Monthly recap: What have I been watching?
Going to try a new feature, a monthly round-up of what I've been watching.
Nominated for foreign-language oscar. A brutal watch, not because story contains lots of violence, but disturbing emotionally. How events can change your goals in life. What transpires can make you shudder, and you won't forget the ending in a hurry. Not a good advertisement for travelling to the middle east! Not perfect, a weak point was the shift between locations, which was poorly executed. Would have helped by adding captions of which country we are in. I was surprised it was a Canadian production considering the subject matter. Going to jump into my top 15 films of 2010.
Bright lights big city (1988)
Gave it a chance because set in the 1980s yuppie environment, which readers will know I've been researching for a review of American Psycho. I can safely say Bright lights big city was forgettable, Michael J Fox seemed miscast. The scenes at his office were too easy to guess the outcome of. Script had a B-movie ring to it despite being based on a popular 80s novel by Jay McInerney. There were apparently a lot of script rewrites. I assume the book is better.
German director Tom Tykwer to me was always stronger from a technical standpoint than as a storyteller, in films such as Run Lola Run (1998) and Perfume (2006). His latest with the short title "3" was attempting to be more "grown up". Had its moments, sadly was too predictable.
More about what is not said, than what is. Good performance by Michael Fassbender, who struggles to have emotional bonds, and is addicted to having sex. The conflict is he wants to disconnect, and his sister longs for connection. It’s an unerotic film with erotic scenes. I could certainly empathize with Brandon’s troubles. The question of blame, is it pornography and prostitution at fault is interesting, he is kind of portrayed as a victim, despite being very selfish and uncaring. Controversial love scenes may have prevented Fassbender receiving an Oscar nomination. Perhaps a little repetitive, going from one conquest to the next. Harry Escott’s haunting score is worth mentioning.
Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
My expectations were low, was pretty good, nice family fun, and several moments that made me laugh. Good for an entertaining one time watch.
Less than zero (1987)
I was expecting more. The characters just wandered around without purpose, which was not my idea of a good story. I read Brett Easton Ellis' novel a few years ago, and I couldn't tell it was the same material, they changed it so much. I really don't know why I finished watching. The music score was decent, that's only positive. Won't make you nostalgic for the 80s. Maybe it was un-filmable?
The Broken Tower (2011)
I was bored. Adding quotes of poetry between scenes was a quirky idea, I just never cared about the characters.
The White Ribbon (2009)
2nd lifetime viewing. Won Palme D'or at Cannes film festival in 2009. Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, everyone is a suspect. Stays with you, and a good time capsule of how different life was back then. Childhood in those times was not fun and games. Very powerful, despite the large cast.
I Am (2010) (documentary)
Director Tom Shadyac speaks with intellectual and spiritual leaders about what's wrong with our world and how we can improve both it and the way we live in it. The soundtrack was nothing new, but the messages were uplifting, and the ideas about our society put forth thought-provoking. The tone of the doc was a bit all over the place, the clips of the movies he directed like Ace Ventura felt out of context. Many of the theories are old news in new packaging, and towards the end the arguments are a little too "out there", which is a pity. Still worth a look.
Iron Lady (2011)
I said I wouldn't, I did anyway out of curiosity. Good performance by Meryl Streep as expected, especially the British accent she nailed. Unfortunately they focused on her senile days for about 50% of the running time, which was not the right priority in my view. I think it would have resonated if I had been an adult in the 80s.
The most powerful film experience of the month. A character study of both teachers and pupils at a high school. I'm torn about the rating, I know we have seen movies with a similar formula, Detachment for me was just a cut above other entries such as 187 (1997). The dialogue despite the fine acting was a bit shoddy in places. Excellent performance by Adrien Brody. The voice-overs at times reminded me of Malick's Tree of Life. I give the film extra points for bringing us close to the suffering, tough to shake from my memory. Also the visual style I found to be quite original. In my top 3 of 2012 so far.
Autumn leaves (1956)
Joan Crawford was a big star back in the day, I don’t find her somewhat masculine looks very attractive if I’m honest. Who’s to say what people thought in those times. Nevertheless, the story about a choosey and cautious lonely woman searching for love does bring out pity, and the romance was pretty sweet. The twists and turns in the plot made it difficult to predict what would happen. Maybe they took things a little bit into unrealistic territory. Who knows, I didn't live in the 1950s.
Quiet City (2007)
A small indie movie (Budget:$2,500) about a man and a woman who meet by chance and spend time together. The dialogue and getting to know each other keeps it interesting.
Medicine For Melancholy (2008)
A small indie movie about a man and a woman. Where did you hear that before ( : ok, this time, it is in black and white. The main character is an African/American. You can’t blame the lead for trying, though girls don’t like a guy who tries too hard. Less dialogue than I was anticipating.
The mother and the whore (1973)
A French drama about aimless 20something guy visiting the local cafe, pretending to read, and going on dates, and talking a lot. The conversational dialogue held my attention, but became a bit monotonus, and 3 and a half hours was too long. Sort of movie doesn’t matter if you miss 10 min. There is quite a lot of talk about sex, often when smoking cigarettes after intercourse. Surprisingly effective all things considered
Europa Europa (1990)
Overrated foreign language WW2 drama. Was expecting more considering the critical acclaim on movie sites. The actor in the lead I didn’t really connect to his struggle, so I ended up skimming this one. Not as powerful as other WW2 films I’ve seen. Didn't affect me as much as I think the filmmakers were intending.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
There are things to enjoy, the ewoks, the speeder bikes, sadly the ending involving the Death Star was unoriginal.
Mission impossible 4 : Ghost Protocol (2011)
Very suspenseful entry, for me better than 2 and 3 in the series. The ending was a bit far-fetched, the Dubai scenes were spectacular. Léa Seydoux (above) could be a star of the future, she is very beautiful.
Imagine Thomas McCarthy's The Visitor (2007), only in French. I usually find it difficult to love French cinema, I will have to make an exception for Intouchables. A star is born in the shape of actor Omar Sy. He beat Jean Dujardin at the French equivalent of the oscars, the Cesars. Yes, Sy's performance is THAT praise-worthy. Likeable characters that can appeal to young and old alike.
Dreams of a Life (2011) (documentary)
Most gripping documentary I've seen in 2012 so far. Memorable look at the life of Joyce, we are told her dead body was not discovered until 3 years later, with the TV still on. Her interesting tale is told from the point-of-view of friends and acquaintances. Not as bleak as the description suggests.
The Goonies (1985)
A childhood favorite I rewatched with the purpose of writing a guest post for inspired ground's upcoming 2nd birthday. An 80s Speilbergian adventure movie that is easy to like. Very underrated how effective it is in terms of kids dialogue.
Sleep Tight (2011)
A psychological horror film, directed by Jaume Balagueró, we slowly drift into the story, that girl he is secretly stalking is totally hot! The main character (stalker) in my mind was unlikeable. The filmmakers attempted to make us feel sorry for him, by making him sad. I didn't like the way the film developed. Did hold my attention, I had not seen the story done before, an original horror movie is a rare thing.
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011 ) (documentary)
Was moderately entertaining, but not great. I was expecting to add films from his long career to my to-see-list, and that didn't happen. The Intruder (1962) is arguably the highlight of Corman's directing life, and I already had that on my watch list. Didn't paint a very flattering picture of his resume. The feeling I got was the stars saluting Corman's low budget methods maybe owe him one for being helped into the movie buisness when they were starting out, so the praise felt forced.
Something Wild (1986)
Jonathan Demme comedy. I liked the idea, just went on too long. A light hearted comedy, that lost it's way midway through. I commited the cardinal cinephile sin of fast-forwarding over the last part of the film to find out what happened at the end. Could have done wth better editing. Didn't need to be 2 hours.
First attempt at a monthly recap, so bear with me, I hope I did alright? Any thoughts on what I watched?