My Week in Film (11/30 - 12/6)

Funny People (2009)
(Directed by Judd Apatow)

Alright. It's by far Apatow's most ambitious film as it tries to explore ideas about MORTALITY and actually learning from the stuff that happens to you. That's all good, I guess. The film is pretty free-form at first which I dug (those are the parts that I usually like the most in Apatow movies anyway) but then Apatow decides to see how much how he can get away with by pretty much inflating a visit to Leslie Mann's place into being basically a bloated (40 minutes) wedge into the form and structure of the film, whatever that is. It just doesn't play at all. I mean, I get that Apatow's kids are cute and that his wife is hot and all and that you want to show them off, but, seriously, why do you need to shoehorn your love of the nuclear family into everything? Jesus. Mann's character in the film also didn't ring particularly true for me and their big emotional scene early on in the movie struck me as being quite ridiculous and, not only that, but the other significant female character in the film (the female comic) also isn't particularly well-written, or maybe it's just the actress, it just bugged me for some reason. Sandler is alright. He doesn't really show the depths that he showed in Punch-Drunk Love or anything like that, but he does play an asshole well. And even though Apatow gets Kaminski to shoot the film, I didn't really notice anything remarkable on that front. But does there even need to be? These are the great formal questions of our time, Kiarostami!


Public Enemies (2009)
(Directed by Michael Mann)

Much more straightforward than Miami Vice, which is a shame. I would've loved to see Johnny Depp drifting around 30's Depression America. In a sense, you do get that, but it's a different vibe, one I'm not sure I really appreciated that much or had much use for, or even understood very well. Oh, well. The story this time is much more commercial, I guess, though how it plays out certainly isn't. It seems very concerned with death. I'm thinking of that shot where he looks into the face of the man as they're getting away in the car. He's holding on to him as he's being dragged through the ground. Anyway, whatever. I wasn't sure about the HD look being applied to this story, but then I got used to it and begin thinking about it as a way of seeing the past with the immediacy of the present or something - seeing the past through more modern sensibilities. I mean, who says that these events have to be represented in any particular way. There's also some stuff about Dillinger's personal image and how it's cultivated or something and how in a way, Dillinger himself, and what we're looking at is just an image, just a myth of the real person, as fake as Clark Gable in that one movie, or as real. Whatever. I'm just making things up :D It's good, though. Different, but good. I'll look forward to applying various roujin theories to this in the future.


The Ladies Man (1961)*
(Directed by Jerry Lewis)

This is an incredible film, duh. I didn't mind the fact that there's virtually no plot this time, but instead dug the thematic implications of the story (oh, no, domesticated masculinity!) and the formal exuberance of Lewis' universe. JERRY LEWIS.


Dragons Forever (1988)
(Directed by Sammo Hung + Corey Yuen)

The third film starring all of the three main dudes in these films, Jackie, Yuen Biao and Sammo, and it's easily the weakest. It starts off with all this corporate nonsense. Jackie plays a shitty ass lawyer who's constantly trying to hit on every girl he meets. He then starts romancing the girl who supports the opposite but since he's a lawyer and therefore a scumbag, he hires Sammo and Yuen Biao to spy on her and her cousin. That one scene where Jackie is trying to mack on the girl and both Sammo and Yuen Biao break into the house is so goddamn hilarious. It's kinda stereotypical 80's nonsense, there's even this cheesy montage of the couples falling in love (Sammo falls in love!) which is all kinds of weird because I usually think of Sammo as being above it all, but I guess he's not and that's cool, too (he can do no wrong). I suppose the part that people get all excited about is the rematch between Benny Urquidez and Jackie Chan from Wheels on Meals, but Urquidez looks seriously fucked up in this movie (I guess it doesn't help that he's seen checking the drugs that apparently started the entire plot of this movie). He looks messed up and has a ponytail and looks scary like he's dying or has had plastic surgery or just has had way too many hits to the face or something. The fight doesn't live up to the predecessor. I was looking forward to having a rematch between Sammo and that dude from Eastern Condors who shows up here smoking cigar after cigar. Good, inconsequential stuff, but it's still lots of fun.


Come Drink With Me (1966)
(Directed by King Hu)

Really good. My expectations for this were probably too high. I was expecting something on the level of House of Flying Daggers or something, which is probably unfair, but there you have it. It isn't really like that. But isn't like Hu is bad or anything. In fact, he's really good. Most of the fight scenes have a very nice interplay between the fighting itself and the camera movements and all that stuff. He knows how to set it up and deliver it. My complaint is the actual fighting itself - it's just not very impressive. I mean, I'm not saying it's bad but, again, expectations, I expected some mindblowing display of the poetic possibilities of the human body in movement and what I got fell short of that. Frankly, the choreography of the fight scenes lacked a tactility in the hits against the body that really bothered me. I can't recall if it's there in stuff like Hero or Crouching Tiger (my other reference points for stuff like this) but it did seem to tamper my enjoyment. Anyway, I know I'm complaining a lot about things which are dumb, but I really did enjoy it specially the scenes with the drunk guy and the kids singing (I really dig that music) and the kind of adherence to certain codes (like how everyone defers to the drunk guy once they find out who he really is and stuff). It's very fascinating and it makes want to play Jade Empire over and over again. Uh, greatest title ever, too.


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... The Ladies Man

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