My Week In Film (7/21 - 7/27)

And, so, the great rewatching project of 2008 has begun!!!

Su-ki-da (2005)
(Directed by Hiroshi Ishikawa)

This is seriously one of the quietest movies I've ever seen. Sure, there was dialogue but all I remember are the silences when the main teen characters stand next to each other unable to say what they truly want to say. There's a couple of scenes here that are so true to life that it kind of hurts to see them depicted them. If it had been just scenes of two teens walking around in silence for 90 minutes, I wouldn't have minded. However, we get a jump into when they're in their 30s. These scenes are also convincing and a little sad and are filled with that same silence from before (no one ever talks in Japan). However, the ending of this movie is just too fucking unbelievable. It comes out nowhere to manipulate us into crying which is so out of tone with the rest of the movie that it's completely jarring. All I can say is... why? And, Aoi Miyazaki is uhhhh... cute.


Swingers (1996)
(Directed by Doug Liman)*

Maybe I like this film cuz it's a quintessential "guy" film but I would like to make a case for it as a legitimately funny film. Funny cuz it rings so true to life. I wonder how many fucking times I've fought over losing a dumb videogame (back when I was young, dumb and in love). The real reason why the movie works is because it has such believable characters. They're people we probably know from everyday life. It has such an undeniable charm to it just like the cover. It just wants you to relax and laugh along because if you can't laugh then, well, fuck. What can you do? And, yeah, it's ridiculously quotable.


Au hasard balthazar (1966)
(Directed by Robert Bresson)

The donkey movie. Robert Bresson's film is as simple as they get which also happens to be its greatest strength. As far as I can tell, it is only a depiction. It depicts a life. Sure, the life of a donkey but who is to say that a donkey is less important than a human. Balthazar goes through a lot of stuff during his life and we see all of it with a starkness and simple beauty that no other film can match. All the time Bresson draws parallels to Balthasar's former owner, a pretty clueless girl, implying that the donkey is in fact "us." I'm not sure how much I buy that but there are moments in this film that almost have me believing. Maybe what Bresson is implying is that even if we think we aren't in control of what happens to us (as is the case with Balthasar). I don't know. I have to think about this more. Seems like a film I can truly love on revisiting it.


Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)
(Directed by Pedro Almodovar)

This is one of those movies that just doesn't work unless you can suspend your disbelief enough to buy into it. If you don't choose to go along with the film, it will seem horrible to you. However, since I am an Almodovar groupie and will pretty much accept anything he throws at me, I had no trouble going along with this film. Yes, it's unbelievable that something like this would ever happen. The characters aren't real and the choices they make and the things are do are pretty insane and, to be frank, I'm not sure why I buy into it. But, damn it, this movie is fun! fun! fun! Isn't that enough?


The Third Man (1949)*
(Directed by Carol Reed)

I don't need to always connect with films to enjoy them and I don't really connect with The Third Man that much. But there came a point about halfway through (the scene where Holly gets drunk and goes to her house) when suddenly everything clicked with me and I realized that I truly loved this film. It makes every scene after it so much better because you know that this is a story that won't end well. The characters know a pain (the wounds of war) that someone like Holly who wasn't there just can't understand. In a way, the film is about his naiveness and about how he never stood a chance.


All About My Mother (1999)
(Directed by Pedro Almodovar)

I will try and do this film justice and explain once and for all why exactly it works. Let's see: my mom is the most important person in the world. I see so much of my relationship with her in this film and I discover something new and strange about it every time I see it. I value it because it teaches me things. I also revel in its loud, splashy colors and suggests how everyday life really should be like; filled with friends and humor. And what humor it is. This movie just makes me smile like a complete fucking idiot. It's not so much that it's funny (although it is) as it is the fact that it shows to me an existence which is perfect. It's half recognition/half retarded emotional attachment. I don't even know anymore. And, yes, it is unashamedly melodramatic. I just don't see a problem with it. Its plot matches the film's outrageous style 1-for-1. But, it all stays grounded for me because I truly care about these characters as if they were family to me and by the end I am always crying because I have to part with them and I'm never ready for it. Yes, I'm dumb.


The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
(Directed by Wes Anderson)*

The Royal Tenenbaums will always be one of my favorite movies. I won't deny that. I'm a sucker for Wes Anderson's self-conscious quirky style and this viewing didn't really change any of that. Although I've always been aware of its story-like qualities, I don't think it ever really dawned on me that the film feels like a pitch-perfect short story (I really should read more Salinger, shouldn't I?). It zooms by so perfectly from moment to moment (sight gags, wonderfully dry jokes, etc) to moments of drama that are surprising (and yet not surprising). Apparently, a lot of people find this movie to be depressing which I can't even begin to understand. Also, apparently people don't find this film funny which I also can't even begin to comprehend (the sight of Bill Murray as Raleigh St. Claire saying "how interesting! how bizarre!" is one of the funniest things I've ever seen). It's a film that hits so many notes and hits them all so well. I don't even know. I should also mention that Margot Tenenbaum is one of the best characters ever. Srsly. Best Wes Anderson film. I doubt he'll top this.


The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
(Directed by Rainer Wender Fassbinder)

No more jokes about my stereotypical "German" film, okay? OK!!! Alright, Fassbinder's film feels like a staged play for most of its duration. Not weird since he apparently adapted it from the stage. It all takes place in one room and although everything is colorful (with a really awesome mural) and the characters wear elaborate getups sometimes, it's still 2-to-4 people in a room just talking. Fassbinder does some interesting things composition-wise to keep us interested but I did find myself nodding off a couple of times. The film is composed of 4 main scenes each replete with lots of conversation. Did I forget to mention that there isn't a single man in the film? That suits me fine. The film is really all about power struggles between its characters. Petra dominates her servant (who apparently likes being dominated) while Karin slowly begins to dominate Petra. Honestly, the last 30 minutes were just spellbinding which is why I think so highly of this film. It's pure emotional violence and I couldn't get enough.


Mamma Roma (1962)
(Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini)

I expected some shit-eating!!! It took me about a month to get through this film. I fell asleep about three times and had to abort so many other viewings, it's not even funny (netflixxx costs money, yo!). My history of the film is now long and tangled. Was it worth it? I'm not sure. I thought the character of Mamma Roma would appeal to me more since I respond instinctively to great Mother roles but her loud, boisterous nature just rubbed me the wrong way. Yeah, I know she's trying to make light of anything but HER LAUGH!!! (Jhon brings shallow criticism to you on a weekly basis). It was only after her street-walking monologues that I begin to care for and see her struggle on an emotional level. Films about mother/son relationships get a pass from me more than they should but there's just too many things that I found awkward about it. The opening scene for instance. Something about the use of fades struck me as being extremely amateurish and clumsy. Not to mention, the way that Pasolini frames the wedding party as looking like the last supper. Is there a reason why that happens? I don't know (same goes with the ending which is also another reference to biblical art apparently). Also, plz shave yr armpits :(


Three Colors: Red (1994)
(Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski)*

Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy has been since I first saw it my favorite trilogy. None of the films are truly perfect (close, though) but as a whole they play off each other in great ways. This has always been my favorite. Mostly because it just pulls everything together so fucking well. It's just so satisfying on so many different levels. The emotional payoff is great, thematically (and, tonally) it is perfect. The performances are also amazing with Irene Jacob great as usual and the judge providing the backbone for the movie as well. I don't know. I just instinctively respond (I like this term) to the things Kieslowski is doing. He's on a short list of directors whom I can say that about.



Jhon's Movie of the Week is... All About My Mother

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