1/18/09

My Week IN Film (1/12 - 1/18)



Ordinary Heroes (1998)
(Directed by Ann Hui)

This was interesting if not entirely satisfactory. There's two films at play here, honestly. One of them is about the struggle to change HK law regarding boat brides. The second one plays in the background. It's about Lee Kang-Sheng (from the Tsai Ming-Liang films who is very clearly dubbed) falling in love with a woman who is involved in that cause. The film begins in the present as the dude and the girl are adults or whatever. Then it goes into the past to detail the beginnings of the cause and the way that it progresses. We meet a Communist Italian Father played by Anthony Wong who also joins the cause and his constant fastings (uh...) are displayed. It's in the scenes of protests, of politics at work, that I feel the film works best. The rest isn't very interesting. The acting is good, actually. Particularly, Wong who is appealing in a way I can't understand. What I personally found the most interesting is kind of wondering in my head how this story would play out if it were remade. First, they would speed it the hell up. This film takes its time and there are scenes that are pretty superfluous that go on for longer than usual just to build character. Secondly, some of the obliqueness of the opening minutes would probably be gone. In fact, the narrative would become way more streamlined and some of the subtleties would be done with. I mentioned that Lee Kang-Sheng's character falls in love with woman. Yeah, this is ostensibly what happens. But the film never really makes a big deal of it and the two don't even officially meet in the story until a while in (in their flashback, I mean). So, the romance angle would probably be ramped up way more. These are things I sort of thought about. Just how different the sensibilities at display are from normal Hollywood cinema. harumph.

★★




Rocknrolla (2008)
(Directed by Guy Ritchie)

I did not like this. Sorry, gman. No reflection on you since you generally have good taste ;) But this sort of stuff just wasn't made for me. I remember last year I watched a horrendous movie called Smokin' Aces. I had flashbacks to my experience with that movie. It wasn't as bad but it was getting to be. My biggest problems is that there's too many characters and too much boring bullshit going on (just like that film) except it has English/Russian accents to cover it up. Also, these characters are only as good/interesting as are the actors who're playing them. Smokin' Aces was, at least, insane in this regard since pretty much every character had their own dress code and could be told apart. The filmmaking here is also really annoying. Each scene is only as good/interesting as whatever song's playing in the background. And the little touches that are added to a scene are just bad. Consider this:

http://www.vimeo.com/2827665

A perfectly okayish scene until these little almost videogame style things start happening and I lose all interest. There's a couple of funny parts here and there (this scene is actually one of the better ones) but overall I was bored and wished it would stop. Sari

★1/2



My Blueberry Nights (2007)*
(Directed by Wong Kar-Wai)

I don't entirely remember what my problems were with this. Watching it again I felt like that most of Wong's 90s films, it plays like a great pop song. All melancholy-like, pretty much like the Cat Power song on the soundtrack. The cinematography was pretty great. All cluttered frames with neon lights and pretty faces. I think the actors who work the best for me are Norah Jones and Jude Law. They seem in line with what Wong's HK actors do best for me which is embody the sensibilities of the films themselves. Weisz and the rest have their moments but they seem sort of shrill to me and I prefer thinking about Jones instead of them. She remains much more elusive. But what I like best about it is that after the fucking opera of 2046, this is so relaxed. So comfortable with its own low-key charm. Like I said, it's a good pop song.

★★★




Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
(Directed by Vincente Minnelli)


uh, this was hell to get through. All prim and proper, all Hallmark postcard-y. Just hell. Maybe it's because I miss the dancing and the physical inventiveness that it provides but I just didn't find much of this interesting. I mean, sure, the sets and color were all great but whatever. I think the uprooting of the family is interesting but it's too fluffy and cutesy and whatever for me to care about it. My two biggest complaints are that I don't really like the songs that much (except for one exception) and I guess I don't like Judy Garland. I mean, she was great in The Pirate cuz she was acting all insane and throwing shit around but here it's just boring. The only song that was memorable is "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas." It's fucking sublime with a fantastic set-up and a great delivery. The final moments of the film make me think I like it more than I do, actually. But it's hard for me to forget how bland and uninteresting the rest is.

