…and the quest to see everything

Posts tagged “Redux

Save the Last Dance


ph. MTV Films/Paramount

I first saw this movie on a plane, and not just a plane but on my plane coming to Canada. Save the Last Dance helped shaped my young naive mythology and imagination of this continent and high school. I ate the movie up, I ate the soundtrack up (featuring Method Man and Redman, Fredro Starr, Pharoahe Monch, Pink). When the cool kids in Grade 9 were talking about when they were talking about fake ID’s, this is what they were talking about. But unlike the kids who went to my high school the cast of this film, mostly in their thirties, won’t have a hard time getting into some grubby club that don’t look like the Le Deux copycats in our entertainment districts here. Yes, Fredro Starr, if you threw me to the walls of my high school washroom, I’d just make fun of you for being in high school at 34. So I was a bit elated when this movie came on TV less than a week ago.

I’m trailing. As you know, this movie is about Sara (Shakespearean actor Julia Stiles), who has to move to Chicago and give up ballet because of her mother’s death, insipid enough to wear little hair clips, deny that she accidentally calls Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) an know-it-all asshole in front of his sister Chenille (Kerry Washington) and say ‘Noo’ when Chenille asks her if she likes him. She gets this sibling duo as her Uncle Toms, teaching her the ropes in a cutthroat urban high school milieu, that the correct word for ‘cool’ is ‘slammin,’ that dance is her passion and the way for a white girl in the country to connect with a predominantly black populous. What does she give them in return? She buys Kerry Washington‘s character a rum and coke, no ice, and she gives Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) her body. He’s thirty years old, Julia, don’t ‘git’ with him.

Hey look, it’s that guy from “Oz.” Everyone else from that show got another show, like “Dexter,” “30 Rock,”  “The Wire” but nothing for him. Another casting note is Nikki (Bianca Lawson) who also plays Kendra the Vampayar Slayer, my favourite slayer. That girl fights like girls in my high school used to fight.

A little part of me wishes she was more famous, if her acting and everyone else’s acting for that matter weren’t so bad. There was also a DJ named Snooki, a male character. So I changed the channel.


Best Shot Redux: Bring It On


The follow-up posts are just a product of my indecisiveness. As Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) says in her pep talk, ‘we have to learn and discover new types of dance.’ Form merges with content, as one of the film’s positive points is its snapshots of greatness, alluding to art house directors. Really.

Bring It On, written and directed by Jane Campion. Posted by cheapseats and theonewithmjd.

ph. DVD

Bring It On – Roman Orgy, written by Gore Vidal and directed by Federico Fellini. Posted by season days – el fanatico.

We’ll also look at the unsung heroes, like Torrance’s (Kirsten Dunst) love interest (Jesse Bradford). Glenn Dunks

And this guy, who’s probably a real cheerleader.


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.


Blood, this time around


ph. Paramount Vantage/Miramax

The first thing the movie makes me remember is Daniel Day Lewis’ performance as Daniel Plainview. He’s all you see for the first fifteen minutes, even more. It’s funny that a performance mostly known for Day Lewis speaking through the roof of his mouth begins with silence. When he injures himself falling down his little oil well and has to go to a makeshift smelting office place thingy to give them his chunk of silver. He is lying down on the dusty field and seconds later we cut to the office and he’s still lying down, and the audience believes that he slithered his way there.

He asks about HW’s friend/future wife Mary. He then plays around with Mary and tells her that there will be no more hitting. Yet he can’t get no love from her since she feels so uncomfortable.

Also, is that Daniel’s feeling being hurt? He has feelings? He conveys the feeling knowing how distant he is from his real family without the gaping mouth that any amateur would. This scene also subverts Daniel’s image of a family man, an image that he tries to present in his business dealings and one that his competitors have eventually debunked. Yet he stitches his wounds and moves on.

There is subtlety and naturalism to Day Lewis’ work here. His reading of ‘why don’t I own that,’ for example. He makes business talk within a business themed film to be more interesting than it should. There’s also the first time he talks to the realtor, more hilarious since I know what he’s up to.

The movie frames him as a nicer, insecure yet misunderstood guy this time around, although the denouement makes the audience realize that he unfortunately just doesn’t know how to convey his niceness to other people.

I’ve always contended that Brad Pitt gave the best performance that year. The only other nominees I’ve seen are Depp and Viggo, who are worthy adversaries. I always believe in apples and oranges, but there’s something physical and direct about his Day-Lewis’ role and performance. He had a lot to do, did it, won an Oscar for it.

