Sunday, August 01, 2010

Seen in July

The White Ribbon, image via The One One Four

They All Laughed
Terrible Peter Bogdonavich film that is supposedly a comedy but is poorly cast, clumisly put together and dull as dirt. It feels like there's only four professional actors in a large unruly troupe. The director apparently had a soft spot (or a hard one) for attractive blondes with little if any acting ability.

Revenge is a dish best served cold... until you realize you're not that hungry or maybe you could go for something deep fried instead of something cold - it's complicated. This Austrian thriller boils until the water is gone from the pot and turned to vapor. A great surprise from a little known film.

Please Give
Amusing, intimate & sometimes affecting drama of a couple who buy the furniture of the recenty deceased to sell at a profit in their successful mid-century modern furniture shop in NYC. Are we too wrapped up in our lives to see what matters? Do we worry too much about lives of strangers or the sadness in the world? One thing is certain - pity makes poor charity & it wouldn't hurt to take care of our own crap before we start thinking we can fix the crap of others. Maybe. I can't really say as the ending was sort of ambivalent.

The White Ribbon
Quietly beautiful. Terrifyingly stark portrayal of a pre-war German town where brutality, violence, depression, shame and oppression lurk behind closed doors. I believe in France this same period would be called "la belle epoch", but this isn't France. The director, Michael Haneke, has few equals.

The Bad Lieutenant Port of Call: New Orleans
A decidedly odd remake - nay - Disney-fied version - sequel (?) of the original Abel Ferrer film Bad Lieutenant. Whatever it is, you can skip it. Nicholas Cage is really only engaged once his character has gone off the deep edge. Despite odd "gator" cams and Cage's tightrope comic/ crazy performance, the film disapoints when the third act is tied up tidier than a Sunday episode of Murder She Wrote.

Just for Laughs - Louis C.K.
Weak bladder? You might want to consider diapers if you see Louis C.K. The Just For Laughs road show format has a good flow of quality comics. This isn't a Wednesday night at Yuk Yuks. These folks are pros.

Nurse Jackie season 1 episodes 1-12

The Baader Meinhof Complex
1970's West Germany is a society coming apart at the seams by the actions of a radicalized generation. After watching these terrorists in action I'm still not sure what they were fighting against. A new democracy is just Fascism with a new moustache apparently. The film begins with you firmly in the protestor's camp after seeing them run over in what might be described as "G20 Fashion". On one hand, as a viewer you loathe a police state but as the poser terrorists become organized and a genuine menacing violent threat, you, along with those involved, have forgotten what exactly they are killing and blowing things up for. Personally, there's nothing more infuriating than angry, meaningless rhetoric spouted from crazed idealogues. But if guerrilla hippies are your thing, then this is the group for you. What is striking is how similar the radicalized were then to how they are now and how similar the State's reaction still is. How far we've come, how little we've learned.

The Wolfman
When these subject matters take themselves too seriously, they are hard to take seriously. Hugo Weaving saunters in a little too late to excite what are surprisingly dull proceedings. On the bright side, the wolf tranformations are unforgettable and the wolfman's slicing wrath is undenialby fearsome.

The Best of the Ottawa International Animation Festival
Apparently, the "best" is yet to come as this program seemed a fairly weak representation of independent animation.

Date Night
A few laughs. Not nearly as bad as the critics say though still not as good as it should/could have been.

The Outlaw Josey Wales
"Dying ain't much of a living" - classic Clint Eastwood. This film might easily be considered the back story to Unforgiven.

Despite a charismatic lead in Tom Hardy playing the enigmatic & violent prisoner "Charlie Bronson" (née Michael Peterson), this is an extremely boring film.

Another Tom Hardy film (he does play an important role). It's as good as people say it is.

Regardless of what some critics have said, this is a great film. You can enjoy it either as a Film Noir puzzle piece, as a straight ahead action film or as a reality twisting Philip K. Dick sort of fable. Beautifully made, well acted and completely absorbing. Up there with Children of Men and Moon for me, though a lot of people will probably compare it to The Matrix due the self constructed reality the main characters inhabit (Dark City also comes to mind).

Paul Blart Mall Cop
Stupid. Fun. Not very well directed with oddly paced montages and choppy set ups. As a send up of Die Hard the model was easy to parody which sets the film apart from the similarly themed, though much creepier, Observe and Report. Kevin James is the movie, of course. Now a stain on my permanent public video rental record. Filmed in a mall we've actually been to in Burlington, Mass.

Harold & Maude
The classic May-September romance (maybe even January-December). A modern day remake might feature Michael Cera and Betty White. Great 70s comedy with a dark side and a surprisingly sophisticated aesthetic. You can't help think how this film may have influenced someone like Wes Anderson. Memorable soundtrack consisting entirely of Cat Stevens songs.

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