My Week in Film (4/6 - 4/12)

The Book of Life (1998)
(Directed by Hal Hartley)

Martin Donovan as Jesus!

This is an often beautiful and startling film. At first, it threw me off because it was nothing like I expected, just visually - with its exaggerated smudged motion (strobe effect on these cameras? thanks, verite!) and fits of colors. It's great just on that level. But the story and the acting intrigued me as well (and the way that it presents itself). It's dec 31, '99. Jesus (Donovan) has come to Earth for the rapture along with his main squeeze Magdalena (PJ Harvey). Satan has also showed up played by Thomas Jay Ryan. Jesus has to open the seven seals of the book of life to unleash the rapture or whatever. Except that the book of life is just a computer disk used on a laptop. Oh, and Satan has a way of just stealing off randomly and talk to a microphone that just happens to be there. It's cool and interesting stuff. And, it doesn't feel slight compared to the other 60-minute Hartley films I've seen. The ending might be a bit rushed but emotionally and spiritually, it felt just right. Wonderful film.


Rock-a-bye Baby (1958)
(Directed by Frank Tashlin)

It's pretty maudlin and occasionally offensive (with Lewis doing a bucktooth Chinese impression and an Italian character who calls the baby girls Gambinos and can barely be understood). But, aside from that, this is often a touching and funny film. Jerry Lewis has been pining for this girl for his whole life but she goes off to Hollywood, comes back knocked up with triplets and asks him to care of them cuz he's a sucker and will do anything she wants. But she despairs the entire time about it and considers taking the kids back, etc. She's not a villain. Anyway, Lewis is the village idiot, more or less. He has a job fixing TVs but early on we see what kind of messes he gets into. And then he gets the children. And they're cute, very cute. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The mother's sister lives in that town and she's in love with Lewis and he kind of never lets that happen because he loves big sis PLUS THE KIDS and stuff and there's a lot of stuff about how Lewis is a virtuous guy and he'll do anything she wants (that's in a lot of his movies). Basically, Lewis is kind of the misunderstood saint. Then it gets pretty cheesy with lots of manufactured drama happening and there are moments of just naked sentimental appeals to emotion but those struck me as being weirdly genuine and they seemed weirdly plausible. And I love how it all culminates with Lewis somehow turning out to be a bigamist. w00t.


Balance (1989)
(Directed by
Christoph Lauenstein & Wolfgang Lauenstein)

Cool little short about these dudes who are on a weird thing where they all need each other to be balanced. It plays out pretty well and it reminded me of Stalker for some reason.


Hollywood or Bust (1956)
(Directed by Frank Tashlin)

It's entertaining with Dean Martin playing a hood type figure who needs to pay off some gambling debts. Then there's Jerry Lewis, playing a buffoon who is obsessed with Anita Ekberg's bust. Then they meet up cuz they both win a car and they go to Hollywood. Along the way, there be many hijinks along with Lewis' crazy dog, a sexy hitchhiker, and the occasional racism (with Lewis dancing with the daughter of some Indian chief, the actress all sexy and made Indian-like - it's distracting). But, besides that, this is a regular road picture with the group having their differences, running out of gas/money, seeing some cute girl farmhands along the way in their sexy overalls and stuff. It's funny stuff. It's just too conventional and there isn't enough of the pop brilliance (and Shirley McLaine singing Inamorata) from Artists and Models to be found here. Plus, I don't really like Dean Martin all that much. He's just okay.


The Transporter (2002)
(Directed by Corey Yuen)

This was alright at first with its kickass opening car chase and all that. But, it soon lost me when the obvious French detective who "knows" this guy, you know? I love Shu Qi but she's distracting in this (because she's so beautiful) and also because I just can't get used to her presence in films which are obviously not great (even though I've seen her in some terrible stuff). I love her in Hou films and she'd probably be great in some romantic comedy stuff, I'm guessing, but... I don't know. I'm ambivalent about this. Jason Statham is pretty cool but that's to be expected from these guys. I mostly liked the fight scenes when the cuts didn't interfere with the bad ass stuff going on. It's cool in Bourne but I think I only forgive that in Bourne films. The best part of the film is just when Statham gets all oiled up with a bunch of dudes and when he kicks that one door in. But, yeah, the music in this film is atrocious. I'd rather just watch Statham kick ass on mute. Jesus.


The Band Wagon (1953)
(Directed by Vincente Minnelli)

That's fucking entertainment!

This was awesome! At first, I wasn't on board all that much. I wasn't really sold on Fred Astaire (I'd never seen in him a film) but by the time he's at the arcade place dancing with that shoeshine dude, this becomes totally awesome. Just thinking about the ridiculousness of the dance scene with Astaire and Charisse while smoke is everywhere and they keep coughing is making me laugh. And the idea to adapt Faust into a musical is hilarious as well. But there's also a melancholy there about Astaire not feeling needed and seeing your artistic endeavors not pay off. But that all goes out the window with the final mystery number which I think is probably the best of these closing numbers that I've seen with its dancing gunmen, noir by the way of cartoon, and Cyd Charisse taking off her coat (which is the sexiest fucking thing I have ever seen and will see). Plus you got that weird as hell triplets number and that revue stuff near the endish is pretty entertaining just a on a song-by-song basis. Man, Minnelli is magical!


Samurai Cop (1989)
(Directed by Amir Shervan)

now imagine that level of skill being brought to action sequences or hell even if straight up expository scenes (which then have the most incredibly fucking random segues into random sex scenes which must be contractual obligations cuz otherwise they make no sense). Anyway, awesome.


Step Brothers (2008)
(Directed by Adam McKay)

It's an almost glorious ode to immaturity and that's how we like at roujin mansion. I remember trying to watch this earlier this year and just balking at the stupidity. But, now, I feel I am wiser and can surrender to it. The opening parts aren't all that great. In fact, I would say the film only begins to be interesting when that sleepwalking scene happens which is ridiculously surreal and chaotic. Just the weird abstract awesomeness of Ferrell punching/kicking a pumpkin is hilarious along with Reilly's on beat throwing of dishes. The film has some draggy scenes and the end is resolved far too neatly and whatever but the genius of "Boat and Hoes" will outlive us all (and puts to shame The Lonely Island - although that one is still funny).

Nachos and Lemonheads and my dad's boat...

I wouldn't have this shit any other way.


Yes Man (2008)
(Directed by Peyton Reed)

Not terrible, just extremely meh all around. There's lots of manufactured drama that's shoehorned into everything, annoying side characters, meaningless personality traits, whatever, whatever. I dig that Zooey wants to fucking sing in every thing she's in but come on! Just give it a rest! Although, I'm pretty sure the song titles in here or whatever are pretty hilarious but I already can't remember so it obviously didn't make an impression at all. Mostly, it's just a repeat of all the good things about Liar Liar (yeah, I like this movie) and I guess all the bad parts, magnified by 10x or whatever and made all the more annoying...

Just kill me!


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... The Band Wagon

1 comment:

face said...

It reminds you of Stalker because it reminds you of Cube because they have prison garb on. It's called a back formation.

The more you know...