Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celluloid #71

In Theaters

the Road (2009) Hillcoat - aka "The Most Depressing Film of the Year! (Decade?)" The "End of the World" has already happened, and a man and his son trudge along trying to find food and escape from cannibals and thieves. They head towards the coast, all though it is difficult to see how anything will be different there. This film is bleak- the colors are all grays and browns. Nick Cave provides another harrowing soundtrack (much like his contribution to another Hillcoat film the Proposition). Some of the most tragic scenes involve the man teaching his boy how to commit suicide with their pistol. If one can handle the heavy weight of this film, I think it is really well done, and worth watching. 4/5

In Home

Beat Girl (1960) Grenville - Total B-movie with lots of dancing, lip-synching, and angst. Jenny finds out that her new young stepmother used to be a stripper...and perhaps Jenny will become one too. In addition to the stripper storyline, there's a lot of talk about the generation gap, as these teenagers were born right as World War 2 was ending. 3.5/5

Dead Man (1995) Jarmusch - William Blake comes out West after his parents' deaths. The job he was promised has been filled and through the course of some events, he accidentally ends up killing the son of the factory boss in town. Blake is taken in by an American Indian who thinks Blake is the poet William Blake. This Blake's poetry now becomes his shooting. Very stylish, deliberately paced, funny, and extremely grotesque. I first saw this film while I was in college, and I still love it. 5/5

Five Days (2007) Curtis - I'm not really sure why my parents own this BBC/HBO co-production miniseries, but we've been watching it the last couple of nights. The story is a pretty simple detective story about a woman and her children who get abducted. Both children are discovered within days of the kidnapping, but the mother provides a bigger mystery. I thought the story was fine, but I'm not sure why it had to be stretched out to a five hour ordeal. 3/5

Medicine for Melancholy (2009) Jenkins - Definitely captures the San Francisco hipster experience (down to the lax hygiene and weed culture) and tackles the idea of modern romance (or lack thereof in some cases). Micah and Joanne have a drunken one-night stand that neither remembers the following morning, but after some time of embarrassment and awkwardness, the two decide to spend the day doing stuff around the city. In addition to this sorta love story, the film also addresses the complexities of race. Micah and Joanne are both black hipsters in a city where only 7% of the population is African-American; of that 7%, perhaps 1% is a part of their scene. They talk about gentrification and racial identity without coming off as preachy, and meanwhile hit up the MoAD and the Knockout. 4/5

Sugar (2009) Boden & Fleck - Sugar is a baseball player from the Dominican Republic. He gets called up to play in the minor leagues in the US. Immediately he is confronted with culture shock and a sizable language barrier. Under a lot of pressure, he succumbs to injury and a few bad games. He's all too aware that this arrangement in the leagues serves to use players until there's really nothing left, then send them back to wherever they came from. Also, filmmakers: stop using "Hallelujah" in your movies...even if it is in Spanish! Enough! 4/5

Superstar: the Karen Carpenter Story (1987) Haynes - Notorious biopic using Barbie Dolls to tell the story of the Carpenters and Karen's struggle with anorexia. The performance scenes are actually pretty amazing to watch. In between Barbie-acting, the film is interspersed with stylish found footage and facts about anorexia. It's pretty hard to find because Haynes never got permission to use Carpenter's songs legally, but such a fascinating approach to a usually boring genre. 4.5/5

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