Friday, December 30, 2011

David Fincher's Last Name is Like a Bird

I have not seen the tattoo movie and have held off on seeing the Swedish version so that I can go into Fincher's with fresh eyes. But by the time I see it, everyone will be onto something else, so I thought I'd write a special post so I don't feel left out. I have listed all the David Fincher movies I've seen with a haiku for each one. Enjoy.

The Social Network
Who is Zuckerberg?
He screwed everyone over
This movie's not true

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Pitt's an old baby
Just a backwards Forrest Gump?
Not in my book, pal

Violence at the start
Suspenseful at the finish
In between I slept

Panic Room
The next time someone
Breaks into your house don't for-
Get the insulin

Fight Club
I wish my other
Personality was as
Hot as Brad Pitt is

The Game
Need new perspective?
Next time take a vacation
It's a lot cheaper

What's in the box, Finch?
I will not watch this nightmare
Not ever again

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Other Films I've Seen Recently

Christmas in July (Sturges, 1940)--I don't know what to say about this except that it was throughly enjoyable. I don't know the actors well enough to name them, but whoever played the boss that wrote the first check was brilliant. Funny and angry--a great caricature. I definitely want to see more Sturges. It was also really fun to see it on the big screen, and to hear people laughing in the theater at the funny parts. It was almost like time traveling.

The Sentinel (Winner, 1977)--snooze-fest of a horror film but with a great ending. If I hadn't been restless late at night, I would have never sat through it to find out about the great ending. Other than that, though, it's almost completely devoid of horror. What was fun though was appearances by young actors Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken, and Beverly D'Angelo. I love being surprised by well-known actors in crappy films.

Soutbounders (Wagner, 2005)--nice little low-budget indie film about a romance on the Appalachian Trail. Not sappy but predictable in the right ways. And I'm especially fond of the setting, so it would have been hard for me to dislike this film. Recommended for Ben and Lisa.

Black Swan

I loved this movie. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. Some said it tended towards melodrama, some said the gross parts weren't necessary, but it all fit for me. I'd maintained to this point that, while I'd enjoyed all of his films, Aronofsky hadn't accomplished anything like Pi since then. Black Swan may be more expensive and well-produced, but it is as thrilling a story of a descent into madness as Pi is. It has become my second favorite Aronofsky. Previously, I think Wrestler was tied with Requiem, but I thought Black Swan topped both of them. Fountain was beautiful but somewhat inaccessible for me. Portman's acting was exquisite, but she was supported especially well by the likes of Ryder (what fun to see her in this role!), Kunis, and Cassell.
I've gone back and read what the rest of you wrote and aside from John (did you ever end up seeing it?) it seems like it was received more or less positively. My film history knowledge is not as extensive as some others' in the club, but the film felt fresh to me. And a lot of that had to do with Portman's portrayal. I think the subject matter was very engaging to me to--I saw it as being a film about mental illness, and it was very thought-provoking on that front. In the special features several interviews commented on Aronofsky's desire to show his films from the perspectives of his characters, and I thought he did that exceptionally well here. I didn't know from one moment to the next what had actually happened and what was only her illusion. It is a tribute to Aronofsky that I thought the film had a happy ending of sorts; I was so sure she wasn't going to make it through the entire performance. And if she ends up dying, at least she dies feeling like she had accomplished what she set out to do.
Imagine how horrifying it would be to never be sure whether or not what you were seeing was real? To always be second-guessing yourself and those around you--to be paranoid and untrusting? I felt what Nina was feeling and I was also able to reach out to her and root for her and feel empathy and sadness for her. I love it when a character and a story sucks me in and makes me feel like I'm a part of it. Black Swan did that for me. I also agree with Brandon that it's horror film elements should not be overlooked as such. The moments of gross-out horror are, to a degree, what closes the sale for me--what turns Black Swan from a good drama to a film that defies genre. Aronofsky said something about making a "were-swan" movie in one of the special features and I thought it was great because I hadn't thought of it that way. One of the best scenes is the one where she grows wings. I don't know if I can talk about it effectively because it impacted me on such an emotional level. Great camera work and SFX, too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Forgot!

I also watched My Lai: One of the Vietnam War's Darkest Chapters by PBS. Pretty harrowing stuff. It's hard to wrap my mind around how ordinary human beings can become capable of such atrocities. It's hard to wrap my mind around how the military can be so irresponsible when things like this happen. Invariably, the truth comes out and causes people to trust the military even less.

I saw about half of a Frontline documentary called The Wounded Platoon some time ago, about a platoon of soldiers from Colorado who saw the worst of the Surge and have suffered great psychological trauma (and committed some pretty serious crimes) since then.

You can watch it all online:  The Wounded Platoon, My Lai

The military uses young men for its warmongering and self-serving purposes. Then it spits them out to fend for themselves and disavows all responsibility when the war follows the solider home in the form of PTSD or other disorders, physical or mental.

A documentary like My Lai makes it easy to see who the real villains are (hint: it's not the soldiers). And I don't shirk my own role as an accomplice in all of this for accepting and embracing the comfortable western life I've been able to live because of our love of war as a nation and human race.

Sheesh. I didn't intend for this post to be so negative.

Straight from Flixster

Where you all read it already anyway, but that doesn't count. so here's a lazy repost, with a few additional comments. Bonus features for the blog edition, I suppose.

Chiller (Wes Craven, 1985): This was pretty boring, actually. The most horrific act that the villain does in the first 45 minutes of the film is fire his employee in a really mean way. The main thing I took away from the movie is that waking up from cryogenic sleep makes you a prick. I thought Wes Craven's influence would make it at least watchable, but I guess you can't win 'em all. This was apparently a made-for-TV movie, so I suppose Craven should get some leeway for having to work within those constraints. Still, the scene where the freezer-burned prick drags a priest whose gown has gotten caught in the car door down the road a ways and then turns around to run him over was pretty badass, but that's really the only good scene in the film.

Mountain of the Cannibal God (Sergio Martino, 1978): Some disturbing stuff here, but I thought that my first cannibal-themed horror film would be more shocking. Not that I'm complaining. It was entertaining enough, and as one reviewer noted, more like a National Geographic special for at least the first half of the film. As far as B-movie horror goes, though, the Italians definitely knew how to do it best. The most difficult stuff is the animal-on-animal violence, which is pretty clearly real and which some of my research indicated was staged for the film. No humane society approval needed here, apparently. 

It's still probably better than Milo and Otis's Island of Terror, though:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weeds Season 6

I finished watching this last night. Some nice developments in Andy's and Silas's characters, but Nancy's shenanigans are really getting old. I'm finding it hard to find any sympathy in me for her character at all. She's just so self-destructive. And I hate how she keeps dragging Andy into her messes. He might be the main reason I keep watching the show. I'm pretty happy about how the season ended, actually. Overall it was interesting and kept my attention, despite the tired plot devices. The show is good at keeping you hooked from one episode to another, I'll say that for it.
We've been watching season one of Big Bang Theory as a family and are almost finished with it. I wasn't too keen on the show initially, but it's been growing on me. Sheldon is definitely the reason the show is any good at all. I'm behind on all your posts because you guys like to seem to have big discussions when I'm not writing and then shut up when I'm active for a few days. You're all leading me on. Just like Nancy with Andy!