felicityking: (night time)
No, I didn't watch 25 films in a week. I was at 70 something when I wrote my previous post. This is just to catch me up. My recs from this batch: Brick (YOU MUST SEE THIS UNDERRATED FILM NOIR YOU MUST YOU MUST YOU MUST!!!!!!!!!!!!), The Vanishing, Purple Noon, and Yojimbo.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This used to be one of my fave of the HP films, but after rereading the novel, I'm shocked at how badly they handled the script. The actors were good, the effects are good, but Steve Kloves is a godawful screenwriter who has no clue how to adapt things. And the fact that JKR defends him makes me disgusted with her.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
I already wrote a review on this. The only thing that sticks with me is the scenery porn, and even THAT isn't that awe-inspiring. Rotted Tripe and Stinky Cheese is my tumblr tag for it, and I'll probably keep the tag for the entire trilogy. Also, Martin came across as a better Bilbo while being John Watson then when he's actually Bilbo. Also, Peter Jackson completely fucked up the character of Bilbo and I'll never forgive him for it.
The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962)
This is nowhere as good as the amazing, flawless, I-know-you-haven't-watched-it-yet The Passion of Joan of Arc, but it's still fairly good.

Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952)
You see one Ozu you see them all. But I did enjoy how he handled the topic of wealth and marriages. Also, how he showed in his own way how Japan was affected by Westernization. It's a quiet film, but it has its moments.

Bottle Rocket (1996)
Dear Wes Anderson: stop putting women on an unrealistic pedestal. Write a real one for a change. Despite the sexism present in his films, I do enjoy his work. Owen Wilson steals the show though. Three down on their luck friends scheme to steal their way to better fortunes. A little far-fetched in some places (they stay in their local area after robbing a store and NOBODY recognizes them?) but still good.

The Home and the World (1984)
This actually is a nice companion piece to FOGTOR. This Ray film explores Westernization, marriage, and India's struggle for independence. It felt a bit long in places, but I felt it was really good. It also had some interesting answers to love, gender, and education.

El Mariachi (1992)
Even though this is the prequel to 'Desperado' it felt like it was a super-indie version of D. If you compare the films side by side, they are nearly identical scene for scene. However, while 'Desperado' is like a Mexico folktale, EM felt more like a caper movie with no lore to it. Despite it's super low low low budget (reportedly made for $8000 dollars), it's interesting just how much of signature Robert Rodriguez is there.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
An interesting concept, a badly executed film. This finale in the Desperado trilogy has the Mariarchi taking part in a government assasination plot with "help" from US FBI agents. This could have been good, except the Mariarchi is a supporting character in his own film! Also, it could have explored (albeit in a fun, offbeat way) the way US colonialism has affected Mexico's identity of itself, but instead it's just ignorant movie with twists for twist's sake. So much potential wasted.

The Vanishing (1988)
I was browsing through this movie's tag during commerical breaks, and I was like "oh please it's not a horror film! it's a psychological study of how we deal with the lost of loved ones." Well, then that ending came and it scared the shit out of me. Oh, my goodness! It was REALLY good but really disturbing. I think I could watch it again now that I know what's coming, but gosh! I won't spoil the ending, but if you watch it, prepare yourself to have a romantic comedy afterwards!

A Knight's Tale (2001)
I didn't know I wanted to fuck Chaucer until Paul Bettany walked across my screen. Nude. A fun medieval fantasy about a servant who wants to be a knight. I liked it but all I remember is Paul Bettany (who is JARVIS in the IM movies!!!!!!).

Total Recall (1990)
Scifi porn with a semi-serious plot. Arnold S. plays a man who wants to vacay to Mars but its too poor, so he plans to have a fake vacay planted in his head. But the fake vacay transplant doen't take? Or does it? It felt like a B movie with A list actors. It wasn't bad, but it's an overrated movie.

Brick (2006)
A film noir set in high school sounds corny right? But this works. It uses all the old school cliches but in such a clever way without feeling like a cliche. I loved everything about this movie, which makes it hard to explain the reasons why you see it (i'm one of those annoying people who always need a good reason, and more than just 'I love it!'). Remember how I complained about 'The Million Dollar Hotel'? Well, MDH tried to reinvent the film noir but it had no understanding of the genre, and it just felt slapped onto a plot about poor homeless mentally ill people lving in a hotel. This works because the kids ACT like high school kids despite being typical film noir characters. Plus, the way the film is set up, you genuinely believe that the high school kids run the town. Also, it has clever nods to old Hollywood film noirs. I can't wait to watch this again. I really hope someone I know from LJ will watch this film.

Revanche (2008)
A surprising redemption tale hidden in a love triangle. It's unconventional. I'm  hardpressed to explain the plot in a few paragraphs, so IMDB it. It's good though.

Purple Noon (1960)
The original Talented Mr. Ripley. Far better than the Matt Damon film too. It's like if Gossip Girl had been set in the 1960s and people had actually been allowed to be their unpleasant, juicy, disagreeable, hanger-on selves without all the moral conventional shit attached to their characters.

Gosford Park (2001)
Julian Fellowes actually can write non-shitty material! But that's only because it's Robert Altman's baby in both idea and production. (Apparently, Fellowes has never gotten over this film, which is why everything he does now is prove the rich are always right). The murder is besides the point, it's really about the distinction between the classes, the  changing of the tide (the film shows how Americans and our classlessness threw off both the servants and their masters), and that whole era. It's really good. Too bad Fellowes missed the point. It's far better than Downton Abbey will ever be.

The Hi-Lo Country (1999)
YAWN! that is all.

Murder, Inc (1960)
YAWN. It has some intriguing elements, but it just isn't good enough.

The Lovers (1958)
A dreamy, atmospheric Louis Malle film about a bored, well to do housewife and the man who becomes her lover. Long before 'The Hours,' and 'Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood' this film showed what women did to rediscover their authentic selves, to be loved. I quite enjoyed it.

The Last Metro (1980)
A World War 2 film by Francois Truffaut. Theatre actors in France under the occupation. I like Truffaut but this film was definitely his "look at me whore WW2 for all the awards!" film. There was nothing substantial about it, even if did show a different angle. I said over at tumblr, and I'll say it again, if Ingmar Bergman had this, it would have been better. Bergman, for the most part, always can find the menace in the shadows and the light lurking around the corner. Truffaut just served up a lightbulb with no heat and not much light.

Yojimbo (1960)
Do you know how much I love Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon except from that love of course)???? This film has the most BAMFIEST hero ever to cross the screen. Yojimbo is an impoverished samurai drifting from town to town in search of a job. He stumbles across one when he comes to a town controlled by two rival families. He resolves to break up the war to restore good fortune to the town. Yojimbo doesn't take shit! He's clever, witty, and sarcastic. While the film violent it also seemed to making a point about the uselessness of violence. It did that by emphasizing the petty, twisted, and greediness of the two opposing families and their inane quarrels. This film is said to have inspired the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.

Sanjuro (1962)
The sequel to Yojimbo. I'm just going to ignore it. It wasn't offensive bad like Rashomon but rather suffered from 'sequelitis.' Which I hate, and will always hate.

Belle De Jour (1967)
This makes an interesting companion piece to 'The Lovers.' A well to do housewife is bored and decides to take up prostitution to enrich her sex life. I think the film is overrated, but it's good. Also, even the Gossip Girl writers used as inspiration for one of their episodes, the film is really unlike the episode (and the writers as usual missed the point of the film). It does seem relatively safe by today's standards though.

Stranger than Paradise (1984)
Once upon a time, Jim Jarmusch was (still is?) a hipster. This is his first post-film school film, and it's rather good for a first professional film, but one can tell that JJ hasn't outgrown his film school sensibilities. The black and white wasn't needed, the characters aren't that fleshed out, the plot isn't all that wonderful. But on the upside, it does show a side of the Midwest that never gets depicted in Hollywood movies, it still is a decent effort for a first film, and despite it's pretentiousness, it's not an in your face "look how quirky and special i am!" indie. JJ actually lets the characters be normal people. Which is commendable.

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
A lesser Woody Allen movie. He and Diane Keaton play an empty nest couple (their son is a baby! Zach Braff, BTW) who think their next door neighbor was murdered and investigate it. It was more memorable than it should have been, largely due to Woody and Diane's chemistry (they felt very married) and the naturalness they brought to their characters (Woody plays his usual neurotic self, but the stuff he did...make me laugh...a card scene in particular).
felicityking: (night time)
I'm just about to hit movie 75, so I figured I'd post short reviews for these. The you must watch this NOW (and you probably never will SOB SOB SOB!!!!!): Hero, Weekend, and Cries and Whispers. Honorable Mention: Shoot the Piano Player.

(Bolded films are non-English.)

Tokyo Story (1953)
Ozu is good, but he's a one note director.  You've seen one, you've seen them all. This movie takes place a few years after World War II, and although extremely understated, one can already sense the effects westernization is having on Japan. The old couple taken for granted, seem to be a symbol of the older culture dying, or being forgotten.
Four Rooms (1995)
Meh. A portmanteau. 4 directors direct different segments taking place in a hotel. The stories are connected by the presence of a bellboy trying to survive his weird night with weird guests and their weird requests. The Robert Rodriguez sequence with Antonio Banderas is the only segment worth watching, but even that isn't the greatest.
Hero (2002)
A martial arts film starring Jet Li about the origins of China. It questions what it is to be a hero, how mythology, storytelling, and national identity intertwine. This film is like an onion. Every time you think you know where the story is going, it pulls back another layer that alters (or builds upon) the previous segment. The cinematography is soooooooo beautiful, and really compliments the story.
8 Women (2002)
A French film noir musical starring classic and new esteemed French actresses. Conceptually good, but could have been better. All the little nudges to the genre and old technicolour films were great to see though.
Permanent Vacation (1981)
Jim Jarmusch's student film school movie. So it's very cheap and incredibly boring. A man with a hospitalized mother drifts over working class Manhattan trying to decide what to make of himself. Despite being BAAAAAD, I couldn't completely hate on it, cuz one can see trances of professional JJ and it's nice to see a side of Manhattan that isn't shown in film.

The Emperor Jones (1933)
Back in the day, Paul Robeson was THE African-American actor. Before Chris, before Will, before Denzel, before Sidney. This was his signature stage and screen role. Although the film should have been longer, I feel that it did capture his magnetism as an actor. And what a singing voice! It was also an interesting study of colonialism. How in the struggle to rise up, one might emulate the very systems that oppressed you.
Cronos (1993)
A very interesting take on the vampire story. The simplicity of the movie reminded me of 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.' Perhaps it's a cultural thing (Mexico) or the director (Del Toro, pre 'Pan's Labyrinth') but this vampire story about achieving immortality is unlike anything about vampires coming out of Hollywood. It was good.

Three Colors: Red (1994)
I LOVE this trilogy. This is the best though. It's about communication and isolation. It's hard to describe this movie cuz it's basically plotless, but it's about how connect or don't connect as humans. It's wonderful!

