A day late, but I had an apartment to get and the end of "The Wire" to watch...
Nearly a week ago I saw Pineapple Express. I went in knowing that it would be a dumb comedy and probably typical Judd Apatow fare, but I was still very curious to see how David Gordon Green would influence the project with his directing style. First of all, I will admit that I am tired of Apatow-related films and Seth Rogen's face at this point, but despite those admissions, I think this movie is pretty terrible. I laughed during the first half, but as the story progressed any reason to laugh (at least for me) diminished. The fight scenes were long, boring, and unfunny. The gay shit...not funny. The racist (or more likely pseudo-racist) treatment of Rosie Perez and the Asian drug lords didn't do anything for me or the plot. Also, Green didn't really do anything with the material. In perhaps two scenes (where Saul and Dale are playing around in the woods and when they are running around the neighborhood trying to make it to Dale's girlfriend's house) one can see a glimpse of Green's visual aesthetic, but overall, I hope he just made this film to finance another indie project in the future. So yeah, maybe I'm just a hater of the "dumb comedy", but this film was way too stupid...2/5
Blood of a Poet (1930) Cocteau - Part of Cocteau's surrealistic "Orphic Trilogy," this film feels very much like Bunuel's L'Age D'Or which came out around the same time. A poet/artist climbs through a mirror into a strange world where statues come to life and anatomy can be rearranged. Beautiful and cool old-school special effects, making a comment on the artist's role in society. 4/5
Double Indemnity (1944) Wilder - Apparently I've been on a bit of a noir kick lately. This film is great. An insurance agent falls for a femme fatale housewife who wants to kill her husband to collect the insurance money. The two conspire since the salesman wants to become closer to the wife and knows enough about the insurance procedures to plan a seemingly flawless murder. A scandalous movie for the time, where the audience roots for the "bad guys," and still holds up today for entertainment value. 4.5/5
Jigoku (1960) Nakagawa - An early Japanese horror film where two men kill another man in a hit and run. The driver feels no remorse, but the passenger insists that they turn themselves in, all though he is worried about the fate of his pregnant girlfriend if he goes to jail. They decide to keep quite and this decision leads to a crazy downward spiral where eventually the setting of the film becomes Hell complete with all of the main characters. Really cool, and looks like something that would have been made much later than 1960. 4/5
Play Misty For Me (1971) Eastwood - The first film directed by Clint Eastwood is about a Carmel, CA disc jockey and the woman who stalks him. A fun film about a crazy woman that gets pretty cheesy at times (eg. weird "romantic" music montage featuring a sometimes nude Eastwood). And...the main actress is a young Jessica Walter who plays Lucille Bluth on "Arrested Development." 3.5/5
Winter Light (1963) Bergman - Similar in theme to Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest, but in my opinion, Bergman's is the more interesting of the films that center on priests struggling with their faith. A really intense movie that involves scenes where the camera does not move for minutes at a time from a close-up of someone's face. This film has plenty regarding the human condition even for those who care little about religious themes. 5/5
* A really outrageous cult film is going to be released this November. REPO! The Genetic Opera is decribed as "Rocky Horror meets Blade Runner," and features none other than Paris Hilton.
* John Hillcoat (director of The Proposition) is nearly finished with his film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, to be released this November as well. The next Nick Cave collaboration Death of a Ladies' Man is still in "pre-production"
* Not a film, but film-related, I just discovered a podcast called "Left Field Cinema." A British man called Mike Dawson releases a 10-20 minute episode every week. Topics range from the standard review of a new in-theatre release to categories such as "world cinema masterpiece", "contemporary obscurity", "asian avant-garde", and "misunderstood modern cinema." Dawson's analysis often gets pretty academic, but his takes are super interesting and the episodes are so brief. Plus, his accent is just pleasant to listen to...