Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Films Viewed (January 2010)

Sherlock Holmes
42nd Street
Stingray Sam
The Young Victoria
Letters from Iwo Jima
Broken Embraces
Gold Diggers of 1933
Young Mr. Lincoln
A Single Man
Swing Time
Footlight Parade
Crazy Heart

The Charles
The Rotunda
The Landmark Harbor East
Other (Video Americain, DVD, the Internet)
Total: 13 films, 1 short film (9 in theaters)

Notes: Although I will be including this in my Films Viewed next month, I thought it would be important to mention Putty Hill, the new feature by local filmmaker Matthew Porterfield. It seems like he hasn't caught too many breaks since the critical success of his extremely impressive directorial debut Hamilton. Of course, this is the case in the larger independent filmmaking community when it comes to funding and financing in these time of economic crisis. I attended a screening/benefit, and was impressed by what I saw. To find out more and donate to the cause, go here.

My filmwatching has been impacted by the re-start of school and another task I am engaging in for the Maryland Film Festival. This second task is secret but important. I can say no more.

I had two bad screening experiences this month: Sherlock Holmes and Swing Time. Sherlock Holmes' bad time was due to the print being projected "dark." Either something was wrong with the projector/print or Guy Ritchie has made a truly murky film. I am thinking it was the former. My problem with Swing Time came not from any technical problem but from the sequences between the dancing. I am very forgiving of hokey old-timey filmic conventions, but this one took the cake. I say watch Fred and Ginger dancing on Youtube instead. I also suspect my viewing of a few episodes of the rapid-fire 30 Rock earlier that morning kept me from getting too into the swing of things.

Conversely, I have had no problem getting into the Busby Berkeley films which the Charles theater revival series has been on a tear through recently. Those sequences are surreal and amazing.

Two winners which will be playing locally whenever the Charles manages to dig out and open their doors again would be A Single Man and Crazy Heart. As someone who has always had an affinity for the aesthetics and about-to-explode-in-revolution culture of the early 1960s, A Single Man was a direct hit, telling an engaging, tragic story in high style. Go and be enveloped in another time and place. Crazy Heart is a minor miracle, the same old story told one more time, but with feeling. Jeff Bridges is in the role he was born to play, and the rest of the cast is on par (even Colin Farrell). The music ain't half-bad either, and that is coming from someone who is very choosy about his Country and Western. The Charles needed another Slumdog Millionaire, and it looks like they found it.

Finally, is is nice to be able to watch a short film and then be able to say that you can watch it here right now. Otherwise, it was Ford, Almodovar, and Eastwood, independent nuttiness and low-brow humor of the first order.

Up next, the final installment in my recent series, The Birth of the Cineaste (1997-present). Stay safe and warm, Baltimore!