Seminal Television Roundup
The after effect of talking about Strangers on a Train, and applying it on their own lives.
Bart’s on the dumps that Jessica Lovejoy (Meryl Streep) doesn’t talk to him in public, but she tempts him that ‘if it’s a secret…it’s more exciting.’
The debate between The Hurt Locker and Avatar continues.
I saw this movie at the barbershop, eleven months after its theatrical release. Can I rank that higher or lower than seeing a movie on an airplane?
I only go to the barber twice a year. Either way he’s five subway stations and two buses all the way to the East End, which is a whole ‘nother universe where I could have gotten beaten up in high school. Most of the movies my barber shows are Uwe Boll movies, which are less repulsive than their reputation but woah are they bland.
Instead he had “Up.” The shop was popular and comfortable enough for me to wait for the duration of the film. I couldn’t get half of the dialogue because there were blow dryers all over the place but you know, that’s their livelihood.
Whatever dialogue I could grasp was very sophisticated. And it’s visual enough of a movie anyway – it’s gorgeous animation and Pixar to boot – that the balloons and Mr. Fredrickson’s (Ed Asner) Spencer Tracy-esque face was enough for me. The married life sequence melts the heart. The soundtrack accompanying said sequence and the whole movie has this optimism that could only be imagined at that of an earlier time. Weight and volume are also taken into consideration in this movie – the house, the balloons and the clouds seem to be fleshed out objects instead of drawings. And it’s agenda free unlike “Wall-E.”
Then the movie finished, and I’m getting my haircut, and the barber suggests to put on a UFC fight. For a child to watch.
The Secret in their Eyes
(Sequence in their Eyes ph. SPC)
I’m taking everyone I know to see this movie.
The movie, portraying Argentine detective Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) trying to write a novel about a rape-murder case he’s had a twenty-five year obsession with, could have been a “baffling masterpiece” if I left it alone. But like every great film, I can’t, and it becomes more cohesive the more I think of it.
The movie, comfortably jumping from 1974 to 2000, has everything. Class conscious banter. The Hitchcockian theme wherein a man acting out on his impulses reminds another of his repressed desires and romances. A portrayal of human stupidity by Esposito and his partner Sandoval, whom, despite its intentions, prove that they’re neither cunning nor untouchable as they think. All of that in a slow marinade that is neither sleepy nor frustrating.
Then it has a climax like the seamless, much talked about chase scene in a full capacity soccer stadium.
The second half is, forgive me, a series of what-the-fucks. It’s one of those movies that can end in so many places, with slow dramatic volleys from one possible scenario to its exact opposite. One of those possible endings transports us to the year 2000, when both Esposito and his love interest, Irene Menendez Hastings, are older. She examines the novel and becomes dissatisfied where and how the rough draft ends, her way of encouraging him to find real answers and truths that both the characters and the audience deserve. This second half isn’t jolting but is nonetheless disturbing. Saying ‘that was the most fucking up thing I’ve ever seen’ was a gauge learned to judge great movies in high school viewership, and it’s still just as effective. The real ending that the characters and audience do deserve took a lot of buildup, and it’s believable and nonetheless human made by a director who can make great films.
The movie’s about how people treat each other, how people punish each other, a desire for vindication. It’s about a new cinematic language to articulate an idealism that hasn’t vanished in the personal nor national level, although it’s easy for that ideal to slip away.
Now that’s done, I’ll reintroduce Nathaniel R’s discovery of Natalie Portman’s three block rule, a rule that the Cumberland audience is notorious for breaking. And it’s funnier when middle-aged bourgeois feys break this rule.
“I thought the movie was so horrible.”
“Have you read the New Yorker review? I think you’re alone in this.”
“Just everything was set up. The female judge just happens to have her shirt a bit open when the suspect was there. And the elevator…”
“That’s like every other movie. It wasn’t as bad as the movie yesterday.” (Please don’t tell me these idiots didn’t see J.Lo)
“And the judge closing the case just like that.”
“Well, you don’t know what the Argentinian (ARGENTINE!) justice system was like. And it was the 70’s. It was a dictatorship.”
And so forth. I’m pretty sure I’m a loser for forestalking them (walking in front of the person you’re actually following). I just thought the dialogue was gold.
A Prophet and Love Songs
(Warning: post contains violent images, written content sexual innuendo and stuff like that.)
I first saw “Un Prophete” at TIFF. I didn’t start my blog sooner and I paid 12 more dollars to see the film again, bringing a total of paying 52 dollars to see the movie.
My love for the film is less than unconditional at this second screening. First of all, we have to consider the prison as a national metaphor. That said, Malik El-Djebena’s (Tahar Rahim) is a likeable character but not sympathetic. Instead of being rehabilitated, the prison turns him into a wiser, slightly more determined criminal. However, a typical prisoner becoming a non-criminal after a six-year term is highly unlikely, and that is a Hollywood thing to portray.
