Dear Cinema Diary - Vol 3 E4 - April 2012
Odd Double Feature - 1
Watched April 19th 2012
I had sort of been avoiding watching both of these films but watching them back to back actually worked. I'm not a fan of musicals so "Dancer In The Dark" was a nice 'cure' for my experience with "An American In Paris".
382 7.3 7.31. An American in Paris (1951)
As I said before I'm not really a fan of musicals. Yet, another genre of film making that I avoid.
However, I can see how this film would be considered a classic and even an important film to watch. Much of the first half of the film the impromptu song-and-dance numbers fell at odd places. Yet, what I did find impressive was the casual and almost 'un choreographed' way some of those moments felt.
The last twenty minute not a word is spoken. That time is take up with a 17-minute dance sequence dedicated to famous painters. This can be pretty rough for someone who avoids musicals. There is also a previous orchestra dream sequence (no sing or dancing) that again was 'interesting' but strange.
The worst aspect for me was the 'love story' that made me just want to start banging my head against the wall praying for this film to finally end.
After the film finished I felt like I had just sat through a very long and less entertaining version of The Lawrence Welk Show.
So, if you love the ballet or the symphony and yes... musicals then of course this film is a must-see. If your like me and prefer the opera... don't make this the first musical you watch.
1507 7.7 82. Dancer in the Dark (2000)
I think I would have overlooked some important elements to the previous film if I hadn't watch this dark gem right afterwards.
There are a few moments that 'could have been a bit better' but for the most part this was pure magic. Yes, this is a very dark and depressing film. Yet, some how didn't feel wholly satirical with the musical aspect. An absolutely amazing cast. David Morse and Peter Stormare were wonderful to see in a musical.
I'm even left with perhaps a better appreciation for the genre of 'the musical' but I'll be taking baby steps before I venture back into the genre.
Odd Double Feature - 2
Watched April 20th 2012
After so much praise for "Lars and The Real Girl" I was surprised to see that Craig Gillespie directed the remake of "Fright Night". The films don't really work together as a 'director's showcase' but I will be curious to see what films he directs in the future.
1092 7.2 7.43. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
There is a strange fantasy-world aspect to the town where Lars lives. Which is fine as this film isn't really trying to depict 'real life'. Instead is an intresting story of how a delusion (mental illness) can be a powerful element of change and growth for the individual and those around him. So... yes... a very sweet film that surprised me... or should I now stop being surprised by films with Ryan Gosling.
609 6.3 6.44. Fright Night (2011)
I'm glad that the remake of the film didn't attempt to capture the quirky charm of the first film. Instead gives the film a mildly different charm and vampires that are in fact scary!
Odd Double Feature - 3
Watched April 23rd 2012
Watching these films back to back really wasn't the best idea. Violent borderline black comedy with violent intense drama. Just really glad that I had been avoiding eating red meat for a little while now.
226 7.4 7.25. Chopper (2000)
Info Chopper tells the intense story of Mark "Chopper" Read, a legendary criminal who wrote his autobiography while serving a jail sentence in prison. His book, "From the Inside", upon which the film is based, was a best-seller.
This is a violent and strange film. Sort of glad that I watched "Animal Kingdom" before this film as both deal with the Australian criminal world. Both films are considered black comedies... that doesn't underscore the brutality or bleak elements.
115 7.1 7.46. Bullhead (2011)
Well, the only reason that I can think that this film *didn't* win the Oscar Foreign Language is that it was a pretty brutal film to sit through. I think having the film center on the criminal world of hormones and beef was a unique aspect that I hadn't really seen done before. Ah but that is just the arena that surrounds this dark and intense film.
Double Feature - 4
A Night with Peter Weir ~ April 26th
243 7.2 7.67. Gallipoli (1981)
If you are wondering, no "Mel Gibson" is not the 'star' of this film but is one of the primary characters. The character Frank Dunne (Mel) is introduced later and works to balance the other primary character Archy Hamilton.
