Sunday, March 4, 2012

Films Viewed (February 2012)

Drive became the talk of the town this fall. I missed it, and eagerly anticipated its release on DVD. I was not disappointed. A man who drives people away from criminal enterprise navigates his increasingly complicated life. Noirish and 1980s, over the top yet low key, and buoyed by some amazing performances. Everything I enjoyed about Tarantino in the 1990s brought flawlessly into the 2010s.

Red Tails took a while to get going, but was a solid entertainment. The Tuskegee Airmen fight racism, inner demons, and Nazis in this WWII epic. The right notes were hit, the action kept front and center while the story developed efficiently around the set-pieces.

I have been interested in director Frank Tashlin for a bit, and have finally gotten to see one of his films. The Girl Can't Help It is a cartoony piece of pop culture fluff, notable for the A-list 1950s rock and roll captured on the soundtrack and in performance. It looks like more of his films are hitting DVD these days, and I hope to check out more.

A monthly Chaplin series has begun at the Charles, this time around featuring the shorts "A Dog's Life," "Shoulder Arms", and "Sunnyside." To me, you can't go wrong watching film's greatest artist blaze trails and elciit belly laughs shortly after the birth of the medium. I am looking forward to taking in this series over the course of the year.

The next week's revival was the complete opposite, a grim slog through The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaususcu, the narrative created solely from propaganda and state films from throughout his time as the leader of the Romanian people. As the descendent of Eastern Bloc Poles, I find such film-going difficult but valuable.

Pina 3D is a tribute to an artist taken suddenly and too soon. Wim Wenders coordinates a tribute to her brand of groundbreaking and transgressive dance and artistry with the help of her surviving troupe. A tribute to the power of collective artistic action and a guided tour of the work of an underappreciated artist. Well, anyway, I don't remember Robin Williams mentioning her in his dance in The Birdcage.

Whoa, The Bride Wore Black! A prime Truffaut just sitting out there waiting to be watched. A husband is murdered on his wedding day. The bride seeks revenge. Sound familiar? It should. Such an engaging blend of technique and atmosphere, both pastiche and homage. A good time.

Ratatouille was just what was needed to lighten my spirits on a particularly melancholy weeknight. A rat learns how to be a chef. It gets more ridiculous and wonderful from here. Really about the trials and tribulations of being an artist working in a mass produced commercial medium. Glad I saw it, although I am clearly late to the party.

The Charles
The Rotunda
The Senator
The Landmark Harbor East
Suburban Multiplex/ Video Americain
Netflix Instant/ Netflix DVD
(Please note: Whenever possible, all releases are linked to their pages on the Netflix website)
Total: 7 features, 3 short films (7 in theaters)