Blind Chance (1987) Kieslowski - Like a Polish Sliding Doors where we see three vastly different outcomes of a man's life, depending on whether or not he catches the train. Interestingly enough, not one happy ending. Initially banned in Poland. 4/5
the Cincinnati Kid (1965) Jewison -Very much like The Hustler, but substitute poker for billiards and Steve McQueen for Paul Newman. Steve McQueen is pretty cool, as usual, and has two ladies pining after him, but overall a straightforward film. 3.5/5
the Fall (2006) Singh - This is a colorful and imaginative film about a paralyzed man and a young girl in a hospital in the 1920s. The man is suicidal and tells the girl a story in order to manipulate her into getting him morphine. The story is enjoyably melodramatic and has an interesting take on the nature of storytelling. 4/5
Gone Baby Gone (2007) Affleck - A young girl has been kidnapped in Boston and Casey Affleck and his girlfriend have been hired as private detectives to help find her. A much better film than I expected as Ben Affleck isn't too shabby as a director, all though the middle third is a little floppy. A few twists and much in the way of moral conflicts keep things interesting. I appreciate that plenty of realistic-looking people appear on screen. Amy Ryan and Casey Affleck both put in great performances, to the point that Affleck's appearance in this film coupled with his role in the Assassination of Jesse James makes me eagerly anticipate his next project. 3.5/5
the Passenger (1975) Antonioni - A man decides to switch identities with a deceased acquaintance. His own life was dull and not worth living, but the man whose identity he has taken was an illegal arms dealer. Obligatory love story included, all though I still have no idea why the woman wants anything to do with the protagonist. 4/5
Pitfall (1962) Teshigahara - A man gets stabbed to death and as a ghost tries to figure out why. Meanwhile, a woman who witnessed his murder is paid off to say that a miner committed the crime, however, she too finds herself as a ghost before too long. Great discordant music and incredibly beautiful. While I did not enjoy this film as much as Woman in the Dunes or Face of Another, Teshigahara has completely solidified his place as one of my favorite directors. 4/5
the Prestige (2007) Nolan - This is a film about obsession and what a person will sacrifice in order to appease that obsession. Two magicians are connected in their love of magic and bonded by a tragic event which results in the two becoming each other's rivals. 4/5
Straw Dogs (1971) Peckinpah -Funnily enough, the first movie that I found myself comparing this to was Home Alone where someone has to defend their home by creatively violent means. However, this film isn't trying to be funny. Instead we get a giant test of manhood where a normally nerdy and even-tempered guy snaps. That's fine with me. What wasn't really fine was the incredibly chauvinistic angle the film takes---to the point where a rape occurs and is depicted in a way that the woman seems like she is enjoying it. 3/5
Wanda (1971) Loden - Considered one of the first independent films, Wanda features very little dialogue and essentially chronicles a woman so dissatisfied with life that she leaves her husband and kids and begins wandering around. She becomes involved in some criminal activities, but still manages to find controlling men who abuse her. 3.5/5
Wild at Heart (1990) Lynch - First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and it is one of my favorite David Lynch films now. A man with a mysterious past runs away with his lover whose mom has put a hit on him. Equal parts Elvis and metal. Crispin Glover yelling "I'm trying to make my lunch!" Allusions to the Wizard of Oz. Willem Defoe looking creepier than you could even imagine. Absurd, fun, and campy. 5/5
Well, Happy New Year...unfortunately I haven't been paying much attention to the news during my vacation. Instead, here are some films that I am looking forward to seeing this year
*the Wrestler (opens this Friday in the East Bay) - I don't care if it is Oscar bait...
*Otto; or Up With Dead People (Jan. 16) - Germans, gay zombies, subtext
*Wendy and Lucy (Jan. 30) - Looked to me like Into the Wild with a girl, but made so many end of the year lists that my curiousity has been piqued
*Donkey Punch (Feb 5) - Trashy British thriller...I know John will come with me to this one!
*Gomorrah (Feb 13) - Once again, many of my favorite critics put it on their best of 2008 lists...an arty mobster film
*the Brothers Bloom (May 15) - new Rian Johnson film...this time a comedy
*Inglourious Basterds (Aug 21) - Tarantino. It is inevitable that I will go.
*Where the Wild Things Are (10/16) - Spike Jonze's take on a children's classic
*the Fantastic Mr Fox (11/6) - Wes Anderson adapts Roald Dahl..yes!