3/9/08

My Week in Film (3/3 -3/9)

Since I've been working through my marathons, I've been sort of neglecting the blog. I haven't any more great strides in my year lists BUT I did come up with something that would let me talk about the movies I've been seeing (outside of marathons, of course.) This new idea is called "My Week in Film." It will be posted every sunday night with my thoughts regarding the films I saw that past week.



My Kid Could Paint That (2007)
(Directed by Amir Bar-Lev)

This wonderful little documentary puts in the spotlight certain questions I've always had regarding both modern and abstract art.It does this by telling the story of a 4-year-old girl who became a sensation with her fantastic abstract paintings. She was selling her pieces for hundreds of thousands of dollars and doing shows across the country. Then a scathing expose-style piece on "60 Minutes" put forth that perhaps the little girl wasn't behind the paintings at all. I wish the documentary had gone further on talking about modern art and what actually makes it "art" but I realize that perhaps belonged to a different documentary. The story is indeed fascinating and the filmmaker arrives at no obvious conclusions regarding the validity of the claims made by "60 Minutes" but instead asks us to make up our own minds. Definitely, one one of the top 5 documentaries from 2007.

★★★






Dan in Real Life (2007)
(Directed by Peter Hedges)

Possibly, the most surprising film of the 2007 joining the prestigious ranks of films such as The Namesake and Blame It On Fidel!. Seeing the trailers to this film made me picture all sorts of saccharine crap and, to an extent, that's correct (minus the crap part.) It's rare that films make me smile with recognition but this one did. It even made me forget about my minor intolerance for Dane Cook and that's something of a herculean accomplishment in and of itself. Binoche is amazing as usual but the real draw here is Carell who shines as an everyman and gives his best performance yet. So yeah, this is the best romantic comedy of 07. What a great little film.

★★★1/2




Mulan (1998)
(Directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook)


Mulan joins the list as another great Disney film. It tells the tale of a teenage girl who joins the Chinese army so her Father wouldn't have to and in the process saves the Chinese empire from the evil Huns. What's great about Mulan is that even though it travels on the usual Disney roads in regards to storytelling, it all feels refreshed with this wonderful new setting. Also the film is helped by having the great Eddie Murphy (who curiously seems to be only funny in animated roles) voice a miniscule dragon. Another interesting thing which I hadn't previously noticed was how epic and thrilling some of these battle scenes are. It rivals anything I've seen in live-action, awesome stuff.

★★★1/2




The Holy Mountain (1973)
(Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky)

Few movies get away with dialogue being meaningless and this certainly is one of those times. What matters here are the images and they rarely come more striking or ready to shock than what's found here. The plot is of no real concern other than to string along the set pieces which provide said images. Another point of interest is the film's soundtrack which was composed by the director along with Don Cherry and Ronald Frangipane. It's mostly improvised drone pieces with some random noisy jazz parts thrown in but it does suit the film quite well. Overall, I'm not quite sure if this a film I'll want to revisit but I'm pretty damn glad I watched it if only to have the image of a naked man with tiger tits that shoots milk. Thanks, Alejandro!

★★★1/2





Paranoid Park (2007)
(Directed by Gus Van Sant)

Paranoid Park is a film that's less about the story but more about how that story is told. Actually, the story isn't even that important. The main focus is the face of Gabe Nevins who plays Alex, a skater who may or may not be involved with a death. Van Sant and genius cinematographer Christopher Doyle (along with Rain Li) find new and interesting ways to photograph his face which reveals nothing except for a certain vapidness. If Van Sant is Basil Hallward then Nevins is his Dorian Gray (hmmm, ignore the rest of their history.) Most of the film consists of Nevins staring off blankly and Van Sant company somehow making that engaging. This works because every single camera trick and technique that is employed is only done to illustrate the emotional turmoil going on inside Alex. What Nevins can't convey, Van Sant conveys with his craft; so even though all the acting is horrible (intentional I'm sure but still annoying), it's more than redeemed by Van Sant's incredible command of the formal elements of his craft.

★★★1/2




Southland Tales (2007)
(Directed by Richard Kelly)


I'm not sure how but this is not the worst film that was released in 2007. So, Jhon, if it's not that, what is it? Well, it's certainly one of the most polarizing mainstream releases I've ever seen. This is one of those cases in which the term "What the fuck were they thinking?" applies. Yeah, this film is a giant mess. Everything about it is ridiculous, overwrought and outright stupid. But, damn, if it isn't entertaining. Well, for about half the time. There are moments in this movie filled with some kind of psychotic comic brilliance and then the rest is pure crap. Donnie Darko made it clear that Richard Kelly wasn't very smart but Southland Tales is proof that he's retarded. But, he also might be some kind of cock-eyed genius. I can't tell. Kudos for coming up with so many endlessly quotable lines though. At least, you did something right.






Ed Wood (1994)
(Directed by Tim Burton)

Probably the warmest Tim Burton film I've seen so far (mind you, no Big Fish here.) It operates on the assumption that Ed Wood is someone to be admired, not ridiculed; something noble if a bit hard to swallow. Landau shines as Bela Lugosi who is mired in drugs and wallowing in obscurity while Depp is predictably great as Wood, a man who never shot a single frame he didn't love. His transvestitism is treated as the most normal thing in the world which works to the film's advantage since it sets up many a ridiculous situation. Probably my favorite scenes are the ones with the baptists who fund Plan 9, the baptism scene is a riot!

★★★1/2

Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Dan in Real Life.

Yeah, I'm also surprised as to much how I liked this movie.

1 comment:

Bill Thompson said...

Much like the film, 100% wrong and 100% correct on Southland Tales.