Tag Archives: serial killer

Marianne and Leonard

11 Jul

‘Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love’: A muse recalled in verse long after the poet moved on

 

Image result for marianne and leonard

Documentarian Nick Broomfield has tackled some beguiling and controversial subjects during his prolific career, be it Tinseltown escort-turned-entrepreneur Heidi Fleiss (“Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam”), serial killer Aileen Wuornos (“Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer”) or the enigmatic death of grunge icon Kurt Cobain (“Kurt & Courtney”). Broomfield has a shaggy-dog quality to his approach, tending to insert himself into the story no matter his proximity or relevance, and sometimes oddly so – not overbearing like Michael Moore, but it still can be a distraction. In “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love,” Broomfield can legitimately ring the bell as a participant; Marianne Ihlen, the front half of the film’s title, was at one point Broomfield’s lover, and allegedly his inspiration for becoming a filmmaker.

The other half of the title is none other than iconic folk signer Leonard Cohen, who had a longtime relationship with the Norwegian-born Ihlen. The two met in the early 1960s at an artists community on the Greek isle of Hydra, back when Cohen was a writer and had yet to meet Judy Collins (he penned “Suzanne”and she made it a hit in ’67) and go on to become a major force in shaping the popular music of the late ’60s and early ’70s. (Hydra was also where Broomfield met Ihlen).

The singer and his muse had a “free” or “open” relationship (thus that brief tryst with Broomfield, who became jealous of another lover on a higher-up rung) that would span decades – several of Cohen’s songs are tributes to her. The film doesn’t center wholly on the relationship, as the title might imply, but more on the after-Hydra days when Cohen decided he needed to do something else to earn a better income. That promising partnership with Collins enters and the focus shifts from Ihlen to Cohen’s musical successes and pitfalls, as well as his self-destructive yen for women and drugs. Cohen aficionados won’t be too much they don’t know (the Hydra chapter may be the exception), but the archival footage – including some newly discovered film shot by famed documentarian D.A. Pennebaker – will hit all the right nostalgia notes and likely educe a new degree of appreciation. Broomfield too tries to layer in his appreciation for Ihlen, even capturing her last, infirm moments, which, because of the remote presence of Cohen, come off more as liberating fist pump than sad, agonizing whimper.

If there’s one thing Broomfield’s deferential redial of a man, a woman and a career does, it’s to show that creative genius does not brew exclusively in one soul, and that nurturing and encouragement from others is needed. There’s also the epiphany that the man, mostly regarded as a cool, croaky crooner with an avuncular exterior, roamed in some dark places chasing artistic self-indulgence.

The Snowman

24 Oct

 

This much-hyped thriller (“produced by Martin Scorsese”) based on Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s crime series becomes its own enigmatic entity. “The Snowman” is both a wonderment to behold and an endless aching thud of frenetic plot manipulations that insult the audience’s intelligence – something that’s bound to happen when you build a thriller by proxy (two or more screenwriters). It makes you step back and ponder what might have been. The prospects are endless, as all the pieces are right there; they just don’t fit and flow.

The tale is set in Oslo and the surrounding countryside, captured in gorgeous scenic shots. Everything is gray, drab and snowbound, also a fair assessment of all the characters skulking about a dark whodunit that reaches for the moody grandeur of a David Fincher film (“Se7en” or “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) but winds up closer to “Body of Evidence” (1993), which effectively killed Madonna’s acting career and probably had Willem Dafoe thinking about swapping agents.  Continue reading

Tusk

23 Sep

September 22, 2014  |  8:20pm

 

<i>Tusk</i>

The latest from Kevin Smith signals something of a return to form and a bit of a surprise. After all this was the man who felt so dejected by the film biz that he pretty much checked out after his mixed, “self-published” effort, Red State (2011), and retreated into various cultish, fan-adoring safe havens—podcasts and AMC’s tediousComic Book Men. Of course, Smith’s sloppy commercial outings preceding Red StateCop Out and Zack and Miri Make a Porno—probably had something to do with it, too. That all said, the one thing about Smith that’s always been consistent beyond his whiny mewling, has been his snarky resilience—and that’s a good thing, because Tusk, despite being the WTF film event of the year, pays dividends for those with acquired tastes.

The film, a hefty slab of comedy atop a serial killer thread, alleges to be based on “actual events.” Those being that Smith got his hands on a posting by a lonely older seafarer in Canada who was offering free room and board for anyone willing to hang out and wear a walrus suit for a few hours a day. On-air, the quirky post got spun into a plot brainstorming session which in turn launched the social media campaign, #WalrusYes. The response not only birthed Tusk, but, purportedly, a whole True North trilogy to go with—or offset—Smith’s breezy Jersey assemblage (Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy).  Continue reading