Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In Defense of The Oscars.

Well the Oscars are over and the post-show criticisms are in. Like the Oscars themselves, there is nothing new under the sun criticism-wise, at least not in the media coverage. With every passing year though I notice a lot more apathy and sarcastic criticism of the ceremony within my circle of movie-nerd friends. With the avalanche of Facebook status updates filled with baiting-opinions presented as facts overloading my news-feed this past week I felt unbelievably lame for looking forward to and actually enjoying the Oscars. So what is it that makes our opinions so different? We are all around the same age, share similar tastes, and above all, have an appreciation for the art of film-making.

Some of the common complaints I hear are that the ceremony is too predicable, too long, and too boring. It's just one big self-congratulatory celebrity love-fest and that it doesn't really matter because it doesn't really represent the "best" movies of the year. It's all hype, and above all, the aspect of the ceremony that really gets their goat is that the Academy never picks the right films (i.e. the ones they want to win). Fair enough.

Here are my thoughts on the subject. In a lot of ways I think the Oscars are like the Superbowl for film-nerds, a whole years worth of build up, speculation, and over-analyzing resulting in a winner that is usually unsatisfactory for most of the fans. The winner is usually predictable, the coverage is extra long, and depending on the competitiveness of the teams, the game can be boring.

Unlike the Oscars though, people love the Superbowl. No one is made to feel lame for watching it and those few souls who actually do hate it are probably the kind of miserable assholes who complain about everything (trolls). Despite usually being a huge disappointment, every year, people still look forward to the Superbowl, hell, they even look forward to the freaking commercials. To hear certain detractors spin it, you would the Oscars were being mercilessly labored through by the audience, with each additional commercial adding an extra excruciating 30-45 seconds of wasted time to the viewer's life. Despite the fact that the ceremony is rich with tradition, only comes once a year, and is a celebration of the medium that they love most, these folks seem to be hellbent on undermining the importance of it.

Ah yes, the importance of it. Are the Oscars as important as the Academy wants you to believe? No, but they are not meaningless either. I'm not sure if you've observed a casual film-goer recently, but I have had plenty of exposure to them working at the theater. Here are a couple of my insights into the mind of the average (age 15-25) film-goer: A) If it wasn't made in the last 5 years, it might as well never have existed, and B) a lot of people (especially young people) never consider exactly how movies are made or where they come from. A lot of the kids that worked at the theater with me seemed to think that movies were just new stories being churned out to them every week, no thought given to the idea that people make movies and that's there's an artistry and craftsmanship to it.

This is where The Oscars come in to play, maybe not for young people who don't even watch basic television anymore, much less award shows, but for let's say, society in general. For many reasons the modern movie industry seems to think of themselves as a business first and an art-form second (actually it's probably more like forth or fifth). As a society we're encouraged to think of movies as merely entertainment and not, you know, the greatest form of idea conveyance and documentation in our history. I know that last statement is a lightning rod for a lot of people who champion the written word, but I mean no offense. I'm not saying movies as a medium are necessarily better than literature, but rather, that it has the potential to be. It's a fascinating, magical storytelling medium and an incredible form of historical documentation that is treated like frivolous amusement by most people, but...not at the Oscars.

The "Road to the Oscars" is possibly the only time of year that mainstream media coverage acknowledges that there is more to the movies than box office results, that there is something to be said for art and, you know, films being good. For one night out of the year, there is a ceremony that takes movies seriously, that not only accounts for the technical aspects of the craftsmanship, but also reminds us that movies are part of our history, culture, and that yes, they are important. Even though, to me, it seems like a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, to many people it's perceived as this gaudy, lavish, and undeserved celebrity circle-jerk. For many, the idea that people in the film industry get any recognition, much less awards for their work when they've already received so much money as compensation is uncalled-for.

Yes, actors make a lot of money (although a lot of technical award winners involved in the process make much less and do deserve recognition), but comparatively to what some of these movies make, it's a fraction of the profits and in a lot of cases they are very much responsible for the revenue of the film (Johnny Depp in "The Pirates of the Caribbean" films springs to mind). Plus, I'm not sure if you've notice, but there's not much money at the box office in "good" movies these days. The reason I bring that up is because actors (and studios for that matter) need motivation to make films that might not necessarily make a lot of money, and the potential of an Academy Award is not a bad goal.