Then I also overlooked that the Corsican prisoners step on Malik and he must abide by the rules of the other prisoners and bribed jail guards to get what he wants. Despite the possible metaphor in the film, his actions are mostly motivated on a personal level. He avenges when someone wrongs him, and thankfully at the right time. Knowing when to strike is one of the unpolished skills that he has entering the prison, and as the years go, he begins to think strategically. There is a scene when he helps his Corsican ‘boss’ Cesar Luciani (Niels Aestrup) deal with the new Muslim inmates, his advice thus surprises Cesar. You sympathize with him when he’s down, when he’s getting himself back up, and even when he’s killing a few people.
Brad Brevet from RopeofSilicon wrote about Malik’s prison education. Interestingly enough, this is a story of a man who learns from his enemies, a theme relegated to the sidelines in other crime films. Cesar and the Corsicans inadvertently teaches Malik strategy and ruthlessness and their native dialect. Another prisoner, Reyeb, tells him to come out of prison a little smarter. Malik becomes part of the cycle by advising – instead of using a rousing speech – the Muslims who had shunned him to fight for their rights in the prison. All actions are tough to pull off.
All in all, a very cinematic and enjoyable film. Those two adjectives fit even if the film features a guy cutting up his own moth with a razor, another guy having blood erupting out of his jugular, and a third guy putting a spoon inside the first guy’s eyelid. And that French prison food is awesome.
(French Robert Pattinson and French Haley Joel Osment make out)
Three hours before that I saw “Les Chansons D’Amour.” Ismael (Louis Garrel) is romantically pursued by a gay guy after his girlfriend (Ludivigne Sagnier) dies. I am proud that the gay one can sing the best in the movie, but I am very protective of gay characters. I like them flawed, but I do not like them fucked in the head. I do not wanna see them stalk straight people, I do not want to see them snivel, I do not want to see them get the straight guy that easily.
I do like Ismael’s nuanced world before tragedy happens. I also like how the film tackles the girlfiend’s death like a sledgehammer instead of a dramatic device. Deaths like this happen unexpectedly, and I feel that in the movie. Ismael does not deal with grief perfectly but the film does not paint him as a man whore or a sad little boy needing a shoulder to cry on.
Lastly, with the exception of Piaf and Josephine Baker, hearing French sung by these people in their twenties is as awkward as watching my mother get drunk.
Christopher Plummer Double Bill
(Always been partial to model-actresses. ph. secret)
During the first half of “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”, I asked myself “Where was this going,” “When is it gonna end.” Terry Gilliam films promise you a lot of fantasy but the first half shows in the aughties’ version of grunge – alcohol, London traffic, tattered costumes, all three revolving around the travelling circus, especially the immortal Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), the film’s troubled storyteller. He has lost control of his show, the world has lost interest in his stories. Add Tony (Heath Ledger) to the mix and his presence and suggestions add conflict to the other members of the cast-in-wagon (Andrew Garfield, for instance).
A part of ‘Parnassus” also feels like a perfume ad, Valentina (Lily Cole) floating in the air, her dress swirling, her arms reaching towards the oversized flowers and high-heeled shoes while Imaginarium Tony (Johnny Depp) dances with an elderly woman. That doesn’t mean I have a prejudice against this former model, it’s the other way around. Nonetheless, the occasionally frustrating glimpses in the imaginarium are a bit distant and CGI for me to look at it with wonder.
The Imaginarium Tonys (also Jude Law and Colin Farrell), despite being a part of the fantasy world, actually grounds the film. The most emotionally gripping parts of the film are when Tonys personal troubles follow him in the imaginarium. It would have been nice to see Heath in these parts because they’re the meatier part of the role, but the incorporation of four actors in one role is well done.
The film ends with Plummer being another beggar, the fantasy world gone. His old friend Percy (Verne Toryer, not a cameo) wonders if the beggar is the Great Doctor Parnassus. Is greatness compromised when life drags on?
I also caught “The Last Station” this past Wednesday, which was a little more even. The peaks and valleys of each character are charted in placed where you will know to find them. If I did not end up watching the film, it would be immortalised in my mind as the one where Countess Sofya Tolstaya (Helen Mirren) breaks plates and shoots a gun as shown in the trailers. It’s more than that, but there’s still some genre conventions within it. Got a problem with melodrama?
I wanna talk about the nuances in James MacAvoy as Valentin Bulgakov, the way MacAvoy is the best male crier in the industry, this time keeping himself still yet making the moment raw. How the film does not take his away from a shot when he goes from one emotion to another. How the other characters does not allow him to evolve from a spineless intellectual. How a beard does not make a man.
Helen Mirren also makes me doubt my choice as putting Gabourey Sidibe as my Oscar choice, although Sidibe is still number one. Sofya makes the characters around her listen to every word without making it look wink-wink nudge-nudge. You sympathize with her as extremist Tolstoyans like Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) try to take away her influence from her husband. Yet her last request to her husband to come home with her still sounds duplicitous.
We see the film in Bulgakov’s eyes. However, as much as all these characters tugging at each other is sometimes fun to watch, but I still wonder who is the centre in all this intrigue.
