Friday, February 11, 2011

Films Viewed (January 2011)

Unforgiven was as good as I have heard it is. I remember seeing posters for it at Golden Ring Mall cinemas during the summer of 1992 and saying "That movie looks badass!" It was and is. A classic (new) Western. Thanks, True Grit, for inspiring a newfound interest in this genre!

I Love You, Phillip Morris comes across an audacious satire yet is based on a true story. Jim Carrey made me forget he was Jim Carrey for a while while still allowing me to enjoy his Carrey-ness. An average Joe discovers he is gay, leaves his wife. becomes a con man, falls in love in prison and... I think you better just see it.

Home was one of those flicks that sits there on the Netflix Instant queue and then, one night, the time is finally right. A French family keeps an uneasy peace in a house next to coming superhighway. When the cars start whizzing by, things begin to unravel. An interesting exploration of the impact of the modern urban environment on those who deal with it. Baltimore in the summer suddenly seemed more bearable after seeing this film.

Blue Valentine
is receiving well-deserved hype. The closest I have seen in film to portraying the tortured nature of working class love and relationships in post-industrial America. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling both turn in masterful performances, bringing into sharp relief characters that we all know but who rarely receive a proper treatment on the big screen.

I was told that The Green Hornet was terrible, but the slams seemed personal and vindictive. I checked it out anyway, had a good time, and recommended it to others who also seemed to enjoy it. Flawed in the way that all Michel Gondry films are flawed, but still a good time. Christoph Waltz was superb once again as an arch-criminal trying to get with the times. Rent it and have fun. I had no issues with it in 2D.

"The Great Ectasy of the Sculptor Steiner" was a short film from Werner Herzog's prime time. The story of extreme "skifliers" gorgeously shot, both in triumph and wipe-out. Like some Bizarro World episode of Wild World of Sports.

The King's Speech
is receiving rave reviews, and deservedly so. A stuttering king needs to speak in public, and a man who knows how tries to help him. The king fights him like hell, as a king would. Great performances in a film that can please both mother and son, Joe Popcorn and Joe Arthouse. Good for it, and good for The Senator!

"How Much Wood Would a Wood Chuck Chuck"
was on the same disc as the Herzog doc above, and was a lesser affair for me. I enjoyed finding out about the odd art of cattle auctioneering, but lost interest during the endless run of cattle call after cattle call.

"La Soufriere" rounded out the disc of Herzog docs, and was enjoyable. Nothing beats the daredevil thrill of Herzog getting footage on an island about to be annihilated by an angry volcano. Nature in all it's violence and disease.

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures was a thorough and quietly artful documentary about the life and (mostly) work of Stanley Kubrick. A nice review of his body of work and an excuse to re-visit the box set sometime soon.

Valhalla Rising was just freakin' awesome. A slave who is good at killing named One Eye (!) kills people and trucks with Vikings and Christians to various degrees of success. As if a Conan movie was co-directed by Bergman and Malik. Wow.

Alien: Director's Cut was screened as part of the Gunky's Basement series and was a scary thrillride gross-out once again. There are so many good things about this movie that I forgive it for giving me nightmares. Unfortunately,the film works every time in this way.

42nd Street Forever: Vol. 4
was another curated grindhouse trailer compilation. To my point of view, the trailers are often better than the films, I am now especially interested in Americathon, as I do love a good satire. Since the trailer was included, the film probably wasn't one, but oh well... I will give it a spin sometime.

Somewhere was just great, if you like that sort of film, and by that sort of film I mean the work of director Sophia Coppola. Another filmgoer's comment that "Jeez! Nothin' happened in that movie!" was a sign that something, in fact, did. Closed yesterday at the Charles. I would say to look for it on home video.

The Charles
The Rotunda
The Senator
The Landmark Harbor East
Video Americain
Netflix Instant/ Netflix DVD
(Please note: All releases are now linked to their pages on the Netflix website)
Total: 11 features, 3 short films (6 in theaters)