So what else? Oh yeah, the Oscars doesn't really represent the "best" movies of the year. Well, no shit, it's hard to please everyone when you're picking only one thing. That being said, look at the musical equivalent, The Grammys. The Grammy nominees over the last 20+ years have represented some of the most generic, unimaginative, and unauthentic examples of music imaginable; the most radio-friendly bullshit you can find.. If it sold, it's gold as far as the Grammys are concerned. Juxtapose that with the Oscars who since the mid-1990's have seemingly made a conscience effort to include lesser known films. They regularly get shit for nominating films that "no one's ever heard of" from one segment of the population and get even more shit for not nominating "Drive" from another segment. So yeah, "The Artist" might not have been the "best" film of 2011, but if the Oscars were like the Grammys, they would of picked "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" instead, so you're welcome.

In conclusion, the Oscars are far from perfect, in fact they're kind of a mess these days. So many people complain about them that the producers have repeated tweaked the formula, experimented with new "modern" ideas, and shifted back and forth between tradition and what they think people want. It never seems to please anyone. So why defend the Oscars?? Maybe because no one else ever does? Nah, I just love movies and I love the idea of the Oscars. I want it to be better and I'm going to keep watching hoping for those little pieces of spontaneous moments and emotion that make it work. I sometimes think about the 1996 Awards, a year in-which much was made about "the year of the Indie film," and I think about how little I care about the Best Picture nominees from that year (with the exception of "Fargo") now. The thing I remember from that show was the Cuba Gooding Jr. acceptance speech, which everyone remembers. It was the kind of moment that only the Oscars could produce.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animated

So I took in the Live Action Shorts last week and the Animated Shorts this week. I think the animated nominees themselves might be a little weaker, but the overall program (the nominees plus the "Highly Commended" shorts) made for a more enjoyable experience. The weakest link, for me, was "Sunday," although it was closely followed by Pixar's entry, "La Luna." The other 3 nominees were all pretty strong, but my favorite was "Wild Life," a lovely, funny, and touching short about an Englishmen who buys a ranch in the American West in the early 1900s. The story is told through his correspondence with his family and from unfavorable testimonials from the locals. I thought it was very good.

"Morning Stroll" was fairly cute, and "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" started off with way too much sentiment and whimsy for me, but halfway through managed to find it's footing and engaged me. It will probably win.

Friday, February 24, 2012

R.I.P. Lina Romay.

One of my favorite memories of the cinema came in 2009 at Fantastic Fest. I went to a screening of Jess Franco's 1973 film "Bare Breasted Countess" (Female Vampire) starring Lina Romay as a sensual murderous vampire. Franco is in it as well as a doctor trying to stop her. Both Franco and Romay (long-time husband and wife) were in attendance. It was filmed when she was only 20 years old, and she admitted before the screening that she did not feel comfortable watching her films. She also noted, along with Franco, that it was this film that was the catalyst for them falling in love. As the movie began, Miss Romay left the auditorium, but Franco stayed for a bit. When the film approached the end Lina helped Jess back into the theater for the Q & A. While the finale played out on screen I noticed the two of them staring up at the images together. Lina’s vampire was sprawled out naked in a bath of blood, while Franco’s doctor bursts through the door with intentions of killing her. It was the first time in the film that the Doc had seen the Countess, and his urge to kill was quickly snuffed out by her incredible beauty. So there it was, the two of them 40 years on, watching their younger selves falling in love on the screen. It was truly a moving moment and it reminded me of what Lars, the host, stated at the beginning of the series. He read a quote by Franco that appeared in an Austin Chronicle interview the week of the festival: “The cinema is not the way to escape our lives; it is the way to complete our lives.” I think about that quote and that screening often. R.I.P. Lina Romay.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Melancholia Trailer - Simpsons-Style

I've never made a "fan video" of any kind, well, until now...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Return of Whit Stillman and his "Damsels in Distress"

This past October the Austin Film Festival screened Whit Stillman’s 1990 debut, “Metropolitan,” to a packed house at the Alamo Ritz, with Stillman in attendance. Having never heard of the film, much less seen it, the screening was a revelation for me. I was struck by how nostalgic the portrait of 1970′s New York was; the holiday, orchestra, and piano-based music, the lighting, and costume design perfectly complimenting the tale of a lower-class urbanite briefly infiltrating the world and ranks of a close-knit group of upper-class socialites.