Black Orpheus (1959)
President Obama was right. This film does romanticize ethnicity. It's a retelling of the Orpheus legend set in South America, which should be intesting, except the characters and plot are paper thin! There is no motivation presented behind their actions, they exist to serve to serve the story. What's more, everytime an opportunity to present greyness and complicated emotions arises, it is erased by having an overly long dancing or singing scene. Also, this movie takes place in the slums, but you wouldn't know it from the way the movie glamourizes poverty.

The Music Room (1958)
I've been waiting a full year for Criterion to make Sanyajit Ray films free on hulu. I ended watching this during their free film offering weekend. It's about an old bloodlined aristocrat and the changing times. He and his neighbor (who is a self-made rich man) compete to have the best music rooms. Well, not so much compete cuz it is only the bloodlined aristocrat who is concerned with upstaging. It's actually a rather tragic film about putting faith in image rather than humanity. But was interesting. I loved the details in it too.

Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
A clever film noir by Francois Truffaut. A down on his luck piano player gets caught up in his brothers' wrongdoing. I can't even begin to describe this film's plot. It was fun verging on nonsensical, and very witty.

Weekend (1967)
I don't like Jean-Luc Godard. I watch his movies for the camera angles and blocking (which are sooooo amazing). But I enjoyed this one. Godard's characters usually exist to serve the plot, but there was no plot here. It's just one long random weird road movie about a couple on their way across France to kill a relative so they can get some money. There isn't anybody or anything to like in this movie. They are all so despicable, and yet, it's entertaining. Completely tasteless, but the tastelessness is there to make a point about society. (Much as I dislike Godard, I have to give him credit for not doing stunt filmmaking. He does put thought in his films.)

Wild Strawberries (1957)
You think Hollywood is the only place where they get goopy over old people? False! An old professor is dying and revisits his memories on his way to collect an awards. It's typical. Nothing surprising. Probably more elevated in how the subject matter is handled than the typical Hollywood film though since it's Ingmar Bergman directing it, but still nothing to get excited about.

A Woman of Paris (1923)
Charlie Chaplin's only drama. All I remember from this is the wonderful costumes and scenery. The story is a love triangle, but not anything memorable.

Two Tons of Turqoise to Taos Tonight (1975)
Robert Downey Sr's film was originally called 'Moment to Moment' and while that is not as fun to say as the alliterative TTOTTT, it more accurate captures what this is about. Just a collection of skits of people doing things. It has a young Robert Downey Jr in it.

Rashomon (1950)
I've heard so much about this film and it's awful. All the praise for it never acknowledges that it's a rape culture film that reinforces the stereotypes surrounding rape culture. Yes, it was masterfully made but UGH! The less said the better (and I am a HUGE fan of Akira Kurosawa but this film...NO!)

Emotion (1966)
A Japanese short film from the director of the cult horror classic 'House.' (That strange horror film I saw last year.) It was good. Like 'Chronos,' it is a new take on the fairytale. Lots of fields and waterscapes and creatures in capes. It reminded me of a Grimms' tale.

Cries and Whispers (1972)
A slightly surrealist tale about a sister dying. Her two other sisters and housemaid wait for her die, and each of the 4 in turn recall their darkest secret. The set decor for this film was very red and that felt appropros. It's a drawing room drama by Ingmar Bergman. There was one  really gross scene in this, but I don't think it would bother you like it bothered me.

Anne of the Indies (1951)
This could have been so good. A pirating adventure with a BAMF! to boot, but Anne was gendered to fit the stereotypes of the 1950s (punished for being independent, not interested in marriage or traditional femininity)

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
An early screen effort about the effects of mental illness on a family. I didn't really care for this. The mental illness was never named, and it seemed to use all the stereotypical measures in regards to the female who had it.

Jet Lag (2002)
Boring. Two stranded passengers at an airport who can't stand each other fall in love. It would have worked better if it hadn't gone there with the sterotypes. (He's an emotionally distance asshole, she's just gotten out of a controlling, abusive relationship.) The small moments are nice, but not enough to be convincing as a romance. For some reason, this film (which is French) was dubbed in English on youtube.

The Tin Drum (1979)
Oooh, I hated this film. I'm rereading my Holocaust lit books, and the survivors say "don't believe when they tell you they didn't know any better." Well, this is one of those films that makes it seem like Germany didn't know any better (and it was produced by Germany to boot). Oscar wants to stay in the womb, but since he can't, he decides at age 3, he will stay a child forever. I really loathed how women were treated in this film. I really hated how sex was treated in this film. And what's that about the mass genocide of people happening? Aside from the Night of Broken Glass, how Germany belittled and killed minority groups and subverted nations, WW 2 is glossed over.

Halloween: H20, 20 Years Later (1998)
Snooooooze. It has a steller cast, but they can't save the material. While it was awesome seeing Laurie Strode back, the film took too long in getting Michael Myers at her doorstep. The famous theme is given John Williams treatment (think booming orchestra) which just didn't work. Dull overall.

La Strada (1954)
This was sad! A young woman accompanies a circus performer as they cross the backroads of Italy making money.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
I can't believe I wasted so many brain cells on this franchise. However, for whatever reason, this one get things back into form. Oh, it's still ridiculous (Michael just can't be killed!, he can also kill everybody and evade cameras!) but it's a nice twist on the concept.
felicityking: (night time)
So I finally watched The Hobbit: AUJ last night and I was not impressed. I feel that the book was too fundamentally changed. In both big and small ways. I ranted about it on my tumblr, so I won't repeat it here. However, the largest observations that have stuck with me:

1. The cave scene was the one scene where it felt authentically like TH and  not LOTR: The Prequel. It was also the only time I thought Martin Freeman shone as Bilbo. But I felt like he spent most of the movie coasting (which I feel it partly his fault, and partly the fault of Peter Jackson for turning the movie into "Thorin")

2. Too much CGI. Oddly, there were scenes where the CGI felt more HP and Narnia-esque rather than LOTR. Which was weird to me, because way back in 2001-2003, it was LOTR that was the innovative series while HP was stuck in the 1990s CGI wise. I also hated how story/characterization was sacrificed for show-offy special effects. There is no reason why Peter Jackson couldn't have stuck more closely to how TH was written. But no, he had to fancy everything up. UGH!

3. Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, and Andy Serkis were the only actors who made the movie worth watching. Ian delievered despite the cheese he was forced to muddle through. (That 'he gives me courage' speech made me want to gag, and is soooo un-Gandalf!) Richard Armitage kept getting propped, but he actually put gravitas in his performance nullifying the constant propping. In other words, HE was the one who make you feel for Thorin, despite the annoying add-ons from Peter Jackson (look at mighty warrior Thorin fighting the orcs! look at Thorin mourning his lost land!). He could have easily coasted but he didn't. Then there is Andy Serkis, who somehow managed to make Smeagol look fresh, and still just as creepy/vulnerable as he was in LOTR.

4. Rotted tripe and stinky cheese is my nickname for this film, and I felt it especially during the council as Lord Elrond's home. I also fet it everytime the familiar LOTR essential theme music was used over certain bits of the film. It felt manipulative. Also, I didn't like how the ring was turned into The Ring, cuz even with Tolkien's tweaking, it was still "inconsequential" in TH, while other events were given more importance. I feel like there are other ways Jackson could have turned this into an epic prequel without harming the essentials of TH. (I hated the voiceover narration too. It took all the suspense out of the picture. That should have been moved to later on. The Company telling Bilbo around the Campfire, for example.)

5. I need to rant about Bilbo. He's a reluctant adventurer in the book. He's goes because he's prodded and pushed by Gandalf. He then sticks with the journey cuz he has an ego and wants to prove Thorin and company wrong. He's bumbling, but he's can also think on his feet. Peter Jackson does NOT understand Bilbo. Bilbo would NOT abandon the company because he misses home like the movie implied. Nor did the movie do justice to Bilbo's bumbling but quick thinking ways. He just gets...dropped... into situations (like rather than show his ingenuity into wandering around the cave trying to find the Company, he instead is ~dropped~ to the very bottom where he meets Smeagol. Also, the troll sequence was changed as well as others to make him more normalized instead of the bumbling but quick thinking hobbit he is.) That annoyed me to no end and I will never forgive Peter Jackson for changing Bilbo like he did. (I can understand Thorin-fying the movie BUT Bilbo shouldn't have been altered to prop Thorin.)
felicityking: (night time)

Yes, overly wordy me managed to write ~short~ reviews. If you want more elaborate opinions on any films on why I loved or loathed something, just ask. Of the 25 only 3 have really struck me: Jubilee, Clandestine Childhood, and Argo.

Very brief thoughts on what I've watched so far this year. )

felicityking: (autumn)
This has always been my least favorite of the HP series and rereading it (for the first time in years), I finally figured out why. 

Roll Call of Complaints I have with this Book )
felicityking: (Default)
Watching anything and everything is proving to be fruitful. I've discovered a ton of films I wouldn't have regularly watched--and to my surprise--have seen very few ~bad~ films this year (under 10 ten, and of that only 3-4 that I really loathed). I know I say "I love this film," "that film was amazing!," or whatever. But seriously, if I link it here or repeatedly say "watch this film watch this film!" on tumblr, it means WATCH THIS FILM! I've seen many films I've liked and loved this year, but only a handful that are like "oh shit, everyone should see this." I will confess a part of me dies everything I reblog about a film that is THAT GOOD YOU MUST WATCH IT NOW!, and nobody expresses any interest on it on here or tumblr. Oh, I know why it is. The films I'm recking aren't Hollywood mainstream or those indie ones that are current but get awards attention (tumblr has given me so. much. insight. into people's idea of cinema these days. And it saddens me. People would really be ~safe~ than adventurous.)

Anyway, here is my newest batch of reviews.

139-150 )

felicityking: (Default)
Most people who do these don't count rewatches, but I do. Why? It gives me a good barameter for putting the film into a larger context of cinema history, as well as to how see how much my tastes have changed (or broadened). (Plus I don't obsessively rewatch films. I pull them out once a year or so for a full rewatch. Usually if I pull a film out, it's to rewatch a certain scene(s) obsessively.) Anyway, here's my newest set. (Go visit my tumblr for gifs and photosets from the movies. Feel free also to ask any questions if you want to know more about a film.)

My lazily worded and written reviews (or what happens when you have been working 3rd shift two weeks in a row) )

I'll be hitting 150 by next week. I'm really excited! Of course, I have lots of film recs if you need any. (4-5 in particular that I really hope people will watch but no amount of reblogging on tumblr of those 5 has convinced anyone to watch them. Yet. SOB SOB SOB :D ;) )

Before I hit 200, I do plan to fill in one gap. Bollywood/Indian films. It has stuck out to me and annoyed me that I'm watching films from elswhere but not there. (Also, films from Africa, if I can find any online. Hulu has Indian films but not African ones.) As to why I'm watching so many foreign language films this year: hulu has them available via the criterion link, and I've neglected them for many a year. (For years I was lucky if I could watch 1. Now I can watch as many as I want. So I'm trying to make up for the years I haven't been able to watch them.) Hollywood films are always there to watch when I want to see them (more accessible via a variety of places) so my neglect of them isn't purposeful or because I'm turning into a "too good for mainstream things" hipster.. Just trying to fill in other holes in my cinematic knowledge. (And technically many of the obscure films I've watched this year are Criterion-linked, and Criterion is the US snob label that restores "films that matter" so my film education is still being filtered through a mainstream, acceptable film label.)
felicityking: (Default)
Since I've passed 100 films, I've gotten extremely lazy about posting reviews. I've also gotten more obsessive about marathoning (though I'm a lame marathoner. When I "marathon," it's at most 2 films per day, or a certain number of films per week. I have yet to do an all-day 7 movie marathon like some people are capable of.) But I still want to post opinion bits, so very belatedly...

