A riveting, often laugh-out-loud funny account of the annual Mardi Gras festivities in Mobile, Ala., still segregated racially after three centuries, Margaret Brown's extraordinary documentary The Order of Myths belongs in the company of The King of Kong or Hands on a Hardbody--docs whose scope, detail and characters make contemporary fiction filmmaking seem pale and wan. Brown, a Mobile native, watches the rituals leading up to Mardi Gras (dress fittings, float negotiations, ceremonial luncheons) with amused curiosity but without judgment or condescension. That's her own kin onscreen, we learn late in the film, and she accords all her subjects the same clear-eyed courtesy. It arrives in stores this week along with the Ed Harris-Viggo Mortensen Western Appaloosa, Eclipse's budget box set of late-career Roberto Rossellini history films for Italian TV, the Kevin Costner comedy Swing Vote, Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, the jaw-unhinging splatter of Tokyo Gore Police, Pavel Lounguine's electric 1990 Soviet drama Taxi Blues, and Amateur Porn Star Killer 3D: Inside the Head. Also of note, the best synopsis we've read in some time, from a straight-to-video shocker called Blackout: "You're trapped in the dark elevator of a deserted building with two strangers on a hot August afternoon, with a dire need to be somewhere else. Things couldn't get any worse...unless one of you is a psychopathic serial killer." Whoa! The stars are Amber Tamblyn and Armie Hammer, who spent a chunk of last year in town playing the young Billy Graham in Billy: The Early Years.
Tue., Jan. 13, 2009