A couple of recent rentals that got good reviews but whose qualities mainly escaped me:
SWEPT AWAY, the 1975 Wertmuller film that Guy Ritchie has remade with Madonna, is a laughably silly melodrama that squanders a great Giancarlo Giannini performance. Loaded with offensively reductive gender politics (meant to show the balance of power as essential for sexual passion, but inadvertently endorsing abuse, misogyny, and virtual rape), the movie has scenes of intentional humor followed quickly by scenes of unintentional humor. Despite the fact that I really disliked the film, I highly recommend it -- it's a must-see, both for its meager high points and its jaw-dropping low ones, always entertaining. Best moments are when Giannini chases his woman around the island, slapping her silly while screaming "you fucking capitalist bitch!"
The other film is the highly problematic HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, which has its good points (Michael Pitt's brave, intense performance, some clever lines of dialogue, and a few cute compositions), but also smothers them in a confused, inert, dull narrative that should have stayed a stage play. Mitchell never successfully fits the music in with the story, so instead of being a musical, it's a 40-minute student film surrounded by another 40 minutes of shitty concert footage -- and the music Hedwig's band plays is third rate glam rock trash, not entertaining enough to be kitschy; it's just merely boring and obvious, heavy-handed didacticism reeking of insecurity. Sub-Queen anthems and ballads are not what I want to see in a musical. Don't know exactly what all the hype was about, since there have been far deeper and more satisfying films about transgenders, sexual identity politics, or music (producer Christine Vachon has made a career out of making better films than this, which makes it look like she's slumming for the subject matter).
Hopefully this drought will end when I head off to the theater this weekend -- opening tomorrow are two big films I have to see: ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU and POSSESSION. The latter had better be 400,000 times better than NURSE BETTY in order to just be a steak knives.