There are directors who know how to coax great performances out of actors, and there are the actors who know how to give them. The magic happens when those types of actors and directors collaborate. Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” is an example of this. In it, he got two of the truest, rawest performances of the year out of Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (and Amy Adams; all three actors were Oscar nominees). Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a psychologically disturbed World War II veteran with a knack for creating delicious intoxicating drinks—and getting into trouble for it. At his lowest, he stows away on board a ship owned by Lancaster Dodd, played by Hoffman.
Dodd is a philosopher, among other things, and he is the leader of The Cause, a new age cult that deals in psychological pseudo-science. Dodd sees in Quell a perfect way to test his methods, and Quell sees in Dodd a way to get through his psychological and emotional torment. Anderson explores the complexity of their relationships as the two love, then hate, then love each other again. Their journey is a bumpy one, and narratively the story is a bit disjointed, but the magic that happens when they’re on screen together should not be missed. Rent It.
Thanks goodness for French director Jean Rollin. Since the late 1960s, he’s brought us horror/suspense thrillers that have featured lots of nudity, mediocre acting, nudity, bad dialogue in any language, nudity, low budget effects, sheer dresses on hot young women, and of course, more nudity. For those out there—teenage boys for example—who care nothing of plot, story, quality of filmmaking, etc., and just want a flick with lots of fully naked chicks, this is the director for you.
This week brings us Rollin’s 1981 film “Zombie Lake.” It starts off with a really, really hot girl skinny dipping, then getting attacked by a zombie. Kind of like “Jaws,” but with the undead. We learn later in an extended flashback that the mayor (Howard Vernon) and French resistance fighters in the town during World War II killed some German soldiers and threw them in the lake. This zombie was one of those soldiers, and now he and his friends are coming back to life years later for some revenge.
Why the zombies picked that moment to rise from the dead and attack I have no idea. The movie offers no reason the way that, say, Rollin’s 1982 film “Living Dead Girl” did with the toxic waste. It just kind of happens. The zombie acting is hammy, the make up is pathetic, and the story does not hold up at all. For example—what year does this take place? I defy you to figure it out. However, the nudity is there, and interestingly, so is a heart, as one of the zombies is actually the father of a young girl in the town, and there are some actual conflicted emotions going on. I can’t recommend this movie for everyone, but for low budget film lovers, zombie lovers, and for those who just plain like tons of nudity, “Zombie Lake” is for you. Rent It.
Also out this week: “Chasing Mavericks,” with Gerard Butler as a pro surfer teaching a young protégé (Jonny Weston) about surfing—and life; “A New Life,” Alan Alda’s 1988 comedy about the dating scene for middle-aged divorcees; “Chronicle of a Summer,” a cinema verite film that discusses the social and political happenings in France circa 1960; “Company of Heroes,” about a group of American soldiers caught behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII; “Diary of a Chambermaid,” with Paulette Goddard as a maid who causes a stir in the wealthy Paris house where she works; “The Great Spy Chase,” with Secret Service agents from several countries vying for control of priceless patents that will put them ahead in the arms race; and “The Red Menace,” and anti-Communist film from 1949.
Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday; he also regularly reviews new theatrical releases for Hudak On Hollywood. He lives in Connecticut.
|< Prev||Next >|