Thursday, January 6, 2011

Drum Roll, Please (part 2)

Okay, let's travel back in time about two months and see what I was watching then, and if I still remember any of it well enough to comment. Of course, there are comments on my Facebook Flixster account, which you are all welcome to check out. I just don't feel like doing all that cutting and pasting.

You do realize, that without Flixster, I would have been keeping track of all these movies I've been watching on several scraps of paper, all lost by now. It's not that I think it's so great, John, but it's a good placeholder. And it has all the basic information I need (year, major actors, director) to speak somewhat intelligently about it here.

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985): I loved this movie as a kid. Watched it several times on HBO when it first came out. It's still good for some laugh-out-loud moments. Pre-public-racism Michael Richards is really inspired in an early role. I listened to some of the commentary and was interested to learn how creative the director had to be with a really limited budget. I had a lot more respect for the film after that. The script apparently called for most of the scenes to be filmed at night, but they just couldn't afford it. I think it makes it a little more unique as such, a comedy horror film shot almost entirely in daylight. The director (Rudy De Luca) wrote for Mel Brooks and his influence really shows here.

Pierrot le Fou (1969): Godard take two wasn't so bad. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. It held my interest and was much more visually interesting than Breathless. I watched some commentary and had a bit of an epiphany about modern film. Ready? Just like modern art can be concerned with form at the expense of (or outright exclusion of) representational elements, perhaps film can do the same and still be fun to watch. The big difference is that I can enjoy an abstract painting for as long or short a time as I like, whereas an abstract film will keep me captive for hours sometimes, depending on a director's vision/obsession/delusions of grandeur. But while I tend to prefer modern art over classical, I'm still a sucker for a good story. I'll stick to experimental short films and leave the more dense stuff to the experts. Not that I'm not up for more Godard; I actually wanted to watch more of the special features (commentary does help with films like this, I've found--you're right, John and Brandon) but it was a library item and was on hold for someone else so I had to return it before I was ready. The moment has passed so I probably won't come back to it for a while. If you have't seen it, it's about a guy who leaves his wife and daughter for the babysitter or something. Except that it's not really about that, and it eventually descends into typical Godard inanity/insanity until, similar to the protagonist of Breathless, the main character dies in dramatic fashion. Ah, the French. Sartre was no good for them.

Taking Woodstock (2009): I kept falling asleep, this was so boring. And long. I'm not usually derisive of films; on some level every major studio release is professionally and expertly done. But why watch this film, which took great pains to resemble the famous documentary about Woodstock, when you could just watch the famous documentary about Woodstock? I understand they wanted to focus on an individual experience, but the weren't really consistent there either. Demetri Martin is funny, but he wasn't here.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000): I watched this for the second time with my family, and it was a big hit. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this film. Snappy dialogue, fantasy elements, clever storytelling, and groundbreaking CGI (I didn't realize how groundbreaking until I watched some of the special features) make this an all-time classic and one of the best films the Coen brothers have put out. So what if it's got a solid mainstream sensibility? So what, I say! And don't forget the killer KILLER soundtrack.

Late Spring (1949): This is a great movie, everyone agrees. Without watching it several more times, I don't know that I can add much to the discussion. It's a bit slow-moving, but really substantial stuff goes on. It's meaty. But this good movie becomes great by the end when you realize what the father did for his daughter consciously, deliberately, and at his own expense. It gives me chills thinking about it now and I saw the movie 53 days ago. I've got two Ozu films under my belt now, so I'm only just beginning to appreciate how the world is a more beautiful place because of his work.

Teeth (2007): Brandon, are you still with me? This one's for you. If you haven't seen this, you will LOVE it. A teenage girl, spokesperson for her high school abstinence group, finds out she has teeth down there when her boyfriend forces himself on her, with utterly disturbing (but hilarious) results. Director Lichtenstein doesn't hold back with the visuals, either. It's not a lot of gore, but what there is will make you instinctively check yourself, if you know what I mean. But, you see, it's not just about unintentionally detachable penises; there's a message in here about empowerment. The fact that this girl starts out intending to be a virgin until marriage is significant to the story. It's interesting to watch how she handles her loss of innocence and makes the transition from being a victim of her unusual physiology to taking matters into her own hands. It's not a perfect film, and not subtle at all. But I can honestly say I've seen nothing like it before or since. You'd classify it as horror, but it's really more like a fairy tale. I'd really be interested in what you think.

Jennifer's Body (2009): I watched this and the previous films in close proximity to each other. It might have even been the same night; I don't remember exactly. It was interesting to see the similarity in themes (a woman taken advantage of gets her revenge) and to contrast it with the completely different responses and attitudes of the main characters of the two films. Jennifer's Body kind of got trashed, bit I think it's a perfectly good B movie. Megan Fox does just fine; I think she's actually a good choice for the role and plays off Seyfried well. Fox is gorgeous and it's not fair that you're not allowed to be that gorgeous and a good actor too. It's like we don't want anyone to be too talented. I'm not saying she's Meryl Streep, but lay off people, really. It's also a shame the Juno connection was so overplayed; this is not a Juno-fan movie. But I bet a lot of them went to see it anyway. I think Cody has a lot of potential as a writer. She's got good ideas and an unconventional approach to them. She's still learning the tricks of the trade. Give her time.

Due Date (2010): I really enjoyed this film and really laughed a lot. I like how Brandon trusts his gut more than his intellect when it comes to comedy. I'm like that, too. The whole point is to make the audience laugh, and if you can do it with a typical plot and plot devices but two really funny actors, then more power to ya. I never thought I'd find a masturbating dog so funny, but, dear Lord, I almost wet my pants. Galifianakis and RJD had great chemistry.

Well, I'm tired of writing and I'm still a month and a half behind. Steady as she goes. I guess I had more to say about each than I thought I would.

Right now The Phoenix Foundation's "St. Kevin" is on, and it's really amazing.

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