010, 1:09 p.m. CST

    And that notable director's name is...

    by duanejones

    ...Alain Renais! What, is that meant to be a secret? NIGHT AND FOG, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD? I'm sure these are all essential films for any fanboy ho talks back on AICN. Right? Right?

  • July 16, 2010, 7:37 p.m. CST

    I think this scant turnout,,,,,

    by cookylamoo

    illustrates the folly of running art house reviews on AICN.

  • July 18, 2010, 2:07 a.m. CST

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