Late Thoughts on Crazy Heart
(The last person who did this was Orson Welles. ph. secret)
- I’m pretty sure Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal were drinking during their drinking scenes. I know the teary eyes and the blushing cheeks when I see ’em. My friend Matt called it method acting.
- Watching Bad Blake be an asshole, be sandbagged, and have sex with Maggie Gyllenhaal made me feel really uncomfortable. No pathos nor tragedy is conveyed, just plain awkwardness.
- Don’t wanna hate, but watching Bad Blake shirtless is tolerable unless he stands or sits up.
- Kudos to the cinematographers for the colours in the movie, the cameramen for getting into Jeff Bridges’ face, the location scouts. Great movie in the technical aspects.
- Sure, it’s Jeff Bridges, but he wasn’t the best this year. But then it took me two months to get Colin Firth in “A Single Man.” Will I change my mind about Bridges by May? Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal only had one great scene. Jeff Bridges has zero, or at least he does a little nuance-y things instead of having a bait-y scene, which is typical and refreshing compared to other people’s work. But still, Colin Firth and for that matter, Samantha Morton, got robbed.
- Jean Braddock is not professional. I’ve made out with older men after a few drinks before, but not while working and not while a babysitter is looking after my child at one in the morning. The rest of the movie made it look like Bad Blake had her on his fingernail, which isn’t her fault at all. And although I’m not an expert at her oeuvre, I’ve never been convinced that Maggie Gyllenhaal can play someone trashy enough to do these things.
- If my creative writing prof saw this movie and heard Bad Blake sing, “The sun shines brightly,” he would cut a bitch. It’s the sun. Sometimes it’s yellow, white, but it’s always bright.
- Colin Farrell is a good fit as Tommy Sweet, but he should have shown his face more.
- This movie featured a mostly healthy relationship between a grown man and a child. Finally.
- Time went by really fast watching this movie, and I haven’t said that about a movie I liked in a long time.
In which I whore myself
This is obviously countrproductive because I’ll get more traffic there than here, but I’m just proud that I have this to say for myself:
You know now that I have not been a good boy.
Have a nice day.
In which my blog’s name becomes kinda ironic
(A lot of fish in the sea? ph. screencaps from iTunes download)
I saw “The Cove” this past Thursday. To call it a documentary fits the rudimentary description, but the word “documentary” however implies certain qualities among the film that might make those prejudiced against it turn away. “The Cove” shows shots of people talking or groups of people doing fascinating or horrifying things, but that’s not all there is to the movie. Instead it actually has a deeper aesthetic value and pattern.
The first shots in the film are, if I’m right, taken from infrared cameras, then a few more from night vision. We hear the deep, benevolent voice of Louie Psihoyos, telling his audience that he did his best to try to make the movie legally. This first scene, both in visuals and words, warns us of not being allowed to see and roadblocks and denials. The movie also shows other people who have tried to do what Psihoyos as his team are doing, and failing. Some get murdered, as indicated by stills of web pages announcing these deaths.
Psihoyos’s documentary tells the story of dolphins being hunted in the coastal town of Taiji, Japan. He learns about this from Rick O’Barry, an Alfred Nobel figure in his transformation from TV show producer to dolphin activist. Seeing some of the action, he assembles a group with different skills helping him expose what’s happening. They have to do everything at night, which explains the infrared and the night vision. SPOILER ALERT, but they use the infrared cameras to install regular digital ones and hide it in the right places, they go back to the hotel rooms to look at the footage, the screen goes black, we as the audience go underwater, and the infrared and night vision fully contrast the clarity of what’s recorded.
And this movie makes me jealous that this guy only went to one week of film school.
And this movie makes me unable to hate Hayden Panettiere, not that I did in the first place.
(Just like a wavin’ flag. ph. secret)
I also saw “All The President’s Men” on TCM the same night, and I’m not sure whether I would be equally erudite with this movie as I was on “The Cove.”
The movie stars Dustin Hoffman (playing Carl Bernstein), the greatest American actor in the New Hollywood era. The first few scenes of the film made me think that he’s unfairly playing second fiddle to Robert Redford (playing Bob Woodward), but both men even out eventually. Not to mention that this is the first time I’ve seen Robert Redford act, and I feel shitty and reductive for saying that but I haven’t checked out his oeuvre yet. It still seems that Redford gets a 60/40 in the movie because he gets mano-a-mano with Hal Holbrook’s Deep Throat, their meetings sprinkled with neo-noir elements. I guess it’s more cinematic that way for a person to meet another instead of being interrogated by two.
The reason I bring up the Deep Throat meetings is because the first movie I’ve seen of the subject is “Dick,” where both Woodward and Bernstein meet “Deep Throat.”
Both movies show how the little guys are intelligent and can beat the bullying big guys with a rock and slingshot. and in “All the President’s Men,” Bernstein’s friendliness and hunger and Woodward’s innocence complement each other. They’re both underestimated but as we realize, one brain’s as good as the next, as both guys meticulously look at details and scour the right interviewees and follow the money, as Deep Throat has said.