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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 7:14 AM

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

A Boy and His Dog (U.S.A., 1975) This 1975 post-apocalyptic fable was a midnight-movie hit back in the day, when stoned teens and young twentysomethings would fill theaters to catch director L.Q. Jones’ vision of a world without rules. Set in the year 2024, A Boy and His Dog (based on a story by Harlan Ellison) contains all the usual post-nuclear images you know from movies like Mad Max and The Book of Eli: desert landscapes, marauding gangs, godlike despots. A pre-Miami Vice Don Johnson (displaying all the emotional range he exhibited as detective James Crockett) plays Vic, a gun-toting 18-year-old searching the wasteland with his dog Blood — with whom he telepathically communicates — for food and sex. But this is all pretty one-note, with clumsy direction and mostly mediocre acting. Only Jason Robards — who shows up later as the leader of a bizarre underground civilization populated by a carnival of postwar freaks — chews through his scenes with gusto. Still, there’s some ragtag charm to the movie, especially when Jones doesn’t push the story (or his stars) too hard. These quiet moments of reflection — like when Vic and Blood watch a movie at a refugee camp — play much better than the many scenes where boy and dog banter endlessly about the end of the world. At 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, and 10:10 p.m. Saturday, March 20. ** 1/2 (Michael Gallucci)

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 10:15 p.m. Friday, March 19 and at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, March 20, and 8:25 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20. *** (Michael Gallucci)

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