3/22/09

My Week in Film (3/16 - 3/22)



Nothing But A Man (1964)
(Directed by Michael Roemer)

Really charming film. It follows Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln as a young couple who struggle to survive in the south of the 60s. Sounds depressing but it's really not. It's shot really well with an almost documentarian(?) sense of human behavior and feeling. Don't know. It's hard to explain. It reminded me of a film I saw a couple of months back called One Evening After The War in that it's about a couple's struggle to be happy with each other. That sort of thing gets to me, I don't know. One of the things that struck me is the fact that Dixon's character doesn't know how old his father is, when he was born, nothing. It reminded me of something I read about slavery causing black families to be split up and know nothing of their roots. I don't know why I made that connection but it seemed kind of heartbreaking to me. Dixon is kind of a gentle force in this film. He has a certain gravitas to him that sort of endears you to him even while what he does is reprehensible (or something). He's proud and I loved that. Whatever, man. I don't have to explain myself to you. Good shit.

★★★



Music and Lyrics (2007)
(Directed by Marc Lawrence)

This is no new territory but I really enjoyed it. I don't know. I like Hugh Grant's british doucheyness and Barrymore wasn't bad (although I usually dislike her). The whole movie is kind of a justification for Hugh Grant just basically making these romantic comedies/pop music. Grant at one point says something about a great pop song being better than all the works of literature and whatever in the world. Hey, if that eases your conscience after making 2 Weeks Notice, fine by me. Pop lyrics >>> the world's greatest poetry. I probably agree... cuz I suck. And the songs themselves and the styles they parody are great. "Pop! Goes My Heart" is genuinely great as is "Meaningless Kiss" and all the other ones. I don't know. I guess I like cheesy 80s pop music. But the whole Spears/Aguilera pop star bit is hilarious (with its giant Buddhas and sweatiness and stickiness). This whole thing is fun... just like the songs.

★★★



Rosetta (1999)
(Directed by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

wow. just wow. That's sorta my initial reaction. Basically, this entire thing is like living in the moment, second-to-second, action-to-action. It's just incredible. We're thrown right in with a almost dizzying camera movements and from there on, we're just catching up. The performance at its center is just about incredible. All we see her do is walk around, do random tasks, and occasionally stop. It's something that seems to me to be beyond acting. It's like the endless scenes of manual/physical labor are not about just placing this character in a certain economic/social milieu (although that's there, too) but about giving real physical heft to them--weight. Mouchette is probably a closest comparison as I can think of for this film but what this film is doing is more my speed and when Rosetta falls in the water at one point, the danger of a single life ending just because no one cares is really there. Dardennes Bros, my hat is fucking off.

★★★★



Artists and Models (1955)
(Directed by Frank Tashlin)

Just completely colorful as you can see with its opening scenes with a bunch of color paint splashing everywhere, mixing and making things messy. It's everywhere in this film. All the sets, mish-mashed with color and happiness and fun and sexiness. Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis are a great pair together because they're so unlike each other and their pursuits of their neighbors is sexy and touching as can get. I was surprised to find music numbers here as well. There were a couple that dragged but Shirley McLailane singing "Inamorata" while dancing on the stairs is so awesome and hilarious as is the final Artists and Models number that has Jerry Lewis painting on people's backs. I think the whole film loses focus when the Soviets are brought in but the whole thing is so charming that WHO CAREZ.

★★★1/2



Grizzly Man (2005)
(Directed by Werner Herzog)

This was very interesting. It seems right up Herzog's alley with all that man/nature stuff. Anyway, I thought there were too many instances where footage of Treadwell going like "I could die any second" popping up (in different wordings, etc). Yeah, I get it. It's ironic/tragic that Treadwell went out the way he did and predicted it himself, yeah, yeah. Once is enough for that. Treadwell himself is also just an annoying douchebag so it's hard for me to really care about what he's doing or want to understand it in any way. One of the things I liked is how Herzog will sometimes interject and say "but this is how I differ from Treadwell" (or something like that) and give us his opinion on something. Anyway, one of the masterstrokes of this film and certainly its most emotional scene for me is when Herzog listens to the tape. I had heard about this scene when the film came out, I think, and imagined it much differently. I saw Herzog in a closed off room with the camera just outside, by the door, sitting on this chair with shadows enveloping him with this weird grimace on his face. What I got was much different (obviously) but still very effective as you don't really see Herzog's face that much, the camera stays by his side and only gets the side of his face (which is for me more powerful for some reason) all while the owner of the tape can only watch Herzog because she refuses to listen to it. It's a powerful scene and the best thing about the film. Hmmm, what else... oh, after watching this and Encounters, I really wish Herzog would get some better music in his films. Just annoying...

