Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Celluloid #21

In Theatres

Last weekend I had the option to see Oliver Stone's new satirical film, W. or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist...I opted for the former. Many of the complaints about this film focus on the timing of the film (why release this now while Bush is practically a lame duck?) and the intended audience (who is this film for? liberals? Republicans?). I personally didn't have a problem with either of these issues. It makes sense that this would come out now while Bush is still on peoples' radars but on the back burner considering the current election. Also, the film does seem to paint Bush in a somewhat sympathetic light, but mostly he comes off looking like a drunk, manipulated fool with "daddy issues." The family drama, however fictionalized, between Bush Sr. and Jr. was my favorite aspect of the film. Ultimately, however, this film isn't very good on a purely "film"' level. It felt sloppy and uneven and given the topical nature, will be extremely forgettable. W. has its moments, but in the end I cannot really recommend it. 2.5/5

In Home

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) Fassbinder - Basically the German 1970s version of Jungle Fever. An old widow meets a much younger Moroccan man at a bar and the two strike up a romance. They are very kind to each other, but in both of their social circles and families, there is a strong feeling of disapproval and sometimes outright racist sentiments. 4/5

Bird People of China (1998) Miike - A surprising entry by Miike. None of the usual absurdity and gore, but instead a touching story about a jewelry gem trader, a yakuza, and their guide who end up in a small Chinese village where a legend about flying "bird people" exists and they even have a "flying school" where young children learn to use man made wings. The young jewelry man also meets a young girl who sings a song in English that seems to have a great spiritual impact on him. 4/5
Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven (1975) Fassbinder - The second Fassbinder film this past week, but definitely the inferior piece. Starring the same old lady actress, but this time her husband kills himself at work, but not before managing to kill his supervisor. Her estranged daughter takes this opportunity to obtain her 15 Minutes of Fame, and a group of Communists, and later Anarchists take advantage of her. Also has two widely different endings, one for the European and one for the US release (I think usually a bad sign). 3/5

Once (2006) Carney - I have resisted seeing this film...it looks like a sappy love story and it's a musical to boot. However, as much as I wanted to not like it, my cynicism began to melt away not too long after the start. It feels like a small digital indie film rather than an obnoxious Hollywood romance and whatever "love story" exists is far less cheesy than expected. The "musical" aspect results from the fact that there is very little dialogue in this film and many scenes center around the songs that the two main actors are writing or performing. Basically just a story of two lonely people...a street musician and a Czech immigrant. 4/5

Solaris (1972) Tarkovsky - This science fiction classic still holds up remarkably well today. It's easy to see its influence on contemporary entries to the genre, such as Sunshine. You really don't see much of "Space" at all in this film, but you do experience the claustrophobia of the ship and the psychological effect that this cramped isolation can have on an individual...in this case physically manifesting itself as persons from one's past. Eerie, stark, and stylish. 4/5

In News
* Ridley Scott has already begun work on his next project, slated to star Leonardo Dicaprio in the well-read Huxley novel Brave New World

* Oliver Stone has started working on his follow-up to the lukewarm W. with a film having something to do with Vietnam called Pinkville

1 comment:

Yinger Yanger said...

Yeah Josh Brolin's interpretation of Bush is not any better than what's been done on SNL. So rent it?