…and the quest to see everything

Archive for August, 2010

Seminal Television: The Chrysanthemum and…


ph. AMC

After Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) gets herself into a Robert Mapplethorpe kind of mess, her mother Betty née Hofstadt (January Jones) and Henry Francis decide to get her a psychiatrist. Trying the shrink, Dr. Edna, out, Betty theorizes that Sally’s bad behaviour has its roots on her father Gene’s death. Dr Edna leaves the room, revealing a doll house behind her.

Betty notices, smiles and restrains herself even in a private moment. I change my mind about Jones constantly, but her monologues never bore. Also notice how her body barely move an inch yet we feel those emotions through her face. Just like that I love her again.

And there’s some hot mess about a deal with SCDP and Honda. And Peggy rides a bike. I care too, but I don’t wanna overload you.

Advertisements

Best Shot: Bring it On


I was a cheerleader in my first year in University. Because of that, this movie is seminal viewing. I actually know the cheer in the beginning of the movie five years before I saw it in its entirety. I’d try to recite or cheer it but I’d just go on a loop. I was thinking about skipping this movie, featured in Nathaniel Rogers’ Best Shot series, but as a former cheerleader, that would be treasonous.

ph. DVD

Bring it On‘s hero, Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) has a lot on her hands. Captaining a 5-time regional cheerleading champion that isn’t as united as they once were, a boyfriend in college, another love interest (Shakespearean actor Jesse Bradford), having to constantly court love interest’s sister/gymnast turned neophyte cheerleader Missy (Eliza Dushku). Knowing that her predecessor Big Red stole the earlier routines, she hires a crazy-ass choreographer to teach them a new, non-stolen routine. Or so she thought.

I had to re-watch and look within the movie to see close-ups of the hands. I don’t know why it’s the first image that comes to mind when someone discusses the movie, but there they are.

There’s Kurosawa, Bette Davis evil. But watching this and watching the Toros do the same routine made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t even listen to it. I’m one of those movie watchers that used to go to the bathroom when there’s a scene when a character gets embarrassed. That reaction, my friends, can only be caused by pure evil in cinema.

Image that are probably better than this one will be posted later today/tomorrow if no one posts them.


Best Shot Redux: Black Narcissus


Still dwelling on last week’s episode of Nathaniel Rogers’ Best Shot series, Black Narcissus. I’m not gonna say disappointed since that makes me sound like a cocky bastard, but nobody caught this?

ph. Archers/Criterion

These two shots show that Sister Clodagh’s (Deborah Kerr) not the humourless nun she’s trying to be. And this is her bonding moment with Mr. Dean (David Farrar). If only there were more coffee cups and the habit would have come off. But alas, the blossoms still win.


Despicable Me


ph. Universal

Before I talk about the likes and dislikes about the movie, I just wanna say that Despicable Me is in between good Avatar and headache-inducing Alice in Wonderland in the spectrum of 3D films. If there’s any part of a 3D movie when I take off my glasses and don’t see anything different from watching the movie with or without the glasses, we have a little problem. I do like he sleek designof some interior/exterior spaces of the film, however.

Here, however, is the structural conundrum about Despicable Me. The first scenes are boring. I didn’t really wanna see our anti-hero Gru (Steve Carell)  freeze-ray his way into getting a latte. However, I can’t think of away to cut any of them because if I do, I won’t have enough background on the characters. Basically, Gru, a worn-down villain, adopts three girls to infiltrate another villain’s lair. These tedious introductions help make the children sympathetic and make Gru’s 180 much more surprising and delightful.

Gru’s Eastern bloc accent is stage-y yet not distracting. The children even make fun of it to show him how incompetent he is at being a villain. There are also flashbacks within the film showing Gru’s childhood when his mother (Julie Andrews) shrugs off his little achievements. Most people with terrible childhoods like Gru’s have shortsighted reasons for having or adopting kids and they treat their children as terribly as they have been treated. However, Gru turns out to become a perfect parent. Maybe it’s because Gru, like many adult protagonists in animated films, are children in adult bodies who is looking for playmates. Maybe it’s because the girls are kinda bratty and sarcastic and they’re not the kind of children you lie to or mess with.

Nonetheless, it’s also very funny. It takes a while for the movie to bring on the laughs, but it’s worth the wait. This movie also has the greatest Godfather parody scene in recent memory, and there are funnier parts of the film than that.