 Huckabees to TGE are films my friend owns that I'm watching while I housesit. (I have 3 more of her films to go, and that's on top of the hulu films I've been squeezing in.) None of the films on this list are rewatches. 

Short and sweet as usual )
felicityking: (Default)
Not sure if anybody is actually reading these, but I'm still posting them. Though I must admit I'm feeling rather lazy these days. At the beginning, it was like "of course, I want to leave a review! my opinion is important" but 100 films in, I've more like "of course I want to squee over that particular moment, and that, and that, and YOU MUST WATCH THIS (or not), let me go find it giffed and graphicted on tumblr." Anyway, if the quality of my reviews has gone down, that is why.

Due Date. Or my tumblr dash influences what I watch as much what hulu makes available. I subscribe to several RDJ blogs and this movie keeps cropping up. So, I finally had to watch it. I'm glad I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Soloist first cuz I can just imagine this as a semi-au sequel to both. It had some good scenes in it, but the male characters were too...assholish...for me to really root for them.

A Cold Wind in August. Like The Graduate, except it predates that movie. I found the movie to be dated, but some parts of it do hold up quite well. The speech the woman makes about stripping is a choice--a career, there's nothing dirty about it, she does it survive---was progressive for 1961 and progressive now. But other parts are annoying. It's okay. But not much to talk about.

Mr. Freedom. A VERY spur-of-the-moment watch (it was set to expire in 2 hours). Imagine if Captain America was a corporate racist objectifies woman bitch and you have this movie. It's one of those underground ones and it's reflected in the budget (spaghetti sauce for blood). This French film is actually a satire on American imperialism, and boy did it feel timely! (Or would have during the Bush years) I liked it but largely due to the fact that it kept reminding me of those posts that crop up on tumblr: "We have ____" "Well, we have freedom and are FREE!" (I am discovering tumblr is influencing what I watch and like as much as hulu is.)

The Soloist. Joe Wright is a mixed bag for me, but I will give him credit for always choosing gritty realism rather feel good sappiness when he has the choice. I was worried I would dislike this movie since it has 1. white savior complex 2. mental illness 3. social justice/message 4. genius trapped in handicapped body BUT Wright's grittiness saved the day. Not to mention the casting of Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr, two oversized personalities who manage to cancel each other (and "this could turn sickly sweet" vibes) out. By turns, it did remind me of August Rush and The Fisher King, but I think this movie (despite its limitations) is better because, in the end, it doesn't say it solved anything. It says: life just is, The good and the bad, but it's super-complicated.

Jane Eyre. A rewatch. While this is a good adaptation, this 1996 version is very rushed. It could have used another 10-15 minutes in the second half to fill out plot and characterization. This will probably either be best remembered as "that version that featured Elle MacPherson" or "young Anna Pacquin was in this." The scenery porn and score are good, as is the cast (even Elle...). I watched this primarily so I could compare it to the Fassy version. Which I plan to watch soon.

Nothing Sacred. An apt title for this wonderful screwball comedy about a woman (not actually) dying and the newspaper that tries to wring her impending death for all its worth. Even though this was on hulu, it clearly hasn't been restored because it looked like a camera-film. I hope it gets restored as it is as amazing film!

Simón del desierto (Simon of the Dessert). Well. The Exterminating Angel seems so long ago! I've watched many crazy movies since then, so this, my 2nd Bunuel film, seemed rather understated. This short film skewers religion and piety and what we value. Although controversial in its day, it seems rather tame now. I enjoyed it, but thought it was ....subtle...considering that Bunuel is prized for his outrageousness and push-the-envelope elements.

Bluebeard. A B movie from golden era Hollywood. For something only an hour and 10 minutes, it was a total snoozefest. (Although I did note how the cinematography was shadowy and undefined in order to try to disguise the obvious cheapness of the sets and costumes). The only relevant thoughts I had about this were: the lead who plays Bluebeard should have played Abe Lincoln (I IMDBed him and tragically he never did), and the lead is kinda hot. Other than that, it ranks as one of the worse movies I've seen this year. (Most memorably boring one I've seen since All the Pretty Horses at any rate.)

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. Watching the movie inspired me to read the play. Reading it was a joy, as was realizing just how faithful to the movie was to keeping the play intact (the movie only added filler scenes to pad it out, and those were few and far between). Definitely worth the read and every bit as delightful as anything could be.

Umberto D. Not my 1st neorealism film, but it is my first de Sica film. Oh, it is TRAGIC! God, one of the most depressing films ever (actually surprised it hasn't been remade because it's one of those sob story films that Hollywood loves to release around awards time). It's about an impoverished man struggling to pay his rent, and his love for his dog. Sounds cheesy but it isn't. The ending really got to me. And, it doesn't sugarcoat. You see how terrible things were for Italy after the War.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Ok. My Avengers/Tony Stark feelings are really getting out of control. One way to manage them (so I can watch non-Avengers Assemble related stuff) is to watch movies starring AA stars. This is a very dry film noir starring Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer as two Hollywood up-and-comers who get mixed up in a murder plot. It doesn't take itself too seriously and it managed to keep me guessing. I enjoyed it.

Amarcord. This film kept giving me the warm fuzzies. I've watched so many films this year, and this film kept reminding me of new ones I've seen (Zero for Conduct, My Life as a Dog) as well as old favorites (The Sound of Music). It's a film about nothing: just life passing by in an Italian town in the 1930s but it was really good. I wasn't in the mood to watch it (my "everything should be Avengers and Tony Stark!" feelings keep getting in the way of watching....non Avengers movies) but I'm glad I did.

Hairshirt. Swingers may have come a few years later, but it did better with more heart and soul. Also, Swingers was not afraid to show the seedy, gritty side of trying to make it Hollywood, and trying to survive relationships with your friends and lovers. This cheap shot just stays on the surface, and is sexist to boot (Swingers objectifies but it never villianizes the women). However, I will applaud Neve Campbell for playing a villian in her first producing effort.

Lilies of the Field. Crash will probably look like in in 20 years: radical for its time, quaint by today's standards. Actually, it does remind somewhat radical even by today's standards: despite having an in interacial and interrelgious storyline, it maintains the attitude of "duh! of course we're over that! it's our personality ticks that annoy us, and even those can be surmounted." It's more akin to a parable or hyper reality. However, it does feel quaint in other respects (the whole church building business plotline and the way it played out belonged in 1883, not 1963.)

Three Colours: Blue. Like Ugetsu, this film goes far on its scenery porn. It's mesmerizing from beginning to end. Everything about it just works. Flawlessly. Juliette Binoche plays a grieving widow recovering the loss of her husband and daughter in a car accident. The thing I found most unique about this was how it's score was used internally not only to move the plot along but also to dramatize. Also, loved the cinematography used blue-ish overtones throughout. Perfect, perfect film.

Ghostbusters. My first time watching it. Actually I saw half of it on hulu the first year I had my account. An old habit I have yet to break is waiting until the very last minute to watch the film before it gets removed, and I waited...too long. I finally saw the rest of it. For 1984, the CGI and claymation and puppetronics is quite good and they do get much out of very little. However, the film didn't appeal to me. I like the actors, but I guess it's something you have to grow up with to love.

To the Ends of the Earth. A 3 part BBC minisieries starring a baby-faced Benedict Cumberbatch. It's about a wealthy man's voyage from England to Australia. Fairly accurate, if lightweight, in depicting the typical voyage (I read several books about it last year so I can vouch that William Golding has done his research). I liked it, but I can't say much about it, except it was humourous.
felicityking: (clouds and flowers)
So many TV series, so little time!

I've only ever seen seasons 3-4 of this show, but hulu has made it available for a limited time (which is why I'm interrupting my Merlin marathon...). EoNM is a Canadian series based on the books by L.M. Montgomery (you have may seen or the read the Anne of Green Gables series, also by her?). It follows Emily as she grows up. Emily is destined to be a writer, and to overcome great odds.

What a turd! What a waste! Thank god it's over!  )
LMM knew what she she was doing when she wrote the book, and Marlene Matthews would have done better to have stuck to it.
felicityking: (clouds and flowers)
Newest to oldest per usual. My last review set was nearly all movies! I need to work on the miscelleous part!

Captain America: The First Avenger. It's weird. I can go weeks on end watching obscure, less mainstream, non-Hollywood type films on hulu and then one day, it hits me, I NEED to watch another fluffy, popcorn, mainstream, Hollywood film. This was the lastest boom! example. I've actually put off watching it for awhile, because I was afraid I would be disappointed given my high expectations regarding the cast (you can't stick Hayley Atwell, Richard Armitage, Dominic Cooper, and most importantly, JJ Feild in one movie and not expect me to freak out).  Well, of all the Avengers lead-ins, this is the one that surprised me: even though I love Tony, Loki, and Thor, never quite prepared me for how wrapped up I got in Steve's journey. He was just so adorkable! I found myself getting quite emotional at times. Thor still remains the most Shakespearean, and Iron Man the most cool, but Captain America, he's got a place in my heart too. I'll always root for him!

The Queen. I've seen this film a few times, and each time, I have mixed feelings about it. I was in my teens when Diana died and I remember that week, that summer. I believe the film manipulated or exaggerated facts to suit its purposes, but it got the essence of the truth right: it's hard to remember now (because the Queen has modernized the Institution) but back then, the monarchy was considered out-of-touch. At the same time, I also think the film is trying TOO hard, and too obviously, to be an apologist note for the way the Queen/Windsors behaved back then (I don't think she deserves it. If Jackie Kennedy could rise to the moment in 1963, so could the Queen in 1997. The Queen misfired, greatly.) Why do I think that? Because everything and everyone is portrayed grey (but overall, in a pleasing light) except Princess Diana. True, she had her problems, but I well remember how much loved she was for her charity work. But the film damns her ~everything. Nothing about her, not even her charity work, is considered worthy of merit. I think this is a film I will come to hate in a few years, but right now, I like it enough to rewatch it. Even now, I get chills when I remember that time and particularly when I see footage of Diana. (Footnote: I like the Queen now since she the common sense to update the monarchy, but I don't like how the film tries she say she didn't deserve to be damned back then. She did. And I'm glad William and Harry take from Diana in how they treat the Monarchy.)

Enchanted April. Only my 2nd viewing of this flawless film. I remember the first time I saw it, I thought it was good if slow-paced. This time I was so sucked in the scenery and the characters, I didn't notice the time. This is probably the most beautiful film ever made. Every scene looks like a painting. During the Roaring 20s, 4 women go on a quiet holiday to Italy. I highly rec this. It's like A Room with A View, but more lazy and enchanting (yes, the film lives up to its title!). My immediate thoughts though are: WHY DO I NOT OWN THIS YET??? I will be definitely be buying it!

