5/25/08

My Week In Film (5/19 - 5/25)

It's been a good week for movies, I would say. Very, very good. I watched some stuff. It was good. Oh, yes, it was good.




Woman in the Dunes (1964)
(Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara)

There ain't no doubt about it. This is quite a spellbinding film. It's filled with haunting imagery and a plot that lends itself to interpretation. I want to ignore all of that and just focus on the thing that jumped out at me the most, the physicality of the performances/how real the location felt. To elaborate, there's something about the way in which every single action of the actors feels lived. Or, perhaps, one need only look at the beads of sweat on Eiji Okada's body, the sand that stitcks to Kyoko Kishida's body. It all feels real. Same goes to the shack that they live in. Maybe that's what levies the film's more allegorical aspects. Since everything else feels so real, we can also accept what doesn't. Anyway, I'm very, very glad I watched this one.

★★★★



Funuke Domo, Kanashimi no Ai wo Misero (2007)
(Directed by Daihachi Yoshida)

I watched this on a whim. It was there. I went OK. I watched it. Well, it's not boring but to call it a successful film would be erroneous. Frankly, what bothers me most about the film is its seeming schizophrenia. At points, it goes for some rather subdued humor and then, out of nowhere, the film turns psychotically over the top and it all goes to hell. It all has to do with Eriko Sato's character who, quite simply, has to have some kind of mental problem for her behavior to make sense. Anyway, this black comedy isn't really as funny as it thinks it is and when it decides to get dramatic, it pushes it way over. What do you got? Hell if I know.

★★


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
(Directed by Steven Spielberg)

Does Indy disappoint? Maybe? Let's get some of things out of the way. I barely remember watching the Indiana Jones trilogy. I know I liked Raiders of the Lost Ark the most but outside of that, I don't remember much. Yes, I should've refreshed my memory by watching the other films but whatever. The film works, I guess. It's fun. It's funny. There's nothing too insulting about it. It's pretty successful about pretty much everything. I liked it. Yeah, even all the stupid shit that everyone else hates like the gophers, the monkeys, ants, Tarzan crap. Shia was pretty good in it. The greasers part was my favorite. Have you had enough of my completely random thoughts? Anyway, maybe it's because my memory of the films is fuzzy at best and that I was never nuts about Indy, that the film works for me. I don't know. I like it. Maybe you (the potential reader) don't. It depends, I suppose.

★★1/2


The Wayward Cloud (2005)
(Directed by Tsai Ming-liang)

Tsai Ming-liang's pseudo-porno musical is definitely one of the stranger films I've seen. I probably like it more than his latest film if only because the long stretches of silence are interrupted by bizarre musical sequences or bouts of hardcore sex. Right now, I feel like I need to watch it again if only to crystallize my thoughts on the film's themes because right now, it kinda feels like a sorta-indictment on pornography with some alienation thrown in. This is probably a rather simplistic way of looking at the film but the way in which I watched the film allowed only so much thought. I'm thinking a Tsai Ming-liang post is in order :)

★★★1/2



A History of Violence (2005)*
(Directed by David Cronenberg)

Watching this film again, I was struck by how artificial it all seemed which was something that never occurred to me on my first viewing. Tom's life at the very beginning of the film is entirely artificial which is reflected by how fucking corny everything is at the beginning. Seriously, it was like cliche after cliche of small-town family life. However, this wasn't so much annoying as it was illuminating. It kinda clues you in that "everything is not as it seems," even though we already knew that from the opening scene. The film's ending is still as startling and sudden as the first time so really nothing has changed. This time it all just felt more ambiguous, more mysterious and whatnot, even though its a pretty straightforward film, I would say. I just gotta say though, Hurt is awful, awful, awful, in this film. Seriously bad. There's lots of things that irk me about the film and yet, as a collective experience, it's incredibly effective. I can't think of another way to describe it.

★★★1/2



Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993)
(Directed by Steven Zaillian)

In the running for one of the best sport movies ever. Let me try and explain as best as I can why this film works wonderfully. Mainly, it is because of the wonderful performance at its center by Max Pomeranc as Josh Waitzkin, a chess prodigy. Then, it would be because of the questions that it brings up. Is chess just a game or can it be art? Is soccer just a game (sport) or can be it art? It's also, foremost, about the adults who recognize Josh's gift and want to help him nurture it but make sure that other areas of his life keep up. The film strikes an almost pitch-perfect balance between a formula and an adherence to character that is pretty incredible.

I chose my 90s bracket match-up based on my current mood. If you were to ask me right now, I would definitely choose this film.

★★★1/2



Singles (1992)
(Directed by Cameron Crowe)

I think Cameron Crowe is a pretty average director. Weird since he's directed my favorite movie of all time. He's just really good at creating these everyday characters whom you relate to. The whole Seattle grunge scene aspect of the film does nothing for me. It's amusing, at best. Where the film really shines is with the acting and the characters that Crowe creates. Campbell Scott is awesome. Bridget Fonda is cute and lovable. Matt Dillon is hilarious in a total send-up of grunge rockers. If anything, it's probably more about imagining yourself living their lives or knowing these people. That's an achievement.

★★★


The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
(Directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener and John Musker)

Sorry, Basil. I just don't get it. The idea of a Disney updating of Sherlock Holmes is intriguing but the character of Basil isn't nearly as interesting as Holmes or the filmspotter. Also, it's surprisingly boring. I fell asleep twice!!! Also, why I would watch this when I have Detective Conan?

Ain't he great?

★1/2


The Dreamers (2003)
(Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci)

Oh, boy. If this film teaches me anything is that 1968 Paris was all about cinema, politics, but, mainly, SEX!!! And lots of it. Oh, wait, I already knew that. Uh, damn. Bertolucci's film feels kind of like an old man looking back on his memories and making it seem better than they actually were. One can only romanticize being a film buff so much, you know? Or maybe back then being a film buff was sexy and cool. Who knows. The film is interesting, I guess, but I can't get over the vapidness of all the main characters. They are young, they are romantic, they are... cardboard cutouts. Not even my mini-fascination with Louis Garrel can make me care too much about this film. It's strange. I sorta like it and appreciate it and even would recommend it and yet I can't find too many things to praise. Maybe the spirit of the times that the film evokes rubbed off a little bit on me? Eww, kinda nasty...

Editor's Note: Awful, awful, awful music in this film ('cept for film clips). Make it stop!!!

★★1/2

Lots of interesting films this week but one blew them all away.

Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Woman in the Dunes.

3 comments:

face said...

So, do I get a rating for how well my recommendations have worked out for you?

roujin said...

You get ★★★★.

That's as high as my rating gets for films that aren't personal favorites. Another way of saying that your recommendations have been top-notch.

face said...

Fantastic! Now I'm wondering what it takes for a live action film to be a favorite.