Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by jamesblakefan#1, Mar 22, 2010.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Solid Movie---Thoroughly enjoyed
not as good as "Bad Moon"...
October Sky (1999) - Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern. Enjoyed this movie about a kid from a coal mining town who wants to become a rocket scientist. Based on a true story about Homer Hickam.
The Shallows - just another Shark Movie, Thumbs down for nothing new. Worth a 3.00 dollar rental.
Is it worth watching just to see Blake Lively in a bikini?
No. I like the shorter and more fem looking Amanda Seyfried more.
is the NEW independence day really good ?
The Decapitated. A moving story of hope and redemption about a man who lost his head. It's a sequel to Change and Hope.
Did that happen after his girlfriend was banned for doping ?
"Independence Day -- Resurgence"
Chaotic, incoherent, boring mess. The original was hardly a masterpiece but had some rudimentary character development and a bit of a plot. This film can only boast more explosions per viewer dollar, hard to believe both were directed by the same guy.
X-men Apocalypse. It was entertaining just like the other series.
Eye For An Eye (Sally Fields)
Finally watched The Revenant.
that was pretty good movie
I also liked Bad Moon, but I enjoyed An American Werewolf in London so much more; both great werewolf movies nonetheless.
I watched AAWIL the other day,it still holds up well,great cult film
Why is this wonderful Independence day getting bad reviews so far ??
Agree, that transformation scene is awesome.
I will try this today, I watched all the top old movies around 5 years back I think (Vertigo, Laura, singing in the rain, so on ), now it is about time I get back to old movies.
The Deadly Affair (1966) - James Mason, Simone Signoret.
Based on a book by John Le Carre. Really interesting story, and how he tracks down the killer. Enjoyed.
You should try out the Japanese and French ones too.
I love the old heist movies. Jean Pierre Melville has done a bunch of really interesting ones. Then there is Rififi.
Thanks I will sure try them out in my free time. I watched 2 or 3 french movies in that top 250 imdb list.
Coming to foreign language films, I watched all the movies by Asghar Farhadi ( persian lang.) and loved 'em.
I'm going to start the Godfather trilogy one more time, baby.
Not as good as Spirited Away or Castle in the Sky, but still enjoyable. It seems Studio Ghibli's films are almost always good. At least based on the ones I've seen.
The Caine Mutiny (1954) - Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Fred MacMurray.
Interesting war, legal movie.
There is New movie coming out in October of this year called "Inferno" with Tom Hanks, which is really one of the BEST movies of the year, I heard.
OK, been a long time. First off a couple of (mostly) capsule reviews and digressions:
- In Transit by late Albert Maysles along with Lynn True, David Usui, Nelson Walker III and Benjamin Wu, at National Gallery of Art on 3/6
For most of their careers the Maysles brothers specialized in long takes, in all possible senses of the term, as they followed their subjects around over an extensive period of time and allowed them to respond to the camera as they saw fit. This documentary, OTOH, shifts its focus onto a single train ride on which a large assortment of characters (at least two dozens) share their faces and stories, and while it may take place on the longest train route in the US one may also find that this ensemble MO doesn't work quite as well as it should given such a cramped space and time frame, especially in a film that runs barely over an hour (only 16 minutes more). Case in point: I generally remember most of a movie's main characters well after my first viewing, but I'm struggling to name those of this doc, let alone recap their most memorable accounts. Still this is a fine valedictory from a justly lauded pioneer of direct cinema, and those interested are advised to check for any upcoming screenings (link to official website provided).
- Love & Friendship by Whit Stillman
Anybody who has seen even a single feature of Stillman's nightlife trilogy (Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco) would recognize his whip-smart Manhattan-speak that somehow manages to both mock and fete the self-conscious mannerisms of the chattering upper class. So it was with high hopes that I approached his first period feature--based on Austen's epistolary novel Lady Susan (never published in her lifetime, probably a wise decision on her part) and titled after her juvenile story Love and Freindship (sic)--as he and Jane are true troublemaking comrades in spirit (if not necessarily in talent) who share the same complicated relationship with the bourgeoisie and can dissect its workings in their comedies of manners like no other in business.
And I did have a jolly time, though I'm afraid Stillman might want to hold onto his Regency costumes a little longer. His latest feature, or its earlier parts at least, suffers from an excessively gabby screenplay, even by his wordy standards. It's as if he set out to jam-pack his picture with as much of Austen's original dialogue as possible, and while that might be a defensible goal for a TV series it simply overwhelms a stand-alone movie like L&F which lasts a breezy 92 minutes. In other words, you wish for more Stillman than Austen, more riotous self-expression than mere adaptation. And though I can't say whether Jane or Whit deserves blame here (and after this viewing I'm not terribly motivated to find out) Lady Susan's conniving to marry Sir James despite previous plans feels too abrupt and convenient. Stillman has produced a novelization of the film and seems to have made considerable changes in it, and if true you wish he could have explored for the screen more of the route to this unexpected end, as Susan and James are the only characters that rivet your attention in this movie.
