Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Woman Is A Woman - 1961 - Dir. Godard

A ton of fun! Not some I feel like I say about Godard films, but this is certainly a lot of fun to watch. It features his wild editing, sudden diversions, and general goofiness without any of the long winded rants about communism or whatever the hell Godard gets so caught up with. It's more straightforward, following the relationship between these two people and Belmondo who... you know... is classy and wants to get it one with Karina, who wants to have a baby but her fella doesn't want one. Despite the relationship drama, it still has that pretty light farcical feeling, where everyone is young and full of vigor and up for anything (arguments while bike riding). The film has a lot of random music cues, which... to be honest, I don't really know why they are there. But I feel like they are excellent. It's just a comedy that you don't see a lot of. Not to be taken too seriously. It does wacky things just to do wacky things. But it doesn't feel like just because it's wacky it can't have a bit of a heart now and then. When the drama does come in, which it inevitably does since it's about young people being in love. It's still very French New Wave-y. I would say it's probably the most accurate introduction to Godard someone can get while still being entertained (for some reason I remember Breathless as being pretty straightforward, I plan on verifying this).

Rosemary's Baby - 1968 - Dir. Polanski

I had watched this back in college and wasn't impressed. I didn't really see why it should be a classic. Nothing about it stuck except the positively ridiculous ending which ended up inspiring a chunk of my first screenplay. Reading "Cassavettes on Cassavettes" inspired me to give it another shot (in anything, I could see Cassavettes acting, I figured). This time around, I got a real kick out of this movie. The sense of paranoia. The dark comedy throughout. It managed to be pretty suspenseful while detailing what could be only a paranoid woman's troublesome pregnancy. Farrow is perfect as the fey, worried housewife. Cassavettes is great as the self-centered actor husband whose focus on his career knows no bounds. Perhaps the best touch are the neighbors played by Gordon and Blackmer, loud upper class urbanites. I can see why I didn't like the movie on my first viewing. There's little violence or actual scenes of danger throughout the film. It doesn't really resemble a horror film in many respects, especially for someone born in the mid-eighties. It really is like watching a woman's troubled pregnancy. It's snide insinuations of some deeper and more evil in the souls of the characters is where it really works. Also where a lot of comedy come from. I'll never really hear the phrase "Hail Satan!" without thinking about this movie. A must-see for anyone who loves their films seeped with paranoia.
Don't trust him, Mia! It's JOHN CASSAVETTES!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The King's Speech - 2010 - Dir. Hooper

Ahh... The big Oscar winner this year. I was a little surprised beforehand that it managed to do so well. It's a pretty quiet and unassuming movie. I might say that nothing really stands out too strongly about the movie. Everyone does a REALLY good job and the film works well. It manages to sell George VI's personal struggle. I got behind him without feeling like it was trivializing the actually horrid event that was going on. You know... WWII. We could have easily been watching a sad, privileged white man crying about responsibility but we never really get there. George's issue of unworthiness consistently humbles him to us. Especially since the movie starts out with a public humiliation. The script is subtle enough and doesn't give in to cheap theatrics. There's no ridiculous moment where George realizes the singular moment that caused his stutter. We go into his past of course, but it's is never simplified. Firth and Rush are a lot of fun to watch and have great chemistry. They both have characters that could have bordered on unlikable but never manage to cross that line. So, it's a really strong movie, refreshing in it's simplicity but layered enough to warrant at least a second viewing (which I imagine I will not have). I understand why it won the Oscar, but at the same time. It doesn't stand out very strongly. By no means, do I feel like I would go around saying it's a must-see, but you know... I'm not gonna bad mouth it obviously. :p
I wish I could have fancy clothes and wear a top hat like that.

Champion - 2005 - Dir. Eckhardt

If a movie has Danny Trejo in it, I'll at least consider watching it no matter what the subject matter. So it didn't take much for me to throw this up on "Watch Instantly." A documentary about Danny Trejo! Excellent! Well... not so much, I suppose. I'd like to just hold the director responsible for the whole business. And that's NOT because I'm afraid Mr. Trejo will come after me. It's because Eckhardt seemed to have had a good idea and ruined it with distinctly amateurish BS. Cheap camera effects. And the choice of material used could have been a little bit better. At times, it felt groan-worthy. Trejo's life story is pretty incredible at times and actually pretty inspiring by the end. He got me a little pumped up, to be honest. I feel like we hover on the seedy stuff a little bit longer than necessary and breeze through his later life, which I feel like is somewhat of a shame. His redemption comes quickly and easily in the movie. As if making the decision to be good was all it took. I know it's nitpicking but I was really bothered by the presence of the interviewer in the doc. She always looked sort of awkward and their banter seemed uncomfortable. All in all, if you are really interested in Danny Trejo I suppose you could check it out... but it's not much of a documentary.
I'm gonna fuck your drug habit UP!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Kids are All Right - 2010 - Dir. Cholodenko