Admittedly the premise on paper didn’t really strike me as something that would interest, much less entertain me, but the script was so intelligent and witty, and the performances so strong that I couldn’t help but be engrossed by it all. To find out after the film that it was made by the same man behind 1998′s equally wonderful, “The Last Days of Disco” (a film that I was actually familiar with), was both amusing and fitting. It’s been nearly 14 years since that film was in theaters and Whit Stillman has finally returned with another “comedy of manners,” Sony Pictures Classics’ recently acquired, “Damsels in Distress.”

Filmed in Bronxville, New York, “Damsels” stars Indie “It-Girl” (or modern day ChloĆ« Sevigny if you prefer) Greta Gerwig as the leader of a trio of girls pro-actively (in their eyes) working to change their college environment plagued by “male barbarism,” naive female freshmen, and suicidal classmates. Based on the trailer it seems like it will retain Stillman’s passion for dry high-minded wit, while adding touches of dark-comedy and whimsy. It kind of looks like “Clueless” by way of “The Rules of Attraction.” The cast also includes Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton, and Aubrey Plaza. “Damsels” was the closing night film at the 2011 Venice Film Festival and received positive reviews, there is still no American release date yet, though rumors suggest early March.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Deadfall (1993)

Wow...just, wow.

This movie first came to my attention around the time "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" was in theaters. I'm a big Nicholas Cage fan, and I recognize that the 2000's have not been as kind to Cage as the first couple decades of his career, but I still think he's put out some good films here and there. What's most important about Cage isn't necessarily the quality of the film, but rather what he brings to it. He's a risk-taker, and yes, he's sometimes waaaaayyyy over-the-top, but he rarely, if ever, phones it in.

Before I get to "Deadfall," I want to attempt to put it into some sort of relate-able context. If you're a reading this, you like movies, and you probably like movies a lot, maybe even enough to have tried making a few yourself. If you're one of those people who've made a low budget film or two, honestly, how were they? Probably not that good, maybe not that bad either, but you're probably not busting down people's door to show them to anybody. If this sounds like you or someone you know then you've probably seen what an inexperienced filmmaker's movie can be like. Some of the calling cards are broad caricatures, cliched scenarios, too much exposition (usually through unnecessary voice-over narration), and lackluster, lifeless performances.

All of these element come into play in Christopher (brother of Nicholas Cage/Nephew of Francis Ford) Coppola's 1993 ne0-Noir. According to his bio, Christopher had been making films (usually starring his brother) since he was kid, he had at least one other feature under his belt prior to "Deadfall."

I think I'll take this opportunity to discuss an aspect of film-making/film-viewing that I've always meant to address in one of my reviews, but have just never found the right time to do so. There is a sub-culture of movie watchers who enjoy movies that are "so bad they're good," and I've known many of them and seen many of their favorite bad movies. "Deadfall" is one those type of films, so I'm going to address my theory as to what makes those movie work and what doesn't. Essentially, it comes down to sincerity. A bad movie is only truly funny when the film-maker sincerely tried to make a good movie, but failed. There is no humor in intending to make a bad movie.

"Deadfall" is a bad movie, but it's very entertaining. The voice-over narration by Micheal Biehn ("The Terminator") is among the worst I've ever heard. The characters are more like thin concepts meant to be cool than actual real people. The performances, for the most part, are wooden, Biehn and Peter Fonda almost seem as if they're doing Coppola a favor and are more or less being forced to act. James Coburn is the only one who brings any levity to the material, the only one really trying to take it seriously.

That being said, there are 3 performances in this movie worth watching it for. The first, and easily the most talked about and fucking insane, is that of Nicholas Cage, as Eddie. It's hard to put into words what the hell Cage is doing in this movie, but I honestly think it has something to do with him tapping into his Id. There's no other way to describe then to say that Cage seems to be in some other movie altogether (well for at least for the first 2/3rds), he's on another planet. I can only imagine that he was trying to bring something original to a holy unoriginal work. Vagueness aside, his performance at time reminded me of the great Timothy Carey.

The last third of the movie has two inexplicable characters, Charlie Sheen's Fat's Gripp (a absurdly suave pool player) and Angus Scrimm's Dr Lyne (some bizarre amalgamation of Dr. Evil, Dr. Claw, and Edward Scissorhands). Coppola's Aunt, Talia Shire, is in one scene as a bartender. Micky from the Monkees is in it for some reason. Oh, and the plot twist at the end is stupid. Like I said, "Deadfall" is a bad movie, but Coppola's sincere effort comes across, and though I laughed quite a bit in the last 90 minutes, I wholeheartedly respect his film.

