Sunday, June 17, 2012

Seen in May

Louis CK of "Louie"

I still find I'm watching a lot more TV than films but here's a sample of what I watched in May.

Louie, Season 2
Still enjoying one of America's foremost funny men. I think, despite Louis CK not be universally loved the way say, Jerry Seinfeld is, that he speaks directly to my demographic, which is fine by me because just as you must own your own pain, you must also own your own joy.

Punch Drunk Love
I'd seen this film in the theatre when it first came out but had mostly forgotten everything but that I enjoyed it. It's a simple but compelling tale of how the power of love makes us stronger than we can know and how anger is a part of us that can be destructive or useful. It's also proof of how a marginally talented actor, Adam Sandler (who is a very funny comedian) can produce a transcendent and subtle performance probably only matched by his role in Judd Apatow's Funny People.

Marvel's The Avengers
Does Hollywood think we're so stupid we might mistake the band of superhero Avengers for a television series from the 70s & 80s that they had to tack "Marvel's" to the title? Whatever — this movie is actually better than the books because to be honest the books were pretty bad. None of the heroes really had much of their own story and their version of teamwork was bouncing a cosmic ray off of a fellow combatant's helmet. What saved this film was, in this order, Robert Downey Jr.'s witty insults and banter, Mark Ruffalo as the tightly wound Bruce Banner and seeing Scarlett Johansen in a form fitting suit of unknown but stretchy fabric, oh and the epic special effects. The movie pretty much delivers on the fireworks. The story had a couple of confused scenes but everything came together (after being blown apart earlier). I guess the thing I never liked in this fragmented storyline of Marvel's whacko universe was its cosmic grandeur and self-importance. Though less silly than DC's Justice League it still felt equally jingoistic but if you're only here for the Memorial Day / Victoria Day fireworks then I guess you should expect a little of that.

"I am Roger Brown and I'm 1.68 m [tall]". Roger Brown, it turns out, has a lot of compensating to make up for his stature. Though, I'd like to point out that I'm 1.7m so I don't know why he was considered so short (5'7" is only a couple of inches off the mean 5'9"). This Norwegian thriller pulls a classic Hitchcockian Maguffin (I think that's right) — that being a central plot point is just a mechanism to get the action going. Roger has a beautiful wife and he likes to keep her in a beautiful house and for her to have beautiful things. To pay for this lifestyle Roger has a little art theft habit. Therein lies the Maguffin. Now that you know that, buckle up because it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Gary Hustwist's third film about a particular area of design, in this case, urban design. In general, design activity can defined as objects, images, places and experiences. Urban design, as with any design discipline combines several professions such as architecture, landscape design and urban planning and this film does an admirable job of containing the immensity of urban design to just 85 minutes. TVO ran a series some time ago called E2 or something that tried to tackle urban problems from the angle of sustainability but I think, was really the only way to grasp the problems facing cities today. You really need a series to cover the issues around transportation, commerce, access to water & sanitation, neighborhoods, density and public spaces. In some respects Hustwist's other films, Helvetica and Objectified were more successful only because the topics were much more focussed and easily discussed in a documentary format whereas the issues around cities is just to large to get a handle on. Yet I still plan on purchasing a copy for Toronto mayor Rob Ford who would never get through a book by Jane Jacobs yet might be able to stay awake for 85 minutes (though at this point I'm beginning to doubt it).

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