You know, this movie tricked me! I went into it feeling like it would be just a usual mediocre indie comedy family drama with Lesbian moms. Then it was being all charming and I was laughing and enjoying myself. Then it ran out of steam. And I got bored. Then I realized I was just watching a mediocre indie comedy family drama with lesbian moms. By the end I was pissed at the movie for drawing me in early on. There's a general pointlessness the seemed to arise as the credits began to roll. "WHY?" kept popping up. Not the fun why that made me want to delve further into the film, but rather one that made me doubt the validity of what I had just seen. To be honest, I feel like the weakest points are Benning and Moore's characters, both actresses do a really good job, but they are they stick out particularly as cliches in a cast that feels made up of ACTUAL people. The two children and Mark Ruffalo's interloper are written with an awesome amount of depth but it's like someone in charge was afraid no one would recognize the two ladies to be in a relationship unless they gave them the most tired and bland relationship problems possible. And it's especially problematic because the film seems to be trying for a realistic slice of life feeling and not hit us with Hollywood type messages and themes, but the slice of life is tired with a sad attempt to spice it up. So it ends up feeling like a Hollywood mediocre-fest without the message or theme to tie it together. Thus: WHY?
Clean yerself up, Ruffalo! AND QUIT LOOKIN' SO SMUG!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Year - 2010 - Dir. Leigh

I thought this movie was great! I've never seen anything by Leigh before but he seems like a pretty big deal. So I went into the movie pretty blind. I only knew Jim Broadbent was in it... and that Jim Broadbent is awesome. AND HE'S SO AWESOME IN THIS! In fact, the whole cast is great. Jim probably has one of the easier jobs, being that he doesn't seem to carry the emotional baggage as the rest of the cast. He's the relief that tells it as it is. And man, is he charming. Probably most impressive Leslie Manville, who has the challenge of playing a needy, chatty, jealous middle aged woman and pulls it off without making me want to repeatedly kick her in the mouth. Really... I'm super impressed with her. Just the idea of the movie itself is pretty intriguing for me. We follow a year in the life of a happy, middle aged couple who seem to be surrounded by people struggling with unhappiness. It's a super restrained film, very little drama actually ever seeps onto the surface of what we're watching. It hurts more because so little is said. All the while, I feel like the movie isn't a bummer. It's terrifically charming and actually quite a bit of fun to watch. The balance of lightness and suffering is pulled off so well. I feel like it handled the idea of Happiness and how it effects other people in a way we just don't see very much in films. So yeah... I really liked this movie. And I think its a DAMNED shame it didn't get the Oscar for best screenplay.
NOT FAIR! I want to give Jim Broadbent a hug!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Secret of Kells - 2009 - Dir. Moore/Twomey

I have a funny issue with this movie. First of all, it IS beautiful. It was definite multiple viewing potential just based on the visuals. I think my issue comes from the storytelling. It draws heavily from Irish myth (which I'm fairly uniformed of) and certainly does have a mythic feel. In fact, it feels like a myth first and a film second. It's very strangely paced. Not entirely emotionally stirring. In some ways it's kind of neat and fun that the film doesn't try and hit any of the beats that a normal film might try and hit. It gives the impression that the film is from a different time. At the same time, it's very instructive as to why we have those beats to begin with. The visuals carry the slack that comes from the story telling, though. My particularly favorite part involves Brendan's battle against Crom Cruach. It reminded me of Samurai Jack repeatedly with the line work. The film clocks in at about seventy-five minutes which is perfect for this kind of movie. I have to say though, it ends pretty anti-climatically. Maybe there's just a culture gap, but I couldn't get pumped for the ending... even though the visuals made me want to get into it. Which I suppose is the feeling I had throughout. My eyes wanted to get pumped but my brains just didn't get on board.
Screw you, Culture Mob! I wanna steal your pictures!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Clockwork Orange - 1971 - Dir. Kubrick

A film I had seem plenty of times in high school and then apparently "grew out of it" (JUST LIKE ALEX IN THE NOVEL! GASP!). I suppose I just got sick of it after heaps and heaps of references. I had long forgotten about it by the time I'd seen it this time around. Despite my weariness with the film, it is still a classic. It was nice to watch again, to be surprised. And learn to appreciate it again. Malcolm McDowell is friggin' awesome in it. He carries the movie at times, especially as it goes on. He manages to make camp, self-satisfaction, and smugness incredibly watchable. Kubrick is going wild in this movie. A precursor to a million hyperviolent music video films, this one can actually justify it's content and style. Something I was never able to appreciate before, OR SOMEONE, was Michael Bates who plays the Chief Guard. I'm surprised I managed to miss such a ridiculous fucking character. By no means, is the movie perfect, it's long, first of all. Severely blunt at times. Generally whatever flaws the movie might have can be easily forgiven because it's fun as hell to watch. It's shamelessly campy, violent, and loud. Like our protagonist and his giant, murderous porcelain dick.
Don't worry, Everyone! I'm have a great time!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Social Network - 2010 - Dir. Fincher