Speaking of performances, adult HW’s closeups are just as effective.

O hai Ciaran Hinds! In all honesty, I didn’t know who Ciaran Hinds was til last year. Oh, that makes it worse!

The movie operates in large strokes, Instead of plot revelations where one thing happens one minute after another, the film focuses on one main action that percolates within five to ten minutes. We see one thing and we see the consequences for the rest of an allotted time. Sometimes, like Daniels’ scene with adult HW, it develops through dialogue, while in others, when a derrick explodes, the film lets nature take control.

Some of its audience might be reductive their perception of a movie by saying it’s two and a half hours of fields or business talk. But the personalities within the movie, specifically Daniel and Eli (Paul Dano) makes it accessible. They declare instead of whisper. And so quotable!

A movie is funnier if you watch it with more people. ‘Just give me the water, Eli’ and ‘That was a hell of a show’ in that straightforward delivery was funnier, as well as every scene where Eli gets owned. I wasn’t laughing the first time I saw those violent moments, I felt Kubrickian shock. I first saw the movie at the VIP section. One of the employees asked me if what kind of food/drinks I wanted, but it was such an ascetic experience that I had to take seriously. This was in March 2008, or February, before the Oscars. This was the most important movie of all time and I couldn’t laugh at anything. This time, I was starving yet I could laugh.

I remember the blues and the warm colours. I should smack myself for forgetting the foliage depicted within the movie. I also don’t remember the movie being this dark looking. And how menacing the first shot is of the mountains. And the symmetry, of course.

And the music. The only ones I’ve retained are the ones in the beginning and its beehive effect and the Cormac-esque fiddle in the end, the latter I haven’t been able to find. I’ve listened to the soundtrack a lot, it gets me through winter. I tried to keep a mental note on which tracks were playing in which scenes.

I am also one of the few people who will defend Paul Dano’s performance, his Eli building on the foundations that Burt Lancaster has in “Elmer Gantry.” He’s supposed to be annoying and over the top. He’s also the reason we have such a bad impression of Daniel, popping up at the wrong time to ask for the money that Daniel already paid to Eli’s brother Paul (Paul Dano). He sermons like Elvis.

I waited two years to rewatch this movie, and it is the best way to rewatch is to let it gather dust instead of watching it to death. Although the movie still fails the Bechdel test.


Milkshake Time at Underground!


ph. awardsdaily

Bechdel test failure “There Will Be Blood” is gonna be on at the Underground today at 9ish. This will be the second time for me to watch what critics acclaim as the greatest movie of the past decade. And there’s something subtle about that last picture that I can’t believe I forget that for the other things that happened. And honestly, I wasn’t gonna watch this, but Elmer Gantry just inspired me to do so. Besides, unlike movies from that banner year like “No Country for Old Men” (better on TV) and “Zodiac,” it’s never on television. Come if you can, and hope I or we have fun this time around!


It’s Like That Friend Who’s…


ph. MGM/UA

…tha asshole. He’s our asshole.

After “How to Train Your Dragon,” last Friday, the Toronto Underground Cinema played “Hot Tub Time Machine.” And I saw it again. And I paid for it. I just wanna share my favourite moments this second time around, and this time I actually have proper screen caps.

Like When Nick Webber-Agnew (Craig Robinson) just word vomits in Russian.

Or Lou’s (Rob Corddry) calm demeanor when he looks up to the thundering sky, deciding that he’s not gonna go back to 2010. Blink and you miss it.

Jon’s (blogless, as far as I know) favourite moment is when Lou tells his son Jacob those three words he never did. As well as Jacob’s response to that.

Look, the lovable Lizzy Caplan joins the party! She plays the younger voice of sanity in “Mean Girls” and she does that here too. She has great chemistry with Adam (John Cusack) never looks too young nor too old in either parts of the space-time continuum.

And there’s been some talk that iMDb is fanboy centric. If that were true,  “Hot Tub Time Machine” would have a higher mark.

Martina was talking on the phone with her mother. I joked at how her mother might be scared that she’s watching a movie with two boys. She said that her mother trusts her choice of friends, but retracted that statement after watching the movie. I told them that I spent a voucher to watch this movie the first time and they told me that I wasted that voucher. I hope you guys disagree with them. :P


Plugs: Lolita


ph. MGM

This movie’s gonna be on again at the TIFF Cinematheque at 4PM today. I also don’t know why I would tolerate Humbert’s (James Mason) actions, decisions and the ramifications for both. Others would find them out of character for a professor – but then he’s teaching at Bumfuck, Ohio and not Harvard. Either I accepted him as a part of the genre or he’s the kind of character I love to hate and I’ll tolerate his stupidity just to see him suffer. I’ll find more theories when I have the time. The film also suffers from pacing issues, specifically between the hour mark until the last half hour. Sue Lyon as Lolita is amazing until one or two unconvincing line reads at the last exchange of the movie.

