Sunday, April 11, 2010

Celluloid #82

In Theaters

Date Night (2010) Levy - Last night I got suckered into seeing this romantic comedy for the married set. I like Steve Carell and Tina Fey in their respective shows, but I'm not a fan of them in starring roles in films. For two people who are often very funny, this movie rarely brought any laugh out loud moments.(The bloopers and a moment when my roommate gasped at a lizard featured in one of the previews elicited more chuckles) I didn't have high expectations, but even still, found myself getting annoyed with predictable lines and plot conventions. 1.5/5

In Home

Beauty and the Beast (1946) Cocteau - Surrealist take on the classic story. I enjoyed the old school special effects. In addition, in this version, the Beast exchanges outer appearances with the "handsome" man who originally asked for Belle's hand. 4/5

City Lights (1931) Chaplin - Chaplin is charming as ever playing the "Little Tramp." He falls for a blind girl who works at a flower shop. She believes him to be a wealthy man and he helps her get an operation for her eyes, knowing that she may reject him once she can actually see his shabby appearance. Abrupt ending, but nice in its irresolution. 4/5

the Draughtsman's Contract (1982) Greenaway - In 17th Century England, the lady of an estate makes an arrangement with a local artist. For twelve days, he will produce twelve drawings of the house and landscape as a gift to the woman's husband. In exchange, he will get full room and board and twelve sexual favors. 3.5/5

Innocent Voices (2004) Mandoki - While any story about the heartbreak of child soldiers should be incredibly moving, I was too annoyed by the hammy child actors. The film focuses on the terrors of turning 12 - the age when soldiers forcibly recruit boys into the military. They can try to hide or join the guerilla forces, but every option is a loser. 3/5

Lorna's Silence (2009) Dardenne - Lorna is in a sham marriage with a junkie in order to obtain Belgian citizenship. Her partner wants to kill the fake husband because it's quicker than getting a divorce. Lorna has a little more compassion and wants to avoid murder. She is put through the ringer for her humanity, which isn't all that surprising considering the brutality of many of the Dardenne brothers films. 4/5

Machuca (2005) Wood - At an all-boys Catholic school, a progressive priest decides to integrate some boys from the poorer neighborhood with the current students who are primarily children of the elite. Meanwhile, socialist president Allende has come to power, much to the frustration of the upper class. Gonzalo and Pedro (one of the new boys) become friends despite their class differences. 3.5/5

Phantom Museums (1979-2003) Quay - Stop-motion animation in the lineage of Jan Svankmajer. These shorts are creepy and surreal and have been featured in contexts as varied as MTV, art museums, and the film Frida. 4/5

the Searchers (1956) Ford - A John Wayne vehicle where a family is massacred by a tribe of Indians. One of the young girls is believed to have been adopted by the tribe. For five years, Ethan and Debbie's brother search for her. Once they find her, she doesn't want to leave. Whether this is chalked up to love of the Indians or brainwashing is unclear. There is some pretty blatant racism, but that mostly has to do with how this film has dated. Perhaps one could even argue against the racism, but then you have to side against the protagonist. 3/5

28 Days Later (2002) Boyle - Zombie film where nearly all of England is infected by a virus unleashed from a research lab. Our protagonists are a group of four: Jim, a former bike messenger; Selena, a tough and sexy black woman; Hannah and her dad. They band together in search of a military rescue station, but once they arrive, they are confronted with the ugliest side of humanity. 4/5


Ian Wolcott said...

I finally watched Chaplin's The Great Dictator, on your recommendaton. It was wonderful. Thank you.

Roman said...

you're definitely not supposed to side with the protagonist
while watching The Searchers.