I loved this film as it centered on two primary characters, one youthful and good nature and the other a little older and more pragmatic. Giving us not just two views on Australia's involvement in "The Great War" but also two views on the world around them.
This isn't the typical 'war film' and it isn't even till well past the first hour mark that the characters arrive to where fighting is actually taking place. This is one of Peter Weir's finest films. There are a few moments where the soundtrack score is dreadful '80's techno' but they are minor and do little to mar the film as a whole.
1437 6.9 7.48. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the Wo... (2003)
Double Feature - 5
Saturday Matinee with Walter Salles ~ April 28th
561 7.5 89. Central Station (1998)
1261 7.6 7.910. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
51 7.3 7.411. Goodbye Solo (2008)
This is the second film by Ramin Bahrani that I have seen. With that in mind I would recommend that you watch one of his previous films before you watch this particular film. I only say that because I think most viewers might find some aspects rather harsh or coldly handled.
This is a very sad and touching film. The lives that Ramin Bahrani depicts are so wonderfully complex and feel more real to me that anything 'Hollywood" has come up with. He continues to show a side of American life that no one else has been able to capture with such sensitivity and clarity.
162 7.5 7.712. Bloody Sunday (2002)
Plot: A dramatization of the Irish civil rights protest march and subsequent massacre by British troops on January 30, 1972.
If your going to watch one film about that fateful day, I would recommend this one. The handheld camera and documentary 'feel' is something that could have failed but worked very well in this film. There is an impressive technical achievement with capturing an authentic look and feel of Ireland in the 1970's.
906 6.3 6.513. A Dangerous Method (2011)
Have to say it has been strange to watch David Cronenberg do more realistic films. So, if your expecting a bizarre or abstract film this isn't the film to watch.
However as a historical drama I think it captured the subject matter quite well. At the same time it left some elements more abstract hopefully leading the viewer to want to explore the subject a little farther. Personally, I find that if a historical drama leaves me wanting to know more about the lives depicted, it has done its job.
While Keira Knightley gets a lot of hate around here, I did find her performance to be the weakest aspect of the film.
I'm impressed that any director would attempt to try to cover the huge impact that both Freud and Jung had on the world. So, it was nice that the focus of the film was the relationship between the two men.
795 6.8 7.114. Real Steel (2011)
Yep, even Mr Ebert was a bit surprised...
Rock-em-Sock-em Robots meets father son tear-jerker.
I really expected to hate this film or even feel cheated by obvious attempts to educe tears. Sure, it was a bit cheesy and emotional but I was on the edge of my seat by the end. Yep, even shed a few tears... what can I say I'm a sucker for crap like this ;)
600 7.1 7.415. The Next Three Days (2010)
Fun action film with the goal to break into prison not out of prison. So, that aspect made it interesting.
Makes for a good popcorn action movie night but hardly noteworthy.
732 6.4 6.316. Chloe (2009)
I really wanted to like this film more then I did. This is not really a 'sexy' film nor is it a 'thriller' it fits mores as a dramatic film with erotic elements.
The last 15min of the film pretty much destroyed the whole film for me. As well as the ambiguous element in the last scene that is 'open to interpretation' much like the final moment of "Inception" for which I found contrived and 'cheeky'.
I can't say that I would recommend this film but it is still worth watching for the artistic merits. The cinematography and the sound design are noteworthy. Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried are amazing actors and worth watching their performances in this film. Each one is so capable of transforming a moment with a subtle glance and adds another texture to the dialogue that I don't think many other actors could achieve.
The main reason for scoring this so low is that I don't think Atom Egoyan achieve some of his goals with this film. Especially the development of the character Catherine and her cold statement that an orgasm is nothing more then a series of muscle contractions. I'm not sure Catherine's ever really evolved or it is even possible (depending on your interpenetration of the final moments) that she actually de-evolved into something more cold and detached.
Still, this hasn't change my love for Mr Egoyan and I still eagerly await his next film.
69 6.5 717. Julia (2008)
Hum, after "I am Love" this is the second Tilda film leaving me rather disappointed. While it was a decent enough film I just found something in Tilda Swinton's performance lacking.
