Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Celluloid #2

Here's another installment of movie-happenings. I wanted to explain my particular ratings: 5/5 = loved it or really liked it (probably visually pleasing as well as a good story/characters/style). 4/5 = good, I liked it, worth watching. 3/5 = neutral, okay, fairly unremarkable. 2/5 = I didn't like it, not a good movie, but probably has something tolerable about it. 1/5 = terrible.

In Theatres

This past Friday, I had the experience of watching Harmony Korine's latest, Mister Lonely. The premise is a Michael Jackson impersonator meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and she convinces him to join her on a commune in the Scottish Highlands full of other celebrity impersonators, including the Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin, the Pope, the Queen, and Abe Lincoln. The movie also contains a side story involving Werner Herzog as a priest and a bunch of nuns who jump out of airplanes to test their faith. The biggest problem with this movie is the dialogue. It's horrendous and, I believe, meant to be taken seriously. For instance, when Michael is about to move out of his room, he starts saying things like "goodbye chair", "you've been a good room", "I know I'll always remember you and I know you'll remember me." The film is full of cringe-worthy dialogue along these lines. I also don't think I'm ruining anything by saying that a scene involving singing painted eggs is enough to try anyone's patience.

Despite the bad dialogue and a story that doesn't really go anywhere, there are a few redeeming points that still made me glad that I at least saw this film once. Harmony Korine is good with visuals...he puts shots on the screen that are quite beautiful and often strange, sometimes hilarious (I laughed out loud a couple of times based solely on a visual). The opening scene is great. I also think Werner Herzog is fantastic. I'm not sure if Korine wrote him any dialogue or whether Herzog improvised all of his lines, but he's one of the only people that can pull off the ridiculous and ridiculously melodramatic. The scenes of nuns skydiving are also pretty great. It's really too bad that the side story wasn't the main story...2/5.

(PREVIEW) I have not seen any Guy Maddin films yet, but in the previews before Mister Lonely, I saw a trailer for a film by Maddin called My Winnipeg. It's in black and white and supposedly based on real events from Maddin's life as well as stories from Winnipeg...looks good.

In Home

The Bridge (2006) Steel - Notorious documentary about people who commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge (by far the most popular place to end one's life). Eric Steel and a crew observed and filmed for the entire year of 2004. While you do see footage of people jumping, the majority of the documentary is spent talking to family and friends of those who jumped. At its core, this documentary seeks to find out why people commit suicide and how they get to that point. 4/5

Cooley High (1975) Schultz - Apparently labelled "the Black American Graffiti," this movie focuses on a group of friends in their last year at a black Chicago high school. They go to parties, try to pick up girls, ditch class, etc. Everything is fairly carefree for most of the movie until two friends take a car out for a joyride and have to suffer the consequences. 4/5

Faces (1968) Cassavetes - This film is about the collapse of a couple's marriage, but it's also about coping with middle age and general unhappiness. Both husband and wife try to fill their voids with affection from other people which obviously doesn't make them feel any better. Gena Rowlands is lovely as usual. Cassavetes does a good job of making a beautiful, human film even if it's emotionally draining and feels long. 5/5

Jungle Fever (1991) Lee - My boss lent me the Spike Lee Joint Collection this past week and this was the better of the two films I watched. Wesley Snipes plays an architect named Flipper who hooks up with his white temp secretary, which then ensues to cause a scandal amongst both of their social circles. Through character discussions, we as an audience are exposed to discourse around the issue of interracial dating. This film also features Halle Berry as a crackhead! 3.5/5

The Long Goodbye (1973) Altman - Phillip Marlowe is a smart-ass. He's a detective in Los Angeles with some shady friends, a bunch of nude ladies as neighbors, and generally with someone out to get him. A lady hires him to find her husband, and that simple task results in a big mess for Marlowe to escape. Very enjoyable. 4/5

Mo'Better Blues (1990) Lee - Denzel Washington plays a New York jazz musician who is also very self-centered. He has two conflicts that he has to deal with: 1.) His saxophone player wants to start his own band 2.) He's sleeping with two ladies, who kinda know that he's sleeping with another person (and then definitely know). I'm not the biggest Denzel fan and I don't really know why Spike Lee made this movie...3/5

The Piano Teacher (2002) Haneke - This film was my introduction to Haneke several years ago. I loved it then and pretty much proceeded to watch his entire catalogue over the past couple years. Watching this again, it's amazing how normal the film seems until about thirty minutes in, then you get your first "what the fuck?"...followed by many more instances for the duration. 5/5

In the News

Nic Roeg, the director who brought you Art Garfunkel's sexual romp, Bad Timing, as well as The Man Who Fell to Earth and numerous films that I am interested in checking out, has a new film coming out sometime this year (I think): Puffball. As far as I can tell, the plot seems to revolve around an unexpected pregnancy and some witchcraft.

Nick Cave is supposedly writing the follow-up to The Proposition, called Death of a Ladies' Man. That title in itself is enough to be excited, but so is the prospect that the director of The Proposition, John Hillcoat, is expected to direct this as well. If this film does actually get made, don't expect to see it until sometime next year...

Lastly, Lars von Trier is expected to start filming Antichrist this summer. yay?


nora said...

Isn't 'Death of a Ladies Man' a Leonard Cohen album as well...

Roman said...

i love Long Goodbye.