Speaking of whom Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan easily surpasses her previous performance as Charlotte in The Last Days of Disco (Sevigny who also returns from Disco is almost invisible in this second round, if not through her fault), and do not miss Tom Bennett's absolutely hysterical turn as the bumbling "pea-brain" (per Reginald, one of Susan's love interests) Sir James who steals nearly every scene he's in (I had to cover my face in sheer giggling discomfort several times). They both deserve Oscar buzz and the rest of the cast is hardly less outstanding. And despite an inauspicious start Stillman does some wonderful things with his script and actors. Recommended.
- No Home Movie by late (again) Chantal Akerman, at National Gallery of Art (ditto) on 6/12
Before I start I must say I was rather disappointed to find so many empty seats at this screening (even at its most crowded I doubt the theater was more than half occupied). Considering Akerman's shockingly untimely death last October (yes, it was a suicide, and no @Dan Lobb, I still wouldn't sugarcoat it as a "passing") I'd expected more people to show up to pay their respects to one of the major filmmakers of our time, especially as this same audience had shown that they're not afraid to explore either challenging documentaries (see above) or foreign arthouse films. I suppose they can take on one of the two but not both, which may make sense if you look at it rationally, but the spare attendance still stung.
Back to the movie. If you have seen Akerman's touching News from Home, set to her own voice-over of her mother Natalia's letters written while Chantal lived in NYC, you should have an inkling of just what a special bond they had, and given her professed and understandable reluctance to produce this film it's not idle to speculate that her mother's death almost certainly contributed to her own. Again speaking rationally I can't second some of the florid encomiums that have been bestowed on this film, as I think Akerman's usual hands/face-off approach might have backfired here. The putative main theme of this documentary, as uttered in a wish by the director herself while having one of her Skype video chats with her mom, is that “there is no distance in the world” in this day and age, and while that provocative thesis was conclusively if perhaps inadvertently shattered by Akerman's own end it's still interesting to note that the footage of their remote chats feels more intimate than that of their actual time together at Natalia's apartment in Brussels, no doubt due to Chantal's near absence and her sister's presence in the latter. The director also includes a series of traveling shots of a desert as if to attenuate the desolate melancholy that permeates the movie--Natalia would die shortly after its completion--and whether or not she already had these shots in mind before embarking on the project ultimately makes no difference as the end effect is the same. (Manohla Dargis of The NYT observes in her own review that these shots "cleave the movie in two," and I'll be interested to double-check when they take place and especially whether most of them come between Akerman's time in the US and her stay with her mom in Belgium.)
So was this paradoxical dichotomy indeed a shortcoming of Akerman's detached approach, or could it have been her game plan all along? That is to say, perhaps could she have been telling us that it's not physical distance that determines our intimacy or technological gadgets that undermine it, but rather how and why we communicate with each other that bring us together or tear us apart? I concede this is somewhat wild speculation on my part, as it's indeed hard to imagine even such an introspective artist as Akerman looking so far inwards and ahead while coping with the loss of her dear mother, her own mortality, and what must have been an overbearing sense of loneliness, and it's equally interesting to speculate what she might have had to say about the matter either on or off camera had she survived her bout of depression. But if we accept that this is indeed what she had in mind then her decision to largely erase herself from the camera becomes more understandable if still questionable, and while that further raises the question of why she allowed one unmistakable shot of herself departing what was presumably her own bedroom in her mom's home (the emotional motive is clear, but the formal and structural motive is not) it's a question worth asking and pursuing.
Akerman's masterpiece Jeanne Dielman (appropriately presented along with News from Home and this farewell work in the NGA retrospective, and whose screening I was hoping but alas unable to attend), made only when she was 25 years old, is rightly celebrated as a milestone in feminist cinema, and while it may be tempting to ponder whatever parallels between the director's shocking death and her most famous protagonist's own equally shocking release from the cruelties visited upon women I prefer to take a less tribal view and think of her final film as a mournful yet impassioned cry for what unites us and against what divides us. I suspect Chantal herself, an ardent opponent of identity aesthetics, would have approved, and viewed in that light the director's decision to use the folksy term "movie" for her final and undoubtedly serious work lends even more support to her worthwhile endeavor. Too bad more people couldn't join in that Sunday afternoon.