I suppose it makes sense that something dubbed "THE FACEBOOK MOVIE" would inevitably make a big splash. Even I hesitantly began to come around to the idea when Fincher and Sorkin got on board. The dialogue has Sorkin written all over it. I think perhaps what surprised me though was how straight-forward of a movie it was. Zuckerberg wants to be popular/infamous, gets popular/infamous, then nobody likes him and the people who do are DBs. The tagline says it all. I think I was a little disappointed to that degree. I'm not sure it really hits the depth where it could go to the "Movie classic" status it's been touted as so frequently, but it's done well. Zuckerberg has all the makings of an interesting character. He's fairly conflicted, his desire to "Fuck the system" and also be liked clash repeatedly, but there's little sulking over the fact on his part. Eisenberg plays him cool and distant. The acting is probably the best part of the movie. Andrew Garfield plays a nerdy, twit extremely well and when he stands up for himself, it feels great. Armie Hammer as the Winklevosses and Minghella made for the most entertaining scenes and I was always happy to see them on screen. I could have gone for more of 'em. Also Reznor's score was excellent, creating a sense of dread even when we were just sitting around watching doofs program.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (again!) - 1969 - Dir. Hill

Yeah... I saw it again. SO I'M GONNA WRITE ABOUT IT AGAIN! I still feel pretty mild about this movie. I think this time around, I was a bit more impressed with the conflict between Butch and Sundance. It really simmers throughout the entire film and perhaps drives the story along. I think originally, it struck me as just witty banter for spicing up the script rather than an actual disagreement of a kind. That makes the "Love Triangle" work so much better since we know that it sticks in both of their craws and they aren't saying anything about it. To some degree, I think I found the movie less interesting than I had originally though. Sometimes it really does just feel like scene after scene of mugging at the camera and I think that grows a bit tiresome after the first viewing, no matter how well integrated it is. It's still well made in all respects, but I felt a little bored this time around. And I do realize that I owe this film a bit of a debt what with it being the epitome of the witty western, but I feel like in general I could go for a bit more western. Thoughts of the final gun fight still bring a smile to my face, it's awesomely western-y. Western-y being two funny white men going down to Bolivia and killing a bunch of natives.
This doesn't look like the guy on my pasta jar...

Citizen Ruth - 1996 - Dir. Payne

You know, I kind of expected this to be a bit of a bomb. It's RISQUE subject matter as well as Payne's directorial debut gave me the feeling I would be watching a big mess of a film. That was not the case! In fact, out of all of his movies, I feel like this is the most impressive. It's not easy to make a movie about abortion funny while maintaining seriousness without getting bogged down with issues. Laura Dern's Ruth floats above all the bickering and morals issues tagged to her pregnancy and I feel like we float above it with her. Dern does an awesome job making Ruth likable too. It's easy to look down on the paint huffing simpleton at first, but I found myself rooting for her by the end. Considering the nutcases she's surrounded by, Dern may have had some of the work cut out for her. Kurtwood Smith and Mary Kay Place (I love them both) as well as Swoosie Kurtz and Kelly Preston are excellent extremes. Payne is good at having crazies never be too crazy. They aren't caricatures exactly, but they are larger than life. There's a general unevenness in the script though... I think especially with Tippi Hedren's character who seems completely pointless and more of a polar opposite of Burt Reynold's ridiculousness (AN AWESOME CAMEO). I suppose I can see why the movie isn't as big as it could be... It lacks catchy hooks, I suppose. Memorable characters. Payne is so quiet with his comedy sometimes. It's a real shame, though. It's really strong satire... I'm sure there's plenty of chuckles to be had in several viewings. And it has M.C. Gainey in it! WHO IS THE BEST.
Laura Dern doing her David Lynch impersonation.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Wrestler - 2008 - Dir. Aronofsky

I have to say: The Wrestler isn't what I expected it to be. It's certainly not as Aronofsky-y as I expected and I think because of that, I think I ended a little stunned. I suppose what threw me off so much was how quiet of a movie it was. You know, I thought Pro-Wrestling... Aronofsky... we're gonna see some bones being broken, men being pushed to their limit. Where in fact, I felt a kind of distance from The Ram. At least, I felt distant from his pain. There weren't a ton of fast cuts and frenetic editing in the ring. Rather, we spend time getting to know the man personally. I was surprised, Aronofsky was making a character piece. It began to make a lot more sense when I realized Big Fan writer and director Robert Siegel wrote the screenplay. The two movies do feel spiritually connected in a sense. Character centered pieces that seem careful and slow without actually SEEMING careful or slow (HA!). They both handle somewhat ugly American settings (SPORTS FANS?! WRESTLING!?). At times, (and I think I felt this way about Big Fan too) I'm not sure I really cared enough. I think I would have liked to feel The Ram's pain. I can respect the restraint used but at the same time... as we reached the Climax, I realized I didn't feel particularly hyped up or interested in what was about to occur. It felt like a cold show. Additionally, I have to say that I struggled with Rachael Evan Wood. I'm not sure I really get behind her. Marissa Tomei was friggin awesome though! Rourke was completely natural and deserves whatever praise he got for the role. He managed a very impressive balance in the character and was sympathetic through and through without any kind of pandering to the audience. So, I have to admit: a really good movie, if a little emotionally underwhelming.
Rourke on one of his better days.