Ugetsu. I can this can be considered The Virgin Spring of Japan, but rather than dealing with conflicts of religion, this one deals with conflicts stemming from war and profitting. Based on Japanese folklore, it follows the rise and fall of two pleasants who get what they want....but also have to deal with the suffering their greediness incurs. Despite being shot in 1953, the film is rather harrowing in showing how war affects women (poverty, rape, abandonment). This is one of the few times where the critical praise of the cinematography wasn't underrated. This film is strangely enchanting, haunting, and beautifully shot. Everything just fuses together. Definitely a must see!

Strictly Ballroom. What Dirty Dancing is to you is what this film is to me. It was a staple of my teen years. Often I would rewind and watch certain sequences obsessively. I haven't seen it on years (my VHS is waiting to upgraded to bluray), but hulu made it free so I watched it. I kept on thinking "wow!, they don't make movies like they used to." Not in the storytelling sense, but the ~budget~ sense. Everything is so shiny, designer-y, and CGI-y nowadays. This was a low-budget film but I don't remember thinking throughout the 1990s it looked low-budget. Now, I'm realized how accustomed I've become to glitz and sparkle. This film is seriously underrated though (YOU BAD BAZ FANS WHO HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET! ***shakes fist****) It really is a gem. Like all of Baz's films, it's more a parable/fairytale/dream fantasy rather than reality. It's about having the courage to be yourself, no matter how late in life, no matter what the odds. Something I didn't notice in my teen years: the dark undercurrents that lie beneath the frothiness.

The Brothers Grimm. I was bored. Although I enjoyed that the scenery porn was clearly inspired by Pre-Raphaelite painting, it also felt deriative of Harry Potter. Also, the special effects were too many and too distracting. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders had NO special effects, but it worked because it was pure storytelling. Here the CGI felt show-offy. Didn't much care for the movie either. Heath Ledger stole the show doing nothing, but even he couldn't get me invested in the movie. I read that Miramax interfered with Terry Gilliam which is probably why it's not as good as his other movies.

Flirting With Disaster. Without a doubt, movies like Little Miss Sunshine and Sideways couldn't exist without this David O. Russell indie (and it is a true indie!). The problem is this genre is now so ...exploited...that this film no longer feels groundbreaking like it once was. Intriguingly though, it also sets the stage for more mainstream fare like the Fockers movies (however, Ben Stiller is comparably low-key here). While I did like this movie (it's something I've wanted to see for years), I wasn't as in awe with it as I thought I'd be for the reasons named above. But overall, it's good.

The Avengers. I'm late to the party, but I finally saw it! Do I dare say I prefer the individual movies that I've seen to this? Yes, I do. I didn't dislike it: far from it, but it was soooooo action-heavy. I liked the small bonding scenes best: between Tony and Bruce, Clint and Natasha, Pepperony, and every scene Agent Coulson was in. And...Surprise, surprise! While I sympathized with Loki after Thor, he just seemed to evil here. I don't think Hiddles was attempting to play him one-noted, but I no longer felt the love I did for him. I did like the characters played off another and how their chemistry was developed but I think the sequel will be far better, since the obligatory squabbling will be out of the way.

Jules et Jim. This film annoyed me in the same way Breathless did: everything felt calculated to achieve the ending. The film is about a love triangle between longtime friends, Jules and Jim--who are intellectual, pretentious males--and Catherine, a flaky female with no personality whatsoever (the film uses lazy shorthand by comparing her to a Spinx). I enjoy Troffaut, and I enjoy Jeanne Moreau, but this film was stupid. The costumes and scenery porn were beyond beautiful, but the story itself is not worth the investment.

Iron Man 2. I FINALLY got around to seeing this. It's not as enchanting as the first one. The villians annoy, the plot drags, and there wasn't enough Pepperony (best ship name ever!). But I fully enjoyed having my heart broken by Tony trying to hide the fact that he's dying, that's he's in love with Pepper--but doesn't know quite how to show her--and that he wants to be remembered for being Iron Man, no matter what show he puts he puts on as Tony Stark. Even though I know what's coming, I still found myself thinking "OMG, he's gonna die!" Mostly I spazzed out over how extremely Robert Downey Jr looked, and Tony's priceless scenes with Nick Fury. (Still have to see Incredible Hulk and Captain America. And, Avengers.)

Good Morning. My 2nd Ozu film. He's such a masterful director! Even though this was filmed in the 1950s, it feels surprisingly contemporarily. When their parents won't buy them a TV, two kids decide not to talk to any adults. Despite its slight premise, the film manages to delve into many cultural things: how misunderstanding arises and generational conflict. It's like a highbrow Desperate Housewives.

Five Corners. Despite its A-list cast and Academy Award winning screenplay writer, everything about this feels like a made-for-TV movie. A convicted rapist comes back the Bronx to seek out his victim. A subplot involves drunken, high teens having fun night out. The last half hour just felt too over the top and ridiculous. Although it is set in 1964 to try to make it look artsy (and to have a conversation about non-violence and race relations), it really feels no different than the typical (non artsy-fartsy, non-indie) 1980s "psycho killer on the loose" films. I didn't like it.

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) A French film noir that is awesome! Definitely one of the best I've ever seen. Louis Malle's debut film is clever take on "wrong place in the wrong time" genre. It's suspenseful and full of plot twists. Not going to reveal the plot! You just have to see it and enjoy it. Oh, and the scenery shots are amazing! It really benefits that it's shot in black-and-white too.

The Kid. I have the strong impression I've seen this before, but if I have I don't remember it. One of Chaplin's earlier Tramp outings. It's very Dickenseque with an abandoned baby being raised by the Little Tramp, while the regretful mother searches for it. Despite the poverty and underlying sadness, this is a rather comic outing.

Zéro de conduite. My 2nd Jean Vigo film. This director is amazing! I think he lucked out being in the "in-between" period when films were neither complete silents nor completely sound. He has all the benefits of sound, while being able to keep in the best things about silents: the use of slightly-over-the-top characters and comedy. This charming little short is about an unruly boys school and the the inept (but also repressive) schoolmasters. Trouffant was said to have borrowed liberally from this film when he made The 400 Blows, and I could see the influence. However, The 400 Blows is sad, while this is just fun.

M. My 2nd Fritz Lang film. He really is an amazing, innovative director! This film is noted for being the German sound film, but it's obviously transitional as most of it is still silent (which contributes nicely to the atmosphere of the film). Didn't realize until I had finished watching it, but the film has no orchestral soundtrack. Which reminded me of another soundtrackless film I've watched this year: L'Argent. Like this film, this film is about a serial killer. However, this one goes one step beyond. It is almost surrealist in how it shows society falling apart under fear. The absurdist bits (like the black market underworld gathering together to hunt the killer) rise from the film from the mundane to amazing. Many elements are ahead of their time: the forensic science, the 'uselessness' of the policemen, etc. This film isn't as good as Metropolis but the ending places it firmly in the will-rewatch category.
felicityking: (Default)
I'm reading all my summer books now, because I know when summer comes, I'll be wishing it's winter. But when it's summer, I can think back on these books and remember what is about summer that is special, what is buried and waiting to be unearthed beyond the sticky humidity and. the hot-enough-to-melt-cement days.

If you've ever wonder what a Midwest summer is like, this book will describe it to you. Even though Bradbury later moved to LA, and wrote elsewhere, he spent much of his childhood in the Illinois. I'm from the Midwest as well, a born and bred Ohioan. Even though it's 2012 now, and the book was written in the 1946 (but takes place in 1928), some things about Midwest don't change: the quiet towns, the passage of time where nothing significant happens--and yet it is significant in its own way--and the underlying darkness that we don't notice because we feel safe.

DW concerns two brothers, Doug and Tom, and one idyllic summer where Doug realized he was alive. Actually alive. He can feel it in his feet, right down to the ground, and his decision to record as much as it possible.

There really isn't a plot to the book. It's really a series of vignettes about Doug's life, his family, and his neighbors. Being plotless actually helps the book. Because you really get to smell a way of life that is now gone: when trolleys once ruled the streets, when people met at ice cream parlors, when a town was small enough that you knew everybody, when dandelions meant wine and not weeds that must be extracted from yards.

I've read Bradbury before but never really loved him until now. The Martian Chronicles but was good but didn't do anything for me. Farenheit 451 is something I've tried to read but can never get into. But this. This. Was amazing. I kept expecting it to disappoint me but it didn't.

The thing I loved most about this book was the poetic way it was written. Every description was so vivid and lush. Bradbury doesn't just describe, he gets into the heart of something and makes you see it differently. I would quote but you have to read the full book to see how each description builds upon each other.


Oh, and Ray Bradbury, wherever you are, the Happiness Machine has been destroyed. It's called tumblr, and on any given day, you can find 3 sunsets on your dash, photography of Paris, London, and places from around the world. Mrs. Auffmann was wrong. It doesn't make you depressed that you can't leave, that you are awakened to dreams you never knew you had. She was right though that if you get too occupied with the happiness machine and leave other things neglected. She is also right in that seeing too much of one thing can make you less appreciative of it, take it for granted...mindless reblogging. But it also connected many of us together, so it's not a complete waste. And we use it for than just mindless reblogging. We try to educate each other about issues and raise awareness about things that matter. But, yeah, too often we neglect what really matter. But still. Not a complete waste.

I'm very sorry also to tell you that nobody appreciates the dandelions anymore. Yards are deplete of them. If you see them, it's on a home that nobody owns, a ruins where the grass is overgrown. I'm glad you aren't alive to see how dandelions are just tossed aside, instead of being used for cooking or wine-making.

But the ice cream trucks have replaced trolleys. Old people still are time machines to the past. Kids go trampling through the woods and enjoy the carnival. So, while some things have changed, other remain the same. So even though the dandelions are no longer bottled into wine to savour on cold, damp nights, idyllic memories are still being made.
felicityking: (clouds and flowers)
Newest to oldest per usual:

The Importance of Being Ernest. Oh, what a joy this was! From the costumes to the score to the scenery, this slightly surrealist movie based on the Oscar Wilde play was such fun! It's about the courtship and manners in upper-crust society. Colin Firth and Rupert Everett steal scenes from each other and are quite the zippy pair. I would definitely watch and rewatch this again!

French Cancan. Like an MGM musical extravaganza, except more ribald and grittier. Damn! When did Hollywood get so conservative? This features illicit sex, an attempted suicide and nudity and it was made in 1954! Jean Renoir's musical is about the origins of the Moulin Rouge. It's a great fluffy film even if it's about nothing groundbreaking (typical rags to riches "a star is born" material). The cinematography and costumes are so amazing. One can definitely see nods to dad Auguste throughout the film.