I still think I'll stew on the film. It can be difficult to engage with an actor who is playing a character that is always lying. The two artifices overlap and for me personally came out slightly unbelievable all around.
2130 6.1 6.618. The Beach (2000)
1113 6.7 7.419. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
One of the better entries from the Mission Impossible franchise.
174 6.2 6.320. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)
OK, so I wasn't as impressed with the film as Mr Ebert. Still, with David Lynch and Werner Herzog running the show your bound for a strange times.
645 8.3 8.223. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
If there is a problem with "Fanny and Alexander" is that this really is a film you need to just plan most of your day watching. Especially if you watch the directors cut... which is about five hours long (312 min).
It is such a strange and beautiful film. Every moment spent watching was a moment I don't regret and every long speech worth every syllable. I actually plan on watching this film again very soon.
527 8.2 8.524. A Separation (2011)
Oscar winner for "Best Foreign Language Film of the Year" I was extremely curious to watch this film. Alas my local 'art house' theater put the film on hold due to an extended stay of "The Artist".
However, the film was worth the wait. This is highly rich and complex story that keeps twisting and turning till the end. I liked that the characters felt very real and compassionate. I didn't feel that any of the characters where based on some cultural stereotype. Just real people trying to do what they think is best for their families and themselves.
152 6.3 6.525. The Housemaid (2010)
A man's affair with his family's housemaid leads to a dark consequences.
Even with some good reviews and a nomination at the Cannes, I almost put off watching this film for fear that it was yet another over hyped 'erotic thriller'.
So, just to be clear... this is *not* an 'erotic thriller. What may start as erotic quickly turns to tension and terror. I was horrified by the actions in the household and glued to film. I was never quite sure how the characters would react or what actions they might take. While the end might have been a bit predictable... the movie as a whole took me totally by surprise.
525 7.9 8.126. Ip Man (2008)
I have seen very few martial arts films. For various reason it is a genre of film making that I avoid and comments such as 'bad ass' make my flesh crawl.
So, this was a refreshing change. The story is A semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. The film focus a little on the philosophy/religious aspects of Chinese martial arts, which is more then almost any other film. So, I was glad that was included. I think there is still an idea that martial arts is about 'kicking ass' which is just one aspect of a rich cultural heritage.
Oh, and an odd note. For some reason the dvd I rented was dubbed and the other audio tracks didn't work. Which actually was fine, there are several points in the movie where one of the characters is translating and not translating what had really been said. I think this aspect might have been too confusing if the whole film had been subtitled. So, I think this is one of the few films where the dubbed aspect was appropriate.
281 7.4 7.627. Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010)
I agree that if you watch the first Ip Man film that it is best to not put off watching the second film for too long. The story does follow the events of Ip Man's life right after the events in the first film.
Again the film was well done and yes... while heavy on martial arts. I still managed to not get bored during the fight scenes.
474 8.2 8.228. Le Samourai (1967)
Another month and another Jean-Pierre Melville film. While I liked the more philosophical aspects of "Le Cercle Rouge". For some reason I liked this film a little bit more. Again the story is stripped pretty bare and the dialogue extremely limited.
I still have a few more Melville films to watch so I can't say which one would be best to start with as an introduction to his style of film making. Tho, I do think it is safe to say that if you disliked some of his other films you most likely won't enjoy this film. However, for a pure distillation of his directing style I would recommend this film.
14 6.7 6.729. Blood of My Blood (2007)
Description Writer-director Christopher Zalla earned a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2007 for this mistaken identity nail-biter about Pedro (Jorge Adrián Espíndola), a Mexican boy who sneaks into the U.S. to meet his real father, armed with important documents proving his pedigree. Unfortunately, it seems Juan (Armando Hernández), a criminal he befriended, stole them. Now, Pedro will have to stop him from stealing his identity, too.
Very impressed with how such a rather low key film can develop into such an intense thriller.
