My Week in Film (7/20 - 7/26)

Mysterious Skin (2004)
(Directed by Gregg Araki)

I don't have a proper reaction to this. It seems outside of criticism. Something so pure and beautiful that it shouldn't exist or work... I don't even know it happens, how it gets to that point. It's just amazing. But, I'll try and say a few things. It's amazing how far Araki goes with this stuff. I mean, some parts are probably unnecessary (I don't need a reaction shot of Bill Sage being fisted, for example) but the rest is completely harrowing. It's strange that I would use pure to describe a film with as much strong content like this one, but I can't think of another word for it. I've only seen Nowhere from Araki, but the trademark dissolves and post-rock sountrack awesomeness are back and not tied down to some idiotic meta commentary on the teenage apocalypse. It's just true. And that's all that matters sometimes. It gets you where it counts.


The Baxter (2005)
(Directed by David Wain)

It's really funny. Sometimes in that awkward manner, sometimes in a little more wacky way, sometimes in a quiet resigned way. It hits all the good notes of the romantic comedy, rarely hitting a bad one and then tops it up with a couple of quietly sublime moments that shouldn't belong to a film like this, but they do. There's a kind of fascination in it for me in how it depicts certain kind of people. Like, the Justin Theroux character is so hilarious in his oblivious cool guy charm. Everything he does is the opposite of who Showalter is, and just them being in the same scene (along with a great Elizabeth Banks) is fantastic in its awkwardness (witness Showalter trying to order pinot noir wine at some random hamburger joint). But the real revelation for me was Michelle Williams who played in any different way could come off totally wrong, but just the way she does it (the way her hair is made up, her clothes, her thing about the singing - it's somehow a full characterization). She's really great and funny (and the perfect woman). We're just lonely people. . . until we find the right person. Then it's someone else's turn to be lonely.


Ce vieux rĂªve qui bouge (2001)
(Directed by Alain Guiraudie)

Very interesting film about some random dude coming to factory the week that it's closing to take apart some machine, pack it up and send it some place else. While he does this, the rest of the workers sit around under umbrellas drinking wine (they're frenchies after all), talking about the future, or, otherwise, just wandering around the industrial decay that haunts their lives. All told without using traditional editing, mostly just long takes with a pan here and there to follow moment across a factory floor; it's awesome. While the social implications of this new guy's mobility (specialization in machinery) vs. the worker's stability (don't know how to work the machines and can't help; are useless) is interesting, it's never the primary focus for me. I just like to watch. The films gets a whole lot more interesting when a hidden level of desire comes to the forefront. Those last minutes are particularly sublime as two men talk frankly as to the reason why they can't get together. Ah, male love is magnifique!


Du soleil pour les gueux (2001)
(Directed by Alain Guiraudie)

People running around a field referring to vaguely fantasy-related things that never appear. Basically, it's about a woman who goes out to the fields to meet some weird shepherds who take care of some weird creature. The film builds its own little universe mostly by referring to other things thru dialogue. There's a weird overlord type person who keeps getting mentioned, mention of roles and proper society. The woman finally meets a shepherd but he's lost his flock. Now he has to look for them, otherwise he'll get his feet chopped off. Along the way they meet some dude running away from the village cuz he killed someone and the pursuit warrior that's been hired to capture him. This one has a bit more conventional editing than the other film by Guiraudie I've seen, but it's still mostly people walking/running great distances along the frame while they have conversations with each other. There's all this talk about leaving your life behind if you're unhappy, being able/unable to move (mirrored by the dude who can't leave his homeland), other shit. It's a very interesting and fun way to pass 55 minutes. Build your own universe, roujin!


I Love You, Man (2009)
(Directed by John Hamburg)

I'm not entirely sure what I would change about this film other than its disastrously moronic projectile vomiting scene and a couple of little things that I already can't remember. It's fine, you know, funny and the acting is pretty good. I wish it was even more of a Paul Rudd showcase, actually, because he only really gets to go all out with his ridiculous attempts to be cool. Those nicknames he gives to Segal are hilarious and any and all attempts to be cool are about as funny as the film gets. The other thing that I found interesting is the character of Rashida Jones, Paul Rudd's girlfriend. She's not neurotic or shrewd or anything like that which I admit I found to be refreshing. Paul Rudd doesn't have to give up being a dumbass with his best friend to be with her and "grow up" or whatever. She completely supports his search for a best friend and is loving and awesome and the hottest (uh. . .) So, some funny bits, some less funny bits, interesting things going on within the characterization. Also, Favreau is a beast and Rush is terrible.


17 Again (2009)
(Directed by Burr Steers)

This movie is awesome! The story is totally predictable in all the usual ways but who cares about that, really? Zac Efron totally rules this film. He's really good (filmspot worthy!). Just thinking about Zac Efron giving a riotous speech in front of class about the greatness of love and abstinence just so his daughter won't have sex with a retarded bully is hilarious. The weird advances toward Leslie Mann (who is also hysterical) who's a cougar, apparently, and all that other nonsense. Of course, you gotta have some incest and Zac Efron totally sells it and there's even joke about his supposed gayness. And, then, you have Thomas Lennon's ridiculous millionaire best friend who in order to woo the principal of the school shows up doing the peacock in order to attract his mate. Life is grand. I would make all the same mistakes. I would do it all the same. Being 17 was pretty terrible, but at least I didn't have to work.


Hot Rod (2007)
(Directed by Akiva Schaffer)

Probably one of the most brilliantly stupid things I'll ever see.


The International (2009)
(Directed by Tom Tykwer)

huh, the world that The International portrays is one where banks and corporations rule and everything else is collateral damage. There's very little suspense in the film and there's only one kind of action sequence (and it's superb). It's honestly just really weird. What I felt the most was this weird feeling of dread as you felt the characters kind of get swallowed up by this imposing modern architecture with its glasses and reflections and everything. It's frightening and alienating. I can't tell you much about the Guggenheim sequence other than it's kind of amazing in the way that it develops and the way that it uses the structure of the building to create its own strategy; in short, awesome. And the credit sequence is also kind of essential as it relays the things that happen after the film's story in a way that we might learn about them. In all, a very interesting and peculiar weird anti-thriller. I'm gonna go kill myself now.


Le Monde Vivant (2003)
(Directed by Eugene Green)

What a weird movie. It's got the mannered acting and delivery of a Bresson film along with a predilection for frontal framings taken from Ozu that's quite weird. And this is all to tell a fantasy story? Basically, some random dudes are out in the forest. One of them is The Lion Knight. He goes around with a dog. But, if he's The Lion Knight, well, then it must be a lion. He's sworn to defeat an ogre so he can set free the girl from the chapel. About the only thing that actually makes him a knight is that he's carrying a sword. I think the film is largely about the power of words and about how if you do say you're a knight, well, you're a knight. And if you're dog is a lion, well, it's a lion. At first, the head on framings felt really weird to me and I was like "omg, this will be terrible" but then it relaxes and this wonderful tactility that like the best of Bresson communicates feelings not through dialogue, exposition or whatever, but just being able to feel the actions being carried out. Hence why the soft touch of two hands in the darkness becomes an incredible sign about the power of words/love, etc. It's kinda wonderful.


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Mysterious Skin

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