Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Margaret

 This is what all the fuss was about? Hmmm....

Granted, I didn't see the director's cut but there's no way in hell that I'm interested enough to watch this again ... but with 45 more minutes!

Yes, there are definitely glimmers that this movie should be better than the studio cut. But I find the whole back story of this film more interesting than the film itself.

I definitely do not align myself with the haters but more of the ? contingent.

I like the plot of the film - girl with mommy issues plays an accidental role in the tragedy of a woman getting run over by a bus. But I found a lot of the acting stilted and some of the dialogue not very good. I'm definitely curious to hear from anyone who has seen the director's cut why I should see it but for now, I'm sitting that fight out.

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
2011
Blu-ray

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Master

I saw this over two months ago and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. I know it looks incredible and it has to win Best Cinematography. I know the acting was stellar. I know that Joaquin Phoenix's face was the most interesting landscape in any film I've seen since this one.

But I just didn't feel like it was the masterpiece that people like A.O. Scott seem to think it is. It's very good. Granted, I was tired as hell while watching it but the film didn't wake me up. I definitely think this film warrants a second viewing but I doubt I'll watch it anytime soon.

I guess I just would like a movie more than every five years from Anderson. So let's see - regarding his most recent films (excluding that Adam Sandler one which by the way I remember really liking at the time), I definitely like this more than Magnolia (I still laugh every time I think of this review) but not as much as There Will be Blood.

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
2012
Village East

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bernie

The part that Jack Black was born to play. He's so good in this. I've gotten a little weary of him in some of his more antic roles. And I'm not sure how great he is in more serious parts. But this -- this is his future!

I loved him. I loved Shirley MacLaine. And it clearly is the year of Matthew McConaughy, right? I really liked the interview segments that interspersed really Texas folks with actors.

This is a solid little film. Richard Linklater is an interesting director. Bravo.

Directed by Richard Linklater
2012
Blu-ray

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Argo

Sometimes being oblivious to things makes movies like this even more fun. I had never heard of this story until the movie came out. I hadn't seen any previews and had only a tiny bit of knowledge about what the whole thing.

Sujan and I were not disappointed. This is a fun fun movie and reminded me of some of the greats espionage films of the 70's. Obviously, some things were made up but who cares? I'll clear that up whenever the documentary ever gets made. For pure cinematic goodness, this film is hard to beat.

The acting is great (although Kyle Chandler was woefully underused according to Sujan), the editing was great, and the suspense was top notch.

The 12-year-old me would have loved this movie. The 39-year-old me thought it was pretty darn good as well. This has to be a shoo-in for some awards, right?

Directed by Ben Affleck
2012
BAM

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Microcosmos

I can't believe I had never seen this movie. It's stunningly good. I mean it's like Jurassic Park but in your own back yard!

The boys have been loving it recently and I can't get sick of it. I remember liking Winged Migration back in the day but I think I've got to go with this one. Bugs are crazy!

It's hilarious listening to Otis and Sam's running commentary as they watch the movie and as their comments become more sophisticated with each viewing. "Oooh, it's climbing" type comments have turned into discussions about cocoons and conjecture about why the hell that ladybug is fighting that ant.

Directed by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennou
1996
Netflix Streaming

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jackie Brown

On the baseball trip this year, this movie came up in discussion. I posited that it had probably aged well and that if I saw it again I would probably like it even more than I did back in the day.

It turns out that I was kind of right but mostly wrong - I kind of liked it in the same way I did back in '97. For many years after this film (Matt has an interesting explanation about what QT was up to during this time, think Gimp from Pulp Fiction), we all wondered what Tarantino was up to, other than a lot of blow.

15 years and a Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglorious Basterds, and Django Unchained later, it fits quite nicely in Tarantino's oeuvre.  It clearly was a step back from the Pulp Fiction craziness and that makes sense.

And while this didn't jumpstart Michael Keaton's career like I'm sure he had hoped, there are innumerable fun moments in this film. The casting is great all the way around. And it was actually nice to see Robert De Niro actually in a good movie for a change. Was this his last one?


Directed by Quentin Tarantino
1997
Netflix Streaming

Monday, November 12, 2012

Looper

I was not a big fan of Rian Johnson's first film. I haven't seen his second. But I've got to admit that I really dig the third. Looper is kind of awesome.

Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks really weird but I got used to it. And yes, Marc read so much into the plot developments that it ended up kind of ruining the movie for him at times. He came up with so many questions as he was watching it that didn't even occur to me because I was simply enjoying the fun of it all.

As we discussed the movie on the bus ride home, his questions about different time travel scenarios made me like the film even more.

I love time travel stuff.
I love sci fi that feels somewhat realistic.
And apparently I love Bruce Willis again.

Directed by Rian Johnson
2012
Court St. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Neighboring Sounds

I read an interview with the director, Kleber Mendonca Filho, of this film where he was talking about how he felt like all the Brazilian films of note in recent years are set in the favelas. He wanted to show there was more to Brazilian life than what was shown in those films.

On that front, he definitely succeeded with his debut film. He also succeeded visually. The film looks great. And the interlocking stories set on one block are all pretty interesting. The characters are well written and the situations that arise are fascinating. At times, I felt like this was kind of like a Brazilian A Separation in its brilliant depiction of class differences.

Unfortunately it didn't completely come together for me. I understand (or think I understand) some of what Filho was going for. Perhaps I just don't know enough about Brazilian history but some of the major plot developments seemed a little underwritten to me.

Still, as a first film, this was very good. I keep thinking about different moments in this film and the characters. I'm definitely curious to see what Filho does with his next movie.

Directed by Kleber Mendonca Filho
2012
Lincoln Center


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Into the Abyss

 Herzog's other 2011 film. This film didn't have ancient cave drawings or 3D so it kind of got overlooked. But it's a shame that it did because it's really good.

The movie is about two men serving time for murdering three people in Texas. One is on Death Row and one isn't. Herzog interviews both of them, the father of one of them, family members of the victims, friends of the murderers, a chaplain on Death Row, and a former worker in the death chamber.

Clearly these two men were responsible for the murders of their victims in a harebrained plot to steal a car. But it isn't clear if the right man is the one sentenced to death.

Herzog doesn't get too into the specifics of the trial so I have a lot of questions about what went down. But that doesn't really matter. Herzog makes it very clear that he thinks the death sentence is wrong and that is the big picture.

I have no idea how this movie was so ignored but it shouldn't be.

Directed by Werner Herzog
2011
Blu-ray

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Queen of Versailles

I wonder if Erroll Morris was jealous that he didn't find this family first. This film is incredible! Incredible! I loved it the way it is but part of me would have loved to have seen it get the Tabloid treatment.

Then again, this film is perfect as is. What started as a straightforward doc about a ridiculouly tacky and rich family determined to build the largest house in the United States (modeled after Versailles of course) turns into a sad character study/document about our country's collapsing economy circa 2008. The 2007 scenes are almost like the plot device used so often of stories being set right before huge dates in history like 12/6/41, 11/21/63, or 9/10/11. The audience knows what the fictional characters don't. 

In this case though, this shit was real! And at first I was rooting for these people to get their comeuppance. But when it happens, it is more sad than exhilirating.

Jackie Siegel is a fascinating person and a good portrait of a smart person deliberately keeping her head in the sand. I'd love to see an update about what happens to her in the next few years.

Directed by Lauren Greenfield
2012
Lincoln Center