My Week In Film (7/28 - 8/3)

It continues!!!

Ghost World (2001)*
(Directed by Terry Zwigoff)

Revisiting this film after years was a nice experience. Sure, I found the characters annoying/endearing in equal measure (they remind me too much of the people I knew in high school hence the split) but I never doubt them. Their neuroses, their reactions, their decisions all feel real to me. Perhaps that's why the film works wonderfully for me. I don't want to make Ghost World seem more serious than it actually is because most of it is hilarious. Maybe I just share some of Enid's (and the film's) sense of humor but every little line had me cracking up in recognition. I've been there and I've similarly mocked everything. I guess I'm just an asshole. That makes Ghost World a great film to me.


Pleasantville (1998)*
(Directed by Gary Ross)

Back in my middle school days (when I was infinitely wiser), I used to think Pleasantville was one of the most clever films (how's that working out for you?) I had ever seen. Of course, now that I am old and jaded, I see through it a little more and realise that it's more simplistic than I had thought. However, that doesn't mean that Pleasantville still isn't as heartwarming and entertaining as I remembered it. Tobey Maguire has become painful to me but Reese Witherspoon became great all of a sudden. Things change with time I guess. But was it me that changed or Pleasantville?


Do The Right Thing (1989)*
(Directed by Spike Lee)

One of the first "serious" movies I remember watching. Perhaps the memory of its "seriousness" stuck to me because I only remembered its ending. I had forgotten how colorful and funny the film is. I think the reason why the film's ending is so powerful is because of those early playful scenes that set up every characters (buggin' out, mookie, da mayor, etc). There are so many great characters, situations and bits of dialogue to get lost in and fall in love with that by the time that Sal is taking a bat to Radio Raheem's boom box. The tragedy of what is happening becomes all too clear. Yeah, it was the hottest day of the summer. Today was a pretty hot day though.


High Fidelity (2000)*
(Directed by Stephen Frears)

I'm a big music fan. Or I'm a big mp3 fan? I don't even know anymore. The point is, I listen to a lot of music. So do I relate a bit to the characters in High Fidelity? Yes and no. I relate a bit to their music obsession and but wish I related more to their romantic troubles. Actually, this leads me to my big revelation. This is one of the funniest movies ever. Lately, I've come to the realization that dumb comedies really do nothing for me. Yeah, sure, I like Anchorman alright but the movies that I think are truly funny (the Ghost Worlds and High Fidelitys) are funny because I care about the characters and I've gotten to know them. It sticks with me a whole lot more.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)*
(Directed by Ang Lee)

I'll play the ignorant card for today. Uh, they can fly? Fuck, yeah! That was pretty much my reaction to the film back in the day (when I was young, dumb and in love). Now that I know a lot more about the world and have seen arguably cooler flicks of the same ilk (House of Flying Daggers), I'm ready to look at the tiger with a more critical eye than I'm prone to. Except that the Tiger is still pretty fucking awesome. Its stunts still live up to my teenage fantasies and its depth of emotion is moving enough for me to get invested in it again. Sure, I wish there were even MORE! awesome fight scenes but whatever. Zhang Ziyi is still hot and this movie still kicks ass.


The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
(Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer)

oh, oh. Is this the part of the blog where I give a relatively low rating to a cinema classic? Yes, it is. Might as well get right down to it. I watched this totally silent. I'm thinking this was a mistake or something because I was always acutely aware that everything was silent. At least, Chaplin had scores. I just couldn't get into it. It's not that I didn't notice the great technique and craft that went into the film or anything. Maybe I just couldn't get over that. Anyway, I could just about cut everything else out of the film and just stare at Falconetti the entire time (well, probably not) since she's THAT fascinating. Just worth it to have those images of her in my memory. That's a good thing, right?


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)*
(Directed by Michel Gondry)

The movie for all the sad sacks everywhere that want a pixie girl to save them or something. I'm beginning to think that every one of my favorite movies give me something that I lack in my life. Perhaps that's why so many of my favorite movies are 00s offbeat romances? Fuck, I don't know. Maybe I'm just pathetic. Maybe that doesn't make me a tr00 film buff or whatever. It's just me. Anyway, there's something just unexplainable that makes this story completely appealing. This time around it took me longer to get into it. All the stuff with the erasers (Wilkinson, Durnst, etc) just isn't as appealing as the main story. And late in the film there's this moment that always just absolutely kills me.

I'm not sure. I think that about encapsulates what I love about the film so much. Maybe?


Punch-Drunk Love (2002)*
(Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)

To be completely honest, the only thing I really remembered about this film is its awesome color interludes and the score. On a fresh viewing what sticks to me is how fucking odd this movie is. Seriously, it's like PTA told himself "OK, what can I do to undermine almost every single romantic film trope out there?" Maybe it's just my sensibilities but this has long been my favorite Anderson film. It's resolute oddness, its musicality (something that I think this gets right even more than Magnolia) and the way that you have absolutely no idea where it will go or what it will do at any given given time. Sure, Emily Watson has a thankless role (although she's great in it) but what the fuck, man? Have you seen this movie? Do you know how great it is?

