2012: The Links Don’t Write…
Here are other 2012 movies I reviewed for Entertainment Maven.
Richard Gere puts his ass on the line in Arbitrage. Just let the self0importance of that title sink in. It has two ridiculous (sub)-plots. the first one involves Gere’s character cheating on his wife, played by Susan Sarandon. I don’t care if he’s diddling some French model playing a French artist, you just don’t cheat of Susan Sarandon. The second ridiculous plot point is their dumb son, but I actually got a kick out of that. I only sympathize with half of the rich characters I watch and this is one of the many cases where I wouldn’t mind if they died in a fire. The cast is aces however, including Brit Marling as the smart daughter who unfolds Gere’s lies and Tim Roth who has the same goals as I do if I was in the movie.
The Raven is one of two movies where a de-glam John Cusack partners himself with a beautiful damsel in distress with questionable taste in men. The damsel is Alice Eve, who got unjustly lambasted for her apparently lacklustre performance in Men in Black 3D. It’s hard keeping up with three great actors, even if it is a 3D blockbuster. This time around, Alice Eve was just lovely.
Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On is a movie that reminds me that like Thure Lindhart’s character, I’m accidentally hilarious when I’m trying too hard to be sexy. And that yes, I am sleeping with too many men who smoke crystal meth without having partaken in the drug myself. I already have insomnia to make me seem slurry and haggard, I’m not taking an illegal substance to speed up those processes. But just like the protagonist, it’s hard to just stay away. The gay world is a world of rejected human beings and we don’t want to inflict that on people we love. We also don’t choose the people we love, anyway.
I also watched the random movie at a few of Toronto’s many local film festivals. For the Planet in Focus film festival, screening movies that bring attention to our environmental problems, I saw two movies, Dead Ducks and Keep in Rolling, that both tackle oil consumption.The former is about how the Alberta oil sands are killing ducks from both sides of the border while the latter is about the outrageous car culture in Europe. I seriously thought that only North America and Asia had this problem.
For the imagiNATIVE Film Festival I mostly saw short films, like Alexus Young’s anecdotal Where We Were Not, a poetic animated movie about the director experiencing police brutality in the Prairies. The festival’s Witching Hour Shorts program, the closest thing I got to TAD this year, featured many genres like science fiction and horror, my favourite one being The 6th World. The thing about these small, local film festivals is that the urban elite are the only people who catch these obscure titles. Thankfully The 6th World is in some specialty internet channel or something.
Oh and I also watched new shit like Life of Pi And I kinda don’t feel like spending money now so movies will all be enjoyed in my bedroom.
All I Care About Is Love!
I’m not gonna be the Debbie Downer who talks about how this movie is a satire of the demonization of women who vengefully act against the abuses they face from their partners. Or that the musical and its adaptations came out within different contexts, the 1970’s urban prurience, the 1990’s circus trials and the cynical escapism and ‘reality’ crazed 2000’s reflect the prurient, circus-y crazy escapism of 1920’s Chicago. This movie’s too fun and campy for that.
Not like I can cite these opinions I’m talking about, but Chicago today is treated as a shallow visual exercise, that other films deserved the Best Picture trophy better, and that it’s dated. How terrible of a fate for a film to be called dated. It’s only eight and a half year’s old! I don’t have the problem with the separate worlds of gritty jail and colourful cabaret fantasy, the transitions between the two are seamless. Maybe because both worlds are as colourful, unlike the drastic cinematography changes between the fantasy and ‘real’ segments in director Rob Marshall’s later work, Nine. My problem on that department is that the takes are too short and quick, sometimes the audience can’t see the actors perform their song and dance, especially with Richard Gere‘s Billy Flynn. Sometimes it shakes too much, like when Kitty Baxter (Lucy Liu) is arrested, stealing Roxie’s thunder, or the last number.
There’s been also been many discussions about the casting. Sometimes I think about what Goldie Hawn, Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra would have done under Bob Fosse. I’m also pretty sure that some of you are slightly bitter that Charlize Theron, Toni Collette, Hugh Jackman and Kathy Bates weren’t in the movie version we have now. Yes, I’ll admit that Gere is the weakest link of the cast. Sometimes he doesn’t know what to do with his arms. He gets a showy role but like every capable actor given a boisterous character, he doesn’t always turn it up to 11. it’s Although his renditions of his songs border on sprechgesang, his voice is still nice to listen to.
And he may be Mr. Cellophane all right, but John C. Reilly can outsing Gere any day.
