We’ve got a wicked, wicked headache, sorry if this is less than, you know, in English.
That’s not a blowjob joke.
Several critics acknowledge that, for all this film is being heatedly discussed, no one in the non-film-geek world will ever care. Andrew O’Hehir at Salon:
Reygadas is already a famous figure within the tiny, insular world of international art film, which means both that a fair number of smart if unbelievably pretentious people are drawn to his work and that hardly any regular moviegoers have the faintest idea who he is. This creates currents of mini-hype and mini-backlash that are difficult to avoid, although I have tried. Considering his work independent of that context is especially hard, because almost nobody outside that context will see it (unless it gets sold in porn outlets by accident).
Scott Foundas at LA Weekly:
[W]hereas Reygadas’ first film [2002’s "JapÃ³n"] felt like the unadulterated expression of a raw and original artistic voice, his second bears all the markings of a movie made for a constituency, as if Reygadas had spent much of the time in between projects standing outside of himself, pondering, "What would Carlos Reygadas do for an encore?" Well, how about making a glib assault on Mexican national identity that is unrelentingly in-your-face in all the ways that "JapÃ³n" was enigmatic and subtle, and which is quite a few other things that "JapÃ³n" never was â€” namely cynical, contemptuous (of its characters and its audience) and opportunistic.
Manohla Dargis at the New York Times echoes Foundas’ sentiments: "There is a searching quality to his camerawork, but too often he seems to be searching for a meaning (not the meaning), almost as if he needed to justify his artistry." Jeff Reichert at Reverse Shot compares Reygadas to Alejandro Jodorowsky: "Both are plagued by fantastically grand visions (track down ‘El Topo,’ if you dare), a surfeit of imagination and ideas, and only nominal control over their own powers." Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice swoons over the film: "’Battle in Heaven,’ as ambitious as its title, is a living mystery, already notorious for hardcore-osity but so serious about its formal intelligence and so deep-dish in its evocations of inexpressible desolation, personal and social, that it occupies your skull like a siege of Huns."
Here at IFC News, Matt Singer hates it.
+ "Night Watch": J. Hoberman point out that Timur Bekmambetov Russian modern fantasy is a film in which"no longer extant Evil Empire reimagines itself" â€” he seems rather charmed by its post-Soviet gloom: "In its way, ‘Night Watch’ is the sci-fi spawn of ‘The Master and Margarita,’ the great underground novel of the 1930s era in which Satan and his familiars tour Stalin’s Moscow." David Edelstein at New York spends much of his article trying to describe the overly complicated plot, but ultimately finds the ending "a huge letdown…But for a good hour and change, the film is a big toy box that teases you out of the Gloom." Stephen Holden does the same (it’s, uh, a hell of a plot) â€” he concludes that "The film may be a mess â€” narratively muddled and crammed with many more vampires, shape-shifters and sorcerers than one movie can handle, but it bursts with a sick, carnivorous glee in its own fiendish games."
And our own rather hurried review is here.
Okay, we’re going to go home and lie on the couch with a cold compress. Once we figure out what that is. Back Tuesday.