12/14/08

My Week In Film (12/8 - 12/14)

Expect something from me soon.




Mister Lonely (2007)
(Directed by Harmony Korine)

hahahaha wtf So much golden stuff here. All the Herzog stuff with the nuns is out of this world brilliant and hilarious and extremely touching. When the sound goes out during the fall, it's one of the best moments I've seen all year. The rest of the film is pretty good hitting its peak I'm not sure where... Denis Lavant was kind of disappointing here (why is he so old?) and there were a lot of awkward bits. A lot of this movie is just so silly and weird... and oddly touching that to even begin talking about it would be... I was surprised at how plot-heavy and dramatic the film was (this is the maker of Gummo after all) (and it definitely hit the nadir of both with the singing part although it was kind of touching). There were a lot of great weird moments like Buckwheat bathing the Pope (which is so fucking amazing...) and Sammy Davis Jr. dancing. I don't know. Diego Luna is adequate, Leos Carax is in this movie?, Samantha Morton is Samantha Morton. Just very, very odd. But definitely required viewing.

★★★


Sparrow (2008)
(Directed by Johnny To)

So, this is basically flows and feels like a musical, right? I mean, the characters have a weird bounce to their step and the camera moves and music all accentuate this feeling. And, Johnny To, the motherfucker can direct. The simplest scenes become so much more interesting just cuz of a little flourish here and there. Yeah, the plot kind of gets in the way of all the awesomeness going on but when it all climaxes in some weird Umbrellas of Cherbourg-meets-Pickpocket showdown IN THE RAIN, who cares about anything else...

★★★1/2



Burn After Reading (2008)
(Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen)

So, this is like a comedy that isn't funny, right? You know those charges that sometimes people make about the Coens about how they hate their characters and all they do is make fun of them? I think this film finally made me see that (just this film, not the others). This film is filled with a bunch of idiots and the plot toys them with long enough for their lives to be completely fucked up and destroyed. You could argue that The Big Lebowski is also a film about a bunch of idiots but in that film there's kind of a playfulness behind it all. In here, I felt contempt (boo! Cheesy) Anyway, I think it's much more interesting to view it as a weird film about living under the age of bureaucracy and surveillance. Everyone gets fucked. And, really, the violence in this film actually feels different than from the other Coen films I've seen. It's a punishing violence. These characters are idiots, yeah, but they don't deserve the kind of comeuppance that the Coens have in store for them. Maybe that's the point.

Editor's Note: I really dug the score cuz it was some total bad ass spy shit and it's meant to pump up the rest of the film... but it's kinda done ironically cuz there's nothing to pump up. Or something.

★★




The Pineapple Express (2008)
(Directed by David Gordon Green)

Now this is funny. Sure, I mean, there's a lot of stupid stoner stuff in here (though it's great) but this is how you do it. I have a soft spot for Seth Rogen (although I don't buy him as a romantic lead at all) and he's pretty good here. He's Seth Rogen except this time he has as high school girlfriend. Now, James Franco, he's golden here. There's so many weird mumbly lines he says that just crack you up. Danny McBride is excellent, as he was in All The Real Girls. Now, there's no big DGG-ness to this film outside of more sun glare that you'd expect but that's no big deal. He just cranks up the 80s buddy action movie (plus weed) and lets the bromosexuality take over (their term, seriously). It's even more prevalent here than in it is in something like Superbad which makes for some interesting parts... (like when they're trying to get Rogen's belt off). There's also here a bunch of weird violence here (although apparently Danny McBride just cannot die) and the final shootout is kinda overlong although sometimes funny (why do all the Asians gotta die? Grin). It's redeemed by a scene that feels almost out of Swingers in which the characters do some weird bros b4 hos thing and pronounce their BFFness. It's funny.


★★★



Hamlet 2 (2008)
(Directed by Andrew Fleming)

It's cool seeing Coogan throwing himself desperately into this role and trying to make some of this stuff work but I thought a lot of it fell pretty flat. All the Elizabeth Shue stuff seems inspired but it really isn't and rarely does it get more than a chuckle. Really, most of the jokes here were probably written in 96 or something when that movie was coming out or whatever. All the inspirational teacher stuff was alright. Lots of references to Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland's Opus which further sink the film for some reason. One good thing: David Arquette annoyance is kept to a minimum by having him barely speak. Also, I enjoyed all the depressing shit that happens to Coogan's character in this film and the hints at his awful past. I dunno. That made me laugh.

