New York Stories – Some Velvet Morning / Tricked / Michael H. Profession: Director

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By Glenn Dunks
May 7, 2013

There’s a wide world of cinema out there, and Quickflix’s Glenn Dunks is on the ground in New York City bringing you the titles that will soon be seen in Australian cinemas, and eventually available on home entertainment.

The Manhattan Report: The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert DeNiro (amongst others) as a means of bringing business and culture back to the area of Manhattan deeply impacted by September 11. Ten years later, the festival’s mix of world premieres, international cinema, celebrities, and hip, pop culture – they screened a documentary about cat memes called Lil Bub and Friendz, after all – has inarguably helped it become one of the country’s biggest festivals. Of the 40+ features I saw, the best included David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche, Sam Fleischner’s Stand Clear of the Closing Door, Scott Coffey’s Adult World, Nobuteru Uchida’s Odayaka, and Chiemi Karasawa Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. The following trio – by and about some of the prickliest names in cinema – certainly made for “interesting” viewing.

SomeVelvetMorning

Some Velvet Morning: In Neil LaBute’s latest provocation (his return from cash-grabs Wicker Man and Death at a Funeral), a prostitute (Alice Eve) and her former client (Stanley Tucci) come to blows when he arrives on her doorstep having left his wife and wanting to pick up the relationship where they left off four years earlier. Quite startled, naturally, she plots a way to let Fred down easily. This being a LaBute screenplay, however, means nothing goes according to plan.

How does one review the unreviewable? Is this new piece of work from the noted misogynist even a film? It has actors and involves images being projected onto a screen, but it lacks all the other hallmarks of cinema. It’s a big ol’ grumpy shrug of a so-called movie that has such contempt for cinemagoers that I wonder why LaBute even bothered. Only 80 minutes long, and bound to one setting, Some Velvet Morning is more a play that’s been rejected all over town due to its offensive ideas and insulting final twist. Go to hell, Neil LaBute.

0.5/5

Tricked

Tricked: Preceded by some documentary footage explaining the filmmaking process, Paul Verhoeven’s Tricked is a unique experiment. With only the first four minutes of the screenplay written by the start of production, the project was then given to the people of Holland, and the twists and turns dictated by the public. The end product is a funny comedy examining infidelities, families, and boardroom insecurities, yet one that ultimately lacks the usual pizzazz of a Verhoeven production.

Tricked is low key, that’s for sure, and more comparable to Lars Von Trier’s oddity The Boss of It All than any of the sexual and sci-fi extravaganzas Verhoeven is best known for. Yet it’s brisk and entertaining ,with a wonderfully sly sense of humour and some fun performances from its attractive, spirited younger cast, who are more than willing to go along with its peculiar plot developments. What it lacks in flare and chutzpah it gains in being a curious diversion in a legendary director’s career.

3.5/5

MichaelH2

Michael H. – Profession: Director: Having previously directed documentaries about Hayao Miyazaki, Christopher Doyle, and Japanese erotic cinema (why not?), Yves Montmayeur now turns to Austrian auteur and recent Oscar-winner Michael Haneke. This straight-forward doco seemingly stitches together DVD supplemental material. On set footage as well as interviews with Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Riva, Juliette Binoche, and more are edited with video of Haneke teaching his Vienna film school classes. While some of this is interesting for the insights into his work and demystifying his persona, Michael H. is ultimately unbalanced with a disproportionate amount of time following on-set shenanigans of The White Ribbon compared to discussion of less famous works like Benny’s Video.

Perhaps where the picture shares a perverse sense of glee with its subject is in the use of clips. This is certainly not a movie to watch if you’re not well-versed in his career and it ultimately proves fun to guess who in the crowd hasn’t seen Hidden or The Piano Teacher based on their gasping reactions. Not particularly exciting, Michael H. works more as a lightweight stepping stone into the world of Haneke rather than a definitive career overview.

3/5

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