[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
Cinema Pileup's LiveJournal:
[ << Previous 20 ]
[ << Previous 20 ]
|Sunday, September 27th, 2009|
|Friday, February 20th, 2009|
Robert Altman's amazing film, The Player
, was even better than I remembered and I remembered really liking it. I really like movies about making movies. (Shadow of the Vampire
is another favorite.) erisianagnostic
introduced me to this one and it is more post modern than any other title in this tiny genre. Most of the famous faces that appear are playing themselves, but that is just the tip of the ice berg. Actually, the tip of the iceberg is the opening scene. In it, two walking characters talk about a "six and a half minute long" tracking shot during a eight minute zig-zag tracking shot
that takes in several different incidents happening all over the studio lot. That may sound artistically gratuitous, but it is appropriate and it serves the story really well.
The fact that it opened on a Charles Bragg
painting just made it that much more delicious.
|Saturday, February 7th, 2009|
Well, the worriers were both right and wrong.
Right because Coraline
a scary movie. At all. It's a kid's movie (apart from the boobies).
Wrong because it is TOTALLY AWESOME
anyway - especially in 3-D!
The needle coming right at your eyes in the title sequence was a good start. Yes, they give you special 3-D glasses at the door! It is still a beautiful film without them, but the glasses help. So much shiny. So much shiny.
My advice to fans of the book is to just consider it an entirely different kettle of fish rather than an adaptation. Pat yourself on the back for spotting any similarities as if they were mere coincidences and just enjoy the ride.
If you do not think that this is some of the tastiest eye candy ever, you have buttons for eyes.
Decker Shot First
Well, I finally saw the "Final Cut" of Blade Runner
and I was pleased to see that director Ridley Scott did not pull a Lucas on us. This is the third version of this film, but the tweaking was either pleasing or invisible. I approve.
I had heard a rumor that Scott had replaced Vangelis's soundtrack but he had not. Not that Vangelis's soundtrack for Blade Runner
was especially memorable. Unlike his score for Chariots of Fire
it sort of loitered in the background for most of the movie, but its omission would have impacted the feel. I had also heard that 1984
was going to be rereleased without the Eurythmics soundtrack, so I figured this was the same deal.
The Final Cut is essentially the Director's Cut with minor tweaking and improved sound and picture. The only CGI fix was a necessary one. In both the theatrical release and the Director's Cut, Rutger Hauer's character releases a dove into a sunny blue sky, even though the rest of the scene was a rainy night. I had always assumed that this was an artistic decision, but it was a budgetary one. So they fixed that, but I could not spot any other changes.
The additional disk was a making of documentary called Dangerous Days
. It ran three and a half hours.
It was fascinating, but exhausting.
|Wednesday, January 21st, 2009|
This looks really, really
neat! Current Mood: artistic
|Sunday, December 28th, 2008|
Well, I finally saw Burn After Reading
. I had heard from many people that it was decent, but not as good as The Big Lebowski
. Perhaps this was the power of suggestion, but I came away with the same impression.
But then I realized something:
That's exactly how I first felt about The Big Lebowski
- that it was merely decent. I thought, "Yeah, this is a cute, quirky little film, but I probably won't go out of my way to see it again." As a result, I was a bit mystified when I heard about the first Lebowskifest. Several Lebowskifests later, I gave it another look to see if I missed anything.
Yeah, I did.
From that point forward, I learned that it improved with each viewing. I now own a copy on DVD. On reflection, I suspect that the same will hold true for Burn After Reading
- and for the same reasons. Like Lebowski
has a complex plot with lots of unexpected twists. And as a result, repeated viewings reveals new things. Both films have very textured characters. There is a subtle, cartoonist's fish-eye lens sensibility that magnifies the realism. Knowing what happens next allows you to focus on the characters. There are a lot of nuances that you miss the first time because they are hiding beneath the broad caricatures. I'm looking forward to re-watching it.
I may even do so before I return it tomorrow morning.
In other movie news, I had rented Bon Voyage
and The City of Lost Children
. Bon Voyage
was also a comedy with lots of plot twists and vivid characters. It is excellent, rent it. And after re-watching Lost Children
to see if it held up, I was blown away enough to buy it. Like wine and The Big Lebowski
, it also improves with time. The French are taking over my modest movie collection. I already own The Triplets of Belleville
and Joyeux Noel
and I will probably buy Bon Voyage
as well. But for now, I just bought Lost Children
and Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters
, which is also incredible.