P.S. The afternoon didn't turn out so bad as I happened to notice after the screening that the annual Capital Pride parade was being held next door without a hitch (earlier I was wondering why some of the roads had been blocked). I generally don't feel much at ease in crowds but it was still uplifting to see the community of whatever persuasion refuse to allow one deranged shooter to control their way of life. Here's a snapshot I took:
(To be continued)
I didn't know until recently that Kiefer is a country singer now.
Last movie I saw was braindead and it was the best zombie movie I've seen.
i just give Bad Moon so much credit because it was a 'B' film, yet so well done...
- Weiner by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg
So here is the must-see documentary of the year, one that will almost certainly grab an Oscar nomination come next January. And you all know what it's about, or rather, who it's about, as that infamous and lamentably inherited name makes it impossible not to make the connection right away. You may also have heard that it offers unprecedented access to a politician's inner circle, in this case the titular protagonist's doomed campaign for mayor of NYC.
And this unbridled access does offer many an intriguing look into Anthony Weiner and his campaign that includes his generally private spouse Huma Abedin. Kriegman--who happens to be Weiner's former chief of staff (before his 2013 campaign), which no doubt helped the now filmmaker gain his go-ahead--and Steinberg must have had hours upon hours of footage to choose from, as nothing apart from private conversations between husband and wife seems to have been off limits. In one segment Weiner is shooting an ad in the hope of reviving his rapidly fading campaign following his new sexting scandal, and after Huma, however sincerely, deems it too big a risk to appear in the same ad this time you almost feel for him when he sarcastically tells her in frustration to follow him five minutes after he leaves lest anyone think they're still married. And you almost root for him when he gets into a shouting match with a sanctimonious, racist heckler (yes, that guy who was heard mumbling "married to an Arab"). And then you see his tempestuous nature get the better of him when he unwisely goes on Lawrence O'Donnell's show (a clip I'd never seen before) and the host poses his very first question: "What is wrong with you?" (Needless to say the rest of the interview is all downhill from there and soon goes viral, and the next day Weiner can be seen watching on HuffPo a clip of his meltdown with vexed amusement while Huma looks on with horror and pity.) You also get to see humanity at its most vulgar and degrading when one of Weiner's erstwhile girls shamelessly shows up and waits to confront him where he's about to deliver his concession speech (he would finish in 5th place with less than 5% of the votes, this after occupying the top position in most polls at the beginning of his campaign), and the candidate, after sending his spouse home out of both compassion and necessity, is forced to suffer the indignity of having to take the backdoor through a McDonald's with his entourage who just barely manages to lock out the bloodsucking Kardashian wannabe, now a porn star leeching off her former prey's name.
And to their credit the filmmakers keep the titillation to a minimum, showing just enough to give the viewer a sense of the train wreck their subject's campaign was becoming with each passing day. At this point you probably feel a "yes but..." coming, and your feeling is well warranted. Before I lay out my beef, though, I must disclose one big caveat: seated behind me in the theater was an apparent couple who could be heard constantly jeering and sneering throughout the screening, and I fully concede that I might have formed a different impression in the presence of a less obnoxious audience. But given such smug, self-righteous reaction from the viewers (let's just say those two weren't the only ones) you must ask yourself, at what point does an artist become responsible for his work's reception?
Here's what I think was a big missed opportunity. Sandwiched in between the old segments are brief clips of an interview with Weiner presumably conducted an extended time after the campaign, say a year or two later, and unsurprisingly Weiner here comes off as more measured and thoughtful than his earlier self during the scandal-laden season. Why couldn't the directors fit in more of this mode of interrogation? By including these clips they say goodbye to any pretensions to direct cinema, and you would think they knew full well this was their subject at his most sensible and introspective. Surely there was more material to be mined here than these snippets that run barely a minute or two?
An instructive case in point comes at the end of the movie. It's the day after the ignominious end to Weiner's campaign, and he is watching TV news coverage of him flipping off the overzealous reporters swarming him for juicy headlines the night before. And then he's asked (not sure whether by a cameraman or by one of the directors), "Why have you let us film this?" It's a perfect punchline that had the entire audience (yes, including myself) burst out laughing, and one that sums up the absurdity of the whole sad state of affairs. But Weiner does not give his answer, or if he did, we don't see it until after the fact, when he's sitting in that spartan interrogation room with the grey background and attempts to explain the precise value of this project. Suffice it to say his explanation is barely adequate at best, and it's a gap you wish the filmmakers were either able or willing to fill.
