Thursday, April 29, 2010

Celluloid #83

In Theaters

Cracks (2010) Scott - Moody film featuring a predictable plot, but a great amount of tension and awesome, surreal, slow-motion diving scenes. A group of girls at a British boarding school are threatened by the addition of a new girl from a wealthy aristocratic Spanish family. She's beautiful and talented and has become the new teacher's pet--completely against her will. 3.5/5

In Home

Babel (2006) Inarritu - Once again Inarritu presents us with a series of intertwining stories, this time taking place in four different continents. The title alludes to the difficulty and confusion that come with a diversity of language and culture. This film is a bit of a mess, but not as bad as I remembered it upon first viewing. I was personally most attracted to the Tokyo storyline about the deaf-mute girls, but I have to acknowledge that is was the least connected to the other stories...3.5/5

la Collectionneuse (1967) Rohmer - Two men and a young woman live as roommates in a country mansion. At first the young woman is ignored or berated for her promiscuity, but after a while, both men pursue sexual relations with her (to varying success). 3.5/5

the Fifth Element (1997) Besson - In the future, a cataclysmic event is about to occur and can only be prevented by aligning ancient artifacts with the "fifth element" - a female alien-type. This film is flashy, colorful, full of action, and essentially the definition of a pop film. 4/5

Leon: the Professional (1994) Besson - A 12 year-old's family gets killed by a dirty cop during a drug bust and she seeks refuge with her neighbor, who happens to be a sensitive hit-man. I think this is the strongest film in Besson's filmography that explores the idea of turning young women into killers. (See also La Femme Nikita and even the Fifth Element) 4.5/5

Manhattan (1979) Allen - This film was the epitome of Woody Allen - neurotic, relationship-obsessed, and featuring a pairing between a 17 year-old girl and a 40-something man. Admittedly, I do not worship at the altar of Allen, so I found this movie to be fine, not something to drool over. People are cheaters, brokenhearted, or all too willing to compromise - all of which makes love look like a bad idea. 3.5/5

Maya Deren: Experimental Films (1943-1959) Deren - Lots of dance incorporated into these short films. Choreography is used as a stylized way to represent interactions. This is a fine collection of films, but as a side note, as I am being exposed to experimental film, I cannot help but compare this genre to poetry, by which I mean that both forms work better for me within the context of a narrative. One can use poetic language in a novel or experimental techniques within a film to make the overall artifact stronger, but each on its own leaves seems often a little silly. 4/5

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) Altman - Revisionist Western that actually takes place in the Northwest. The title characters are essentially small business owners of the local saloon and brothel. Men from a larger business or trust seek to buy McCabe out. After he refuses, he faces severe danger to his life. Leonard Cohen soundtracks this film where everybody seems to be having a rough time. 4/5

Salesman (1968) Maysles - Documentary about Bible salesmen that provides a series of snapshots into peoples' homes. In addition to our glimpse into Middle America, we also get to see the inner workings of the salesman trade, including motivational conferences promising reward or punitive measures. Lastly, we see the casual racism present in the language of these aging men. 3.5/5

1 comment:

Pete said...

nothing says BURNING CHURCH like "suzanne"