Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flims Viewed (February 2011)

Bone, an exploitation film from the early 1970s, was an interesting grab from the Cult section of Video Americain. A situational drama in which a black man holds a wealthy white couple for ransom in Beverly Hills. Could have been formulaic. but was instead redeemed by a literate/literary script and excellent perfomances by the cast, most notably Jeannie Berlin and Yaphet Kotto.

I now understand why Zombieland was such a powerful phenomenon among my students when it hit theaters. Just a great post-apocalyptic thrill ride, conscious of itself and genre in good ways. Bill Murray's cameo steals the show, but Jessie Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are no slouches either. A weekend night well spent.

It was great to see Nightjohn in and of itself, but to spend time listening to filmmaker Charles Burnett speak on his decades of experience making independent film was a unique opportunity and a memorable experience. Add this African-American filmmaker's movies to your Netflix queue and prepared to get schooled. Start with Killer of Sheep.

Another Year was another Mike Leigh film. Quite a lot of ink was devoted to it in Film Comment without a single mention of how much it is reminiscent stylistically of some of the films of Yasujiro Ozu. A steady, happy aging couple bears witness to the trials and tribulations of their damaged friends and crumbling extended family. Much more accessible than the aforementioned Japanese director's work, at least to me.

Smiles of a Summer Night
never fails to impress with its sexual frankness, mirthful bawdiness and rather jaundiced views of relationships. Seen on a trip to Philadelphia at a screening series being curated at International House. A nice print, well projected. Always bet on Bergman.

Troll 2 may be, in fact, the "best worst movie." It is a truly terrible film, but something about it is so odd and surreal that it fascinates. A boy goes to the town of Nilbog with his family. The "people" of the town (who are actually trolls) are attempting to turn them into troll food. Baffling undercurrent of anti-vegetarianism throughout. A fever dream, truly craptastic. A documentary about the film is currently making the rounds.

Rome, Open City felt like homework for grad school I kept avoiding. I decided to rent it from Video Americain after Netflix Instant pulled it down. A great Italian neorealist masterpiece with an interesting production history. Many excellent moments and one iconic scene.

Micmacs was the usual bag of grewgaws and whirlygigs from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Never really came together for me. The lukewarm reviews on this one were, to me, fairly spot on. When JPJ hits, he hits big. When he misses, he winds up over the barn.

The Charles
The Rotunda
The Senator
The Landmark Harbor East
Video Americain/ Johns Hopkins/ International House
Netflix Instant/ Netflix DVD
(Please note: All releases are linked to their pages on the Netflix website)
Total: 8 features (3 in theaters)