My Week In Film (8/4 - 8/10)

Half the viewing?

Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
(Directed by Werner Herzog)

Definitely one of the greatest films ever. Kinski's eyes tell you so much. Before the story even begins, you know that Aguirre is a man who should not be messed around with. His eyes and his posture reveal all you need to know. His later actions only prove it. However, what's impressive to me is the film's strange scope. It feels epic because of the setting but most of the action takes place on a boat and a few places on land. Maybe it's a combination of the voodoo of location along with Kinski's mad walk that gave me the sense that something dangerous was going to happen at all times. It was a pretty great feeling and it's a pretty great movie.


Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)
(Directed by Jacques Rivette)

A delightful film about imagination, movie-watching and some other stuff that I probably didn't catch, Celine and Julie Go Boating is definitely one of the most original films I've ever seen. Unfortunately, it's three hours long. And while I love the relationship between Celine and Julie and the way that they seem to trade roles and slip into each other's lives, I could care less about the murder mystery plot that they seem to care about. So when the film starts spending more time on them trying to figure out the mystery, I stopped caring because it just went on and on and on and on and on. The ending made it all better since it focused on Celine and Julie just kind of having fun but it didn't make me forget the slow parts in the previous three hours.


Casablanca (1942)*
(Directed by Michael Curtiz)

Watching this again after years, I wondered how it would hold up. At first, I wasn't getting into it again. But, out of nowhere, scene after scene just hit all the notes that I wanted. It's those classic unforgettable scenes that make Casablanca the film that it is and why I love it so much. It's not so much that the plot is special. It's more about the lines, the looks and glances of the actors and the way that just about everything seems to fit together. Something about it not knowing how great of a film it actually is, it's kind of charming. The way that Bogart and Valli look at each other and those final scenes. How could anyone not love this film? Maybe the best thing to ever come out of Hollywood.


Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
(Directed by John Hughes)

The thing about this film is that it wants you to care about a guy who is FUCKING ANNOYING. If I was in Steve Martin's shoes, I would justly hate this guy. And, no, I would not see the error of my ways as the trip goes along. I mean, John Candy fucked my trip up. Why should I care about him? Okay, so maybe I'm just a jerk. The film is funny with Steve Martin playing an uptight man who's overworked and desperately trying to get home to be with his family. Of course, John Candy plays the opposite of him. Or, more or less, the most annoying person in the planet. He constantly screws up and gets them into bigger trouble. Sure, he's a nice guy but nice guys can be douchebags too :) So hilarity ensues as dated 80s synths play in the background. Yeah, it's an entertaining enough film and the ending is kinda touching. But there's nothing too special happening here. Let's all just watch Ferris Bueller again, ok?


Bringing Up Baby (1938)
(Directed by Howard Hawks)

It's hard to make the case for a film like this. Where to start? Uh, Cary Grant plays a total nerd who's going to get married in a couple of days but seems to hardly notice it. Katharine Hepburn plays a flighty girl who decides to terrorize him? Anyway, the film is just an excuse to set up glorious joke after silly joke. This is the SILLIEST MOVIE EVER. I also love how the film just randomly extends itself and keeps going at the whim of Hepburn's character. Sure, this film has no basis in the real world or anything else for that matter. But it's so clever, fun and lovable that by the time that you realize that there are TWO LEOPARDS(!!!), you could care less. This is definitely a love it or hate it movie. I'm happily in the former camp.


Maria Full of Grace (2004)*
(Directed by Joshua Marston)

To me, the drug mule aspect of this film is the least interesthing about it. The film isn't about that anyway. Being a drug mule is just an escape route for Maria. The film is really about her. And what a character she is. Sometimes, as viewers, we run into characters we deeply care about. This is one of those characters for me. Everytime I watch the film, I get so caught up in Maria's journey that it becomes one of the most harrowing film experiences. Part of it has to do with the Colombian aspect of it and the fact that she reminds me of people I used to know. There's some of that, sure, but ultimately I just want to see her do well for herself. Sure, the film has some flaws (misplaced music in a couple of parts) but this does nothing to diminish my view of it.


George Washington (2000)
(Directed by David Gordon Green)

Alright, pandas of the world, let me try and articulate why George Washington leaves me feeling underwhelmed. It all has to do with its disjointed nature, coupled with its faux-poetic voiceover and dialogue and just a certain sensibility that maybe I didn't notice in All The Real Girls but made itself painfully obvious here. I mean, I'm get that Green and company aren't shooting for realism but rather a poeticized look at this place and people but some of the behavior of the characters and their dialogue just felt overly realized. Hard to explain what I mean but it's like I know they were manufactured and not real. I'm not really sure. Anyway, I didn't like All the Real Girls the first time I saw it either but the second time hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe I'll have that reaction the next time I see George Washington. I hope I do.


Don't Look Now (1973)
(Directed by Nicolas Roeg)

Hmmm, an interesting and atmospheric film with some great performances and a pretty mindbogglingly (word?) awesome sex scene, Don't Look Now is good. It's got some good cinematography, interesting editing and uses its location as greatly as any other film has. I'm not sure what the problem is then. I think aesthetic enjoyment of a film only gets you so far. Sure, I believed Sutherland and Christie were a grieving couple and I felt some tension in their scenes. But, after that, it's all about how much you can invest yourself in the plot or about how much fun you can have with the film. I wasn't too invested and I didn't have much fun (outside the ending). Why do I bother? I never know the answers, anyway.


I guess I'll try not to piss some of you off this week :)

Jhon's Film of the Week is... Casablanca.

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