Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

When I was watching Meek's Cutoff, I kept thinking how incredibly different it would have been if it had been made by the Coen Brothers or Quentin Tarantino. For some reason, I kept picturing what this documentary would have been like if it had been made by Albert Maysles or Werner Herzog. For Meek's Cutoff, I want to see all three versions. And the same goes for this one.

Albert Maysles definitely would have made much more of a Grey Gardens type film, right? And it is easy to imagine Herzog's narration discussing the vagaries of the White family.

I definitely liked the Jackass treatment the family got in this though. They are completely insane. I couldn't get enough. They definitely need their own reality show. I haven't watched a reality show in years but that would be one I'd need to watch every minute of.

There's really no way to fully describe the craziness of this family. You just have to see it for yourself. Check the trailer to get a taste. And thanks to both Jeremy and Chris Larry for recommending this to me - it wasn't even on my radar before they mentioned it.

Directed by Julien Nitzberg

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Eh. I liked the book but this adaptation was kind of just okay.

I did like some of it though. I thought that the filmmakers did a good job streamlining some of the dull setup of the novel. I also was a bit confused by a lot of the novel (mainly because I read it over way too many months while Double Trouble were infants and I was sleep deprived). But the way the film was shot made all of the connections between the characters very clear. So I did like the visuals quite a bit at times.

But big key moments in the novel were kind of lackluster in this adaptation. And while I did like a lot of the casting - I'm not sure how I feel about the Salander casting yet. She just doesn't do that much for me.

I think that the first novel was my least favorite so I'm wondering if I should give the other two films a chance. Or should I just wait for the David Fincher film later this year? That will definitely be better than this. Who has seen the whole trilogy?

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
2009, U.S. Release: 2010

Monday, May 09, 2011

Win Win

I don't remember The Station Agent that much but I remember liking it. I didn't love The Visitor so I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. But I shouldn't have been worried. I really liked this film to the point that I might even like it more than The Station Agent. I also had no idea or had forgotten that McCarthy was a co-writer of Up.

I just finished listening to a good interview McCarthy did with Elvis Mitchell where Mitchell pointed out that the theme of loneliness runs throughout all four films that McCarthy has written. McCarthy mentioned that he also really likes writing about characters that find themselves in life changing situations with people they wouldn't necessarily spend time with because of seemingly random events. The interview made me like the film even more.

I found The Visitor a little too contrived at times. This film was just a straight up solid drama. The usual suspects were good of course - Giamatti, Ryan. But I also find Bobby Cannavale funny as hell in whatever I see him in. And any movie with Burt Young AND Jeffrey Tambor in it can't be bad. And the wrestling kid was great. Kind of like Spicoli but with the wrestling moves!

Everything about this film rang true - from the interplay between Giamatti and Ryan at the beginning about her saying shit in front of the children (Hey SHR - stop cursing!) to every facial expression Burt Young or Tambor made to the hilarious secretary was perfect. And the scenes of Giamatti buying a whole pack of cigarettes just to smoke one next to the dumpster behind the convenience store is one of the funniest/saddest moments I've seen in awhile. Perfect.

There's nothing terribly unique about this film but it's a very good one. See it.

Directed by Tom McCarthy

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Certified Copy

I saw this movie six weeks ago and I still can't get it out of my head. It is that good. Think Before Sunrise meets Memento and you kind of either get what I'm saying or I've just pitched a fake movie a la The Player.

Juliette Binoche is a French antique store owner in a village in Tuscany who falls for a visiting British academic. He is in town promoting his book about his theory that it doesn't matter if a piece of art is the real or a copy if it has the same emotional impact on the viewer.

There's a lot of beautiful countryside. There's a lot of fascinating conversations while in a car. There's so much intrigue going on between the two. And then halfway through the movie, things shift. A lot. To the point, that it is hard to say which half of the film is the original and which is the copy.

It is amazing that such a seemingly realistic film about a couple turns into such an intriguing mystery about the true nature of their relationship. I don't want to give away too much more other than to say that I need to see this again to try to pick up the clues to figure out what was really going on. In fact, a co-worker saw the film after I did and her take on the story was the exact opposite of mine.

This is the first Kiarostami film I've seen in years other than re-watching Taste of Cherry last year. But this film (his first one made in Europe) fits in perfectly with the themes and tone of the others of his I've seen. This is a great film.

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
2010, U.S. Release: 2011
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