To clear the matter:

1. Punch-Drunk Love
2. Boogie Nights
3. Magnolia
4. There Will Be Blood
5. Sydney/Hard Eight



The Truman Show (1998)*
(Directed by Peter Weir)

For some reason, in my mind this had become one of the films truly deserving of the mysterious 5-star status. Now, that I'm wiser and much more cynical, The Truman Show isn't quite as inspiring as I thought it to be. It has a lot to do with Jim Carrey's mannerisms. They simply get to be too much... or are they Truman Burbank's?) Anyway, I suppose the film has a lot to say about TV culture in the 90s (probably even more relevant today than then, actually) but what always gets me is Truman's struggle to find something genuine in his life and to go out and find it on his own? Sure, it's a sharp satire but it's always the heart that makes or breaks a movie for me.


Paris, Texas (1984)
(Directed by Wim Wenders)

Is it just me or do foreign directors know how to make America look great? Anyway, Paris, Texas tells a relatively simple story with a great deal of intelligence and heart and it's ambiguous enough so that there's stuff to chew on and think about afterwards. Fuck all that nonsense though (candid!). What matters are the scenes between Father and Son (choose) and even more importantly Mother and Son. It's hard to say how I feel about the ending other than to say "I wonder what will happen now." Maybe the choices made aren't the correct ones. Who knows if it'll really work out? What about the people left behind? I don't know. It's just so freaking rewarding.


Smokin' Aces (2007)
(Directed by Joe Carnahan)

Sometimes it's worth watching godawful films like this one. It just makes you appreciate the riches (everything else this week). Let's see, where to start? This film has a plot. Too bad that there's so much ridiculously pointless exposition that you stop caring by the time they start explaining who the characters are (that's about 5 minutes into the movie). Yeah, the characters. I'm not sure what to say about them other than they're all completely ridiculous and retarded (it fits the movie). This movie was made to annoy me. So many fucking retarded reversals and random stuff (that karate kid made me laugh though) that doesn't mean anything or is even remotely interesting/entertaining. The film should be fun. It isn't. It's just ugly and annoying and as dumb as it gets. sari.

Cruel Story of Youth (1960)
(Directed by Nagisa Oshima)

A tale of the young people of Japan and how they're miserable and how they treat each other like shit and how they drink and how they fuck and how they're the same as the last generation except not really because the last generation had dreams and whatnot but these new kids don't and all they care about is themselves. Anyway, enough of that business. Great color cinematography with a bitchin' soundtrack with some good performances makes this a good film. However, the ending is as heavyhanded as I've ever seen. I must punish you!


The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
(Directed by Victor Erice)

Films about childhood just friggin get to me. There is no easy way to explain it. I don't understand it myself. This is one of the best ones. It treats childhood as a mysterious time when movies can have a deep impact in what you see and imagine. I haven't seen Frankenstein. But I have had experiences where watching a film has made me do something or affected me in the same way. Anyway, it has great cinematography and a great, I repeat, GREAT score and some amazing child performances (have I mentioned how I'm a sucker for these?). The film's all about how a quiet household and a big imagination can sometimes lead to something kind of scary and kind of wonderful. This will improve greatly on a rewatch, I'd imagine.


Ivan's Childhood (1962)
(Directed by Ivan Tarkovsky)

A short Tarkovsky film? :) Anyway, I liked Stalker but had some qualms with it. This one's just great in all aspects. The acting and cinematography is superb with some really great striking shots and a moody atmosphere. But what makes the film for me is how even though the film is sort of about Ivan, he pretty much disappears for long stretches of time and the soldiers take over. Also, the last half hour of this film (pretty much all the lake sequence) is completely spellbinding and as thrilling as cinema can get. Yeah, I really need to hop on the Tarkovsky bandwagon. Rublev is next!


Film of the Week is... Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


face said...

You're dead wrong with your vast underrating of Passion of Joan of Arc, but the fancy thing about its imagery is that it will linger with you long enough to change your mind subconsciously. So get back to me about that. As far as Cruel Story of Youth is concerned, I agree with your criticism of how didactic it is (especially at the end), but part of what makes it amazing is its status in the cultural history of Japan. Also, it has some fantastic visual artistry.

sean said...

You watched all these great movies, and yet you pick that mediocrity as the best film? Ugh.

ZILLA said...

are you MAD sean? Eternal Sunshine is beyond excellent. the attention to detail that Gondry has is beyond me. i agree whole heartedly with his choice for Eternal Sunshine.

you're crazy man, you're crazy. i like you but, but you're crazy!