Cinematheque’s write-up has an excerpt of what Michel Ciment calling “Lolita” ‘a decisive turning point for Kubrick… one of the keys to his inner universe,’ which is more eloquent than what’s  in my head. I can’t fully love the movie, but with “Lolita” and its humour I understood “The Shining” and “Eyes Wide Shut” better. I always thought that the former was funny yet overrated while I have vague recollections of the latter but it’s obviously divisive. I feel as if my appreciation of Kubrick would be better if I watched his movies chronologically.


Obsessed: Zodiac


(Make me wanna holler. ph. Paramount)

Maybe “Zodiac” is trying to show an alternative system in solving crime. There are always gonna be cold cases and the police cannot fully dedicate themselves to every unsolved crime. They’ll just find some seemingly altruistic nerd like Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) to ponder over dusty evidence. I was gonna call this transfer system perfect if it didn’t ruin families and if it didn’t end in a staring contest instead of an actual arrest and conviction.

The movie starts with a high angle wide shot of San Francisco in the Fourth of July while a croony male version “Easy To Be Hard,” a Broadway song about civil rights is playing, making the scene and the rest of the movie seem dangerous in a romantic way. We see the Transamerica Tower being built. “Zodiac” glides for a 160 minute movie about a serial killer, showing the passage of time with the same artistic hand used with depicting a man stuck in the past.

(Jesus Christ indeed)

This is the best David Fincher movie I’ve seen so far. It doesn’t have the blatant dialogue about morality in  “Se7en,” an element that can make a movie age like fish (but don’t mistake me, I like a lot of it). It doesn’t have the ‘shut up, Brad Pitt’ of “Fight Club,” although I like Brad Pitt everywhere else. “Zodiac” doesn’t declare itself as a great film like the other two, but watching this after two and a half or so years makes me feel like I found a hidden jewel.

(A better stalker than Edward Cullen)

Graysmith’s obsession is still seductive because it attempts to shatter  impartiality, especially that of police work. He tries to get into police stations and detective’s homes and yes, that’s annoying. But the typical police officer isn’t sadistic enough to say no. In his last conversation with David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), he knows how to spin a tale and has done a lot of research on the suspect’s time line coinciding with the killings. Toschi tells him he can’t prove any of his speculations. He bravely replies that ‘Just because we can’t prove it doesn’t mean it’s not true.’

Lastly, why is John Carroll Lynch playing douche-y roles? He’s amazing here as Arthur Leigh Allen, and he’s serviceable as one of the guards in “Shutter Island.” I just miss the loveable husband from “Fargo.”


Silence of the Lambs


(not the most flattering angle ph. Orion)

Isn’t Clarice Starling is such a nice girl? There’s something about way she smiles and jokes around and has good rapport with others. No wonder Hannibal Lecter has a thing for her, just like every other leering pervert who goes to school with her.

In the scene in the Your Self storage facility outside downtown Baltimore, she asks the manager with a nervous laughter to call her friends at the FBI if the door falls down. She’s cordial yet in control. I wouldn’t even joke about getting stuck in some skeevy guy’s storage room. And as a first time viewer like I was a few months ago, I kind of was expecting the door to close. But watching the way she talks about the worst case scenario, we should have known nothing is gonna happen and she would be fine. If your definition of ‘fine’ is uncovering Benjamin Raspel’s decapitated head.

(hot damn, girl looks like Nicole from MTV Canada)

That early scene, as well as most of the earlier scenes, have such different qualities from the Clarice Starling later on who looks like she’s on the brink of tears. Jodie Foster had to give unity to the character after all. She’s a character appealing enough that Hannibal wanted to know her. I wanted to see her deal with other situations, and I was a bit frustrated but then again it’s a relatively short text – 118 minutes – in a genre film, and they can only allow certain things in there. But then, there’s always gonna her friendliness and wide-eyed constant learning and her humility when she’s not directly dealing with the case. Good enough for me.

(narcissus)

The movie has always been a movie in parts for me, always catching the ‘transsexuals are very passive’ scene, because they could only either be passive or serial killers. And all British guys know how to put condiments on a cadaver. And all redhead chicks are both strong yet vulnerable. And all blonde guys have manginas.

