Monday, May 19, 2008

Reprise

This film is kind of reminded me of a cross between Diner and My Sex Life (Or How I Got Into An Argument).

The film is about a bunch of twenty-something male friends in Oslo. It mostly focuses on two friends, Erik and Phillip, who are both aspiring writers. The movie begins with the two of them mailing their first novels to a publishing company in hopes of being published. Some of the storytelling structure might seem dated soon if not now. In fact, I was reminded sometimes of 1999 Run Lola Run, another movie that I should see since I seem to be currently obsessed with films of that year.

This movie isn't spectacular or anything but I did enjoy it quite a bit. It makes me a bit sad that there aren't all that many American movies like this anymore. As much as I love the Judd Apatow movies, they differ in style and sentiment from a coming of age movie like Diner. If some of those mumblecore fucks maybe tried their hand at something like this, I'd be happy.

Directed by Joachim Trier
2006, U.S. Release: 2008
Sunshine Cinemas

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kiki's Delivery Service

This was Installment IV of the Miyazaki Film Series in my classroom this year. I liked it quite a bit - more than Castle in the Sky and Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. Overall though, I can't say I liked it as much as the film that immediately precedes it (My Neighbor Totoro) or follows it (Porco Rosso) in the Miyazaki oeuvre.

Still, I enjoyed how almost realistic (relatively speaking) this one was compared to his super crazy other ones. Kiki is a young witch (Kirsten Dunst did the voice) who goes out on her own for a year and ends up in a town with a no witches rule. Fun and hijinks ensue. The town reminded me of a cross between a quaint French town and San Francisco with a definite 40's feel to it.

Another reason to enjoy the movie - Phil Hartman does the voice of Kiki's cat.

On another note, Girl Who Likes Sparkly Clothes but Hates Hillary Clinton actually watched the whole thing rather than going to the rug in protest.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
1989
DVD

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Election

I was a little disappointed by my recent re-viewing of Three Kings, also from 1999. This re-viewing, on the other hand, exceeded my expectations. I greatly enjoyed this when I first saw it in the theaters but, wow, it is even better than I remembered. It is absolutely perfect, a modern classic.

The multiple character narration, the comedic timing, the social satire, what doesn't this movie do perfectly? Reese Witherspoon and, needless to say, Chris Klein will never be better. Matthew Broderick debunks his Ferris Bueller mythmaking and grows up to be a big loser. Oh my god, this movie is great.

I actually watched the first 40 minutes of this while on a plane from Amsterdam. I didn't finish it until this past weekend. SHR wanted to watch part of it with me while on the plane. She declined my offer to give her one of my earbuds. So I put on the subtitles. We both felt pretty self-conscious during the scene where Broderick is having sex with his wife and he fantasizes about Witherspoon imploring him to fuck her harder.

On another note, whatever happened to the actress (Jessica Campbell) who played Klein's sister? She was so good in this and the episodes of Freaks and Geeks that she was in.

One of these days, I'll actually listen to the commentary on the DVD. I hear it is quite good.

While I seem to be in a 1999 mode recently, can a viewing of Go be far off?

Directed by Alexander Payne
1999
DVD

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You're Gonna Miss Me

Roky Erickson is absolutely captivating to watch. I went into this thinking it was going to be more or less a documentary about Erickson's entire life. It had that but it also focused a lot on his struggles during the years the film was being shot (around '99 and 2000 I think) to gain some sort of independence from his well-intentioned mother who was simply trying to do what she thought was best for her son. Erickson had suffered from schizophrenia and drug addiction for years.

And guess what? I saw first hand last summer the happy ending. SHR and I saw Erickson perform at South St. Seaport last summer and he was doing quite well. I love happy endings from movies like this.

Of the four recent music documentaries I've seen in the past few years about troubled musicians, I'd rank this ahead of the Townes Van Zandt one, perhaps tied with the Killer Kane one and a little bit behind the Daniel Johnston one.

I can't believe that the only Erickson music I have is that first 13th Floor Elevators album. After seeing this movie, I can't get amazing songs such as Don't Slander Me and Starry Eyes out of my head. What a voice on that guy!

I loved his brother's awesome house in Pittsburgh.

All hail the electric jug!

Check out the trailer.

Directed by Keven McAlester
2005, Released: 2007
DVD

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nanking

I was completely captivated by this movie. It is a well made and fascinating documentary on a subject that I didn't know anything about - the 1937 Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation of Nanking, China.

The filmmakers deftly weaved old newsreel footage, recent interviews with surviving Chinese victims and Japanese soldiers, and staged readings by actors of letters and diaries from the time. The journals were written by Westerners (missionaries, professors and such) who were in Nanking at the time of the invasion and were able to use their influence to create a safety zone to help protect 200,000 Chinese from the murder and rape that was being perpetrated on them. Over 200,000 Chinese were killed during the initial six week period with an estimated 20,000 rapes.

The atrocities mentioned are hard to listen to so this movie isn't necessarily for everybody. But anyone with an interest in well-made, quick moving, and good documentaries should give this one a chance.

The Kronos Quartet score is also another reason to watch.

Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman
2007
Cinemax

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Foxes

I'm not quite sure why SHR and I stuck this one out. I guess the first half was fun. A young Jodie Foster, Scott Baio playing a nerd, Randy Quaid playing a twentysomething dating a 16-year-old, the guy who played Damone in Fast Times, solid direction, and lots of feathered hair.

But the second half was boring as all get out. That is, until the hilariously tragic ending. I guess I'm okay with having watched this whole thing but I will say that I did read Entertainment Weekly during parts of the last thirty minutes. And the Donna Summer smash On the Radio really drove me insane by the end considering it was featured in pretty much every scene either as the radio smash that it was or as part of the piano score. Insufferable.

Lyne went onto direct Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks, and Fatal Attraction over the rest of the decade.

Alright, who am I kidding? The real reason to watch this movie is for the hott scene featuring Angel. Rock the fuck on!!

Go to the 4:15 mark to see what I'm talking about.



Directed by Adrian Lyne
1980
Showtime

Monday, May 05, 2008

Paranoid Park

I love that Gus Van Sant has taken all of his Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester cash and poured it into interesting films. While I didn't particularly like Last Days or love Elephant as much as everyone else did, I much prefer the idea behind those films than the mainstream Robin Williams bullshit of the Van Sant of yesteryear.

I really liked this film. I want to see it again. I was a bit confused by the non-chronological story structure at first. Afterwards, the puzzle pieces fit together nicely for me. This film is a wonderful mix of avant-garde and conventional storytelling structure with excellent acting performances.

It also had a bit of a River's Edge feel to it - a tale of secrets and disaffected youth with a shocking moment that jolts you out of your reverie. See this movie.

Directed by Gus Van Sant
2008
BAM

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iron Man

From the reviews, I expected a different kind of comic book movie. I guess that's what I got but not necessarily in a good way. For the most part, it lacked any sort of oomph. I don't know anything about the comic so I don't know if that hurt or helped my enjoyment.

This was okay I guess but all I kept thinking about was that I liked The Rocketeer a lot more when I saw it in the theaters years ago and I'm assuming that movie isn't actually any good.

It also kind of reminded me of Robo Cop which isn't really fair to compare this to.

I'm fully expecting Chris Larry to rip into me for not getting this considering that it is a comic book movie and it is directed by his boy Jon Favreau. It's a good thing Vince Vaughn wasn't in it because then I'd have to pretend that I loved it in order to escape the wrath of Larry.

Directed by Jon Favreau
2008
Times Square 25