Thursday, December 3, 2009

Celluloid #69

In Theaters

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Anderson - I think stop motion animation will always be an enjoyable sight to see. It holds true for this film, especially in moments of scurrying or eating at fast speeds. In many ways this feels more like a children's film than the other hipster nostalgia film of the season, Where the Wild Things Are. A lot of the adult situations and dialogue will undoubtedly go over the heads of most kids, but at the same time, this is a pretty silly movie. The villains are cartoony and there's plenty of spectacle. 4/5

In Home

Atlantic City (1980) Malle - A failed, aging  mobster falls in love with a young woman who works at a casino. He seems like he just needs to prove his masculinity through his relationship with Sally and by offing a couple of bad guys. Sally is trying to make a life for herself in the wake of her estranged husband's death. I found the May-December relationship very unbelievable, but I know Malle has addressed similar themes in his French films to greater success. 3.5/5

Dark Habits (1983) Almodovar - Oh those crazy nuns with the heroin, acid, lesbianism, and erotic novels. Totally campy, encompassing the zaniest fantasies one could dream about a convent while kicking off Almodovar's filmography in fine fashion. 4/5

51 Birch Street (2006) Block - At first I was put off by the self-indulgent nature of this documentary. Who really finds their family so interesting to make a film about it? However, the issues surrounding how marriages function, ideas about love and romance, happiness, how one expresses themselves outwardly compared to inner emotions all proves to be pretty universal. I found myself fascinated by family dynamics, particularly between children and their parents. 3.5/5

the Hurt Locker (2009) Bigelow - A tense and seemingly realistic portrayal of the war in Iraq. We follow a group of soldiers who are responsible for dismantling bombs. While we might not know much about the soldier's individual backgrounds, its easy to see how war has affected their psychological make-up, rendering some useless for anything besides adrenaline-driven tasks, and other reduced to whiny babies. I appreciated the visual style, shifting from filmic artsy sequences to shakier digital-feeling scenes of combat. Lastly, without being too overt, the film makes the war look confusing and lacking in reasonable or tangible goals or objectives. 4/5

Like Water for Chocolate (1992) Arau - This was one of the first successful crossover films from Mexico. The novel and movie gained notoriety for their eroticism, especially linked with food. A daughter is prevented from marrying her love because her mother wants her to become her caretaker in old age. Because Tita is not allowed to express her emotions, she channels them through her cooking. When she is sad, her tears alter the recipe. When she bleeds into another dish, her pent up sexuality gets eaten by everyone else. I'll be writing a paper on this film in conjunction with the Cook, the Thief, the Wife, and her Lover in the next couple weeks. 4/5

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