Winter’s Bone


ph. Roadside Attractions

Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) has this doll-shaped, pristine face that makes her look like a model for a Renaissance painting – she’s not in the cover of the September issue of W for nothing. Yet she evokes a working class toughness through her looks and performance. The latter can also be said the population of this heroine’s small town setting in the Ozarks, most of whom like hey could be related to Charles Manson, most of whom are distantly related to Ree.

I haven’t seen everything under the American Neo Realist canon – does The Wrestler count? Nonetheless, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone shows what we can expect from the genre – messy living spaces, our heroine Ree who has to take care of children through tough love, the heroine who knows that opportunity is difficult to reach and tries anyway. Then there’s the dangerous hurdle in front of her – having to look for her father or else she’ll lose her house. Within that major plot point comes the portrayal of an honour code in her drug-ridden community that separates her from her elders – yes, elders.

Winter’s Bone is also one of the most climactic example within a genre that chooses minimal and super subtle emotions. Don’t mistake me, there’s economical dialogue here too, but every word in the script has a kick. There are also scenes like when her own uncle Teardrop threatens her. His hand comes from nowhere and that tense moment is captured through film that I’ve probably never seen before.

Supporting cast includes Garret Dillahunt, bit player in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Dale Dickey, the hooker/Betty White’s daughter in “My Name is Earl,” in a chilling performance.


Seminal Television: Friends


So Chandler (Matthew Perry) talks about the freebie list that he and Janice have made up. Chandler gives his friends his list. Kim Basinger, Cindy Crawford, Halle Berry – she’s been around that long? – Yasmeen Bleeth and Jessica Rabbit. Remember supermodels? What used to be a ‘horny dude’s’ list in 1996 seems kinda awesome now, because what kind of guy would put Doutzen Kroes in their freebie list?

ph. NBC

Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) – Chris O’ Donnell, John F. Kennedy Jr. – gross, because he’s dead – Daniel Day-Lewis, Sting and Parker Stevenson. Good taste. And trust me, there are girls out there who would put Daniel Day-Lewis on their freebie list today.

Ross (David Schwimmer) overthinks the exercise as usual – Uma Thurman, Winona Ryder, Elizabeth Hurley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dorothy Hamill. 60% of those people also aged like wine. Too bad he bumped Isabella Rossellini and Susan Sarandon off his list. But then, if Isabella Rossellini stayed on the list, they would have done it “Green Porno” style. And she’ll be the top.

This is kinda the reason why I miss the 90’s. Despite the terrible haircuts and boring fashion, the sex symbols were the kind of men and women you imagine to have a conversation with after coitus. Thank God we have Christina Hendricks and Anne Hathaway – I know, right? – and Olivia Munn and Penelope Cruz and Freida Pinto and Hugh Jackman and Matt Damon and Jude Law and Daniel Craig and Christian Bale.

I’ll edit this post and share my list if you share yours. I already have clues up there. But then like Monica (Courtney Cox), first the boyfriend. Then the list.


Eternal Sunshine of the…


ph. Focus

Kate Winslet has the best hands and the best legs that the movies have had for a long time. Not in a Marlene Dietrich-Claudette Colbert sort of way. It’s more of how Kate puts her physicality to work like Buster Keaton. And yes, I just compared a girl to Buster Keaton. As much as I resent that Oscar of hers getting stolen by she-who-must-not-be-named, I understand how the Academy can overlook a performance like this. Be good next time, AMPAS.

One of the best romantic movies of our generation actually de-romanticizes Valentines Day by reminding the audience that the day is smacked within the winter time. It’s hard to really think of your loved one as ‘sexy’ under those drab bomber jackets. Then there’s the consumerism factor that the holiday brings.

Despite of that drabness, the people have character, a bit alone and looking for each other. Clementine (Kate Winslet) is the kind of girl, impulsive, as said too many times in this otherwise flawless final script. I can’t even imagine getting into a stranger’s car so easily. But as the audience knows, Clementine and Joel (Jim Carrey) aren’t strangers. Erasing each other from their memory only messes with their minds and has created a connection that they might not even have had two years ago, when they have first met.

It’s like a Bogie-Ingrid pairing. If you told anyone in 1997 that the girl from Titanic and the guy from Liar, Liar will make one of the best couple in film history, no one would believe you. This movie never ceases to surprise, despite how many times I’ve seen it.