714 7.7 7.830. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
Ryu sells a kidney to pay for his sister's operation, but the buyer rips him off, so his anarchist girlfriend hatches an alternate plan to raise the money: kidnap the daughter of a rich executive and demand a ransom.
A gut wrenching film of brutality and vengeance. Once the first body falls, the dominos continue to fall till the bitter end.
I forgot how beautiful this film was shot and the amazing use of sound. While I'm looking forward to watching or re-watching the other films from this trilogy, I wouldn't try to watch them all in one day.
441 6.6 731. Troll Hunter (2010)
Yay, I finally got around to watching this film. Yes, and per the review from PvtCaboose91... do watch the film before the US remake hits the big screens. The story really doesn't make sense outside of the Norwegian setting.
1607 7.6 7.832. Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma; a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.
Yay, I had been waiting for this dvd to get to me in the mail for far too long. I found the film to be funny and very endearing. I enjoyed the insight into life in East Germany before the wall fell and about how that country disappeared so quickly.
301 7.5 7.633. Headhunters (2011)
64 7.9 6.934. The Adversary (2002)
French film based on a true story.
There was something about the blending of the non-linear time line and story told from the killers perspective that didn't quite work for me.
Really, it ends up being another film that tries to understand the murders from the killers perspective and giving the inevitable answer that 'there is no answer'.
360 7.6 7.935. The Killing Fields (1984)
I put off watching this film for the simple reason that I figured it would be emotionally upsetting.
So, yes about the 30min mark into the film I was ready to start crying. This is such a sad and horrific story as well as an important one. There is a reason that reporters should *not* be embedded with US forces and if they had this story would never have been told. Yet, the film doesn't shy away from how even non-embedded reporting has a dark side.
I really liked that the film spent about half of the time following Dith Pran as he makes his way out of the country. It is through his story that we see the different factions and horrors of Cambodia.
Yep... the end had me in tears but the film wasn't as traumatic as I expected.
232 7.6 7.936. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Maybe it's just the whole world is like central casting. They got it all rigged before you ever show up.
Well, my movie watching for the month was heading down a dark road... might as well watch one of the most depressing films of all time.
This is a jaded and harsh film. It does use some flashback/flashforward and other montage techniques to tell the story. However, not quite as abstract as "A Midnight Cowboy". For the month it pairs well with "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" so glad I watched them around the same time.
115 8.2 7.737. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
Yay, it is another film that I wish I had watched sooner. Especially before trying to watch films from the British or American New Wave movements.
A surprising film in many ways and I don't think the social commentary aspects are too outdated.
After this film and a few others I feel I'm ready to re-watch "If..." and "Oh Lucky Man" with a greater appreciation.
29 7.6 7.238. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
Description Americans test a nuclear weapon at the Earth's South Pole at the exact moment the Soviets explode a device at the North Pole, jolting the earth's axis out of alignment and causing catastrophic changes in global weather patterns. To make matters even worse, the planet has been dislodged from its orbit and is now hurtling toward the sun. It's a race against time as a scientist brainstorms for ways to evade catastrophe.
Yay! Classic British Sci-Fi from the 60's.
308 7.8 7.939. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
So, should really have watched this film before I watched "Rififi" (1955). While the films aren't identical, I did start feeling a little 'deja vu' with the film.
Other films have also made some pretty obvious references to this film which were a bit hard to ignore. So, I found the film a little boring but I love the actors and was worth my time.
261 7.5 7.840. Nanook of the North (1922)
This film is public domain so there are plenty of places where you can download or watch the movie for free. I still recommend the Criterion version... if your going to do something you might as well do it right.
So, I have Robert J. Flaherty's "Man of Aran" (1934) slated to watch as soon as it arrives in the mail. So I figured I would take the time to watch the first film he ever made and perhaps his more famous film.
For the overly PC crowed be warned that this film follows Nanook around while he hunts down and kills various animals. I had to sort of shut off part of my brain regarding recent controversies.
That said, this is an absolutely priceless film. The world has changed so much since the making of this film that it now seems to hold a quality of being two documentaries. A film about the Inuit Eskimos and a time when documentary film making was rather new to the world.