★★




Flesh For Frankenstein (1973)
(Directed by Paul Morrissey)

So Udo Kier is a mad scientist dude who's married to his sister. He spends all day at the lab with his assistant Otto trying to build a new race of humans. Then Dallesandro shows up cuz his best friend is beheaded, beds Kier's wife (several times) and puts a damper on the plan. It's got a really great score and some interesting cinematography but at the heart of the movie is Dallesandro's naked body coupled with the brilliance of anything Udo Kier says + the sexiness (sort of) and the gore and the whatever point it's trying to make about the corruption of human sexuality. Hi!!!! Good stuff.

Editor's Note: The Laboratory is a great set :)

★★★




Curse of the Crying Woman (1963)
(Directed by Rafael Baledon)

Very goofy and campy although at points slightly atmospheric Mexican film. Really enjoyed the prologue with the carriage and the killing and all that shit although I really hate the use of the shock zoom or whatever (so stupid). Then some niece comes back with her douche husband and the plot starts happening (which is pretty boring). However, there comes a point where the visual inventiveness and creepiness overpowers everything in sight. Sadly, it doesn't last long and the film wraps up its dumb plot with wrestling, crumbling castles and some random monster thing. Silly but entertaining.

★★1/2




Possession (1981)
(Directed by Andrzej Zulawski)

What... the... fuck!...? This movie is insane. Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill give some of the most over the top, fucking insane, WTF performances I've ever seen in my life... and I loved them. They play a husband and wife who've become estranged. The husband comes back from some random job and finds his wife distant and aloof and then she goes nuts and this becomes one of the craziest and most intense "relationships" I've ever seen. Their apartment becomes a battleground and their child watches on. So much screaming and movement. Zulawski's camera seems to emphasize movement more than any other since it almost never stays still always keeping up with the characters, circling them or showing them in new lights at every turn. And then there's Adjani who... well, jesus christ. Her scene in the metro is one of the great movie moments. Completely outrageous and totally compelling. You know that one scene in many a movie where it reaches some kind of heightened state of reality or awesomeness... this entire movie is like that. As the film played I kept telling myself "wow, this shit is amazing..."

★★★★



Simple Men (1992)
(Directed by Hal Hartley)

This was kind of great. Doesn't reach the heights of Trust only cuz there's no Adrienne Shelley and Martin Donovan isn't nearly in this enough. However, the other actors were supremely likable in their own right and it was great seeing Elina in a role that isn't totally fucked up but instead all kinds of awesome/fun shit. I gotta say... I really enjoy the way Hartley has people act in his films. It's detached and yet more in touch with the character's feelings that people give him credit for. In short, it all appeals to me. The weird delivery, the pseudo-monologues (loved the sheriff) and the kind of ironic/totally serious way in which things are handled. Just because it's funny doesn't mean it doesn't mean anything. Ah...

★★★1/2



Che (2008)
(Directed by Steven Soderbergh)

LOL

or

Or, I really dug how it eschews most biopic beats in favor of process. For my money, it isn't so much interested in the man but rather in what the man did (succeeding, failing). I liked the film best when it was just about Che hugging the people he was with, joking around with Camilo (who is great, great, great), or, I don't know. It seemed like it was a like guide on how to do guerrilla warfare which sort of made me laugh. It's very entrenched in the day-to-day routines of running such an operation and it's def. concerned with the logistics of such. The first half is probably more dramatically satisfying (as much as you can get anyway with Soderbergh's imposed critical distance) and it still denies you the triumph of Havana as there is no celebration in the city. The second half is probably more interesting (better, whatever) mainly cuz of the overwhelming sense of failure/doom at every end and I find it funny that it's mostly about three different groups of bearded dudes who can't find each other. My favorite sequences were probably the ones in the U.N. cuz I dig that B&W look and it was different from just "Che of the Jungle." So, this was extremely interesting as some sort of weird object, very compelling as some sort of dramatic film and overall worth it as a theater experience. So, good stuff.

Editor's Note: I still have no real opinion of the man.

★★★


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Possession

2 comments:

cineaddict said...

I should watch My Blueberry Nights again but I guess I love fucking opera cause I can't get 2046 out of my mind.

I just got hold of Possession.

Grattan Aikins said...

I'm alone on rocknrolla, aren't I?

gman.