Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 10:07 AM

The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are reviews of just two of them.

Bronson (Britain, 2008) “I came into the world as Michael Peterson, but I come out with my fighting name, Charlie Bronson,” the bad-tempered brawler (played by Tom Hardy in a virtuoso performance) tells the camera early in this spunky movie about the real-life convict. And he’s indeed a fighter. The first several minutes of Bronson consist of scuffles with schoolmates, teachers, police officers — pretty much anyone within his fists’ reach. “Prison was a place where I could sharpen my tools, hone my skills,” he says at one point. “It’s like a battleground, an opportunity.” Hardy is terrific, skirting Bronson’s line between psychotic and being in complete control of his actions. He’s charming, funny and downright terrifying as a man who’s shuttled between prisons, in and out of prison, and eventually to the crazy house. Director Nicolas Winding Refn literally lets Hardy roll with the punches, pulling him along with quick edits, some extreme close-ups and a few fancy camera moves. Mostly, though, he unleashes his star and allows him to roam. At 7:20 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, and 8:25 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20. *** (Michael Gallucci)

Easy Rider (U.S., 1969) In his Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, author Peter Biskind examined the making of this iconographic surprise 1969 phenom and could not conclude who if anybody directed it. Dennis Hopper got onscreen credit, the volatile actor Peter Fonda certainly shaped it, and co-screenwriter Terry Southern was involved, but the whole shoot (on a project that Roger Corman rejected, so it bounced to Columbia) was a haphazard, drug-disoriented affair, happening concurrent with the RFK assassination. Ultimately, Biskind writes, it's impossible to say who made Easy Rider. It just kind of happened. The story centers on two rebel bikers motoring cross-country to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and finding no comfort, either at bravely faltering hippie communes or in viciously hostile small towns. Minor-league actor Jack Nicholson shot to stardom with his supporting role as a boozy ACLU lawyer who claims to know what Americans fear the most is freedom. Rumor has it that in the aftermath of Easy Rider's box-office smash, Hollywood showered cameras and cash upon just about every dazed counterculture-youth who wandered in the door, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again. At 8:50 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20. **** (Charles Cassady Jr.)

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