But I don't mean to suggest this doc is all glitter and no gold. Some of the footage is indeed quite fascinating, and though it's easy to chalk it up to his narcissism and just as easy to join Nancy Pelosi for once in chastising him for his mystifying incapacity to "get a clue" (perhaps the only time the former majority leader was absolutely bang on), Weiner is to be commended for allowing such no-holds-barred access to his life and career in the first place. Ditto his long-suffering spouse Huma Abedin, one of the few characters in this sordid saga who seem to keep their dignity intact, though you again wish the directors could have explored further just how much of her support for her husband was out of genuine love or calculated ambition. (Karen Tumulty of WaPo provides more of this angle here.) And amid and despite all the tawdriness and cynicism, and though you again wish the filmmakers could have found ways to make the audience feel less superior and complacent, the film also manages to convey just how much the people ensnared in the political machinery do care about the issues and their community, which alone makes Weiner worth seeing especially for today's disenchanted voters. Check your local listings.
P.S. I wasn't aware that the AFC DOCS festival was being held at E Street Cinema this past Sunday (Weiner I believe was not part of the competition), and while I was leaving the theater I was surprised to see Judd Apatow chitchatting presumably with one of his guys. Since I dislike talking to strangers to begin with and didn't want to interrupt I just tried to take a quick snapshot, at which point Apatow let out a friendly "Hello!" and proceeded to pose for the camera:
I was rather embarrassed (hence the blurry pic) and quickly apologized for the interruption, but Judd seemed like a nice bloke and I'm sorry I had to miss whatever presentation he was about to give. Though I'm actually not much of a fan at all I definitely owe him a ticket now for his next movie. Hope I like it as much as I did his happy-go-lucky disposition.
(To be continued. Didn't expect to write two full-length reviews.)
- Money Monster by Jodie Foster
This is the very first movie I've seen directed by the great actress, and if it's typical of her oeuvre I'm afraid her directing chops still have a long way to go before catching up with those in her more celebrated work. As some of you may recall I like to check out the latest critical dud every now and then if only to see how wrong or right the reviewers are, and I had liked the fact that the trailer for this movie contained several flat-out spoilers about its hostage setting, which combined with its refreshing premise made me think this might not be a trite Hollywood thriller.
Well, that's what it largely amounted to after all, but let's start out with the bad and move on to the good. The movie begins badly enough: a certain IBIS Clear Capital's stock takes a nosedive, costing its shareholders a whopping $80 million. The culprit? A supposed glitch in a computer algorithm, which tells you right off the bat this may not be a movie for everyone but the upper-class mix of bitcoin-obsessed libertarians and stock junkies. And it ends even more dismally, with the antagonist turning out to be nothing more than a vintage crook and with innocuous lip service to the rigged financial system without shedding any light on it. It is no doubt this glib PC righteousness that turned off so many critics, and they're right to raise this valid objection.
But I will say this about the movie, contrary to some of the harsher criticism: its heart is in the right place. However superficial its treatment of the finance industry may be the movie avoids the smug cynicism of better-received similar fare like The Big Short that is designed to make the audience feel superior without inviting much self-reflection let alone action on their part. And I must give kudos to two names completely new to me: Jack O'Connell and Caitriona Balfe. O'Connell makes his character come alive through his intense portrayal of Kyle's desperation and helplessness; you feel for him as he recounts how he got here and when his girlfriend, presumably brought on by the police to help calm him down, viciously attacks him instead on camera for ruining her life before rejecting him with all the venom she can muster as a do-nothing loser. (O'Connell's own troubled early life surely helped him grow into his role.) And given Balfe's striking looks I did expect her to have done some modeling, but I was very surprised to learn that she actually started out as a model before gradually establishing herself as an actress. Her turn as the sympathetic IBIS insider Diane Lester and O'Connell's fiery and distraught Kyle Budwell were the film's two brightest spots for me, and I'd love to see them again in a more rewarding production. Clooney and Roberts were dependable as usual respectively as cable financial talking head Lee Gates and his director Patty Fenn, though I felt George is just too much of a dandy and something of a stodge to pass for a TV clown.
So not quite a full-blown recommendation, but still better than most of the blockbusters out there. If you're not willing to pay full admission and/or wait till it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, do what I did and go see it at a second-run theater (actually at this point that may be your only option).
Now a couple of replies....
The Wailing is indeed a riveting horror-thriller, perfect entertainment for the summer, but that's really all it is. One might consider Na's decision to cast a Japanese actor as the film's literal demon antagonist (flawlessly played by veteran Jun Kunimura) a thinly veiled denunciation of his country's jingoism which runs deep with respect to its neighbor, but he has already explicitly ruled out this very possibility. (But then one could also observe that it is a traditional shaman who is able and willing to help protagonist Jong-goo's family while a Catholic priest is either powerless or reluctant to do the same, and of course Jong-goo's nephew, another Catholic studying for priesthood, ends up as the demon's last victim, so maybe Na is being coy here.) Besides even if that were true it would be a rather weak (not to mention heavy-handed) attempt at social critique, because for that to pack more punch the movie would actually have to make sense.