★★★



Twilight (2008)
(Directed by Catherine Hardwicke)

uh, as good as that other vampire movie from last year.

that Kristen Stewart sure is hot. And this story is about how much she wants to fuck Edward Cullen and about how Edward Cullen wants to fuck her... but can't... cuz he's a good vampire... a vegetarian. Stylistically, this is all over the place with some retarded digi-shit going on half the time and the special effects are retarded and with some truly awful song choices (except the Radiohead at the end... well, it's a bad song choice but the song is good). Edward Cullen is kind of a douchebag, honestly. He just basically stalks this girl, sneaks into her room at night to watch her sleep, has orgasms when she walks into the classroom and stares her at all period. What a fucking weirdo. And this pale-faced retard is supposed to be the hottest thing ever? Just looks like a creep if you ask me. I don't know. All this vapid nonsense was kind of fun in a weird way. The freakish vampire family playing baseball, the retarded school friends, the corny jokes (spider monkey). It was a weird time. I probably had fun with it and I found it interesting because it really is entirely about chastity and about an obsessive relationship, right? I wonder how the novels are... I hope they're as dumb as this :)

★★1/2



Cruel Winter Blues (2006)
(Directed by Lee Jeong-Beom)

I remember first hearing about this film when stylus magazine had some feature that had it amongst the best 12 films of the new millennium. Now, I'm wondering about its inclusion. I mean, it's perfectly fine and whatever but... so what? The film is at its best in its early stages when the main dude (from Peppermint Candy is just being a big asshole gangster. Some of the best scenes like the fight at the taekwondo place are good solely because of him. The film really loses his way when it actually wants to get at your emotions and shit when the gangster develops the bond with the mother. Some of the later scenes like the attempted killing in the rain are pretty great but the ending pretty much blows and the little goodwill that it had with me went out the window. Just a big shrug, you know?

★★



Pump Up The Volume (1990)
(Directed by Allan Moyle)

There's a lot of stuff wrong with this. I mean, the dated early 90s nonsense, the kids going "I'm screaming inside!", the bad romance with really weird and awkward nudity that is shoehorned into this whole thing. It's pretty cheesy, honestly. But I dug it. I dug the spirit of the entire thing with its faux-rebelliousness and its "high school is the only thing that matters in this world" attitude. I should be beyond it but I'm probably not and I guess that's sad and all. The film is at its best early on when it's just Slater going crazy jerking off on air or whatever but I think it goes way over-the-top by film's ending although it's cool that the students are revolting and all that even though it's just fake (I don't have faith in students, they just want to fuck shit up not actually change things). Anyway, whatever. This was fun times. Just like those days were. Not really.

★★★




Henry Fool (1997)
(Directed by Hal Hartley)

What a weird movie. I'm glad I saved this up after watching earlier Hartleys cuz otherwise I would've been all "wtf is this shit" on it and dismissed it. And, even after watching all this other shit, I do feel its atypical. However, it does continue from Amateur and Flirt in the way that it feels colder than the relatively warm earlier films. Maybe it's the cinematography or the setting or something but I feel these films are emphasizing colder/icier/modern hues than the other ones. I don't know. From what I've glimpsed of his latest films, I see it continues. Anyway, on to the film itself. I'm still kind of wrestling with it and wondering how the hell to make sense of the vomit/shitting scenes cuz as they stand now, they're like fucking skronking the shit out of the scenes they occupy. However, all the other stuff is fascinating. The way Henry is always sort of glowing red from being next to the furnace, his roots as a weird devil figure suggested. The maturation of Simon's speaking as he goes from barely uttering words to speaking in full sentences later in the film. I also love the way that Henry talks about his own work ("a poetics, a philosophy, a literature of protest")-- I almost I wish I was that self-appraising. Anyway, the film sort of reaches weirdly sprawling status as it jumps through time and the ending is moving and great (although not on the same levels as the other ones). I guess I have to watch Fay Grim.

★★★1/2

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

2 comments:

S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
worm@work said...

Oh and yayy for MoTW. I should be watching on the big screen real soon :p.