Monday, December 22, 2008

Celluloid #29

In Theatres

Rachel Getting Married (2008) Demme - Kym is allowed to leave rehab to attend her sister's wedding. The wedding itself is the most multicultural/postracial gathering you will probably ever see, and in a way rings false. Also, this film is trying so hard to be cool. The lead singer of TV on the Radio is the groom, and random musicians are around to play music all throughout the film. That being said, I actually did enjoy this film. I'm a sucker for family drama that rears its head at special occasions, and the two lead performances by both Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt are quite good. There isn't a ton of plot, and many scenes are just drawn out observations of wedding activities...dancing, eating, awkward toasting, etc., but nonetheless pretty and was worth my $3. 4/5

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Boyle - A young man from the slums appears on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and is one question away from winning the maximum amount. There is controversy over whether he is cheating or not, and the film itself turns a bit gimmicky by showing scenes from his life to demonstrate how he happened to know the answers. Primarily this is a love story. A story about fate and people destined to be together. Not exactly my favorite type of story or portrayal of love, but since you are asked to suspend disbelief fairly early on, I just went with it. The ending gets really sappy, to almost vomit-inducing degree and is salvaged in my mind by the ironic-seeming dance number (I don't think I'm spoiling anything...) I think the praise for this film is a bit extreme, but a fun movie anyway. 3.5/5

Zabriskie Point (1970) Antonioni - Oh man. This out of print film from Antonioni was not very well received upon its release, and its easy to see why. For the most part, it feels like a generic throwaway film from the 1970s...essentially a road movie with bad dialogue. However, there are stand-alone scenes, often that have nothing to do with the plot that remind you that Antonioni is still at the helm. An old cowboy sitting alone at a bar. Sex scenes in the sand. Long takes of alien desert landscapes. Also, this ending is right near the top of this list for most satisfyingly bizarre endings (keeping company with Herzog's Stroszek) 3.5/5

In Home

Encounters at the End of the World (2007) Herzog - Herzog's Antarctica documentary about the scientists who live on that hostile continent. Of the one thousand inhabitants, most seem to come from the United States, and all seem a little off. Herzog is still obsessed with the terror inherent in nature, and still keeps his camera on interviewees for longer than one is comfortable with. It's nothing new in his repertoire. 4/5

4 Little Girls (1997) Lee - A Spike Lee documentary about the civil rights struggle in Birmingham during the early 1960s. The film centers around the events of the 16th Street Baptist Church and a bombing that resulted in the deaths of four girls. 4/5

In a Year with 13 Moons (1978) Fassbinder - A very personal film for Fassbinder about a man who undergoes a sex change to attract the attention of the man he loves. There are some terrifying scenes in a slaughterhouse, one involving auto-erotic asphyxiation, and plenty to emphasize a profound sense of loneliness. 3.5/5

2008 Highlights
Films Released this Year
A Christmas Tale (Desplechin)
Let the Right One In (Alfredson)
Man on Wire (Marsh)
Milk (Van Sant)
My Winnipeg (Maddin)
Synechdoche, New York (Kaufman)
Films New to Me This Year
After the Wedding (Bier/2007)
the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dominik/2007)
Devils on the Doorstep (Jiang/2002)
Double Life of Veronique (Kieslowski/1991)
the Face of Another (Teshigahara/1966)
La Strada (Fellini/1954)
Le Samourai (Melville/1967)
Mean Streets (Scorsese/1973)
Rififi (Dassin/1955)
Shadows (Cassavetes/1959)
the Silence (Bergman/1963)
Woman in the Dunes (Teshigahara/1964)
A Woman is a Woman (Godard/1961)

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