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Lancemc 10-31-2007 03:02 PM


Originally posted by lazarus

Blueberry's not coming out proper until next year, and I haven't seen it yet. I'm sure I'll like it more than the critics, who love to tear down their idols after a few years.

Yeah, you should definitely watch Days of Heaven again, or let it sink in before commenting. Did you happen to check out the new Criterion edition that came out last week, or the old one? I can't wait to get my hands on that DVD.

Have you seen The Thin Red Line yet?

I have the Criterion verion of DOH. Bought it on a whim, because of the great reputation, and mostly because of the amazing DVD cover art. I haven't seen Thin Red Line yet, but my suitemate has that, so I'll probably be checking it out soon.

I'm already looking forward to My Blueberry Nights though, the trailer is gorgeous, and though I'm worried about the English language aspect of the film, I'm sure it will still be enjoyable on some levels, even if it's not quite a masterpiece.

And I got ITMFL shipped today from amazon, should be here friday, and netflix is shipping out Days of Being Wild. So when I have both of them, I'll watch all three films in proper order.

Slapnutz 10-31-2007 03:15 PM

I 've always found Wong Kar-Wai to be a pretentious bore who makes soap operas masquerading as art-house flicks. What some call 'dreamy' and 'evocative', I call shallow and self-indulgent. I just want to give him and his characters a slap.

lazarus 10-31-2007 05:56 PM

Well, you could say the same thing about Antonioni, I imagine.

monkeyskin 11-01-2007 03:49 PM

The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca
I’m lumping these together because they’re so well known, nay, revered and they’re re-watches. I got these in a box set along with The Big Sleep and Key Largo, which is probably the best £11 I’ve ever spent on DVDs. Anyway, watching The Maltese Falcon again after so many years and so many other Bogart films, I was surprised as to how tough and cynical Sam Spade is. This is a man where one of his earliest reactions to his partner’s murder is to have his name removed from the signs on the windows. A man who can coolly turn over both allies and foes to the fuzz as either a scape or for some dimly felt need for revenge.

Casablanca on the other hand surprised me as to how thoroughly entertaining it is on repeated viewings. Aside from the lines that everyone (mis)quotes, Claude Raines nabs the best ones and is quite clearly having a ball in his role. I know it’s a lazy and almost indifferent attitude to take, but there’s not much else I can say about these two films that hasn’t already been said for the past 70+ years. They really are that good and The Maltese Falcon is as good an introduction to classic film noir as any. Also, knowing the ending to Casablanca still doesn’t mean that you don’t get emotionally sucked into the story and really care the characters along the way.

Arsenic and Old Lace
You may never realise how much a man can possibly mug in film until you watch Cary Grant in this. I’ll admit it put me off a bit the first time but he pours so much energy into his role that you can’t help but be swept up by the silliness of it all. Saying too much about the plot will ruin it (and this is a film that would be spoiled if you knew what to expect) but the whole cast is great and Frank Capra even manages to find some great shots in essentially a one set film. It was based on a play after all.

But the up till know unsung hero of all these movies is the one, the only, Peter Lorre. Even if you’ve never seen him on screen before you’ll be sure to recognise his voice and mannerisms from old Bugs Bunny cartoons. His Joel Cairo (The Maltese Falcon) is an interesting piece of work, duplicitous, effeminate and not one to turn your back on. Ugarte (Casablanca) introduces the main thrust of the narrative and it’s such a shame we don’t get to see more of him. Finally, Dr Einstein (Arsenic and Old Lace) is similar but more of an under the thumb weasel who doesn’t have the stomach for what he’s wound up doing. His final scene in the film is a hoot.

Broken Flowers
One of the things I love about revisiting films is when enough time has passed to make you forget exactly why you loved them so much the first time round, that watching them again recaptures some of that original magic. I remembered the general story, but had forgotten just how funny the scenes between Don and Winston are. Also the great acting from Bill Murray and each of the four actresses that play his old flames. The vast differences in their lives and present attitudes Don each highlight a different side of his character. Their past relationships with him are hinted at in contrast to their present situations and the quiet scenes before and after his road trip say so much with so little apparent effort from Murray. The final scene is a standout, bringing the film to a love it or hate it finish. Personally I loved it and it wrapped up the film in an as satisfyingly way as possible.

