CRITERION COLLECTION REVIEWS VOL. 6 (Nashville, Ratcatcher, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!)

NASHVILLE COVERTIE ME UP TIE ME DOWNRATCATCHER

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NASHVILLE (1975 / dir. Robert Altman / USA) – On the surface Robert Altman’s ambitious ensemble drama is about country music in Nashville, but it’s really about keeping up appearances. Beneath the clean, optimistic Christian song lyrics lies anger, jealousy, desperation and a bunch of pettiness. However, beneath all the bullshit there is some room for tender moments. There’s a beautiful scene featuring Keith Carradine singing to and about Lily Tomlin.  With a runtime of 160 minutes, Nashville lets some of it’s scenes run on a tad too long and features a completely unnecessary subplot involving Elliot Gould playing himself. Criterion gives this a beautiful 2K digital film restoration making it worth every penny. Grade: A- 

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RATCATCHER (1999 / dir. Lynn Ramsay / UK) – Lynn Ramsay’s  directorial debut about life in the Glasgow slums is cripplingly depressing. Nothing is particularly impressive or profound about the way it’s shot or the writing, but it does feature some very raw and powerful performances, especially from young William Edie. His scenes with the neighborhood girl are oddly touching and without a doubt the strongest aspect of the film. Extremely realistic in it’s depiction of poverty, Ratcatcher ends up just being a painful film with nothing to say that hasn’t been said before in better films. The “ambiguous” ending is fairly trite as well. Available for Streaming on HuluPlus Grade: C+ 

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TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! (1990 / dir. Pedro Almodovar / Spain) – Truly one of the greatest and most unique filmmakers around, Pedro Almodovar has a way of merging soap and realism into a wonderfully potent brew of human emotion. Antonio Banderas stars as a mental patient recently released from an institution. He kidnaps an ex-porn star and junkie trying to be a legitimate actress (Victoria Abril) in an attempt to make her fall in love with him. It’s a dark comedy that is incredibly funny and sexy, but fails to be thrilling or intense. Banderas and Abril give fantastic performances but their characters aren’t as fleshed out as Almodovar’s best characters and for that matter the plot is not as complex or as compelling as Almodovar’s best work. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is  a really good movie, just not as good as you’d expect from Almodovar. Available for Streaming on HuluPlus Grade: B+ 

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