While we’re in the ‘gender and sexuality’ thread of the conversation, Clarice is all we have as a representation of the female and feminine in this movie. Catherine, although with a coarser vocabulary, isn’t really Clarice’s foil because she’s just as resourceful yet vulnerable. And Ardelia isn’t a fully developed character. The boys, however, are a different case. An LGBT character is a serial killer yet Clarice’s declaration on the passivity of transsexuals isn’t invalidated. I didn’t take an Angus Reed poll or anything, but a queer man can love women as much as another can hate them. Technically Bill already has foils, but if the film had characters presented as Clarice or Bill’s foils, they wouldn’t be as effective on their own.

(god bless America)

I first saw it in its entirety at the Toronto Digital Film Festival, a ‘horror’ film that froze me instead of jolted me, despite of the cloudy quality of the digital film . I won a poster for answering the trivia question of how many Oscars it won. I haven’t opened the poster yet, I don’t know where to put it in my room, I don’t even know where it really is. Then there was the crispier AMC’s televised run Monday night, when Miggs can smell Clarice’s ‘scent’ and Hannibal imagining Crawford imagining ‘fondling’ Clarice, and Bill ‘having’ himself so hard.

(bully beat down)

I discovered new things in this awesomeness the second time around, that ‘good bag and cheap shoes’ sounds like a hell of a fey insult and I should use it someday. Someone should tell Clarice about that ugly ass coat too. That Clarice kinda looks like Scully. That Buffalo Bill is capable of love. That apparently Anthony Hopkins and the girl who plays Catherine reunited in a really terrible Chris Rock movie that I still wanna see.

(cowboys)

That adds to what we already know about that galvanizing moment when Lecter beats the shit out of that guard. And the poetic sequence when Clarice really finds the killer. The little Western touches within the film. That if Jodie Foster wasn’t a lesbian, I’d prescribe it to her. That Clarice is getting better at her game the same way Bill is. That you can never listen to Tom Petty the same way again. That this movie is probably a metaphor about the 90′s paying for our collective sins in the 80′s but I haven’t fully figured that out yet. That this movie’s the only Best Picture winner that encapsulates ‘grunge.’ And like Liz Lemon told her gay cousin, never help someone move a couch into a van.


Mother


(Should I say fierce. ph secret)

(Repeat viewing, again I didn’t blog at TIFF ’09)

One of my favourite scenes in “Mother” is the abandoned amusement park scene. There’s awesomeness in the closeups of Jin-tae’s boots as he willfully beats the shit out of the horny, gossipy teenage schoolboys . But what I’m here to talk about is when Jin-tae’s best friend’s Mother (Hye-ja Kim) interacts with the same boys. She lights a cigarette and plays good cop to Jin-tae’s bad cop. She asks where the murdered schoolgirl Moon Ah-jung’s cellphone is. The previously fragile mother now looks tougher and sharper than nails, easily she gets the answers she needs.

That’s one of the hurdles that the titular Mother has to go through to prove that her slow-developed son is not the murderer of a girl. She tears up, she bravely ventures to places like the victim’s funeral and a sleazy Karaoke bar, she lies through her teeth. She’s technically a supporting character in her son’s life, their view of each other both Freudian and furious. But we later realize that it’s all about maintaining her world order as much as it is about getting her son out of jail. Hye-ja Kim also fills this character’s highs and lows, giving the best female performances of the past year.

(Pretty much explains and summarizes the movie)

This is the second Joon-ho Bong film I’ve seen (the first one was “The Host”). He explores known terrain/archetypes like schoolgirl innocence, low functioning emasculated men and according to Rick Groen, incompetent government officials, but he twists them in “Mother.” I’m not an expert in South Korean history and culture – cellphone culture and interconnectedness and other Asia-na is assumed as a part of a depiction of the said culture. But this movie’s so character driven anyway that it doesn’t get pigeonholed as a ‘film as national metaphor.’

Almost every frame in this movie is beautiful. From the close-ups to the natural landscapes of a Korean city to the valley-like cemeteries and streets to its attention to water and rain to its willingness to explore darkness. Blue hues are neo-noir’s best friend.

Sure the movie’s a bit slow and even the shocking twists (they’re the best ones in about a decade) don’t give it the punch that “The Host” did, but “Mother” is becoming more enigmatic the more I think of it.


A Prophet and Love Songs


(Warning: post contains violent images, written content sexual innuendo and stuff like that.)

UnProphete(One step ph. secret)

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.

LesChansonsDAmour(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.


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