This is a moment in time forever frozen in snow and celluloid.
53 7.9 7.641. Man of Aran (1934)
So, sort of mixed feelings about this film. While the cinematography is much better and it is clear that Robert J. Flaherty has improved as a director. I simply didn't engage enough with the story. Still and important work of film making worth watching. Especially for students of film.
951 8.4 8.442. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
I intended to watch this film as a double feature with "Shoeshine". Alas, I think I had hit my max for "art house films' for one month.
I can understand why this film is considered one of the 'greats' and yes... save yourself for the Criterion copy the restoration is quite wonderful.
Still, with the burden of so many accolades and volumes of critiques, I found it difficult to enjoy this film beyond a classroom level. Ah, but as I have said in the past the Italian Noe-Realist movement is one that I have always struggled with watching.
238 6.7 6.943. Goon (2011)
First, to answer your question... "What is this film doing in LGBT?" Well, last month the NHL started a campaign to end homophobia in professional sports and have to say I'm very impressed. Read more here:
NHL Stars Support LGBT Athletes
So, was looking for a good hockey film to watch that wasn't "The Mighty Ducks". This was actually the perfect choice. Seann William Scott plays the character Doug Glatt a Jewish man with a gay brother and who's only skill in life seems to be his fists. The characters are vulgar, strange and each uniquely flawed. I like the simple message that if your good at something, work at it and do that. Not everyone aims to be rocket scientists.
44 5.3 5.944. Eating Out: All You Can Eat (2009)
Ah, actually not sure how to rate this. It wasn't horrible especially for yet another entry into the "Eating Out" franchise. If you have seen the first two films... you might as well drink the rest of your cool-aid.
However, even with some seriously 'preachy' moments, this is pure silly fluff. Cute, sweet yet... harmless and easily forgettable. Perhaps a film best left to the bargain bins but not a total disaster.
Movie Exchange Program
Movie Exchange Program
This are my choice of picks from Xanadon't package that arrived this month. I will save "Lady Vengance" for next month as I watch the first two films from the trilogy. Yep... I am *way too* concerned about watching films in order :P
1074 8 8.145. Roman Holiday (1953)
Wow, really put off watching this film too long and is now one of the films I consider 'a film to watch before you watch anything else'. Far too many films have made reference to this film and for a good reason. It is a stunning film and Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are amazing together.
So, an extra big thanks to Xanadon't for including this film in the Exchange program.
144 6.7 6.846. Who's That Knocking at My Door? (1967)
I have the highest respect for Martin Scorsese, tho not always some of his films. There are quiet a few film references made throughout the film. This coupled with the blending of several different types of montages and editing techniques... that felt distracting. In that I was more aware of the film then the actual story or what might be happening. As a film about film I think it works on a certain level but as a narrative story it got a little confusing.
Ha! Of course many directors would mimic his style later so... this is a film I'll be mulling over. Which thankfully I have some time before I need to send it off to the giraffe, so I can always watch it again.
408 5.6 5.947. Dream House (2011)
Lowkey supernatural/psychological thriller. First, I'm really glad that I read *nothing* about this film before watching. Also glad I ignored the rather poor ratings.
As far as recent horror films with 'plot twists' go... nothing is worse then "The Ward" or "My Soul To Take". At least I cared enough about all the characters to want to know what happens to everyone by the end.
200 5.6 6.148. Grave Encounters (2011)
32 6.1 5.749. The Devil's Rock (2011)
This isn't your typical horror film where the most interesting aspect is wondering who is going to die next. There are very few characters in this film that didn't keep the film from being gruesome and suspenseful.
127 6 6.250. Fragile: A Ghost Story (2005)
I give this film credit for being a straightforward ghost story. There aren't any stupid twists (I am the ghost or I am the killer) nope just pure and simple film that is low on gore and body counts. It still held a nice suspense through the whole film.
I put my crochet down to actually pay attention, which is saying quite a lot for modern day horror films.
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