Here's a song by the band Snot that's pretty much explains the entire plot of the movie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action

Well, I took in the Live Action shorts last night; "Pentecost," "Raju," "The Shore," "Time Freak," and "Tuba Atlantic." Of the five I enjoyed "Tuba Atlantic" the most. It's a Norwegian film about a crotchety old man living out his final 6 days with an "Angel of Death," a teenage volunteer who provides the "service" of helping the dying finish out their lives.

I also enjoyed "Pentecost," which mixed the very different worlds of Alter Boys and Soccer Players, it's short and sweet, well executed. "Raju," which is about a couple accidentally adopting a kidnapped child in India, is probably the frontrunner for the Academy Award, it's just seems perfectly suited for the Oscars. "The Shore" was a bit long, but wasn't bad. It seemed more like a shorten feature. "Time Freak" is one that stood out to me as maybe not being worthy of a nomination. It wasn't bad at all, but I just didn't think it was in the same league as the others. Still, it's worth a look it is fairly funny.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Humble Pie a.k.a. American Fork (2007)

I saw this back in 2007 at the Austin Film Festival, under the original title, "American Fork." I'm not entirely sure that either title really does the film justice, unfortunately. This is not a great movie, but I think it's pretty underrated and very very good. I re-watched it recently and I still really like it.

"Humble Pie" is story of Tracy Orbison, a nearly 400 pound grocery store employee in a generic small town. He lives at home with his Mother, doesn't have a driver's license, or a girlfriend, or any direction in life. In some ways, "Humble Pie" could have easily been horrible. All of the plot-ingredients, visual flare, and quirkiness of other (much more annoying) films are there, but somehow the film side-steps the pitfalls those films didn't.

It does this in a lot of ways, the first and most important is in the casting of writer/actor Hubbel Palmer. Palmer gives a very assured performance; naturalistic and empathetic. His physical appearance goes along way in characterizing some of Tracy's day-to-day problems, but fortunately the film doesn't dwell on his weight too much (although you wouldn't know it from the dvd packaging). Another way it side-steps disaster is by avoiding the inclusion of some sort of transformative-miracle-girlfriend that makes everything better. Though there is mentioning of his lack-of-a-girlfriend in the film, there is never an attempt by Tracy to remedy the situation (nor is there a chance encounter at the psychiatrist office).

As the plot unfolds, Tracy decides that he wants to become an actor and begins to take part in weekly acting classes taught by an actor named Truman Hope (William Baldwin), whose biggest claim-to-fame was an appearance on "Jag." Tracy is initially in awe of Truman, but soon discovers he's not such a nice guy when he screws him out of his ticket to go see Rutger Hauer give a lecture. The film has a lot of little details like "Jag" and Rutger Hauer that really adds to the comedy.

The rest of the plot concerns Tracy's relationship with his Mother, a new found friendship with a teenager at work named Kendis (Vincent Caso), and Truman's romancing of Tracy's introverted sister (Mary Lynn Rajskub). The plot-line about Tracy's friendship with Kendis goes into some pretty implausible territory, but the film manages to hang-on to believability due to Palmer's performance. He makes Tracy the kind of "twenty-something loser" that a lot of films like this lack, the kind that we can root for, the underdog. Like I said, it's not great film, there are flaws, but it succeeds because of it's sincerity and sweetness.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Ladybug, Ladybug (1963)

Frank Perry's "Ladybug, Ladybug" is definitely a movie of it's time. While many people frown on films that "date" themselves, I actually love movies for that exact reason. Often when I watch an older film in the theater, I spend a few moments thinking about what's going on outside the parameter of the frame. I think about things like what the film crew looked like and what else might of happened that same day. Movies are culturally significant in that they're reflective of art at the time they were made, as well as society, but each film is significant in it's own way because it captured moments in time from a day long forgotten. Even the worst movie has an interesting back-story; the act of making a film is itself often more interesting than the finally result. "Ladybug, "Ladybug" has been practically forgotten, but I couldn't help but think about what it must of been like to make this movie.

It's such a young, inexperienced cast, with such heavy material. It must of been quite the challenge. In short, the movie is about a small rural school that receives a signal indicating an atomic attack is going to happen within the hour. Not knowing whether it's real or just some sort of glitch, the Principle sends all of the kids home, escorted by their teachers.

