My Week in Film (6/15 - 6/21)

Happy Together (1997)*
(Directed by Wong Kar-Wai)

I think what really turned me around on this film is the whole feeling of being away from your home. There's something both deeply romantic about the notion but also extremely sad. And that's where this film gets me. The images and voice overs and the acting all build up to this overwhelming feeling of sadness that none of the other Wong films can match. It's his most heartbreaking film and it's the one that straddles the maturity of the themes that are found in the more lush 00s films and the always searching cinematography of the 90s ones. It's the perfect in-between point and if I would allow myself to detach my own selfish needs from this, it would probably be the greatest movie ever. Long story short: it's as rewarding a film as you're ever going to find. I'm glad it's in my life.


Robocop (1987)
(Directed by Paul Verhoeven)

It's a really funny movie and there's all the pointed commentary about corporations owning the means to blow everyone away (and then trying to do so). So, yeah, it was fun and campy and that line "bitches move" made me laugh probably more than it should've and it was pretty violent and stuff (surprisingly so) and it's over the top and fun for the whole family. So, yeah, fuck yeah.


Black Republic (1990)
(Directed by Park Kwang-su)

This film should be a hell of a lot more interesting than it actually is. Right now, it seems like a wasted opportunity. There's all this cool subtext about these rich assholes toying with the livelihood of a town (owning the mine, the owner's son going around town like he owns the place) but the film does nothing with it. The film doesn't really do much with the past of its main character. Let me explain: the main character is just some douche who's hiding out in this small mining town cuz he got in trouble with Johnny Law over in The Big City. However, his kind of trouble is of the dissident variety (he wrote some kind of anti-government pamphlet/screed and now he's in trouble). However, this is only talked about a couple of times. Maybe there's some subtext or some hidden commentary on something that's not coming thru to me but I thought this was the most interesting part of the film and nothing is done with it either. So, what I'm left with is a pretty normal story of New Guy In Town Meets Prostitute With Heart Of Gold But She Is With The Boss's Son (Who Is A Psycho?)-sort of story which I've seen a million times before. Oh, and remember, he has to keep his identity a secret! All of this is presented in pretty typical ways for your usual Asian Arthouse flick so besides being narratively uninspired (complete with terrible ending!), it goes by really slowly.


Moe no Suzaku (1997)
(Directed by Naomi Kawase)

Interesting. This was actually probably a slower film than Black Republic but I think that slowness let me wander around each scene, letting it register in a much more mood-based way. Or maybe I'm just making that up. The film starts off in the Japanese countryside with this typical family. At first, I thought it would be this really sentimental sort of childhood film or whatever since it was basically a bunch of shots of the kids walking around all these beautiful looking forest-y places. Then this really intrusive piano score popped up on the soundtrack which made me ill for about 5 seconds and then made me feel all pleasant inside. It's the kind of score that gets you in the perfect mood for this kind of film and tonally is completely right for the images accompanying it. The first time it's used is actually the best moment in the film as the family walks on and the clouds tell us that time will pass before we meet them again. And, then, we cut to 15 years later. I was glad for that because I really wasn't in the mood for a sentimental childhood story at that point. What I got was probably more interesting as it is mostly about the changes that the family has to go through. I missed some of the more naturalistic details of the first 15 minutes that really showed Kawase's documentary roots such as when everyone lines up to buy fish or it was just kids playing around or whatever but the family interactions and relationships are interesting and its sometimes elliptical way of showing narrative information is interesting like with the Dad (or maybe I'm just dumb). ANYWAY, I kind of wish I was more involved emotionally with the story but I'll take my fleeting moods and barely there remembrances as a sign that this film is alright.