Sommarnattens leende (Smiles on a Summer Night). If Rules of the Game had been more frothy, rather than dramatic, this is what it might have been. Although it's a dark comedy, it still manages to feel like Renoir painting come to life. Its plot is slight: several couples sort out their messy love entanglements as they relax over a a carefree few days. Being an Ingmar Bergman film, it also has lovely scenery, great dialogue, and amazing actors. This is my 4th Bergman film this year and he's definitely becoming one of my favorite directors. Oh, and, if you happen to see this film and like it, check out the CD A Little Night Music, the Stephen Sondheim musical based on this film.

Pygmalion. I've always mixed feelings about My Fair Lady, but watching this--especially in the aftermath of Gossip Girl where Chuck's bullying and abuse of Blair is considered epic love--I can finally say, I hate this story. Eliza is nothing more than an object. We are supposed to laugh that her father would sell her for 5 pounds to Henry Higgins, that Higgins mistreats and shapes her with no regard for her feelings or past life, that Higgins "treats a Duchess like she is a flower girl." It's not romantic. It's a lesson in misogyny that is cleverly hiddenly behind fashion, wit, and a treatise on language that you will improve yourself if you improve how you speak. I think this story is ultimately a tragedy. I don't celebrate the ending. And I'm horrified so many people hold it up as a romance. The only thing I can say I truly enjoyed about this was that Higgins/Pickering are basically Holmes/Watson. Except, instead of solving mysteries, they are dissecting language. But, you can't convince me Bernard Shaw didn't rip off Conan Doyle for his prickly bachelor and easy-going companion.

Eden Lake. I will always associate this film with the "Gossip Girl" season 5 finale. Why? Both are plot-driven dramas about heartless, bullying people with little to no humanity. Jenny and Steve go on a holiday where a gang of adolescents harass them. Rather than call the police, or leave the area, Steve fights back...which results in lots of torture porn. It all leads up to a manipulated ending. I don't stomach horror very well, but I watched this because Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly are in it. According to reviews, this ranks as one of the most disturbing modern day horror films ever made. If so, I'm shocked I was able to get through it. (I flinched a lot but it was more disgusting for its "no compassion, everyone's a monster waiting to attack" message rather than the actual blood-and-gore.)

Summertime. An underrated Kate Hepburn film that I haven't seen in years. "Nothing ever happens to me" laments plain old maid Jane Hudson to a stranger in Venice. She's enchanted by Venice and determined to see it beyond its tourist lenses, but she still feels lonely and alone, despite her attempts to be included. Despite her awkward, unglamourous self, a Venice man does indeed fall her--and her trip turns into a life-changing experience. What I love this film--and KH films in general--is that Jane isn't presented as a tragic character before she finds love. She's still accomplished and doing something, even though she feels alone. I can only imagine how this film would remade today in our Twilight era where a woman isn't complete without a man. I especially like the ending, because we know Jane will go on. She's not defined by her love or time in Venice, even though it has opened up her, changed her. Biggest reason to watch this: the scenery porn which is simply breathtaking.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I have always loved this move but since rereading the book, I realize it's not the best adaptation. The movie could have used an additional 15 minutes in the first portion to smooth out the plot. Everything is rushed to the ending (and a full hour, one complete hour, is devoted to the ending...). Alfonso got all the praise for maturing the series, but all I noticed was his "look at all the pretty toys I get to play with!" attitude effects rather than focus on storytelling. It's still strong movie, but elements from the book that shouldn't have been left out were (Snape being bullied, Snape giving potion to Lupin, the beginning with Sirius Black and why the Aunt hates Harry....) David Thewlis is flawless casting though.

Pépé le Moko (1937) My 2nd Julien Duvivier film. This French classic is a gangster movie set in Algiers about a swaggering, on the run criminal who falls for a European woman, even though he has a loyal lover already. Although very different in tone, I couldn't help but think of Casablanca. Except, this love triangle is rotten. There's no nobility behind it. As with Anna Karenina, the film is beautiful. Shot on location, the sets and costumes are amazing. Not breathtakingly glorious, but amazing in a local colour sense of time and place. For a gangster movie, the violence is thankfully minimal too. It's there and it's brutal but it's not let-me-shock-you-in-your-face gagworthy.

Orphée (Orpheus).  FILM 75!!!! My second Cocteau film. I saw his Beauty and the Beast while I was in college at a Sunday film matinee. I had the same impression I did then: he's very good but greatness lies just beyond his grasp. I couldn't help but think of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet when I was watching this: it's a retelling of the legend set in modern times. I haven't read the original play, so I'm not certain how much was changed for the film, but it didn't feel like much based on my other readings of Grec-Roman plays. The last 15 minutes are what really made me like this film, because it focused on the underworld angle, rather than the humans trying to make sense of it.

Muriel's Wedding. Thank god Hollywood hasn't discovered this Aussie cult comedy: it would be totally sugarcoated and airbrushed. Toni Collette plays Muriel, a single, self-esteemed challenged woman. After catching a bouquet at a wedding she decides to make a change to her life. It actually reminded me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except there was a huge sad undercurrent throughout. While Muriel's journey is mostly postive, there are reminders that not everything comes up roses even when you have everything as shown by Muriel's mother story (which is heartbreaking). The fashion is atrocious, but the movie is amazing. Go find it and watch it!

Kate & Leopold. Cute, adorable, and surprisingly dry for a romantic comedy. A 19th century gent who wants to be something more than just a wealthy guy is accidentally sent to the 21th century where he meets a cynical career woman. The time travel aspect gave this something unusual, and I liked how they explained it at the ending. Also, I like that they played it straight: it made it work. Liev Schriver stole the show though, as Kate's ex-boyfriend who is a scientific nerd who discovered the time portal.

The Great Mouse Detective. Although I love Disney films, I haven't seen them all. Since Sherlock season 2 is coming back tomorrow, what better way to get ready than to watch this? That's right. Basil of Baker Street is the great crime-solver of the Victorian era, and this time he--and Dr. Dawson--has to figure out why his arch-enemy, the dreaded Professor Ratigan, kidnapped a toy-maker. I liked that Disney didn't try to sweeten Basil up. While he's not quite the prick Benedict's or Robert's Sherlocks are, he's still a fussy little fellow, um, mouse.

Things to Come. Well, fuck! Why don't they make movies like this anymore? This isn't just rehashed CGI. It's speculative, imaginative, what could be next fantasy. Based on a story by H.G. Wells, the movie can be said to be roughly split into 3 parts examining how "progress" is understood by humankind in times of war, anarchy, and peace. It's a bit heavy on the dialogue-side, but the effects--even for 1936--was amazing! The sets are particularly imaginative. I loved this! If you can find it, watch it!

A Bucket of Blood. Although I've seen the remake of Little Shop of Horrors, I've never seen an actual Roger Corman film. I can now understand the fuss about him! Two things I immediately took away from this: beatniks were the original hipsters, and never trust the new popular person or thing cuz it might be a fraud (and people are liking to praise things that aren't even there) . I liked this film. It's a black comedy about a hack who wants to be a sculpturer and, through accidentally murdering a cat, discovers a way he can make art. This is a film that could easily be made today.

Equinox. A low-budget B-movie Criterion rescued from oblivious. As I'm sure it is obvious, I like to IMDB or wiki the movies before I watch them. I feel this makes me be more fair-minded towards them if I know their background, and this one has quite a bit: 2 important special effects creators, also this was originally a student-made film that got picked up for distibution. Even though the actors are walking cardboard and the effects themselves are unexciting, the storyline is what keeps this film watchable (as well as knowing its history). Despite being made outside of Hollywood, it does fit within the classic teen horror genre: 4 teens go into the woods to meet a teacher for an assignment. Instead of meeting the teacher (who has mysteriously disappeared), they encounter strange and terrifying horrors instead. It's one of those movies where you go "well, okay" and just enjoy the cheese for what it is. While I can't say I'll ever become a lover of B-movies, thanks to Criterion, I am beginning to understand their importance to film and cinemas in general. (And, in over-reliance on CGI era, B-movies cheap, handmade effects actually actually seem refreshing.)

Casanova, Part 2. I don't care if it was historically accurate or not. This is well-acted, well-made miniseries! This second half is darker and more shocking that the first half. However, it is not tawdry. Both the past and present parts are compelling and the directing is top-notch. (Rose Byrne even manages to make a thankless dressing role mean something.) Definitely one of the best miniseries BBC has produced (and they really need to go back to making 3 hour + extraganzas.)

Casanova, Part 1. The miniseries, not the movie. Wow. I wasn't expecting to be pulled into this, but it just snuck up behind me with its charm, wit, and humour and never let go. Peter O'Toole plays an older Casanova recording/reflecting back on his life. David Tennant, an unconventional but perfect choice, plays the sexy, scandalous younger man. Russell T. Davies, of Dr. Who fame, wrote the miniseries so it has a much less serious air to it than the typical BBC movie or miniseries. Can we discuss the flawless score though? It's very carnivalesque: mischievous but with a haunting, melancholic undertone. Which is perfect, because it echoes the echoes themselves as their characters pretend to flit lightly through life, but beset with disappointment and the gender politics of the day. (Note: the series is 3 singles episodes, but hulu has split into 2 parts)

Fanny och Alexander (Fanny & Alexander) A made-for-TV miniseries that got converted to into a 3 hour film (and later converted back to a 5 hour + mini) that is sumptuous, beautiful, and amazing. Ingmar Bergman's swan song chronicles the Ekdahls, a rich, theatrical family and their lives during 1907-1909, but the main focus is on Emilie and her children (who the film are named after). If the film is sprawling, it's also engaging to watch. We see everything from Alexander's POV--and it is an imaginative, harrowing, and descriptive POV. Definitely a great film. I plan to see the miniseries when I can.

I Vitelloni. My first Fellini film! And I wasn't disappointed. This reminded me of The Men of Brewster Place (a fantastic novel by Gloria Naylor) where I hated all the characters for their thoughtless, cruel ways but because their motivations were so well explained out, I couldn't help but sympathize with them, even though I couldn't forgive them for acting the way they did. This came out the same year as Roman Holiday, but it's a very different Italy from Hepburn and Peck's film. Italy is still enchanting, but it's desolate, isolating, and cynical place. It actually felt quite modern: the men are slackers but that is because employment is hard to find, they are over-indulged and spoiled, and they are trapped in a small town. It's almost like an Italian version of A Place in the Sun, except rather than end in an epic death, it just shows the tragedy goes on and on despite our attempts to forget it and act lighthearted or uncaring about life.

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten (From the Life of the Marionettes). Ugh. I would never have expected this sleazy, tawdry, cheap film from the likes of Ingmar Bergman but there you go. It's a semi-sequel to his Scenes from A Marriage, focusing on 1 married couple. The husband kills a prostitute, and the film goes back and forth in time establishing his motives and history. It's a Bergman film, so it was more poetic and beautiful then the typical shock thriller, but it was still unappetizing.
felicityking: (Default)
2.04. I wasn't too keen on this episode. It gave me Camelot deja vu with it's "omg love triangle!, angst!, poor babies!" angle. And while I shipped L/G last season, reintroducing 2 episodes after A/G has been set up as a romantic duo, left L/G seem unappealing and forced. The whole episode felt off though. It was either angsty love trio or Merlin acting like a dunce. I did like that the show called backed Arthur's beginnings to Roman mythology/history and I enjoyed the darker, rougher tone. But overall, I was hugely disappointed with this episode.