Finally, I rented two documentaries: McLibel
, about the two British environmental activists who were sued by McDonald's and Left of the Dial, about the "Rise and Fall and Resurrection of Air America." Both seem like decent documentaries. But neither are in the category of Sicko, Maxed Out or An Unreasonable Man.
|Saturday, December 20th, 2008|
Milk is both a brilliant and powerful film. Everyone go see it.
|Tuesday, November 25th, 2008|
I just finished watching Strange Culture,
the film about art professor Steve Kurtz's Kafkaesque four-year ordeal at the hands of FBI. Kurtz and his wife, Hope, were working on an art installation about genetically modified (GM) foods when she died in her sleep of a heart attack. He called 911 and the paramedics, seeing the Petri dishes of bacteria in the house, called Homeland Security thinking he was a bio-terrorist. It was obvious that he was innocent, but the Justice Department proceeded with the prosecution, possibly to make an example or test case out of him. Since the legally obtained bacteria was harmless, the charge of manufacturing Weapons of Mass Destruction would not stick; so they charged him with mail and wire fraud even though nobody claims to have been defrauded.
The film is a docu-drama / documentary. Much like American Splendor
, it mixes interviews with dramatizations, so we meet the real people and watch actors play them. Unlike American Splendor
, none of the actors look anything like the people they are playing, which is kind of jarring. Not that the acting is not decent, but you have to wonder why they did not just make a documentary. And, as a documentary, it is quite good. Since the people are artists, I suppose the whole po-mo approach is appropriate in both films, but Strange Culture
should have cast actual look-alikes. I recommend it anyway, since it is still a very good documentary.Edited Edit:
On the other hand, the second documentary on the disc, Voices of Dissent: Activism & American Democracy
(42 minutes) is essentially a preachy power point presentation that tries to wow us with really primitive graphics. A lot of impressive names were interviewed, presumably at length, but it seems like their comments were pared down to the film's basic message so the effect is repetitious. But if you like really bad protest poetry, this film is not to be missed. Woody Harrelson does one about Hitler.
The third documentary on this disc is Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the "War on Terror."
It's a pretty harrowing 27 minutes detailing what had happened to two innocent Muslim men who were snatched from the street and flown to foreign prisons to be tortured for years on end. Their families had no idea what had happened to them.
|Sunday, September 7th, 2008|
|Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008|
I hate it when I journal about purchases. It seems so trivial and materialistic. But I must praise the Criterion Collection's 20 year anniversary re-release of Alex Cox's Walker
(1987). I have blogged about this film before
and do not have much to add except that it more than holds up over time.
The director's commentary track is also quite good. Cox references the current U.S. occupation of Iraq and the homo erotic subtext in 300
. Since the film itself was an attempt to weave the past and present together - albeit the present in 1987 - these contemporary references work. Of course, any belated re-release is naturally going to talk about what has changed and what has not, but it seems especially appropriate here.
Definitely rent it. Current Mood: Impressed
|Monday, March 31st, 2008|
So, I finally saw Joyeux Noël
, which came out three years ago. It is a shameless tearjerker and it works. It is a brilliant film. It was everything I expected. It is your typical, pretty Euro anti-war film. Almost nothing surprises and yet it was still incredible. At first, you may think that it is about the unifying power of religion, but that interpretation is handily dispatched so I guess there is a surprise and I just ruined it. Rent it anyway. The trailer does not do it justice. In fact it dumbs things down considerably and makes it a lot schmaltzier. Yes, I said it was a tearjerker, but it is done well with some subtlety. There is no fakey happy ending, because that would be rewriting history. Indeed, it seems to be a realistic blend of hope and despair. Like I said, it is your typical, pretty Euro anti-war film, which also explains why religion was discredited.
Now, if they will just make a film about when the French Army went on strike.
|Friday, September 14th, 2007|
|Saturday, September 1st, 2007|
a.k.a. Hard Gay at the Hot Gates
Frank Miller must be so far in the closet, he's almost come out the other side. Current Mood: amused
|Saturday, June 9th, 2007|
Pan's Labyrinth & The Devil's Backbone
I recently watched the films Pan's Labyrinth
and The Devil's Backbone
from director Guillermo del Toro. I enjoyed both films, and there are several similarities between the two (both are set during the Spanish Civil War, both feature young protagonists, both films are macabre
as all get out).
