Monday, March 13, 2006

Block Party, Night Watch

So, last night I saw Dave Chappelle's Block Party and was blown away. It's exactly as advertised... one part hip-hop concert film, one part documentary of how funny Chappelle is when he's just being himself... but as great as the musical performances are, and as funny as Chappelle is, the real star is how much heart went into the assembly of the concert. There's a mundane genuineness to Chappelle's intentions in putting the movie together, and Michel Gondry did an excellent job of capturing and conveying the individual moments of inspiration. (There were many, of all shapes, sizes and scales.) It's a perfect, joyful, positive film.

But that was yesterday. Today I'm basking in the glow of Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor), a two-year-old Russian film that is only now being released in America. How it took so long to release such an immediately-accessible foreign film, I have no idea. How could you not sell a genuinely creepy, visually stunning vampire movie? Every couple of weeks Hollywood releases a new, mediocre PG-13 horror movie... but when an artistically brilliant vampire movie comes out, it gets shelved because it's Russian.

Well, having seen the movie, I assure all of you that Fox Searchlight's executives are a bunch of fuck-ups. What were they thinking??? This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time. Mind-blowing stuff. It has drawn comparisons to The Matrix, though they're really only similar in their scope (future of mankind), their inventive use of special effects, and their numbing, dizzying effect on audiences. In fact, on a superficial level the two films are opposites... The Matrix sells a universe of sterility, while Night Watch is all about grit and dirt. It's that gritty approach that grounds the film, makes it feel more plausible (despite being a movie about vampires), and allows the dramatic elements to hit us that much harder.

All in all, as highly recommended as possible. I give this movie five mooning emoticons out of five.

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