2.03. MORDRED! And a subtle callback to the previous episode (Arthur clearly still in love with Gwen, nicely done show!), and even fashion continuity (Morgana wears a red cape both times she's with Mordred). The execution was somewhat meh though. Considering the events of last season though, I wasn't completely satisfied with the execution of this episode. It felt more like a retread+ move forward, then actual organic plot and character development. The show has always had its formulatic tendencies, but it's really showing in season 2.

2.02 I hate this show! While this episode isn't awesome, it's an amazing start to a new season. Yes, I'm just going to pretend 2.01 doesn't exist. Gwen!!!! Ha! That is why you are a BAMF!, because you tell Arthur to his face what Merlin will not. What is more, you manage to make Arthur think about what you say and make him get all hot and bothered you as well. I love it! (Kudos to the show for the wardrobe upgrade too. Methinks Uther is still paying for a certain sin committed last season.) THE KISS!!! So beautifully shot and lovingly done. (Good to know they care about some things even if they don't others.) I feel it is too early to be shipping A/G, and yet...Bradley and Angel sell it sooooo well. Damn you show! The last 15 minutes crossed into awesome territory again. Most bipolar show ever.

2.01. Only 10 minutes into it and sighing at the huge step back the writers are taking. WHY??? What a lame start to a new season. And, what is with ripping of The Mummy? Really what is this? This is TERRIBLE season opener! Whoever thought this would be brilliant should be have fruit tossed at them! And what is with these random, shoehorned conversations? Clearly, this episode was a reject from last season with some tidbits added to make it "flow." Only Arthur calling Merlin in his room (to get out of bed shirtless for pointed reasons...) and Arthur/Gwen being flirty make this episode tolerable.The scenery porn--especially in the last 15 mins--is splendid too.
felicityking: (clouds and flowers)
Kudos to you if you've been keeping up with my reviews, or have bothered to check them out. This has certainly been an unpredictable, exciting, and adventurous movie year for me. I haven't enjoyed watching movies this much since I went to the Sunday matinees at the Gish Theatre at my college. Anyway, I have reached 50 films but I have no plans to stop now when there are so many gems out there waiting to be viewed.

Newest to oldest as usual.

Driving Lessons. Rupert Grint can act! Nobody knows it though cuz he keeps choosing offbeat, character non-mainstream films. I did like this film, but everything about it started off obnoxious at first: the soundtrack is TOO distracting, Laura Linney's accent feels too forced, Julie Walters' brassy actress act is too over-the-top, and the film is too aware it is an indie. Except, it sneaks up on you. Everything settles in its place. It's a coming-of-age story about a awkward, uptight boy who works for a washed-up actress. It doesn't follow the template of usual growing up stories which is what makes the film so enjoyable. And, although the film is quirky, it's so character driven that it doesn't seem quirky-for-quirky's sake.

Bacheha-Ye Aseman (Children of Heaven) SOB SOB SOB!. This film is achingly beautiful, but it just breaks one's heart. It's like a fairy tale, but the note of realism in it keeps one from forgetting the harshness of life, of what is to be a child living in poverty. I do believe this is my first Iranian film. I quite enjoyed it. A little boy accidentally loses his sister's shoes, and it's about their struggles to make everything all right. Apparently, there is a remake called Homerun. I plan to watch it if I can find it. REC!

Kurutta Kajitsu (Crazed Fruit). There are certain films, which are classics, but are highly life-scarring and "never watching this again, need lots of fluff just to get over the trauma." For example, Last Tango in Paris. This is another one. Rich, directless, and bored teen brothers in post-WW 2, Westernized Japan fall for the same woman. A love triangle ensues as does tragedy. Apparently, this film was considered highly shocking at the time of its release and I would say it still is. Not for its sexuality or discontent (which was the main reason it was disliked in its original release), but for the brutality and misogyny of one its characters. The ending is predicable, but the way it is drawn out makes it very shocking and surprising. My jaw dropped even though I figured out what was going to happen. It's actually a bit like Cherrybomb, but more harrowing (because it's not angsty for angsty's sake).

Panic. Sob! If Wild Target had been a character drama, rather than zany, quirky comedy, this is what it would be. A hit man, seeking therapy, falls for a much younger woman while trying to find peace in his life. It had the potential to be sleazy or one of those "suburban discontent" dramas (think American Beauty), but the film never loses itself. It's very thoughtful and intelligent throughout. Although I predicted the ending, I wasn't prepared for the last 15 minutes post-prediction where the depth of the film really shines through. The acting, scenery porn, and music all contributed to making this a wonderful film. I rec!

Anna Karenina (1948). There's nothing wrong with this film, except I wasn't in the mood in to watch it. I'm glad I did, but it took forever to get through cuz I was in one of my weird film moods where I don't watch something even though I'm sure I'll enjoy it. There are several versions of AK, but this is the first I've seen. It was amazing. Vivien Leigh is flawless as the fierce, fragile, but ultimately tragic heroine. And, wow! The costumes (by Cecil Beaton) and sets were feasts for eyes. A beautiful film! I'm surprised it isn't better known!

Reservoir Dogs. I felt I should have liked this, but I just didn't. It wasn't a bad film by any means, but not one I felt moved in any way by. A robbery goes wrong--and the thieves try to figure out who the rat is. What I did appreciate about this film is that it isn't as stylized as Quentin Tarantino's films have become.  It feels slightly more natural, more real world, not as cartoon-y, as some of his later day films have become. Steve Buscemi is a little scene-stealer though!

Swingers. From descriptions of this, I was expecting a modern day gamour Frat Pack movie. To my surprise, it wasn't. It's like Judd Apatow before Judd Apatow, except I feel this was less pretentious, more realistic. I couldn't completely embrace the movie due its very obvious sexism (the men relish being players), but I did enjoy the friendships and struggles of men trying to make in L.A. Also, I enjoyed seeing a side of Los Angeles that isn't often depicted on film: the average joe, regular hang-outs far from the glitter and glory of Hollywood. I also liked Mikey. Despite his clingy off-puttingness, he was enjoyable because he knew he was the awkward guy among a group of cool kids: and yet, they still loved him.

His Girl Friday. Another rewatch. I haven't seen this film in years though. It isn't as fast-paced as I remembered it as being, and the screwball aspect doesn't feel present until the last 20 minutes. I'm still impressed by Rosalind Russell as the BAMFiest newspaper woman alive: she runs, she reports, she banters, and tweaks all the men around her while wearing high heels and changing clothes. The depiction of the newspaper of being corrupt and concerned with local colour politics felt extremely timely too, given so many paper scandals these past few years. Still a classic, but not as OMFG awesome as I thought it was years ago.

Like Crazy. If a French Wave film had been directed by John Cassavetes, this is what it would look like. Strangely, it make an nice compliment and comparison to For Lovers Only, another film about lovers being torn apart by time and circumstance. I feel this film was more honest and unflinching though. It also took me awhile to figure out why I wasn't gaga in love with it: Anna. She's cold, clingy, and her insecurities give the film an uncomfortable rawness. (I loved her emotional awakening at the end though.) She's the counterpart to Jacob--as well as the other characters--who exude warmth and stability, even when it uncertain. As for the controversial ending, I liked it. I don't think a neat, wrapped up ending would have helped this film Given its docu-drama, and painfully real quality, the open-endedness of it made it feel more real. (I personally think they split in future time.)

The Night Watch. A BBC telemovie about sexuality and relationships during World War 2.This was intense! And so sad! At 90 minutes, it felt a bit rushed but it still was good overall. I don't want to go into detail about it for fear of spoilers, but wow! You need to see this. The cast is flawless: JJ Feild, Claire Foy, Anna Maxwell Martin, etc. It's not fluff, but it does reveal the often forgotten history of how the GLBT community was treated and how complicated gender relations were during the 1940s.

Hausu (House). If you like low-budget b-movie horror, you might like this. I didn't. It's like Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Little Shop of Horrors but even more random, odd, and completely bizarre. I'm not against weird movies. Wendy and her Week of Wonders is one of the strangest films I've ever seen, but the ~lack~ of computer effects is what made it work. I was constantly distracted by the editing and obvious computer effects on this one. I have no idea how to even begin to describe the plot. It's so one of a kind. I wouldn't have finished watching it but various reviews claimed the horror scenes were so amazing so I stuck with it until the end. Those scenes were a letdown however: more interesting than scary or even gross.

I Married a Witch. My introduction to Veronica Lake, and wow!, she is a wonder! I hated the film. It reminded me of Enchanted, and I loathe everything about that film (except the music). A witch puts a curse on the family that burned her, but later comes back and falls in love with one of his descendents. Things I do love about this film though: the costumes (I covet everything!), the sets, and the chemistry of the stars. But I did not like the plot. It has another oddity too: there's nothing about that screams "preserve this film for future generations" but it has the Criterion label on it.

Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face). I was persuaded to watch this French horror based on reviews, which repeatedly called it a poetic fairytale. Well, I thought it was more of a noir than a fairytale. It wasn't a bad film by any means, but I don't think it quite lives up to its reviewed reputation. The film is about a girl who gets into a car accident and how her father tries to replace her face. I thought the special effects were well-done for the time, but nothing to write home about. (But one wonders how gruesome it would if remade today.) Also, the main "horror" of the film is limited to a two-minute surgery scene. The ending was a letdown too. I guess it's worth a watch, but not the be-all, end-all. At any rate, it's another French film to add to my French cinema education this year. (At this point, I've seen so many, they don't even feel "foreign" anymore.)

Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut (A Man Escaped, or The Winds Bloweth Where It Listeth). Now I get all the fuss about Robert Bresson. This truly is a flawless film. It's like "The Shawshank Redemption," but true! Despite being a character study film--and the plot extremely straightforward (stripped down simply to the prisoner trying to escape), it still carries a depth to it: how we all must retain hope and faith, how blessings come to us in forms we don't expect, how defiance can keep us alive and deception (against those that would harm us) can enable us to be strong. It was very taut, suspenseful, and extremely well-paced. An excellent film! Hugely rec!

Seance on a Wet Afternoon. A "psychic" and her husband plot a kidnapping to earn money. A little known British thriller from 1964 starring Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough. I wouldn't be surprised if this was a play first, because it uses minimal characters and largely takes place in a house. Despite that, it doesn't feel stagey. Stanley rocks as Myra, a controlling woman with one-screw-loose. Attenborough almost blends into the scenery he is so understated, but when he does finally let go, the result is worth it. An interesting movie.

Carnival of Souls. Movie 51! You are forgiven for "Princess from the Moon," Criterion. This cult classic B-movie is flawless. It's fucking creepy too! A woman survives a deadly car accident and starts seeing freaky souls. Even though it's very different in story, purpose, and special effects, I couldn't help thinking this makes an interesting /compare/contrast to "Psycho." Kudos especially to Candace Hilligoss, who perfects the art of the blank face while still managing to convey terror and confusion behind it. Definitely a top 10 movie.
felicityking: (clouds and flowers)
Newest to oldest, per usual.