Deja Vu (2006)
(Directed by Tony Scott)

Tony Scott's Vertigo. It's basically Denzel chasing the past on his car, trying to change the past and falling in love with a dead woman of sorts. I don't know. This was all much clearer a while ago. The notion was there, the feelings were there. I mean, it doesn't reach those heights, obviously, but it's actually pretty accomplished and I was surprised cuz I've always associated Tony Scott with trash (Man on Fire is terrible). His hyper-kinetic style seems more restrained here and somber and often ends up arriving at moments of beauty (Tony Scott Beauty). It was weird enjoying this so much. Who knows? Where am I? The past cannot be changed or done over again. Come on. Seriously.


All That Heaven Allows (1955)
(Directed by Douglas Sirk)

This movie is sublime. I thought it would be overplayed since I've already seen two movies which are inspired/remaking it (Ali Fear Eats The Soul, Far From Heaven) but it was all fresh and all good. The camera movements, the sets, the lighting, the entire package is like living and breathing and moving inside of a snow globe (or whatever those things are called). Seriously, the lighting in this movie is so amazing and the melodrama is like a pin dropping in space, amazing. Rock Hunter is a hunk and all that stuff but he embodies so much just with a turn of his side or whatever and Jane Wyman is fantastic even though the societal stuff is dated, the meaning and the critique hasn't. Don't let anyone stand in your way!


Flesh (1968)
(Directed by Paul Morrissey)

There's lots of it. Most of it was Joe Dallesandro's which was cool. He's interesting to watch and I admit to not knowing why that is. The film is pretty poorly made in all aspects. The edits are rough as hell, the improvisation is awkward, and the cinematography is only adept at certain points (for example, the whole Joe w/ baby sequence was pretty stellar but...) But there's something to these people and their lifestyles and the vaguely camp and transgressiveness of the film got me. I don't know. Maybe I just like seeing Joe naked. That said, I would not recommend this to pretty much anyone.


Bonjour Tristesse (1958)
(Directed by Otto Preminger)

I enjoyed the colors and the direction and the story (at points) but the stilted line readings kind of got to me after a while. I mean, I can get behind and riff on the masterly direction and shit but when the content feels so frivolous, I just get antsy and start perving on Seberg (and there are plenty of opportunities, salacious!) and start to forget what the hell it is watching. So, I enjoyed it on a distanced, technical level and slightly on those other terms. But, gotta get more Seberg in my life (although I'll always prefer her in b&w, speaking French).


Don't Mess With The Zohan (2008)
(Directed by Dennis Dugan)

It's good but it's kind of hard to really defend it. I mean, the movie's opening moments are pretty much genius and some of the gags (like Turturro punching a live cow) are so brilliant that you're left shaking your head going like WTF (or something). This is probably Adam Sandler's best performance as it finds him juggling all these other different things. I don't know, I seriously found this funny but it's too bad it gets all dumb at the end when it decides that it wants to forget about the humor and have a dumb plot conclusion. Why? WHY?!


Knowing (2009)
(Directed by Alex Proyas)

All of us are glad you're gone.

It's actually directed pretty well which surprised me. The plane sequence was pretty spectacular and I wanted more of that kind of stuff but the film didn't really bother much with that. Instead, it tries to build up characters which aren't really characters to me. I don't know how to feel. Feel this. I don't know. It was whatever. Some good parts, some bad parts, rad ending, but, shit, man, fuck myself. These beasts need to die. All of them.


Some Came Running (1958)
(Directed by Vincente Minnelli)


In a way, it's a film about douchebags who think of women as things that can be possessed and then thrown away. The way that the film resolves that issue is painful (but masterly) in a way that I can't even begin to describe. Minnelli's direction is so freaking good. Just the movements and the way that everything is done is amazing. The colors, that incredible lighting when Sinatra and that one girl give in and kiss and the world around them more or less disappears. The score is intrusive in the greatest way as it pokes and pokes and pokes MY EARS OUT. Awesome stuff. I may have to rethink Dean Martin. Sure, he's a callous prick, but he's the greatest callous prick and he's redeemed in the film's masterstroke ending (one of my favorite endings ever, I'm sure) that is a masterclass of direction and handling of emotions and everything. It's heartbreaking and sublime. OH, YEAH, YEAH.


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Happy Together

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