In an effort to keep the children calm, the teachers are deliberately vague about why they are being sent home, but as time passes, more and more of them begin to suspect the worst. There's a real sense of beauty and dread to this movie. Part of it is due to the pacing of the film, it's slow and contemplative. There is also something idyllic about the scenery that adds to the ominousness.

The innocence of the children is "Ladybug, Ladybug's" biggest strength. Their fear, confusion, and inquisitiveness seems very real. There's a bit of a red herring about halfway through the film that I really appreciated in retrospect. It allowed me to be genuinely surprised by the direction it takes in the third act. The film is somewhat similar to "Miracle Mile," in the sense that it keeps you guessing up to the very end, which is always a nice device.

A few stray observations: I really like finale, even if seems a little on-the-nose by today's standards. It might "date" the film, but I can only imagine how haunting it must of been to see this in the theater in 1963. Also, the great William Daniels plays the Principal in the film. It's funny because he played a Social Worker/Child Protective Services Investigator in one of my favorite movies, "A Thousand Clowns," the voice of K.I.T.T. on "Knight Rider," and of course, he's probably best known for playing Mr. Feeny on "Boy Meets World. Somehow, he's always the voice of authority.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Crawlspace (1986)

"You've got to have a sense of humor, it makes life much easier if you can laugh." - Dr. Karl Gunther.

Well, he's no Patch Adams, but Klaus Kinski's Dr. Gunther does have some crazy ideas. Gunter runs an apartment building exclusively for women, equipped by the good doctor (and coincidentally son of a Nazi) with secret air-duct passageways, hidden torture rooms, and booby-trap-style murder devices. In the opening scene it is revealed that Gunther has a woman held hostage in a cage. Her tongue has been removed and she resembles a Holocaust victim.

Much of the movie consists of Kinski hiding in the air-ducts and spying on his tenants. One of the early scenes that cracked me up involved Kinski spying on a young aspiring singer as she cuts holes in her bra. The music builds ominously as a man enters the room, presumably without her knowledge, and forces her onto the bed. Kinski just watches as what looks like a rape is about to occur, and then the musical changes to a sexier theme and it's revealed not to be a rape at all, but merely complicated, intesne foreplay.

Kinski's character keeps a journal of his exploits, which is somewhat fortunate for Josef Steiner, a man who is investigating Dr. Gunther over the wrongful death of Steiner's brother, and several others. Will Steiner be able to stop the evil Dr. Gunther? Well, no, but he does have one of the best death scenes. Dr. Gunther ritualistically plays Russian Roulette every night to determine if his psychopathic destruction will continue, and thus far, he's undefeated. Every time he survives he punctuates it with the refrain, "so be it."

So how is it? Overall, I liked it a lot. At only 80 minutes long, it's efficient and effective. The last 20 minutes is especially good, escalating the tension with shock after shock (and swastika after swastika). By the time we reach the point where Klaus Kinski is gliding through the air-ducts on a trolley, full insanity has set in.

"Crawlspace" is directed by David Schmoeller, who also made the underrated "Tourist Trap." One last stray observation: Talia Balsam, who is the main victim (I guess that how you could describe her) in "Crawlspace" kind of reminded me of a female version of Jarvis Cocker for some reason, I think perhaps the hair or teeth?


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rancho Deluxe (1975)

This somewhat forgotten young-Jeff Bridges vehicle about renegade cattle rustlers was a surprisingly fun way to spend 90 minutes. The joy of the film for me was the beautiful scenery and the slew of wonderful performances by a cast comprised mostly of character actors. The film got off to a slightly slow start, I think perhaps because of my limited understanding of what these guys were up to. After about 20 minutes though, I was hooked by the performances, not only from Bridges and Waterston, but also from a couple young actresses that I'm was unfamiliar with, Patti D'Arbanville and Maggie Wellman as sisters.

The plot centers around two easy-going, fun-loving guys, Jack and Cecil (Bridge and Sam Waterston) who are up to no good, rustling (illegally killing/stealing cattle) the local livestock-tycoon, John Brown's (played by the wonderful Clifton James) product. Jack and Cecil continually (and anonymously) up the ante on Mr. Brown; stealing his prize bull, $50,000 of his money, and by plotting the massive theft of a truckload of cattle.

Mr. Brown and his wife initially rely on the help of Burt and Curt (Richard Bright and Harry Dean Stanton) to try to figure out who is ripping them off. As the plot unfolds, Curt figures out who the rustlers are and, in probably the most interesting sequence of the movie, confronts Jack about his illegal activity over a game Pong. The two forge an alliance and agree to work together to deceive Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown then enlists the help of Henry Beige (played by Slim Pickens), a former thief-turned-livestock-detective to solve the mystery. Beige brings along his daughter, Laura (Charlene Dallas), who quickly draws the attention of Curt. Curt's attraction to Laura proves to be his Achilles's Heal.