For Lovers Only. WOO HOO! THE BIG 5-0! And what a film to celebrate it with! This film is what "Before Sunset" should have been. Two lovers are reunited in Paris after many years and fall in love again. It's a simple film, it's a lush film, and it's very intimate film. Not intimate in an uncomfortable way, but Michael Polish, the director, is very successful in making you feel like you are peeping in on the lives of these lovers. (Yes, the reviews say that, but it's true!) This film is an indie's indie and it shines it every scene. Also, while the film homages the French Wave it isn't neccesary to watch FW cinema to appreciate the delights of this little picture. My only nitpick was with the soundtrack. Everything from score to song was good but sometimes it was a little too on-the-nose (ruining subtle moments here and there in an otherwise flawless film). The ending is ambiguous, but I like it. (It does hint in one direction, but it also open-ended enough to allow the viewer to interpret it).

Taketori Monogatari (Princess from the Moon) Criterion, WTF? There's fluff, and then there's cheese, and this was cheese at its finest. Yes, it's Japanese and based on mythology....but it's cheese. It's like one of those movies you find on SyFy during the middle of the night: not bad but not good and the special effects are so obvious and low budget that you laugh.. The story is about a couple who daughter comes from the moon and how the village becomes obsessed with her. It's just....Really? Seriously, Criterion? If this had been produced by Hollywood, you wouldn't have slapped your high-brow label on it. Who bribed you to get it included on the label?

Thunderpants. This movie has the dumbest premise ever: so much so that if Rupert Grint wasn't it, I would never have watched it in the first place. And, yet, I'm spent the majority of it in tears. Here's the plotline: Patrick farts and farts since birth, all the time. His friend, Allan, is a genius with no sense of smell. Together they plot to make dreams come true. It should have been the dumbest, most embarassing movie ever...but instead, I was bawling at Patrick feeling ostracized at school, at home, being used by adults, and just plain feeling hated by the world--even by Allan (mini-Sherlock Holmes shall we say?). This movie had NO RIGHT to make me feel so emotional but it did. Despite the stupidity of it's plot, it did have a great message for socially awkward kids and the darker undertones give it a gravity. BUT STILL! Bawling over a ridiculous kids flick? I need to go throw myself off a building.

Sanma no aji (An Autumn Afternoon). I LOVE THIS FILM! I wasn't even going to watch, but I forced myself. I thought "yeah you're tired of watching high-brow classics and want to watch fluffy shit, but this is not easily accessible. Watch it!" I'm glad I did it is one of the most beautiful, most enchanting, most amazing films I've ever seen. It's a Japanese film not about much--just about love and marriage, family and friendship, the passage of time and getting old--but it's just breathtaking. The scenery porn is particularly gasp worthy. Everything is so flawlessly synchronized from the set design to the costumes but it's not cloying. I love this little film! If I ever have more money, I plan on buying it!

Vivement dimanche! (Confidentially Yours). Truffaut's swansong was a homage to Hitchcock, and oh what a homage it is! Apparently, Traffaut was an expert on Hitch and it shows in every frame of the film. A man is suspected of murdering his wife and her lover. His secretary gets entangled and decides to prove the man is innocent. This is a suspenseful who-done-it and I really enjoyed every minute of it. Also, I fully approve of the use of black-and-white here. It isn't pretentious because the film is shot as though it is an early Hitch film. In fact, there were times where I had to remind myself that it wasn't lost Hitchcock and the story does take place in the 1980s. Lots of fun!

Valerie a týden divů (Valerie and Her Week of Wonders). My first Czech film. Imagine Marc Chagall's art: enchanting, beautiful, but often strange fairytales and you have this film. It concerns the coming-of-age of a girl named Valerie, but beyond that I couldn't really explain it. It is amazing though! Despite being obviously low-budget, every scene looks like a painting. Apparently, this director of this film is part of the Czech New Wave, but it differs from the French in that it is about "long unscripted dialogues, dark and absurd humour, and the casting of non-professional actors." (per wiki) Back to the film: while it's not my favorite film of the year, I think it is one I'll definitely want to see again in the future for all the scenery.

Akasen Chitai (Street of Shame). While I'm enjoying my French and Swedish film education, it occurred to me I haven't seen any Asian cinema. Fortunately, Criterion came to the rescue. This Japanese film classic concerns the intersecting lives of 4 prostitutes, and how they suffer when the government passes a law banning the trade. It was quietly heartbreaking but still powerful. Also, the score is one of the most original I've ever heard. Despite it's otherworldly, fantasy (think "The Twilight Zone") overtones, it worked for the film.

L'argent (Money). My first Robert Bresson film. Hulu is making me realize just how lazy a cinemaphile I am! Even though he's considered one of the most important French directors of all time, I hadn't heard of him until I watched this. Influenced by the New Wave, Bresson's film has a bare, minimalist style. I really enjoyed this film although it was quite harrowing and terrible to watch. Based on Tolstoy short, the plot concerns the interconnected lives of those involoved with a counterfeit banknote. It truly is a tragedy about an innocent man lost in, and corrupted by, the system that works against him. And I'll never view Paris the same way again! Bresson reveal the unglamourous, gritty, suburban side of it. Yet, it is not an ugly film. (Well, my POV. I can find beauty in mundane, forgettable things.) Also, it took me an hour before I realized this film has NO score. Yet it works fine without it because the acting, editing, and cinematography is so compelling (nothing is wasted).

Immortal Beloved. A nearly flawless film that is a sympathetic portrait of a prickly genius. Like The Virgin Spring, this mesmerizing film is able to show beauty and serene alongside scenes of unflinching brutality and horror. While it does severely overreach (no one knows the identity of Beethoven's Immortal Beloved, and the film's conclusion of who it is is very laughable.) The period drama porn from costumes to scenery to set is just beyond amazing. This film is very underrated. What is particularly well-done is showing how Beethoven was affected by his deafness and how that affected his music and relationships.

Anemic Cinema. A strange surrealist short by Marcel Duchamp. A series of French puns alongside concentric, spinning circles. It actually reminded me of The Twilight Zones's opening credits. The circles were nice...but watching so many in a row made me feel dizzy.

The Fisher King. "You think it's easy being nuts? Try being me!" screams former shock jock Jack to Perry, a "nice psychotic" homeless man who believes knights exist and Jack is there on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Terry Gilliam isn't a filmmaker for everyone, but what I appreciate about his films is that he celebrates the social awkward, the seedy, the Luna Lovegoods. This film is slow to yield its fruit, but it does. It about the powers of story, mythology, to help us find redemption and make sense of our lives.

Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows). GAH! THIS FILM IS SOUL-CRUSHING! I'm not a fan of woebegone teen movies. I find the genre overdramatic and calculated. However, this film drew me in. François Truffaut's story follows a lost, confused, disillusioned adolescent boy. His angst works because we see how he is neglected at home, encouraged to thievery by his friends, and treated harshly by teachers at school: and it is always contextualized but never in a forceful way. This film is gritty but not pretentious due to its realism as well as its moments of humour. Its sadness is profound but not in an ironic, distancing way but rather in a 'this is just the way it is' way.
felicityking: (clouds and flowers)
Newest to oldest per usual.

All the Pretty Horses. For every minute of storyline, there's 3 minutes of scenery porn. Now, I love scenery porn, but not when it does a disservice to plot and character development. The lack of focus on story makes the characters appear static and flat and the plotline jumpy. Not to mention, the editing is too obvious. The story takes place after World War 2 and it's about one man's journey into Mexico and back. All I remember though is how this movie dragged, like it was sneaking around it's own storyline. It could have been good, but it's a misfire.

Doubt. Just when you think the film is going to be either/or, it surprises you with grey. Although the characters threaten to be archetypes, the actors manage to invest layers in them. Oh, and forget Miranda Priestley! Sister Beauvier is scary!!! The plot concerns two nuns who believe the priest may be having an inproper relationship with a younger boy. This film was really compelling and quite powerful. It also felt like a modern response to Joan of Arc: that not everything is clear-cut even if one is innocent or guilty of a crime. Also quite striking was the sereneness of the sets and costumes despite the darkness and uncertainty of the character. It was like watching a Vermeer clash with a Goya.

L'Atalante. I never heard of Jean Vigo until I found this Criterion movie on hulu and now I want to see everything he's done. Which isn't much, because he died of TB after only making 4 films. In fact, he directed this from his sick bed. It managed to be both gritty and golden, ethereal and realist It's about a newly wed couple--and their servant and a boy--on a boat. While I couldn't completely get behind the film (the hubby is obsessive, controlling and too easily jealous: the hornet sting on an otherwise enchanting afternoon), the rest of it works. It gets its realism from the dialogue (people arguing, getting to know each other, or just making small talk) and its dreaminess from the silent sequences of people looking out to sea, dancing or watches other dance, an erotic dream sequence and an unusual underwater swim.

Dick. I couldn't take anymore highbrow masterpieces. I needed to watch a mainstream, most likely shitty, film and turn my brain off. However, while I can report that while this is irrelevant fluff that doesn't take itself or history seriously, it wasn't a bad film. I laughed several times throughout. The plot: 2 high school girls find themselves entangled in the Watergate crisis. Just a drippy, sugary, cotton candy confection. It is a delight as well to watch Michelle Williams and Kirstin Dunst together. Amended to add: I think it could be seen as a meta on fangirlling: on surface, stupid and nonsensical, but beneath, the fangirl is aware of the seriousness of the world and using her interests to help change the world. So not a complete fluff film. And worth seeing.

La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game). Servants and aristocracy intermingle on a weekend at a rich estate. I know this is a masterpiece, but I only admired it rather than liked it. Although it shared much in common with El Angel Exterminador, this film felt more calculated. While I don't feel the characters were used as plot devices, the coldness, cynicism and hypocrisy that was so apparent made it hard for me to enjoy the film.

Monsieur Verdoux. Oh, Charlie. Ohhh, Charlie. You've always been dapper, but I had no idea the oddball held a sexy-as-fuck gentlemen with a liquid voice. I was completely swooning over you this entire film (and you were old enough t be my grandfather when you made this!). MV is about a con-man who swindles and murders rich women to keep his family afloat during hard times. It sounds like a drama, but it's a dark comedy (with several very hysterical moments) with dramatic, philosophical undertones. This is the type of film that David Gale was trying to be, but failed: commenting on the larger scope of society, but showing how the threads exist within our individual lives that lead to failure.

Little Voice.So Jane Horrocks plays an extremely repressed, very socially repressed singer who can excellently mine. A role where when she is not singing, she has to communicate by the smallest of looks, the tiniest of movements, the smallest of sounds...and who gets nominated for an Academy Award? Brenda Blethyn in an over-the-top well-treaded stage mother role. Injustice! This is a flawed film but it's good. Its flaws stem from not translating the stage elements: it's too literal. For stage, literalness works, but for screen, the obviousness makes it seem lazy. However, whatever its flaws, this was a rather original coming of age and rising performer story. Very untypical from any other star-is-born storyline I've seen. Even if its flights of fancy go too far, it's well acted and its a rarity to have a movie that celebrates the quietest among us.

