Friday, August 27, 2010

The Parallax View

Recently, I've gotten into watching the classic 70's conspiracy films. This was one I'd always heard about so I was pretty excited to see it. Warren Beatty and his shimmering hair starred in it for crying out loud!

But I was a bit disappointed in it. The premise is good - a senator gets assassinated and then after a few years have passed, the witnesses start getting murdered as well. Kind of like The Final Destination of political thrillers. 

But as Bart pointed out, this is kind of like the anti Inception. Whereas that movie painstakingly reiterated over and over what was going on, this movie didn't spell out anything and seemed deliberately murky just to seem smart. I liked the last scene though. 

This was definitely no Three Days of the Condor

Directed by Alan J. Pakula
1974
TCM

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Narrow Margin

Hard boiled detectives. A gangster's widow about to testify to a grand jury. Mob hits. Undercover cops. A speeding train. And the excellent line repeated more than once by the roly poly guy who might just be an assassin - "No one loves a fat man except for his grocer and his tailor."

Good times.

I mean - really can any thriller set on a train be bad?

Directed by Richard Fleischer
1952
TCM

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rebel Without a Cause

I somehow had never gotten around to seeing this before. I always knew that I 'd be disappointed. Even with the feeling that it wouldn't be that good, I was still surprised by just how mediocre most of this movie is. 

Dean is great I guess but I did not buy him as a high schooler. Natalie Wood was fine. But Sal Mineo's character was really creepy. I liked seeing the young Dennis Hopper though. And Jim Backus in an apron was probably the highlight of the movie. 

The tone was so weird. Maybe this struck a nerve with 1955 audiences but in 2010, everything seemed a bit off. And Dean really wasn't a rebel as much as a whiny rich kid who the greasers didn't like. 

 Directed by Nicholas Ray
1955
TCM

Monday, August 23, 2010

Public Enemies

I was really excited to see this when I first saw the preview. But the tepid reviews tempered my enthusiasm. So not only did I not make the effort to see this in the theater, I never even got around to getting it from Netflix. Then I didn't even muster the enthusiasm to watch it on HBO.

But I finally got my chance to watch it - on a borrowed DVD from Chris Larry on a flight to Minneapolis. For a flight - it was perfect. As a movie - not quite. 

It had its moments. But it never really attained good status. I liked the nods to The Untouchables and Miller's Crossing but overall the whole thing was a bit listless. Everything seemed so perfunctory and boring. I never really got a sense of what made Dillinger or Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) tick nor did I really care. I did like the last 20 minutes or so quite a bit though. 

This was a wasted opportunity to make a memorable gangster movie for the aughts. 

Directed by Michael Mann
2009
DVD

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Inception

I liked some of this movie. Some of the scenarios were cool. I liked the train out of nowhere scene and the bad guys with machine guns. I liked the premise. I liked the walking around scenes and the shifting landscapes. I liked the idea of the mean folks of one's self conscious. I loved looking at Marion Cotillard. I had never seen one of her movies before. I liked the score even if it was a bit loud in the mix. I thought the cinematography looked good. I respect any huge summer blockbuster that isn't a comic book or a sequel.

But overall by the end, I was kind of like whatever. I didn't really care anymore. I was worn down and ready for the movie to end. So overall, I'm glad I saw this to know what all the fuss was about but I can't fully recommend it either.

Directed by Christopher Nolan
2010
BAM

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Baader Meinhof Complex

I wanted to like this more than I did but I was a bit bored at times. There were some really good moments, some exciting scenes no doubt. But I found the story a bit disjointed to fully keep my attention. I guess it is difficult to tell a story with so many characters spread out over such a long period of time.

I find the topic of the 70's German terrorist groups pretty fascinating though and would like to see a documentary on the subject.

Cool poster though.

Directed by Uli Edel
2008, Year of U.S. Release: 2009
Showtime

Friday, August 13, 2010

Born to Kill

A young Lawrence Tierney plays a mentally unhinged man who just doesn't like to feel cornered. So don't corner the guy! Don't cheat on the guy either. Or be his friend and make him think that you are sleeping with his girl. All bad plays.

At the beginning of the movie, he commits a double murder but doesn't get caught. It probably wasn't the first dastardly crime he'd ever committed. Claire Trevor discovers the bodies but doesn't call the police because she's about to leave town and doesn't want to be delayed. Then Tierney and Trevor meet on a train and fall in love? What?

Too bad Trevor is married so Tierney has to slum it with her sister. But the two keep up their illicit affair. Then the police show up. And not even his pal played by the always fun Elisha Cook Jr. can help matters. Things get creepier and creepier. Fun times.

Directed by Robert Wise
1947
TCM

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights

I really enjoyed this documentary. It looked great. The band sounded great. The interplay between Jack and Meg on and off stage is interesting to watch. One moment he's deriding her for being too quiet (the filmmakers had to put subtitles on the screen to help decipher what she was saying). The next moment, they share a tender moment at the piano.

But what makes this better than the average tour doc is the idea behind the tour itself. They decided to play every province in Canada and decided to play out of the way places that most bands never play. They also played spur of the moments type shows during the day - one was on a small boat floating down a river. Another was on a bus (their version of The Wheels on the Bus was great).

It was fun watching a bit of this while SHR was in the room so she could deride Meg White yet once again.

Directed by Emmett Malloy
2009
Showtime