I’m probably one of the people who will defend Renee Zellweger‘s casting and performance as Roxie. Yes, her face is a bit twitchy, but her dancing not that’s bad. Although I do have to see a stage adaptation for comparison in the triple threat department. She has a wiry, sinewy body, not as voluptuous as her co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones, like she’s lived a life of poverty. Her voice is also a little hoarse, like a female version of a schmoe. My favourite song from the film is starting to change to ‘I Can’t do it Alone,’ or ‘We Both Reached For The Gun.’ Nonetheless, Roxie’s songs always catch me, like ‘Funny Honey’ and ‘Roxie,’ because there’s anger and delusion to them. The latter number, when we see her body from tilting close-ups to wide shots of her body into the darkness of her fantasy, or when she looks to the right and finds a mirror, and more mirrors. Those are my favourite images of this film.
Zeta-Jones’ Velma Kelly needs the least defense from me, because her Oscar-winning turn’s pretty much well received even now. Some regard it as the best Supporting Actress win the past decade. Zellweger’s hoarseness matches Zeta-Jones’ raspiness, reflecting the anger and toughness that comes with her situation then as a dancer who had to make her way to the top and her desperation in jail. Egyptian dancers and her theatre background would be proud.
You keep your sister warm at night?
(Squinty and Droopy ph. secret)
In “Days of Heaven,” (again) Bill (Richard Gere) leaves Chicago and gets farm work for himself, his sister Linda and his girlfriend Abby. Bill and Abby pretend as brother and sister.
So the question is are they hicks or not?
They do straddle the line. For the characters’ sake we’ll pretend that they did so because it’s better to get work under this guise. That doesn’t stop them from looking like kissing cousins in front of the farm. Of course, everyone notices, including the farmer (Sam Shepard) who eventually marries Abby.
I have always considered them as tragic figures, because OK, I have to explain this further by saying that this post exists because of a discussion I had with a friend after finally seeing the movie on the big screen. One of the things he also said was that the main characters weren’t that intelligent. The fact that not only did they get beyond Chicago city limits but that they maneuvered themselves into the farmer’s mansion disproves that. The tragic figure reading comes in when they get into something so big that they can’t get out of it, a general plot that will keep most eyes’ attention.
They’re also not that articulate, as shown in Linda’s narration, having the vernacular of Chicago streets. This is the exact opposite of “The Thin Red Line,” where guys in Southern accents have poetic narration. I never really expect intelligence from my characters, nor do I expect them to evolve. As long as the characters aren’t Coen Brothers stupid or Jimmy Stewart awkward. I’m saying that even if I like both the Coens and Stewart.
I’m comforted that they’re not really brother and sister. Bill and Abby’s relationship is also weaved into a narrative and fictional environment that doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable when I’m looking at them. Thankfully.
Days of Heaven
(Bill looks up. ph. http://ofilia.wordpress.com/)
“Days of Heaven” was on TCM as part of their 31 Days of Oscar thing they do every February. I was planning to see Tootsie instead, but this was on, and earlier.
Every time I saw a great long shot of a landscape, I felt disappointed in myself that I’m not waiting until later this month to go see it on a big screen. On screen this stuff probably looks majestic, but on TV it looked to clean. Well at least I didn’t watch this on my iPod. I do appreciate what Malick does here. It felt like he waited (apparently the film was show in the course of a year) for the right colours to appear on the sky. It was like what Van Gogh would have done if he had a camera. Seasons had to change so that we’re not seeing yellow fields all the time, and Malick did that beautifully as well. And the locust scene can wake the hell out of anyone.
There is that little part of my that thinks that this movie is an earlier, lighter text compared to “The Thin Red Line.””Days of Heaven” portrays man and nature as coexisting, weaving into one another. The fields and the sky aren’t a backdrop for the love triangle between Bill (Richard Gere), The Farmer (Sam Shepard) and Abby (Brooke Adams), and it makes the movie a bit poetic. In “Days of Heaven,” nature controls man, while “Thin Red Line” is more of a microscopic look of how man can destroy nature. It’s probably a bias, and that bias is getting weaker than it was two days ago when I first saw this, but it’s there.
A really strong point of this movie is that it shows a time when people could transform and disappear. There’s so much regionalism now, and I feel like the class system is getting stronger these days. Back then everyone seemed able to do anything and take any job. Seeing Richard Gere’s character turn from farm hand to a king to a fugitive is still refreshing today, and his character gives a face to the undocumented persons that helped shape American history.