The Purple Rose of Cairo
I adored this film and loved the way the fantasy elements were pulled off within the story. One of the actors in the current matinee film suddenly spots a recurring face in the crowd and, bored of his role, steps out of the screen and into her life. The rest of the audience are understandably shocked, but more in the way that they’ve never seen this kind of thing happen before, not that it’s impossible. Indeed, they begin conversing with the characters up on the screen (who are very aware that they are in a movie and what is supposed to happen in the next reel) as if it’s all a very innocuous thing to do. Woody then makes things interesting by having the real life actor enter the mix…

Largely a film about the differences between ‘happily ever after’ films and the bitterness of real life, it has two charming turns from Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels (in the dual role). Very funny at times (when it explores how a film character would cope in the real world) and bittersweet (Mia having to choose between what is perfect yet fictional and what is flawed yet real). It’s a film I’m sure many of us can relate to with a protagonist that finds escape in the movies, even when life has dealt her another bad hand.

lazarus 11-02-2007 01:47 PM

I missed these yesterday. Nice work, again. Purple is just one of Woody's greatest, and I think the only people who don't like it are the ones who haven't seen it. A movie lover's film.

Casablanca is pretty much critic-proof but I still cringe at the thought of it on any "Best" list because artistically it doesn't offer much, as opposed to Gone With the Wind. Curtiz directed a handful of great movies but nothing had a whole lot of weight to it.

corianderstem 11-03-2007 12:45 AM

American Gangster


It was good! Really good, I think. Not great. About halfway through I started thinking, "This is good and I'm enjoying it, but I feel a little underwhelmed."

Then the last third picked up like a whirlwind and sucked me right in.

I'm not usually much for Denzel, but I thought he was fantastic here. Russell Crowe was good as usual. And tell me - does that Denzel ever age? Sheesh.

Lancemc 11-03-2007 01:42 AM

American Gangster - 7.5/10

I felt it was an deftly made crime flick, with all the style and confidence of Scott's modern works. However I felt the film could have/should have been 40 minutes shorts, most of which would result in cutting down one of the major characters' storylines. I felt the felt tried to make both Washington's and Crowe's characters sympathetic and fleshed out on opposite sides of the game, but neither really recieved the time or the script they deserved.

Of course, this is based on a true story, and both characters and vitally important, so it's hard to get around that. On a whole, I felt the film suffered tremedously from a tired been-there-done-that aura. It wants to be Serpico, it wants to be Scarface, it wants to be The Godfather, and it wants to be everything in between, but it's not quite as good as any of those individual films, and seems too pulled apart at the edges.

It lacks a bit of focus, and more important lacks a heart. These are characters we are supposed to be moved by, at least to a degree, but it just didn't work for me. Don't get me wrong, this is still a very entertaining film, but it lacks a lot of the depth of the films its emulating.

I think it might have been more effective if told principally from the perspective of Crowe's character. When he was onscreen I was always more engaged than when Denzel was. That probably has a lot to do with Crowe being the more powerful actor, but it also has to do with Crowe's character having a bit more depth, and room to shape his personality and motivations. I would have liked to see the promises of his character more fully delivered upon, which AG failed to do.

lazarus 11-03-2007 12:09 PM

That this lacks a heart is not surprising considering the director, who has only made films of minimal emotional weight with varying success over the years.

And one that I thought I'd be seeing much sooner:

The Darjeeling Limited (dir. Wes Anderson)

I'm finding myself with not much to say about this film. While I thought it was a slight improvement over The Life Aquatic, I'm not sure that it was as much fun, and Anderson is still nowhere near the rarified air he was operating in with Rushmore & The Royal Tenenbaums. That this film seemed a little more personal was welcome, though that might be more because of the screenwriting contributions of the young Coppola relatives involved.

The acting was great across the board, especially from Brody, who just barely managed to convince that he belonged in the Andersonian universe. It was also difficult not to empathize with Owen Wilson considering his real life trauma, though his ability to underplay the pain of his character prevented it from being too real or uncomfortable.