Anyhoo like you I was confused by the ending, but I can still provide a few corrections/explanations. First off Wiki now has a more detailed synopsis:
I actually thought the strange girl was a separate party from the demon who was genuinely trying to help Jong-goo, but if the expanded plot summary is true it does explain why she was trying to prevent him from returning home sooner.
And FYI the Japanese stranger is indeed evil and the shaman a Korean outsider from another town who was trying to get rid of him. And the demon never died in that car "accident." That was a setup by the girl (who again is his spirit guide) to lull Jong-goo and his entourage into thinking they'd finally rid their town of the evil spirit and can now rest easy. And since the Japanese guy was last seen transforming into a devilish figure in front of the nephew I assume the demon proceeded to kill him and start looking for his next victim (yes, leaving the door open for a possible sequel).
Hope that helps. Again I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and though my Korean isn't perfect I thought the subtitles matched the subtle inflections of the dialogue very well. (For example Koreans address their elders and strangers differently from their friends and juniors in their circle, so when Hyo-jin begins cursing at her dad like a maniac you need more than just a few epithets to convey the shocking turn of events.) I also liked how the movie was largely free of gratuitous violence, unlike most mainstream Korean cinema in general, not just horror flicks. Will be interested to check out Na's previous two features.
It's a truly great film, and in my book Eisenstein's true masterpiece over Potemkin. Ivan really was to him what Anna Karenina was to Tolstoy, because he never bared so much of his soul as in this work, which also boasts a dizzying range of styles and visuals from most austere understatement to operatic extravagance and even camp. And as Joan Neuberger and Yuri Tsivian convincingly argue in the Criterion DVD features Ivan unlike the rest of his oeuvre was not the Stalin-coddling agitprop that it had been mistaken for. One of the essentials.
I remember watching Metropolitan a while back,never seen a movie with such unlikable characters,a load of pseudo-intellectual douchebags sitting around flapping their traps
Adventureland (2009) This is one I return to quite often and always enjoy,great soundtrack and I'm a sucker for coming of age movies like these...
I see I'd missed a couple more:
Did I ever mention this one here or did you discover it on your own? Anyway hope you enjoyed it. Wonderfully kinky portrayal of Sister Ruth by Kathleen Byron.
Pretty good indeed. Fine performances by Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts and Vinterberg's understated direction (thankfully none of his Dogme nonsense here) raise this above the usual Masterpiece Theatre fare.
That's about the same initial impression I had about Stillman's movies in general, but since then they've grown on me. No matter how much he may mock and ridicule the pretensions of the chattering class he does love his characters. If you haven't you may want to try The Last Days of Disco. Its characters aren't quite as spoiled (and filthy rich, big surprise) as the Metropolitan gang.
Mottola's debut The Daytrippers is the only feature of his I've seen, but given how this slight work was praised to the skies I'm not quite ready to dive into Adventureland yet. Maybe I'll give him another chance.
You may have mentioned it. A lot of the movies I see are either recommended here, or I discover them when I look for other movies of the same director/actors.
Edit: I just did a search, you have not mentioned it. So maybe the name came up in some list of Academy Award winners or nominations.
I'll use this thread to say RIP Michael Cimino, director of two of the very greatest films I've ever seen - The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate.
delete -- sorry
Free State of Jones - amazing true story
Rain Man (1988)
Yeah,I remember seeing Last Days Of Disco several years ago and I liked it a lot more than Metropolitan,I'll have to give Barcelona and that new one a spin some time...
RIP,I love The Deer Hunter but never got around to Heaven's Gate,maybe this is the perfect time to try it out,it is pretty long though!
Groundhog Day (1993),enjoyed it.
IMHO too much cgi
Heavens Gate, smoke from a distant fire
Just went to see Independence Day Resurgence yesterday afternoon.
Some plot holes and unexplained stuff, but honestly, if you go in expecting a giant turd sandwich, you'll probably come out pleasantly surprised like I did. Turn your brain off before you go see it is my advice I guess.
Yeah saw that one a few weeks ago too. It was good, maybe not great, but overall pretty decent.
Yeah that's pretty much what I walked away thinking. Lot of stuff not explained, characters not really developed at all, and just a ton of explosions and "fireworks."
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Better than Independence Day II
21, Kate Bosworth ftw
Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone
Separate names with a comma.