Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Films Viewed (April 2011)

Animal Kingdom has been on "the list" for a while as I missed it during it's "one week wonder" run at the Charles despite the sizeable critical buzz surrounding this Australian import. In a genre as worked over and picked over as the "crime family" film, to see something new and interesting being conveyed is a marvel to behold. A young man comes of age and must decide whether or not to join the family business. Many strong performances and a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end. Bravo.

Meek's Cutoff was the first of a series of films seen on a weekend trip New York. The screening preceding ours at the Film Forum included a Q and A with Michelle Williams herself, but my traveling companion and myself were not so lucky. Another winner from director Kelly Reichardt in which some pioneers become lost on the Oregon Trail (and, no, this has nothing to do with the beloved PC game). Revisionist Western? Feminist critique? Too slow and "nothing happens"? I am more with the former and less with the latter, but I dig on Antonioni. so...

Blank City at the IFC Center was an excellent document/documentary of the No Wave and Cinema of Transgression scene of the bombed-out and broke NYC of the late 1970s and the early 1980s. Typically, the music of No Wave overshadows these filmmakers. In this case, the elements were balanced out nicely without losing the interconnections.

Bill Cunningham NYC was just a treat, a warmly humanist film documenting the work of the New York Times "street photographer." An untold story I am glad I didn't miss on my second trip to the IFC Center. Yes, I went to New York City and "all I did was see movies." Are you surprised?

Jayne Eyre took a while to get into for me, as I have taught the novel and seen a few of the many adaptations which preceded this one. Once properly adjusted, it was clear that things were beautifully shot, effective narrative strategies were employed, and performances were convincing. A worthy addition to the "subgenre" of Jane Eyre adaptations.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was as good as it has ever been. A cartoon rabbit implores the help of detective in this technically groundbreaking pre-CGI Noir riff. Of course the sub-plot was about a real estate scheme! An excellent conclusion to the first installment Gunky's Basement revival series..

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs was the last Futurama movie I got through without drifting off. The third and forth films did not hold my attention enough for me to count them on this list. Funny for 21 minute episodes, not so much for 90 minute movies. Kudos to David Cross and his voice characterization of Yivo, an alien with relationship issues. It saved the film for me.

"Successful Alcoholics"
is a short film included in the thirteenth issue of Wholphin in which two people enjoy life as drunks. So do we until the hammer comes down and it is clear that reality is about to encroach.

The Town was a solid caper film which will live forever in the shadow of Gone Baby Gone. The film kept one's interest and made some surprising moves. Still, it ended a little bit convoluted and implausible, but the crowd must be pleased. Ben Affleck seems like he has returned from the wilderness, and if he keeps doing work like this, I will remain on board.

Four Lions is a British comedy about four terrorists. There, I said it. Effective and pioneering satire from comedy writer and first-time director Christopher Morris, whose work I have followed with some interest. Certainly controversial, a bit half-baked, the film still manages to turn terrorism into slapstick, no mean feat.

The Charles
The Rotunda
The Senator
The Landmark Harbor East
New York City Screenings
Video Americain/ Suburban Multilpex
Netflix Instant/ Netflix DVD
(Please note: All releases are linked to their pages on the Netflix website)
Total: 9 features, 1 short film (5 in theaters)