A couple other stray observations: In some ways, "Rancho Deluxe" reminded me of "Freebie and the Bean" because Sam Waterston plays a Native American, despite being really really caucasian, much in the same way Alan Arkin plays a Hispanic in "Freebie." Also, as in "Freebie," Jeff Bridges spends most of his time in "Rancho" make racist remarks toward Sam Waterston...it's just plain weird.

Waterston's father in the movie is played by the wonderful Joe Spinell. Also, the film is directed by Frank Perry, who also made "Ladybug,Ladybug," a little known film from the 1960's about the staff and students at a rural school who react to a broadcasted warning of an imminent nuclear attack, not knowing whether it is real or a mistake. I think that will one of my next viewings.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Explosive Generation (1961)

This film was first brought to my attention when the AV Club's "Films That Time Forgot" featured it. The premise is about a small town that freaks-the-fuck-out when the high-school students begin discussing their true feelings regarding sex, in the classroom, against their parent's wishes. The main selling point for me was that the student's teacher is played by a young William Shatner.

There are a few interesting scenes in the third act, an early performance by Beau Bridges, and one or two chuckle-worthy moments in the film. Unfortunately though, I felt that the movie was a little too tame to be taken seriously and not quite goofy enough to have a good laugh at. In the end, I guess I just wanted more Shatner.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Haywire (2012)

Well first of all, from this point forward I am going to make a conscious effort to avoid IMDB message boards. I'd like to attribute this decision to Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire." I really enjoyed watching this last night; it was my first visit to the Gaslamp 15. Then this morning I scoped out the message boards to what others thoughts were and there was just so much negative nonsensical trolling going about the believability of the action, the performance of the first-time actress, Gina Carano, and "women-lib" movies that I just had to make this decision, no more.

"Haywire" is basically a spy-gone-rogue action film that Steven Soderbergh puts his stamp on. The narrative structure is mixed up a bit to keep things interesting, the music is jazzy and chilled, and several obligatory scenes are either cut short or eliminated altogether. The colors and tone of the film are reminiscent of the "Bourne" Trilogy, but unlike those films whose close-up shaky-cam style sometimes robbed the audience of clear, fluid action, the action in "Haywire" are all shot in medium to long shots. The fight scenes are particularly good and more than make up for some spotty acting here and there from Channing Tatum and Carano. The rest of the cast was very good, made up of Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, and surprisingly, Bill Paxton.

Soderbergh apparently made the film because of how impressed he was with real-life cage fighter, Carano, I can see that. Overall, I was very impressed with her performance. As my girlfriend pointed out, she's got some work to be done on line deliver, but we both believed her character was real. I want to see more of her; I actually wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to "Haywire," however unlikely that is.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ben Gazzara (1930-2012)

Carnage (2011)

Nothing great, but not bad either. Pretty much exactly what I thought it would be. Good performances, tightly wound, and worth a look (although not necessarily at the theater).


Groundhog's Day (1993)

Of course I've seen this a million times, but always fun to revisit. It's funny because 15 years ago I thought it was one of the 10 Best Films of 90's, I might still feel that way, but I haven't given it much thought. It's also strange that in a weird way, it's one of those movies that you can watch over and over again, and in that way, it's kind of like you're reliving the same day over and over again alongside Bill Murray.

Anyway, the most notable thing about this viewing was where I watched it, The Dive-In Movie at The Pearl Hotel, equal parts swimming pool, restaurant, and outdoor movie theater. A fun time!

High Tension (2003)

Well, I waited nearly 10 years to watch this and boy was it not worth it. I remember watching the trailer, which nicely used Sonic Youth's cover of "Superstar, and thinking that this could be something different. Of course, I heard a lot about the twist ending over the years and how some felt it ruined the movie and others furiously defended it, but I tried not think about what the twist could be (even though it seemed so obvious).

At the end of the day, I think the twist ruined the movie, but not because "it didn't make sense," although it didn't. I thought it ruined the movie because it made the audience unable to sympathize with main character because the twist required that she never ever actually try to defend the others in harms way. So as a result I spent most of the movie wanting her to do something that the "twist ending" couldn't allow.