I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this. A lot of people are going to hate it though. I'm not sure if it's even good, but it's nice to know that a movie this intense can still get made for real money. Basically a hallucinatory account of the pitiful final days of Al Capone, it's not really a fun movie to watch, as his brain is slowly eaten away by syphilis, he drools on himself, shits himself, rants and raves at invisible tormentors, and wanders through distorted scenes out of his past. The movie humanizes him but thankfully doesn't ask us to feel sorry for him. The flashback structure seems intentionally confusing, but even more challenging are the stabs at camp. There's something sly going on in this film. I think it's more of a critique of 'macho' movie tropes, and an attempt to annihilate them once and for all, rather than a legit gangster biopic. I don't know that the movie totally succeeds at what it sets out to do, but it has a lot of perverse fun trying. If nothing else, one can always admire the tremendous performance of Tom Hardy in the title role (and the supporting cast, Matt Dillon and Kyle MacLachlan among them, are no slouches themselves; nor is Linda Cardellini, as Capone's incredibly loyal wife).
Okay, wow. Wow, wow, wow. This was upsetting, but then it would hardly be an Aronofsky film if it weren't! It's a tough film to comment on, because one doesn't want to give away the surprises (or SHOCKS) that supply the film's impact. Basically it's a metaphor, steeped in Biblical imagery, but addressing the human experience specifically in terms of the male-female dynamic. Also built into the film is a commentary on artists and their relation to their loved ones; an environmental message; a vicious satire of the eternal battle of the sexes; and more. Having seen the new remake of Stephen King's It, and then seeing this, I must say that this had all the impact I expected the former to carry. I'm stunned that Paramount gave this a wide release, which is a bold move considering its unrepentantly nasty tone and its obscure subject matter. While I don't think it quite holds up to the best of Aronofsky's work, it is excellent. Highly recommended to those who do not wish to spend their hard-earned money watching men in leotards karate-chopping 'evildoers'. I don't want to say more, for fear I'll give something away. Mother! is a film that relies heavily on the unexpected. Some people -- hell, many people -- will absolutely hate it. But I'm so very glad the film got made. Oh, and in my view Michelle Pfeiffer, playing one evil bitch, nearly steals the show!
Not as sold on this one as a lot of people are, but I enjoyed it overall. It's very well-acted, there are some splendid visuals, and it took me back to my own childhood, which spanned the 1980s. But it lacks a certain sense of dread, and it repeatedly stops short of going to those REALLY dark places that the best horror films aren't afraid of going to. I feel like the filmmakers were too worried about losing the mass audience and so toned down some of the most disturbing elements of the novel. Also: there's WAY too much music. I dunno, it feels more like a made-for-TV movie in a lot of ways than a proper feature film. Maybe Chapter 2 will go deeper and darker. Let's hope so. As it stands, I think this is a solid, though not outstanding, horror outing.
After seeing director Fabrice Du Welz's interesting but rather shaky debut Calvaire, and its close-but-no-cigar follow-up Vinyan, I headed into Alleluia with a fair amount of skepticism, enhanced by the fact that there's already one excellent film -- 1969's The Honeymoon Killers -- concerning the true story of the so-called Lonely Hearts Murders. In the US during the 1950s, a fading gigolo named Ray Fernandez seduced a frumpy, overweight young nurse named Martha Beck; though he intended to swindle her as he'd done to so many other women, the two ended forming a perverse bond. Together they carried out a series of murders, ostensibly for the money (their marks were all wealthy widows). Alleluiah, like The Honeymoon Killers, is more interested in the dynamic between the two lovers than it is in the procedural aspects of such a story. In this film Lola Dueñas plays Gloria, the female half of the pair against Laurent Lucas as Michel, the male in the relationship. The murders are horrifying, and there's plenty of starkly beautiful imagery to be seen, but it's the performances which stay in the memory; even as these two dangerously sick people commit despicable acts of violence before our very eyes, it's impossible to really hate them. We fear what they will do to other people, but it's clear that their love, however twisted and self-destructive, is real. There are a few missteps in the film, but the overall effect is quite strong. Du Welz finally creates a fully-realized horror film, consistent from start to finish, which does justice to his excellent lead performers. The violence, while rather strong, is never gratuitous, and since the filmmakers avoid the fatal mistake of playing it all for laughs, the dread we feel is palpable. There is an intelligence at work behind the camera here. I very much look forward to more from Du Welz!