There are a lot of intangibles here, certain moments, certain shots, that tell me Anderson is still pushing the boundaries of the precious little world he's created for himself. But he has yet to transcend it, and who knows how long it will take if he only tries in fits and starts. The funeral scene in this film, instead of being the overdone climactic scene as in the last two efforts, was much more poetic and understated here, even as it was for a character we've never really met. Surely a sign of hope for the true maturity of the filmmaker, even if a small one.

As usual, the photography and use of music was spot on, especially the call back to the short Hotel Chevalier, which had me laughing out loud. A bit too much reliance on The Kinks though; more variety would have been nice.

Maybe a Top 10 contender, and that maybe saddens me as I had much higher hopes.

Lancemc 11-03-2007 12:21 PM

The funeral scene was easily the most successful in the film. :up:

lazarus 11-03-2007 12:57 PM

I feel like I'm obligated to see American Gangster more than I want to see it, which is sad because I think Crowe and Washington are two of the best working actors right now. As you said, Lance, I haven't even seen the thing yet and I feel I've been there done that already.

Will probably go see Lars and the Real Girl instead.

Lancemc 11-03-2007 01:01 PM

It's bizarre, just about everyone on my campus is talking about AG, and seeing it this weekend. I'm not sure what the deal is. Obviously the film must have had a stellar marketing campaign to get so many people excited about a slightly better than average movie. Couple that with the star power, the hip-hop appeal, and the success of movies like The Departed (which is really nothing like this in terms of gangster/cop films), and I guess that's where the market grows.

Anywho, I'll be seeing Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and maybe Control this afternoon/tonight, so I'll have reviews for them as per usual.

lazarus 11-03-2007 01:04 PM

How would you compare this to The Departed, Lance? Despite the fact that this one appears to be more epic in scope, I'm finding it hard to believe that Scott will give it the Shakespearean tragic power that Marty gave his film, which was supremely entertaining but also resonating.

Lancemc 11-03-2007 01:46 PM

This one is more epic in terms of time and possibly setting, but like I said, it's incredibly shallow so far as its characters. What The Departed succeeded in doing was getting us inside the heads of that film's two leads, DiCaprio and Damon, so that we really felt the growing pressure and the incredible tension between the two characters, despite them never really meeting until the last 20 minutes of the film.

The same thing happens in American Gangster, in that the two leads never come face to face until the end of the film. However, it's still a remarkably weak moment, because up to that point we never really feel the tension in these characters' lives and there's rarely any depth to their conflicts.

lazarus 11-03-2007 02:49 PM

Thank you. That's exactly what I was concerned about, but expected anyway.

I think I'm going to see Across the Universe todya, before it disappears from theatres.

I'll try not to shout "recount!" in protest when A Day in the Life comes on.

SeattleVertigo 11-03-2007 07:12 PM

4 stars out of 5

Netflix writeup: "In the 1960s and '70s, a cryptic killer clad in an executioner's hood stalked the streets of San Francisco and left clues about his crimes in the newspaper. In director David Fincher's chilling recount of the murders, Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal -- flanked by an impressive ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr. and Chloe Sevigny -- stars as reporter Robert Graysmith, the man who went on to write the best-selling true crime book Zodiac."

This is a long movie, at nearly 2 hrs 40 minutes, but it went by pretty quickly. I thought Robert Downey Jr. did a great job as the lead reporter covering the Zodiac murders for the San Francisco Chronicle. It was a good, solid movie that held my interest in the murder mystery.


The Weather Underground
4 stars out of 5

Netflix writeup: "A sobering documentary about a group of 1960s "committed freedom fighters" known as The Weather Underground. A radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen didn't just march or sit in; they rioted and bombed -- not to change the American political scene but rather to destroy it. The organization was part of a global trend of revolution that sprang from the belief that not acting against violence is violence."

Wow, looking at American society today (we've become so docile), it's hard to believe how radical things were back in the late 1960s. I thought this was a very good documentary about a fringe, radical, misguided element of the American left. I want change too, but I don't believe in violence to get it. I'm more of a MLK and Gandhi fan.

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