Undecided

★★




Trouble Every Day (2001)
(Directed by Claire Denis)

Pretty amazing. A tale of sexual desire that mutates into bloodlust and how the very act of sex is all about consuming. Vincent Gallo is pretty subdued here and his almost gaunt and ghastly features perfectly compliment his character, one who has a very particular problem. Man, this felt like a dream... or a nightmare. It's sort of like Don't Look Now but except the moodiness is ramped up to fucking 11. It's unreal. Everything feels completely disconnected from everything else. And, man, the bodies and the skins... the fucking textures of this thing coupled with Tindersticks' nearly sublime score, jesus. Anyway, Tricia Vessey is all kinds of adorable and scared and vulnerable as she wonders what the hell all these pills that Gallo takes are for. Beatrice Dalle is scary and sexy as fuck as... man... I can't even say. Yeah, it's a horror piece. But it ain't like no horror I've ever seen before. The horror here is so brutal and so real and amazing (just the look of blood on the skin is almost titillating). Everything is converged into one final act. One that will probably happen again. Somewhere else. And will keep happening.

★★★★




American Teen (2008)
(Directed by Nanette Burnstein)

Or, White, middle-class and Christian Teen. Whatever. I had a weird reaction to this film. Very weird. Maybe it's cuz I'm just not removed from enough from the school environment yet, all this shit came off as extremely annoying. I hated all these people back then and I hate them even more now (). Whatever. The movie doesn't really say anything about anything and there's a weird feeling that some things are being staged for the audience. But maybe that says more about the willingness of these teens to put themselves out in front of the camera. Also, these people just aren't that interesting. I mean, Megan is fun to watch... but whatever you know? (although she does have a pretty great moment with her Father in the kitchen one morning). Of course, Hannah is where it's at. But, even she turns out to be surprisingly ordinary. I nearly cringed when people described her as alternative. Again, maybe I'm just not removed from that sort of stuff... but, jesus... blah. I think what I found most interesting about it was my own reaction to it. It reminded me of the reasons why I ignored all this shit for four years (or why they ignored me? lol). Anyway, I hope Hannah makes some cool movies that I can give shitty ratings to! What a fucking heartless beast I am.

★★1/2



[rec] (2007)
(Directed by
Jaume Balaguerรณ & Paco Plaza)

Pretty good thriller although it has its problems. What I liked: the sense of not knowing what's going on, the feeling of being completely trapped, uh, it wasn't that shaky. And, the ending is a pretty awesome set piece. It's divorced from but informs everything that's gone before. Completely scary and with a great use of night-vision. Anyway, some parts of the film play out like they're from a scary movie. Basically, it doesn't follow its own logic and sticks in shock scares by employing horror movie tropes. Sure, this is a horror movie, but it could've done something more interesting. But, at the end of the day, I don't mind that so much because what's happening is pretty satisfying (and pretty scary).

★★1/2




Cloverfield (2008)
(Directed by Matt Reeves)

[Rec] and Cloverfield are very, very similar films. This one is probably more intense and prone to straight-up thrill stuff. One thing it has over it is that it's just got a way bigger scope. The film has NYC as its playground instead of just a building like [Rec]. It's a different feeling but, yeah, I think I probably prefer the overall chaos of Cloverfield. I mean, I don't care about any of the characters in this movie, at all, but it was so fun to watch them just lose it as this monster rampages through the city. Some of the tape gimmick was kind of dumb and it definitely was weak at the film's end but the film builds up such unrelenting tension that I don't think it matters much.

★★★




JCVD (2008)
(Directed by Mabrok El Mechri)


There's lots of cool, weird, almost Being John Malkovich stuff going on here with the exploitation of JCVD's onscreen persona vs. what we're actually presented which was pretty cool (culminating in a god knows how long direct address confessional which is probably one of the best things in the film/this year). But, the film mostly stays to the whole kidnapping business which is pretty boring. The film's look is also kinda blah. Very tiring to look at. But, JVCD is very good in this. He brings a surprising amount of humor/weariness to this representation of his onscreen persona, fleshing out the man behind the man behind the LEGEND. Or something.

Anyway, where's that one Van Damme meter website, again? fuck, should've saved that link.

★★1/2



Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
(Directed by Mike Leigh)

Surprisingly great. You know, there's room for hatred in this one. If you just can't go along with Poppy then plz fuck off or something. Yeah, she's sort of annoying for a while. But the film is about discovering that you're sort of falling in love with her and her personality and her entire worldview. Yeah, sometimes this takes her to dangerous situations but you just gotta believe in her. The film doesn't have any plot. It's just encounters, really. Things Poppy does. She takes driving lessons. She goes to the club. She teaches kids. She meets a cute guy. No, the world doesn't unravel for her. This isn't a von Trier film. She isn't punished. Anyway, Sally Hawkins is pretty great in this as is that one dude who does thing with the car. It may be kind of obvious to put up such a positive person against such a negative person but the acting and the characterization really sells us on this. And, sure, the ending is kind of explanatory but it's so calming and oddly beautiful that you realized that it doen't fucking matter at all.

★★★1/2

Jhon's Movie of the Week is Trouble Every Day

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