Playtime. Jacques Tati is like the Marcel Duchamp of cinema: underneath the irrelevant, cold, hard exteriors, there's warmth and whimsy. Also, he's an acquired taste, but once you leave your comfort zone, you'll find its a taste you don't want to be without. I read reviews that this is a film about nothing, but I feel there were many messages to be mined from it: how we are all interconnected despite the space we put between ourselves and ourselves, how chaos and randomness will still exist despite our attempts at perfection and sterilization, how technology can help and hinder us. I really enjoyed this movie and it's one I'll have to rewatch, as every screenshot is like an painting: you can't take it all in one sitting, because it's so detailed.

Häxan (Witchcraft through the Ages) Another Swedish silent, a "documentary" on witchcraft in the medieval times. Even back in the pre-Code era, this film was considered controversial enough to be cut and censored with its sexual imagery, torture porn, and devil imagery. While it certainly gave me a new perspective on silents, I can't say I liked it. It was interesting, but aside from the ending and the score (which was based on the one played a the film's premiere) it reminded me too much of those cheesy teen horror flicks with their gratuitous nudity/sex and cheap special effects. After watching the flawless PoJoA, it especially felt rather tawdry and disgusting. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc). Harrowing and completely unforgettable. I think this film is one of those that improves on viewing though. Why? Because it is shown without sound (there is "soundtrack" version, but apparently it's meant to be seen without any accompaniment). It forces you to really throw yourself into the drama and make it real for yourself. (You create the voices, the tonality, the music.) Which is a lot to ask of viewers in our age of distraction and noise everywhere but it can be done. (I tried to cheat and watch the "soundtrack" version on youtube when the completely silent version got to be too much, but the music just seemed barbaric and overbearing.) This film is also a discomfort in its many expressive close-ups (particularly of Maria Falconetti) but the discomfort is worth it.  I do rec it.

Körkarlen (The Phantom Carriage). Wow. This was gripping, enchanting, melancholic, and entrancing. This film was a first for me: a foreign language silent. Can I just say too--I'm impressed this Swedish film from 1921 has better and more believable special effects than the CGI-laced films of the last 5 years. The story like that of a Dickens' Christmas story: an unreformed man undergoes a night of spiritual enchantment and comes out of it a new man. (Tragically Chuck Bass has ruined me once and for all, in that I know take these stories with a grain of salt and then some BUT the actor here is really good. So I'm wiling to embrace the fairytale aspect of it.) Oh, and the cinematography! The film is shot in such lovely golden sepia and icy blue tones! The lack of colour just enhances its otherworldly setting. A nearly flawless film. Everybody needs to see it.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. A strip club owner finds himself having to make due on a debt. My first John Cassavetes film. (Yeah, I know. These reviews unfortunately reveal what a lazy film nerd I am.) I know he's considered a great director, but I just couldn't get into this film. It felt like amateur work. That plus the ugly realism + slow-going storyline = me being so bored. I think I would have enjoyed the film better if the visual imagery had been more poetic. I know realism is about grittiness and mundane, but this film did have several lovely moments where light and movement was breathtaking (how silhouettes were framed or dancers shown). I do plan to watch more Cassavetes films but I don't rec this one.
felicityking: (Blair Waldorf/Gossip Girl)

Newest to oldest, per usual.

Somers Town. A hobo an an immigrant become friends in inner city London. Despite it's slightly pretentious note, this film is quite likable. It felt genuine. I want to use the word literary to describe it, but that suggests it contained certain cinematic imagery when it didn't. It really had no plot but the vignette-like quality of the film gave it a realness that other "slice-in-the-life-of" films lack. I looked up the film, and apparently, the director is regional Midlands one who is reguarly on the film festival circuit. And, yet, the film didn't have the calculated feel that many indies have today (you know: the ones that clearly vying to get an Oscar...). I really enjoyed seeing this different view of England which isn't documented enough in films. I do recommend it.

Titanica. A 1995 IMAX documentary narrated by Leonard Nimoy. Dear James Cameron: it's very good to know that your idea of "research" consists of lifting a subpar documentary scene for scene. Seriously! Just watch this and then watch the film and you'll see how much Cameron plaguarized. Now why do I say it is subpar? Well, it doesn't put Titanic in the context of its time. It's basically boiled down "arrogant people with bad decision-making skills." When it was so much more than that. Ironically, nobody in this documentary comes off looking good either. The explorers pat themselves on the back even as they crash into the wreckage and try to lift luggage off the floor because it might have real gold in it or the shiplog or a valuable rare book. This is only worth watching to enjoy how spectacularly everyone--from explorer to historian--makes fools of themselves when discussing the ship. Only the survivors and the footage give this any dignity.

City Lights. I've watched several of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp films and never once have I gotten a slash vibe from them. However, this one just gushes out the slash like there's no tomorrow. The Little Tramp befriends a millionaire who only remembers him when he is drunk: when sober, the millionaire only sees the Little Tramp as a stranger. This leads to many pratfalls and double entendres. The main story though involves the Little Tramp discovering a poor blind woman and falling in love with her and what he does to save her. Like all of Chaplin's films, there is social commentary. However, I will keenly admit all that captativated me was how much of a dandy the Little Tramp was, and all that slash. I mean, it's everywhere! Forget "Star Trek: TOS," Chaplin was the one who inadvertently discovered it.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Whatever PS lacks, this one makes up for it in spades. I dare say, it also benefits from the LOTR effect. There is more attention to detail and more details in both the set and costume design. The vistas are grander in scale and scape. n other words, the HP series no longer feels trapped in the 1990s. There is also a charm and enchanting quality that PS lacks. I think COS is helped along to in that is more closely adapted to the book but the changes made aren't haphazard. (Scenes actually flow and make sense: it doesn't feel rushed.) But I also think the kids actually own their roles now in a way they didn't in PS. (Watch and tell me you don't think Daniel Radcliffe is a BAMF! when he smirks against Tom in the COS.) The only miss in the film is the casting of Kenneth Branaugh as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart. Book! Lockhart is full of himself, but he manages to charming and funny by virtue of being so egotistical. Film! Lockhart is full of himself...but dignified. That said, I think the film did a great job capturing the loopy balls-always-up-in-the-air nature of the book with the introduction of Dobby, the COS, and Lockhart. Oh, and it wins a bonus point for a continuity callback: When Harry meets Voldemort in PS, Harry is wearing a red sweater. In COS, when Harry meets Tom Ridde, Harry is wearing ... a red sweater. I thought that was a nice detail.

Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring). One doesn't usually use the words "beautiful," "enchanting" and "meditative" to describe horror films--particularly ones that feature rape and unpleasant killing scenes--, but without a doubt, this film was all those things. But it is not just a horror film, it is also an examination of religious conflict, faith, and family. The costume and set design, and nature backdrop, contribute to the stark wonder that makes this film unique. Concerning a family in the Medieval times whose daughter is murdered and how they extract revenge on her killers. Apparently, The Last House on the Left is a remake of this film, and I ever do watch it (I don't like torture porn), it will only to see how this got remade.

The Circus. This is the first silent film I've watched since I've graduated from college! Wow! That's 5 years! Shame on me! This is one of Charlie Chaplin's Tramp movies and it was really good. Even though it's from the early days of Hollywood, I couldn't help but see it as a metaphor the industry past and present: how fame is fleeting and how hits are always expected, but how the system tries to manage you. How in the end, all you have is yourself. Offtopic: say what you will about silents, but they do preserve the pantomime and vaudeville of the late Victorian era & Edwardian era. And while I don't consider myself a film snob, I adhor students of film who dismiss this genre. (I actually met one in college. He was very dismissive of the era, saying that "they were just learning how to made movies in those days" as a justification for why he ignored films of that era--as well as films of other eras.)

El Angel Exterminador (The Exterminating Angel). Part satire, part horror, this film chronicles what happens when several upper-class society members attend a dinner party, and then are unable to leave. Going through the tag on tumblr, I saw this comment 'it's like Lost set in a living room' and that aptly sums it up. Or Lord of the Flies meets Downton Abbey. I thought it was quite good. Remarkably scathing too in how it showed how things don't matter when you are starving and trying to survive. On that note, I will add, I was THIS close to having an orgasm the first 20 minutes of the film: the sumptuousness, the luxury, the opulence, is just breathtaking: both the set interior design and the costumes. It was truly cinematic porn! (But by the end, one is only acutely aware of the grossness.) Oh, and the ending.... just imagine if the film had gone that route. Apparently, Luis Bunuel was considered a controversial filmmaker and I have no doubt as to why!

Mitt liv som hund (My Life as a Dog). Lasse Hallstrom is like the L.M. Montgomery of cinema, and I don't mean that in a bad way because I love LMM, but basically: you see one Hallstrom film, you've seen them all. This was made in 1985, but it contains the hallmarks of his films to come: a not quite idyllic family living in a not quite idyllic time. A coming of age tale. The eccentrics. The beautiful scenery. Heartbreaking but not a wring-your-heart-out-will-ruin-you-forever tragedy. A story will a philosophical and semi-mythological event. I liked it, but it's typical of his work. The thing I liked best about this was its depiction of slower times without being sentimental. Also, the little boy kills me: "I always compare. Things could be worse."

Merlin 1.05

In the Bedroom. I hated this film. The characters only existed to serve the plot, nothing more. I found the ending to be quite farfetched as well: Richard would NOT have been acting like an innocent, lost puppy based on his actions earlier in the film. The only scene I liked was the "you're so unforgivable" scene because the characters seem to spring beyond the confines of the film. I will say the costumes, set design and Maine landscape all suited each other nicely. However, this film wasn't worth any of the Oscar nominations it got. I enjoy Miramax films but this one is clearly one of those only designed for the awards circuit. You can feel it in every scene. I don't mind carefully scripted films, but this one the "I want my awards" weight was clearly felt in every edit. Even the banter didn't care like banter. (Oh, and trivializing domestic violence? Making it look like it is secondary to a lover's triangle and blaming the female? So not okay in my book.)

Groundhog Day. I've watched this film dozens of times through the years but this is the first time I've ever reviewed it. A stuck-up, shallow weatherman has to repeat the same day over and over again. When I was younger, I didn't appreciate this film, but I've grown to love it over the years and I really like its message: all of us might be stuck living the same day to day life, but we can still grow and enrich our lives not just to kindness to others but also through learning about the world. Although the 'small town people are more real' line does annoy me and I'm from a smallish town!

Proof. Flawless. When I read or watch movies, I like to think of them having dialogues with each other, and this one makes an interesting one with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Restoration. Like those films, it's about the power of the mind, madness and genius. Without intending to, it also has a feminist lense in regards women not getting recognized for their contributions in various fields. Gwyneth Paltrow is amazing. It's a pitch-perfect performance. John Madden also must be credited because while Patrow has a heavy role of being the drab, depressed--perhaps a genius--but burdened with the weight of the world--the film never feels overly down. It just zips along. I strongly rec this film (and have yourself a film fest and watch RotPotA and Restoration with it!)

January 2017



RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 05:12 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios