Queue Total

284 MOVIES (released titles only)

Note: Real spoilers are in black text on a black background. Highlight the black areas to read the spoilers.

Queue Numbers

#50- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

#100- Black Swan

#200- Mysteries of Lisbon

Last- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Director: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Writer: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) Vikas Swarup (novel)
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, and a bunch of indian children

a kid from the slums of india with no schooling wins "who wants to be a millionaire" in india. the story of his life, and how he knew the answers to the questions

I really enjoyed this movie.  I'm usually a big fan of Danny Boyle, and this showed that he's continuing to mature.  His "signature" chase-through-the-crowd scene was a good example of that.  But it wasn't all as super-duperlative as the Best Picture moniker tried to lead me to believe.

Everything worked in this film, including the younger actors.  The story was interesting and engaging, and game show aside it did a good job of showing how difficult it must be to make anything of yourself if you're a "slumdog."  The only real critique (will quibble) I have is that the use of the police station as the framing device got to be a little redundant; it could have just evolved into VO, or just cuts to the game show. 

But there was just something missing for me here. It's the je ne sais quoi that would have pushed it from a four to a five.

The Woman
this was really good. i thought "doubt" was better, and more oscar worthy, but that's just my opinion. i do not belong to the academy. this was a long movie, but it was good so it wasn't really noticed. i dug stuff. yay.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Endurance

The Endurance (2000)

Director: George Butler
Narrator: Liam Neeson

Documentary which tells of the 1927 Shackleton expedition to reach the south pole.  The film is named after the ship on which they traveled.

The Woman
i enjoyed this greatly. that said i'm kind of a documentary addict so.....
i'm am totally impressed with the outcome of this expedition. it seemed that everything that could go wrong (short of dying) did go wrong. i don't think you would see that kind of survival happen in contemporary days. they were made of different stock back then. i know i would have died at least four times over. very impressive leadership, and survival skills.
i also enjoyed seeing all the old photos and footage actually taken on the expedition. it makes it more real and tangible.

This is the sort of documentary which merges interesting subject matter with excellent presentation.  Unpretentiously narrated by Neeson, the movie combines the various available media with interviews with the (old!) grandchildren of the men in the expedition.  The film follows a chronological course which perfectly suits the material on which it's based.  I also appreciate how the presentation unfolds around a story free of "bad guys."  The frustration that we feel is not aimed at specific people but at a series of shitty situations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Damned United

The Damned United (2009)

Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: Peter Morgan (screenplay) David Peace (novel)
Starring: Michael Sheen, Colm Meaney, Timothy Spall

Brian Clough's rise and fall in football (aka soccer) management in the late sixties-mid seventies.

This was another just-fine kind of a thing.  It's another great technical outing from our forebears across the pond.  You really got the feel for the settings, and the football itself was filmed interestingly.  Stock footage was mixed well with new film.  But the characters were a little thin, and I think it's more in the writing than in the acting.  This seems strange to me, given that these are such well-known figures in the history of English Football.  I don't know if it's the fault of the author or the screenwriter, though I suppose that if it's the author it still lands on the screenwriter. 

That's a shame because the story is really interesting, and I'd like to have known more about some of the specifics of the matches as well as the families of the key players. 

This lands on a three, but it falls below the "recommended" line for me.

The Woman
this was another one that was good-ish. i liked it, but i didn't love it. just like "the young victoria" i felt like we just watched a tiny piece of what happened, and i wanted to see more. there was an epilogue, but i actually wanted to see the redemption of his career.  well acted, of course. with a cast like that i would be shocked if it wasn't.


Ondine (2009)

Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Neil Jordan
Starring: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda

an ex-drunk fisherman pulls a chick out of the ocean in his net. he's convinced by his kidney failure daughter that she's a selkie, aka a mermaid.

The Woman
i distinctly remember watching this trailer and saying to myself "oh god, that looks terrible" and yet i put it on the queue. good job me. my first thought was closer to target. the exterior shots are really beautiful, but the story was pretty lame. irish movies always have this depressing sadness in their ambiance. even if the story is meant to be heart warming. i'm not entirely sure this was supposed to be heart warming because SPOILER ALERT turns out that the woman in question is really a romanian drug mule. that kind of takes out the magical gas out of the bag. i guess there are worse movies i could have spent nap time watching, but i think this one was pretty forgettable.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Legion (2010)

Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Writer: Scott Charles Stewart, Peter Schink
Starring: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Adrianne Palicki, dennis quiad, kate walsh, and caitlynn from the oc

god has decided that has doesn't like us anymore and begins the apocalypse (?) the archangel michael disagrees with god's plan, and therefore cuts his wings off to be the champion of mankind. there's a pregnant chick, like there always is. and, she, of course, is carrying a special baby of some sort.

The Woman
utterly, laughably, ridiculous. plus the plot is so full of holes it doesn't make any sense. SPOILER ALERT: so in this version of armageddon it's the angels who have possessed the weak of mind (like the ice cream man) to destroy the prophet baby because god is mad at us and has determined to "exterminate" mankind. so then michael must fight his bestest archangel buddy gabriel. gabriel still, of course, has his angelic powers not to mention his wings. *side note: why are all angels british? i guess the sun never does actually set on the british empire.* so lots of fighting and machine gun firing, (and ooh, ooh, gabriel has this magical heaven mace that can extend it's points and rotate really fast for shredding purposes) and gabriel kills our friend michael. lots of light, and disappearing on michael's deadness. then you think gabriel gets blown to smithereens by dennis quaid's ultimate sacrifice, but no. he finds those two crazy kids with the baby, who has been born at this point because it's almost the end of the movie, and voila! michael comes swooping down from heaven to save the baby. feathers and all. it seems our beloved god who has forsaken man, has let michael convince him of the errors of his ways and restored michael to full archangel status. huh? so everything is fine and dandy. baby lives with those two crazy kids to join the army of man. but wait. why is there still an army? hasn't god seen the error of his ways? did i not just mention that a mere 3 sentences and 2 questions ago? last shot is of happy go lucky kids driving in a car linda hamilton terminator style all blissful with their baby carrying an arsenal in the back of the car. why is there still a need for that? wasn't the army of possessed men angels? if they were angels wouldn't their god have told them "oops. my bad. come on back up to heaven."?

i also forgot to mention that when michael was killed as a mortal, his tattoos magically transferred to boy kid's body, and they were supposed to follow the instructions on the tattoos. it's a good thing they could read angel symbol alphabet, because that shit was not in english.

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980
Written by David Peace (novel) Tony Grisoni (screenplay)
Directed by James Marsh
Starring Warren Fox, Paddy Considine, James Fox, Maxine Peake

The second in a trilogy of films about the Yorkshire Ripper case of the 70s and 80s, this movie follows a special police investigator brought on to look into the case as well as the way the local cops are handling things.  Crap ensues.

The Woman
good. since we watched the last one so long ago i kept trying to see connections between the two. i know there really isn't anything,but the case, but i still found myself waiting for a mention of a character from the first one. it was kind of distracting. i'm not saying their choice was bad either. i may have enjoyed this one more than the last one.

west yorkshire police from the seventies seemed to me to be equal to the chicago police from the early twentieth century. super corrupt, unstoppably bad.

i am eagerly awaiting our viewing of the third installment.

This is another interesting approach to the material.  Spending more time on the internal workings and the corruption in the police, the story itself is just as compelling as in the first installment--if anything this part is more incensing than the first go-round--and the production kept pace with the period while maintaining a solid through-line.  In addition to the shared writing staff, the producer worked on all three movies; and the attention to detail in the costuming and production in general is just as good.  But the solid direction gets a lot of credit here as well.

More than the first film, this one should be on film class curricula. From both obvious and subtle uses this film serves as a good teacher of telling a story with nothing but camera work.  One scene in particular would have been almost as effective if muted.  Of course, some of that scene's power must be attributed to the actors and it serves as a good example of the collaborative nature of movie-making.  The leads embody their roles and actors never feels out of place.  Down to one- or two-scene wives, characters are fully realized and generate the requisite empathy or distaste (or, occasionally, a combination of the two).

After another highly-recommended outing in this series I, too, am anxious to watch the third one.  (But we have to watch some of the actual DVDs that are in our house at some point.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Babies (2010)
Directed by Thomas Balmès
Written (?) by Thomas Balmès, Alan Chabat
Starring Bayar, Hattie, Mari, Ponijao

babies! four babies. one from tokyo, nambia, mongolia, and san fran. from birth to walking. cuteness abound.

I think tiny babies are very cute.  If you think tiny babies are very cute then you will enjoy spending 80 minutes watching this movie.  Don't expect to learn anything, though.

The Woman
holy crap. this movie is warm fuzzies. if you like watching babies and you're having a down day, may i suggest melting your insides by watching the cuteness that is this movie. there is no dialog. you don't have to deal with the parents very much at all. it's just babies. doing baby things. there's some sibling involvement and some animal walk-ons, but that only works to reinforce the giggling. if we are sarcastic curmudgeons and we think this movie is like kittens on a cloud...damn.

also if you have young children that are driving you slightly insane with their crabbiness. sit them in front of the tv and this will keep them entertained for at least a half an hour.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Life in Ruins

My Life in Ruins (2009)

Director: Donald Petrie
Writer: Mike Reiss
Starring: Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss, Alexis Georgoulis

an out of work professor of ancient greece (?) becomes a miserable tour guide because tourists are so obnoxious

The Woman
i watched this the same day as "Bride Wars" so i may have a twisted sense of positivity towards this movie. it was kind of boring, and it wasn't very funny, but it was "Gone with the Wind" compared to the trash that had entered my brain previously. it made me miss "Connie and Carla" which has a special place in my heart for some reason. i'm not a touristy kind of a person. i tend to avoid that sort of thing when visiting other places. it highlighted my aversion to the tourist persona, and i kind of appreciated that there were multiple countries made fun of in the tourist stereotypes. but that's as far as it goes. after the first introductions of the characters, it got old pretty quick.

the only funny joke was that the bus driver's name was poupie kakas. and that's because i think toilet humor is the funniest! and i'm not being sarcastic with that one.

final thought: truly forgettable

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bride Wars

Bride Wars (2009)

Director: Gary Winick
Writer: Greg DePaul, Casey Wilson, and two other people who should be ashamed of themselves.
Starring: Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway

two "best friend" chicks who have been obsessing about their weddings since small childhood get engaged. "june at the plaza" is their absolute must. they hire new york's most respected wedding planner who messes up the appointments and books both of their weddings at the same time on the same day! what a crazy twist!!!!

The Woman
this was so stereotypical girl planning her wedding and getting so out of control and losing her perspective, it was almost offensive. these girls belonged to a sorority, all they care about is the wedding itself as an entity, and they are all booze obssessed, check-listy chicks. and then they hire a wedding planner, because they have such visions of their weddings they need someone else to make it for them. i don't identify with that type of girl, i don't know if she even exists in real life, but i was offended. comments like "they don't show you how crazy they are until it's too late..." coming from the grooms to be. listen buddy, if you don't want to marry a psycho maybe you shouldn't. things like not consulting the men because who cares what the men think, or they're too busy drinking beer and watching sports...i can barely take it.

i will admit i was working on something at my "studio" table so i wasn't all that immersed in the movie, but i strongly feel the fact that i was rolling my eyes from across the room, with the mild amount of attention i was giving to this flaming pile of money lit on fire and shot out of a cannon straight into the toilet, means that if i was watching this twiddling my thumbs on the couch i would have either turned it off or found something for me to occupy 90% of my attention. i mean i had heard the warnings about this stinky dump on perfumed stationary, but i always feel i should make my own opinion. and.... yup i agree with the consensus. this blew projectile beefaroni vomit all over your favorite grandmother. nobody in a thousand mile radius of the making of this movie cared about the expired product they were selling to the public. poison, people, poison. i think i may have to go back right now and see if one of the writers is a woman. hold on.... TWO! there were two of, i think i just lost respect for the female gender. in which case, i loved this movie!

i think oscar may have woken up before i finished watching this rotting pile of summer diaper garbage, but i did actually stop paying attention all together at the end. all i heard was the incredibly predictable next check on the checklist of life, duel pregnancy exclamations (with the same due date) for the last moments of this turd. i hope kate hudson and anne hathaway are proud of themselves.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux (2008)

Director: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen
Writer: Kate DiCamillo (book), Will McRobb (screenplay), Chris Viscardi (screenplay), Gary Ross
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Tracy Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciaràn Hinds, Robbie Coltraine, Tony Hale, Francis Conroy, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Lloyd, Sigourney Weaver just to name a few

a rat sets a series of events in motion that makes everyone unhappy. a mouse who doesn't know how to be scared fixes them in a really complicated way. there's a princess and a greiving king, a servant girl, a cook, a mousetown and a rat town  involved as well. all narrated by sigourney weaver.

The Woman
 very cute. i am tempted to read the book because things got a little involved and complicated for a feature length kids movie. there was a lot of things going on, but the narration was written very well. i could tell there is a lot more character development just under the surface, which i hope is more lengthy in the book. the gravy baby liked it and it kept us entertained for a gloomy morning. i would recommend to parents of toddlers. i also appreciate the town's obsession for soup.

Remember Me

Remember Me (2010)

Director: Allen Coulter
Writer: Will Fetters
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Peirce Brosnan

angsty boy who's grieving his brother gets into trouble because he's angsty. while remaining full of angst he falls in love with a cop's daughter who watched her mother, martha plimpton, get shot in a mugging when she was nine. her father, the cop, is much more affected by that fact though as he is overbearing and somewhat boozy.

The Woman
i'm just going to say at the beginning of this i'm going to spoiler the shit out of this movie. if you have any interest whatsoever in subjecting yourself to this movie you may not want to continue.

i was all right with this movie until the last twenty minutes or so. it was kind of boring and slow, but i remember being young and full of the angst in my early twenties. i don't know why it opened with poor martha plimpton being shot in the chest. that was almost the last time it was mentioned in the movie. i guess they needed a reason for chris cooper to be such an ass, but that could have been done with a line or two. also peirce brosnan should never attempt a brooklyn accent EVER again. i was practically laughing out loud at him. so yeah. the whole mugging thing happens in 1991 in nyc. the present of the movie is TEN YEARS LATER. hint, hint, hint. they fall in love. he tells her that her father arrested him and he got with her in the beginning as a revengey thing, but now he really loves her. she leaves. they get back together everything is wonderful....too wonderful....his angst has dissipated, they're young and in love....she asks him what he wants for breakfast after his meeting with his father....a high powered attorney (?)with a prestigious office in downtown nyc..... ominous music calls. he's running twenty minutes late because he's decided to spend time with his much neglected daughter and take her to it's early morning.....but robert pattinson is already there! he gets in the elevator. 88th floor, 89th this point i seriously consider turning it off because they're dragging this out so horribly it's become annoying. gets to his fathers office and looks around....sits at the seat behind the desk... sees the photos of him and his brother and sister as kids in a slideshow on his father's computer. awwwww he really does love them. their relationship has been mended. cut to the sister in class. on the board it says September 11th, 2001! i never saw that coming! cut to mr. pattinson he slowly walks over to the window and looks out over the city. the camera pans out to show he is on the seriously close to the top floor of one of the really badly computer generated twin towers. they could have ended here, but no. reaction shots of everyone who walked on camera throughout the entire movie. then, seriously this movie isn't over yet, they show his diary in the rubble and ash. no kidding. apparently it was jet fuel resistant.  then they show the family putting stones on his grave next to his dead brother. are you still with me because this shit's not done? now they show all the people in the movie going on with their terrible lives. the joker has become a dedicated student, they daughter is with the father in an art museum, and so on and so forth. last shots are of emilie de ravin who steps onto the subway from the same platform where poor martha plimptin got one in the chest. close up on ms. de ravin's face. she is smiling..sort of. fade out.

i rolled my eyes and almost hurled.....remember that.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

Director: George Barry
Writer: George Barry
Starring: Demene Hall, Rusty Russ, and some other people you've never heard of
a demon's cursed bed is a death bed for several people....whom it eats.

I don't know quite what I expected of this movie, but this wasn't it.  It wasn't pretentious and it wasn't intentionally over the top.  I think this is more the product of a filmmaker with a dream and meager funds.

The story is actually presented as short stories connected by the death bed and the weird narrator dude.  There wasn't an arc, as such; and there wasn't anything more concrete which connected the characters we did see.  There could have been a better prologue about the origins of the bed; but again that was probably due to budget constraints.  There was a clear point of view through the whole picture and I can see how a cinema 30 years ago would be filled with a tooth-edgy feeling (which is a couple of steps before "seat-edgy" on the dread scale).  The inner monologue thing seemed a little sketchy at first, but I think that it ended up helping.

I'm not sure if I recommend this but it gets a 3 because I didn't NOT like it.

The Woman
um this was pretty straight forward in a weird and confusing way. there was no real main character except for an eaten guy who was somehow transported into his painting of the death bed: the bed that eats. most of the dialog was different characters inner monologues. i'm not quite clear on how the death bed: the bed that eats became the death bed: the bed that eats, or the way it was SPOILER ALERT destroyed. there was some sort of cockamamie story about a demon seducing a maid, and somehow she died (during or shortly after copulation?) and the demon cried blood? and the bed they had sex on became the death bed: the bed that eats, and the demon went to live in a tree where he only closed his eyes once every ten years and therefore made the bed powerless? i know, it makes perfect sense. so lots of people get eaten by the death bed: the bed that eats and then it eats more poeple and then it strips rusty russ' hands to the bone, and then the guy in the painting says that the demon has fallen asleep and then the bed is vulnerable, but no one survives anyway. the end.

i liked sleep away camp better, but this was a chuckle.


Doubt (2008)
Written and Directed by John Patrick Shanley
Starring Phillip Meryl Streep, ("he IS") Seymour Hoffman (-Leila), Amy Adams

At a Catholic school / church in the 60s (?) the nun in charge of the school is concerned with the priest's attentions toward the a new student.

The Woman
very good. good acting, good direction, good concept. not the molestation bit, but the constant subject of doubt. i think every actor in this was pretty exceptional and the cinematography was really noteworthy too. all the structures and architectural shapes were yummy. nothing about this movie had even a scent of pretension in it and i appreciate that. especially since it was so good. it almost makes all the crap we watch worth it so we can recognize real intention and purpose with clarity.

This movie is deliberate, which is not the same as slow.  Nothing is rushed because nothing in the real world would have been rushed. Individual scenes have fervor which contributes to the perfect pacing.  Acting is exactly where it should be given the top-billings; and there are more than one scene-stealing smaller performance.  A lack of ostentatiousness separates this film from many of the "esteem pictures" we've seen lately.  Tricksy shots advance the story rather than hindering it.

Finally we've seen a 2008 Oscar movie worth our time.  "Doubt" is the title for a reason, but it's certainty which makes the characters interesting as no single action in the film originates in malice.  In addition to the excellent final scene, the philosophical questions transcend religion to stay with the viewer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yes Man

Yes Man (2008)

Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul
Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Rhys Darby

bank loan guy who is a miserable shut in, goes to a self-help lecture about "saying yes!" suddenly his life changes!
This film's most interesting, entertaining scene occurs between approximately 15:00 and 19:00.  Because it has Terence Stamp in it.

The Woman
watching this travesty called a comedy made me finalize in my brain old jim carrey shtick is not funny. fire marshal bill is 20 something years old. it's time to move on now. this seemed like a desperate attempt to relive the golden jim carrey years from jim carrey. not only was it not funny, it was kind of revolting to me. jim's looking a little "long in the tooth" as my mother said and he's dating zooey deschanel who is younger than i am. it kind of makes me shudder while i type it. this was typical hollywood machine plot A. you knew exactly what was going to happen details and all in the first, say, 5 minutes. (i might be a little generous with that allotment of time too). not funny, just sad. did he really need a paycheck that badly? he's capable of so much more.....i think.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience (2009)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: David Levien, Brian Koppelman
Starring: Sasha Grey, Chris Santos

this is about an escort. she has a boyfriend.

The Woman
this totally sucked ass. i watched it because it was short and had been on our instant queue for awhile. in the info the first thing it says is that this was made for under $2 million. really? to brag about that is not cool. i should have known right there. clerks was made with a quarter of that and it could eat this movie for a tasty snack. there was all this political rambling done by her clients (it's takes place right before the 2008 presidential election) and whining about the economy. look i'm living that shit right now. i don't need a look back two years ago. i remember. especially from the rich assholes of manhattan who caused this to happen in the first place. boo hoo. i'm making a third less than what i used to. that house in the hamptons might have to go on the market. boo hoo. high class escort is losing clients because they can't afford to poop that kind of money down the toilet. booo hooo. there were all these scenes with her boyfriend's life as a personal trainer too. they seemed to me to be random and pointless. they only showed them together as a couple hanging out in their apartment twice maybe. i don't need his story because his life and background are not important to the "story" being told. he was a huge douche anyway. yes, she spends time in sweats on the couch watching tv with her asshole boyfriend. that scene and the fact that he knew she was a hooker are the only facts i need to know about that situation. all in all i didn't get it. there was no clear point to the movie. and SPOILER ALERT! they break up at the end. but their relationship isn't the focus of the movie anyway so who cares. the girlfriend experience is what she gives to her clients. there. now you don't have to watch the movie. if you're into watching things about escorts, watch the "secret diary of a call girl" because that is waaayy better. and more serialized which makes it...hold onto your hats...entertaining.

 and p.s. even the poster annoys me. there is nothing sensational anywhere near this movie. there aren't even any sex scenes. that would have driven the budget up i'm imagining and then they couldn't boast about how inexpensive it was.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Starring The Princess Who Wrote the Diaries, Don Draper's Super-duper-duper-duper Sexy Bohemian Girlfriend , Mr. Noodle (!), everybody else, everybody else's parents

This one woman who used to be famous (or something, which is not explained at all) got high and killed her brother when she was supposed to be babysitting him.  She comes out of rehab on some kind of temporary release to attend her sister's wedding and adds drama to the already-dramatic circumstances.

 i kind of dug this one. i'm writing this waaay after we actually watched it because i've been slacking, so i can't think of any specifics. very uncomfortable in parts......great acting...... the camera work was a little much at times. i kind of understand the point of it (the camera work) but it's not a documentary so i think it was a little too excessive with the zooms and stuff. i also understand why my friend found it too difficult to watch and turned it off... mothers of young boys, and all. but considering all of that i liked the way it was done over the couple of days up until the wedding and how it was over the morning after the wedding. um i think that's it...

...and i disagree with almost everything moster wrote.

Here's another "yeah, OK" movie.  Everybody has a pretty shitty deal, even though some of them are getting married and having lots of sex and things.  The status quo is slightly better in the end.

I had a hard time caring about these inexplicably wealthy characters and their crap.  It was a real tragedy that the kid died, but with the exception of one scene it's played for way too much sympathy.  The acting was generally good and it's nice to see Anne Hathaway growing into something less candy.  Midge plays most of the movie with that same self-satisfied smirk that was so sexy in Mad Men but doesn't quite fit in here.

The direction in this movie has to be broken into its two components.  The "telling the actors what to do" was more than adequate, but the "telling photographers what to do" more than made up for that.  We start with a fairly standard approach and then when we get to the rehearsal dinner shakicam is introduced in such a way as to feel like it's guests with their video cameras.  But there's no recovery (heh) from that crap and it continues through most (but not all) of the rest of the film.

There were some interesting elements of the production and most of them centered around the Indian aspect of the wedding between a white chick and a black dude (which is probably the most interesting--also unexplained--part of the whole story).  Other things were, again, overdone.  The drab nature of the backdrop with rain all the time and other such student tricks didn't do any favors for anybody.  I just don't feel the hype here.