Neither film is for the squeamish, though, as they both have some very violent scenes.
I was amused by the reviews for the films on Netflix. They read pretty much the same for both movies;
User 1: 5 stars "...beautiful and poignant..."
User 2: 5 stars "...you've seen something great because you feel moved."
User 3: 4 stars "...both disturbing and magical at the same time."
User 4: 5 stars "...Powerful and poetic..."
And perhaps the most telling of reviews;
User 5: 1 star: "Eeeew, subtitles
!" Current Mood: amused
|Thursday, May 24th, 2007|
I like a lot of light message films that get confused with really awful films.
For example, a lot of people confuse Real Genius
with Weird Science
because they were released practically simultaneously in 1986. Real Genius
is a witty exposé of academia's complicity in the military industrial complex disguised as a dumb nerd party flick; whereas Weird Science
really is a dumb nerd party flick.Cradle Will Rock
is similarly confused with The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
. The second flick is the lurid anti-nanny film which I haven't seen. The first is a Tim Robins film about the Works Progress Administration's Theater Project during the Great Depression and the perils of government funding of the arts. I liked Cradle Will Rock
a lot when it first came out, but it grows on me even more each time I see it. Much of it is tongue-in-cheek, if not outright comedic, so it's not considered a serious film; but there is so much in it that I keep noticing new things. Awesome ensemble cast as well.
|Monday, May 21st, 2007|
I finally saw The Take
It was pretty damn good. A bit too much piano music. Nez thought it wasn't as clear as it could be, but I thought it was clear enough. It's a documentary about a movement in Argentina in which unemployed factory workers take over the abandoned factories in which they used to work and put them back in production. Although the film is mostly focused on one group's efforts to get legal title so they can start running, it also shows other factories that are already in production in defiance of the law. (Hence, Nez's confusion.) Different collectives pursue reopening differently. For example, one insists everyone gets an equal wage, another doesn't. Like many documentaries, this one starts in medias re, but it is not as confusingly a-linear as some documentaries like Why We Fight
|Thursday, May 3rd, 2007|
|Thursday, April 12th, 2007|
|Sunday, February 4th, 2007|
I've watched quite a few of movies this weekend and still have a number to get to yet. Friday night, nofriggingway
and I watched the ever precious But I'm a Cheerleader
(1999) and a Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant movie I had never heard of called Holiday
(1938). It was pretty good but not as incredible as The Philadelphia Story
got in a few good digs on the Depression Era rich and their politics. When told to wave hello to some reactionaries in the family, the protagonists gave them the fascist salute. I enjoyed watching Edward Everett Horton
in a major supporting role. This quavering voiced character actor has been in a ton of stuff, but he is probably best known as the narrator of "Fractured Fairy Tales" on The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show
. In the beginning, there was a bit about the restoration of this film, so I suspect that it's obscurity had to do with there not being a decent copy available until now.* I rented this gem up from Wild & Woolly.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, I also bought Roger & Me
and Angles in America
(2003) from Book and Music Exchange. I love them both, but I have seven days to watch everything to make sure all the discs are okay. After that, I can't return or exchange them anymore. I watched Roger & Me
right away and it's even better than I remember. In fact, I prefer it to his latter films which seem a bit less focused. (Speaking of his other films, who has my other Michael Moore DVDs?) Thereafter, I plunged into the first two harrowing hours of Angels in America
. Only four more to go. ...
Finally, I borrowed Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
(1998) and Gentlemen Prefer Blonds
(1953) from Ekstrom library, but I haven't watched either of them yet. Should I? Gentlemen Prefer Blonds
stars Marylin Monroe and Jane Russell, who I imagine were cast for their dimensions;
but it was directed by Howard Hawks who also did His Girl Friday
(1940) which was the zenith of proto-feminist screwball comedies. Not that I expect Gentlemen Prefer Blonds
to be particularly liberated, but it might at least be smart. The fact that I have heard of it gives me hope. After all, Hollywood has made a ton of utterly forgettable fluff films with big name stars. Surely this film's staying power means there is something
to recommend it. ... Something beyond the obvious, I mean.
I have just spoken with one of the library's resident cinephiles. Apparently, the movie has always been available and I've just been under a rock. Current Mood: Overwhelmed