My Week In Film (5/26 - 6/01)

Now that I'm pretty much jobless and without anything of worth to do, I have much more time to dedicate to various scholarly pursuits such as film and literature!

Crooklyn (1994)
(Directed by Spike Lee)

Crooklyn plays like a family photo album. I can almost picture Lee and his siblings flipping over it and recalling memories and anecdotes. That's how the film feels. There's nostalgia out the ass! Now, I must say, I love nostalgia. Most of my favorites has some bit of nostalgia attached to them. So while this film has some of that, it's not so much in my appreciation of the film but rather in how it was made. Anyway, enough of that mumbo jumbo. Crooklyn is graced with a fantastic soundtrack of 70s funk/soul/pop jamz that mirrors the warmth of the family at its center. Delroy Lindo plays the father with an incredible restraint and care. The show belongs to his wife though. She's played by Alfre Woodard and it's a performance that hits so many different notes and hits them all so well that it's a crime that she didn't get recognition for the performance. One of Spike Lee's best for sure.


Linda, Linda, Linda (2005)
(Directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita)

In a way, it's a typical teen movie. In another, it totally isn't. It's basically a teen movie filtered through in minimalist mode. There's a lot of silence and not a lot is explained. I think this is because it actually treats its characters with some reverence and respect. It doesn't try to pry too deep into their problems. It just lets them be. If I make the film sound boring or make it seem like an art film, I'm sorry, because I'm not trying to and it isn't. It's actually very entertaining; just not in the usual ways. The film is centered around a group of friends who want to perform a song or two at a school festival. However, there has been a rift between the group's leaders and now they need a new singer. Du-Na Bae gives an exhilarating performance as a Korean transfer student who is picked almost at random to be their new singer. The energy that she infuses her character with is fantastic and truly lovable. Just like the film. Hey, go figure.


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)*
(Directed by Frank Darabont)

The #2 film of all time, sez the internet. Are they right? I don't think so. Then again, who am I to judge? I like The Wayward Cloud. I think that voids my opinion somewhat. I remember watching this film for the first time and having a supremely emotional reaction to it. I'll keep the details private but I cried and cried and cried. I loved it. I still do. I still think it's a great film. I see its flaws a little clearer now but, to me, that doesn't really change how I feel about it. I think we all know the story so I'll skip that and move along to the things I found that were new to me. Coming back to it after years of TBS showings and useless Morgan Freeman narrations, I expected to find a lot of stuff that was annoying. However, it all felt fresh. I think it's due to how strong the story, the direction and all the acting is. Nothing feels off, at all. The Morgan Freeman narration, I believe, is integral to the story because it's not Andy's redemption but Red's. It is not Andy who we identify with. It is Red. It is Red we observe at the parole board meetings. Everything we learn about Andy comes through Red. That's why it's important. And, no, none of the narrations changed anything for me. It was still a powerful experience. Not enough to make me cry but, then again, nothing beats the first time. Ever.


Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1999)
(Directed by Katsuhito Ishii)

Let me try to explain how much I hate this movie. I'm not sure I can, honestly. To put it simply, it's basically a Japanese take on a Tarantino rip-off. Yeah, not a take on a Tarantino film. This is a take on the rip-off. It seems that the primary objective in the film is to take a bunch of actors, dress them up to look really badass, and then have them do absolutely nothing. Seriously, some of these guys just look plain wacky in their costumes. It's as if they were anime characters come to life (not in a good way). My biggest problem with the film is how wasted Tadanobu Asano is. He's there to look cool and not really do much of anything besides look cool and occasionally say something funny/stupid. It's just a insipid film. Make it go away!

Videodrome (1983)
(Directed by David Cronenberg)

Dayum, is that the singer from Blondie? What does she want to do? Oh, lord! David Cronenberg's 1983 film is without a doubt one of the most bizarrely effective films ever. It quite literately gets under your skin and messes about until you just have to open up, reach in, and take it out. Honestly, I'm still not sure what the hell I think about the film other than the old standby "What the hell did I just watch?" It is so profusely creepy and filled with such a seedy and dark atmosphere that by the end I felt like this:

I quite enjoyed it actually.


Sanjuro (1962)
(Directed by Akira Kurosawa)

Toshiro Mifune is once again in top form playing another rogue samurai. However, this time around it all feels like it doesn't add up to much. Kurosawa delivers, sure, but I don't think it's all there story-wise. I may be knocking it because it feels inconsequential, but that doesn't mean it's still not fun as hell. Every time that Mifune opens his mouth to order someone around or call them stupid is great and whenever he gets down to business, dispatching nameless foes, I'm at the film's mercy. Lots of fun to be had here. I can't dislike anything with Mifune. Seriously.


Pickpocket (1959)
(Directed by Robert Bresson)

Surprisingly engrossing film about a young man who decides to test himself (sorta) by becoming a pickpocket. I think this film more or less confirms what I thought about Bresson from my previous two experiences. He gets a lot of mileage out of letting actions speak for themselves. His actors "do" things and we observe them. There's such intensity to Bresson's camera though. It lends every action and every single scene meaning and purpose. Good stuff.

I keep reading about Bresson's excellent sound editing. I'm sorry but I'm not sure I follow. I don't see what's so special about it :(

Plus Raskolniko in da house!!!


loudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies (2006)
(Directed by Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin)

I'm a bit of a Pixies fan. However, I had almost zero interest in watching this film until this afternoon. The computer was taken up. Nothing else to do. It was playing for free On Demand. Sure, why not? Well, I got what I wanted. One hour and 30 minutes went by pretty quickly and then after that I got the computer back. w00t! The film chronicles The Pixies as they tour for the first time since their break-up. You can really sense them trying not to feel awkward around each other. While there's a bit of human drama on display here, it just doesn't make for a very interesting film. At least the songs are great. Plus the drummer does a mean magic show!


Secret Sunshine (2007)
(Directed by Lee Chang-Dong)

Secret Sunshine is a film that sneaks up on you. The first hour goes by so unassumingly as we get acclimated to our surroundings. Of course, the narrative kicks in at this point but there isn't so much a plot as there is an exploration. Do-Yeon Jeon won the best actress award at Cannes for her performance and it was well-deserved. She plays a single mother moving to her late husband's hometown. The places she goes in this film are remarkable. It reminded me a lot of the work that Emily Watson did in Breaking the Waves which is an apt comparison since both films deal heavily with faith and its role in our life. Of course, how the film gets to that point, I'll leave you to discover for yourself. Be prepared to be amazed. HYPE!


Army of Darkness (1993)*
(Directed by Sam Raimi)

Because sometimes all those weighty art films get to be a little too much. Army of Darkness is mostly a joke movie. Bruce Campbell stars as Ash who gets sucked up to some medieval time along with his car. Now, he must help the people there with his boomstick. The plot's pretty stupid, the effects are dated (but still pretty awesome in a Jason and the Argonauts kind of way), and the acting is bad (minus Campbell, obviously). And, yet, it's still hugely enjoyable as a communal experience. Kick back with some friends and have some fun. I can't say that about a lot of "great" movies.

Also, I had seen this movie before and forgotten about it!


What can it be? Two contenders! I chose Shawshank over the lesser known film in my 90s match-up. I'll be doing the opposite now...

Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Secret Sunshine

1 comment:

Keith- said...

You picked the wrong one. ;)