Sunday, June 10, 2007

Film: Week in Review

Since Jan 1st, i've been keeping a calender list of every film (and TV season on DVD) that I've watched thus far. I've done this the past few years, but this is the first year that I'm actually showing what days I watched what. So, as I looked at my first week of June, I thought it a pretty eclectic mix, worth recounting for you, the discerning film viewers out there who might be looking for recommendations and dissauasions. Also, this week pretty much made up for the stinker week of Shrek 3 and Pirates (those films we don't speak of). So here you go.

Rating system
1 star = not worth ever revisitng of seeing for the first time
2 stars = it didn't kill me, but I wish I could have spent that time and money elsewhere.
3 stars = I may never think of this movie again, but the experience was enjoyable, and I wouldn't dissuade others from seeing it.
4 stars = This was quality film making/movie going experience. I want other people to like it as much as I did.
5 stars = This movie has changed the way I view myself and the world. How soon can I own it?

Sunday June 3:
Robin Hood Men in Tights
viewed: at home
1 Star

This was a revisit after a good 10 years since I used to watch it a lot. Along with having finally seen "Blazing Saddles" for the first time a couple weeks ago, I'm feeling pretty sad about the fact that Mel Brooks movies do not age well. I mean, there's the obvious thing that the humor is way too specific to July 1993, or whenever it was released (you just can't laugh at Arsenio Hall Show references anymore) but much of the poor aging process actually has to do with the fact that Mel Brooks birthed a film humor genre that now has so many grandchildren and bastard children, that roll-your-eyes-one liners and self referential movies that talk about themselves as movies, just aren't that laugh producing anymore.

Monday June 4
Best in Show
viewed: at home
3 Stars

I own this as part of the Christopher Guest trilogy, though it's my least favorite of the three. The more I watch it, the more I appreciate the dynamics of the different couples (I love Stefan and Sean and I love the weimeraner-Parker Posey couple), but this (and Mighty Wind) lack the narrative strength of "Waiting for Guffman" wherein you have a group of people working together towards a common goal. I like when there's more interaction between the characters. And I feel that Eugene Levy gets under-used in this one. But there are some sweet, sweet ha-ha moments here, and I'm pleased to have it on my shelf.

Tuesday June 5
Paris Je'taime
viewed: Loews Uptown
4 stars

I read about this film last year when it was at Cannes, and was stoked to hear it was playing in Seattle now. 14 filmakers (including some awesomes like Tom Tykwer, Alfonso Cuaron, Gus Van Sant, Gurinder Chada, the Coen Bros & even Wes Craven) made films that are about/evoke/take place in 14 districts of Paris. They're billed as little romances, and a few of them of stunningly insightful, heartbreaking and lovely. Some are cute, some are wierd, some are sad and some are hard to follow. I loved this film experience and am pretty sure I'll buy it on DVD. It really reaches a perfect crescendo with the final segment by Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Sideways, et. al). Go see this if you can.

Wednesday June 6
Marie Antoinette
viewed: at home
5 stars

If you've ever spoken to me, this film (or Walk the Line) has probably come up in conversation. They're both kind of my main hermeneutics for movies that have mattered and changed me in the past year or so. I love every chance to revisit this one, because I get hit differently every time. And each time I watch it, I think, "okay, this time, I'll be used to it and the end won't get to me" but it always does. I love what this film offers in terms of painting portraits of lonliness and futility. As I've said elsewhere, Sofia Copolla's films really represent to me meditations on what it means to be trapped. This movie means more and more to me as I learn about the ways I feel hemmed in and when I start to taste a little bit of freedom. (And also, it's pretty and I like the soundtrack and I own it.- i mean the soundtrack and the DVD and the coffee table book. i like this movie a lot...)

Thursday June 7
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
viewed: The Crest
2 stars

I read about this last year as well because it won Best Picture at Cannes. I wanted to see it cuz I'm a big Cillian Murphy supporter, and because I imagined it would be a cross between "The Thin Red Line" and "Days of Heaven" but set in Ireland. Surpisingly though, it was rarely poetic, barely engaging, and not much to write home about. It's kind of your basic well done historical film. I learned stuff and was affected by some of the realities portrayed, but I have not thought of it again untill right now. So, my low 2 star rating would be a steady 3 star middle-of-the-road rating, except that it has been touted as the best film of 2006. I could heap titles over this one that should've won the Palm D'or instead. "Pan's Labrynth", anyone?

Saturday June 9
The Science of Sleep
viewed: at home
3 stars

I really wanted to see this in the theater last fall. I love Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine" and am a big fan of actor Charlotte Gainsbourgh and was really curious to see what kind of love story this would be and how much more French it would be than "Sunshine" was. I'd heard mixed reviews, and mine is pretty mixed as well. You start wanting less dream-world seqences (though, it's likely that the whole film is just differing degrees of dream state) and you want more interaction between the protagonaists. But when interactions did happen, they were seering, heartbreaking and true, and the best metaphor I can come up with is that I felt througout the last third of the movie like the film had tapped into me with an IV and was pumping pain medicine right into my veins, and though it was painfull, it was also medicine. I would consider owning this, but I wish there could be an opposite to the director's cut- a version where there's less of the original film, than the theatrical version. I will revisit this movie at some point, though. And a great performance by Gael Garcia Bernal.

So, it turned out to be quite a French-themed week, though it started with parodies and had some 20th century freedom fighting in there as well. And sometime this week I'm gonna finish watching Kubrick's "Lolita" and revisit "American Splendor", which I loved last year. And yes, I might even go against my word and go see "Ocean's 13". I am a very weak person. What can I say? Popcorn is my favorite food.

Happy Movie Watching!


Garth said...

The opposite of the director's cut is the increasingly rare taped-off-of-television cut. This should be easy to obtain if you're patient.

Kj said...

and maybe I should send this to Idle Brains, but I definately had a dream last night that centered somehow around mel brooks and the Tower of London, but my main memory is getting in my neighborhood bus here in the morning and instead of my being the first one on like I usually am, there were like 7 transvestites and Martin Scorsese and they were headed to a final dress rehearsal of the muscial version of "Silverado" but I knew they actually meant "Blazing Saddles" and I told them that I saw some of the show a week before (because in the dream I had ushered there).

Kiko said...

Hey! LOVE every bit of this post...can I just say that Cillian Murphy is, without question, one of the kindest actors I have ever been around? I met him on the set of "Watching the Detectives" a few months ago...such a delight...he even sat next to me at lunch & introduced himself. If anyone would appreciate that anecdote, I figure it is you! Cheers, Kj!

Kj said...


Kiko said...

too funny...for about thirty seconds i was trying to figure out what your post said...gotcha! i have yet to see marie antoinette...i know it is aesthetically stunning...but my hesitation lies in supporting kirsten dunst in ANY WAY! gee, i really don't care for i crazy?

however, you made it sound so appealing that i will add it to netflix :)

Anonymous said...

i saw ocean's 13 this weekend and had theater popcorn to go with it. i'm not sure if it was just the effect of being with friends and eating buttery popcorn, but it seemed like a good movie! :)

Kj said...

Kiko- if you didn;t know already, one of my major not-isms is that I actually approve of Kirsten Dunst. have you seen Peter Bogdonavich's "The Cat's Meow"? it's the movie that changed my mind about here- she holds her own opposite Edward Hermann and Eddie Izzard. Check it out, if you think you're up to it.