Finally, the band was really annoying and I think it was supposed to seem really cool.  This another example of a movie which comes from undeserved pretension.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)
Written and Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansen, Rebecca Hall, (I always groan when I see) Penelope Cruz

two young american touristas spend time in barcelona. they couldn't be more different, but they are attracted to the same spanish painter guy. they each, in their own time have sex with said spaniard. then SPOILER! they leave barcelona.

This was alright.  I don't think it's a standout in the Allen oeuvre, all time or late-period.  Writing, direction and acting came to us through the standard Allen naturalistic lens and the characters and their interactions were all close enough to believable to be acceptable.  But that's all it was, and telling a story that's good enough well enough doesn't get anybody anywhere.

The story was a story that you could hear one of the principals telling their grandchildren--in fact, that framing device might have been preferable to the third party narration that we got--and you could see people doing what these people did.  But so what?  Is it supposed to be revelatory that a Bohemian-type woman enters and exits a multi-party relationship with a Spanish artist?  That a tighter (inexplicably the best friend of the freer) woman briefly escapes her engagement in the bed of that same passionate Spaniard?  That that Spaniard's passion needs taming by one of those women for his life to be constructive?


The Woman
i'm not a fan of woody allen. his older stuff is too manhattan paranoid for me, and the newer stuff i always feel like i'm digging it, and then it ends, and i think to myself  "yup. still don't like woody allen stuff" why do i fall for it every time? it's like the weatherman, i inevitably fall for his bullshit, and then remember their craft is shit. and they have no clue what the weather will be like. do i believe in magic? no. do i like woody allen? remind me to read this next time an allen movie is up on our list. it's entirely frustrating. i could have really liked this movie. i was with it right up until the last 15 minutes. i don't exactly know how it could have ended, or what i was looking for, but when i walk away from a movie regretting the time i wasted watching it.... i mean, really. what is the point? there was no real self discovery, there  was no development....wait a minute....i would use those exact sentences to describe the twilight saga. is stephanie meyer really a pen name for woody allen? is he trying to draw the affections of teenage girls? i'm sensing a pattern here....holy crap. i think i'm on to something....something way more interesting, and way more worth my brain thought, and with a better, more entertaining ending than that movie. 

Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Director: Charlie Kaufman
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Tom Noonan, Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Emily Watson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dianne Wiest...did i forget anyone?

Ostensibly about a stage writer/director's use of a MacArthur Genius Grant to create a fully immersive theater experience, this is more of an exploration of the consciousness of that person... or of our own individual consciousnesses and individualities...or of the collective consciousness and togetherness... or of something less determinate.
The Woman
well, i didn't not,like it. i didn't exactly like it either. i can see this derived from a fork in the road when he made "adaptation" (which i liked). some sort of reality based theater production where the viewer and the actors and the director can't tell where they are and what the heck is going on and how did i come to be here exactly and i am dreaming?, am i mentally ill? have i died? 2 hours, or 50 years later, yes, he did.  

I tend to enjoy tings which are unclear and require a good amount of interpretation and philosophising, and this certainly was that.  This was a fine progression into direction from the screenwriter of Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine....

Whatever one thinks about the story itself, the telling was well above "competent."  Great performances were wrung from ample sources like Hoffman and more-difficult ones like Davis.  The construction of the immersive world-within-a-world was reminiscent of Gondry.  In addition to capturing the interpersonal and solely personal moments with ease, cameras helped to show how the overall production was just at the level where we could tell if we were in what was perceived to be reality or what was perceived to be fiction.  Contrariwise (but not really) the editing worked to blur the total universe so we were never sure exactly where we were.

It's difficult to talk about the story as a story because of the nature of the background, but  I got a lot out of this experience both intellectually and emotionally.  Leila's right that there are no truly redeemable characters but I don't think that's bad or unrealistic. Rather, it serves to showcase how it's easier for people to sugarcoat views of their own lives rather than face the fact that at some level each of us is an asshole.  That that realization is couched in a story where it's impossible to identify the point at which we entered the Hoffman character's mind serves to reinforce that point rather than to undermine it and that's the ultimate triumph of this film.