Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Recap

Go, Rochester! Tree of Life opens on June 17, only 3 weeks after its initial release. It's going on my calendar...

King of the Hill (Soderbergh, 1993): It's rare for a film that portrays genuine suffering and loss to be upbeat without feeling like a Hallmark movie, but King of the Hill accomplishes that precisely. It's the Depression, and Aaron's family (living in a hotel) is at the bottom of the barrel. His brother gets sent away, his mother goes to a tuberculosis sanitorium, and his father finally gets a job--as a traveling salesman. Aaron has to learn to fend for himself without knowing whether or not he's going to get back anyone or anything he's lost. Through it all, his indomitable spirit keeps him alert and resourceful through a number of trying situations. Jesse Bradford nails the role, and the supporting cast manages to shine while keeping the focus on the young man and his adventures. Cameron Boyd is cute and funny as the younger brother, and look for Katherine Heigl and Adrien Brody in early roles.

Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007): This is even better the second time around. It's got a little bit of everything--action, comedy, suspense. I appreciated even more the sound effects and cinematography and how unique that particular kind of quick-cut style is to Wright, going all the way back to Spaced. I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim, but Wright does so much better with his own stuff. Frost and Pegg have a great dynamic, very Abbot and Costello. Has anybody seen Paul? Is it any good?

Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick, 1964): Of course this was fantastic, and of course I loved it. It is a masterful satire, with excellent acting, writing, camera work, and social commentary. It's nearly flawless. Sellers surprised me with his over-the-top physical comedy as Dr. Strangelove in the final scenes; his other characters (as well as Strangelove earlier in the film) are more reserved. But the shenanigans with the gloved hand are like something out of a Mel Brooks film. It works, but only precisely when and where it happens. Dr. Strangelove is like a well-made clock, with all its disparate pieces working together for the sake of the whole. It does take a little while to hit its stride, but once it gets going, the ambiguity of the first 15 minutes or so dissolves entirely.

John, you still haven't answered my question about what makes a movie fun for you--I was really surprised you didn't like Thief of Baghdad; I thought it was fantastic. I'm beginning to think we have very different tastes in film. I guess we'll always have Lady in the Water--though for entirely different reasons, I'm sure.

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