Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Celluloid #123

In Theaters

Partner (1968) Bertolucci - In hindsight, there was probably a good reason why I had never heard of this film. Starts off well with the tension and paranoia that seems commonplace in late '60s Italian features. Jacob meets his doppelganger and together they devise a plan for revolution based on experimental theater. There are some memorable scenes, like the foam party, but overall this plays out like a parody of foreign arthouse and is just too goofy for my taste. 3/5

Terri (2011) Jacobs - Terri plays like the sad Sundance version of Angus. Once again you have a fat kid, his small crude sidekick, and the pretty popular girl that he befriends after she is shamed. However, while Melissa in Angus has her eating disorder, here Heather's problem is that she is caught getting fingered in Home Ec. causing the whole school to demonize her. Except for Terri of course, because he already feels like a monster. The other main story is with the well-meaning Assistant Principal (John C. Reilly), who often acts too much like a dude and ultimately fucks up a lot. Besides having more energy and a great soundtrack, Angus is the better film, or at least character. The two leads both demonstrate that they have heart, but Angus at least has a brain, while it's unclear if Terri is just overly naive or actually a little slow. 3/5

the Trip (2011) Winterbottom - Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden go on a trip through Northern England under the pretense of restaurant reviewing. Each man represents a different path of adulthood. Rob is a family-man; mediocre, but with low-brow popularity due to his knack for impressions. Steve is more of a ladies' man with limited success in art house films, capturing critics' hearts, but not a grander audience. While both men an be funny in their ways, I rarely found myself laughing at anything. 3.5/5

In Home

Marwencol (2010) Malberg - Really incredible documentary about a man with a brain injury that uses art as a form of therapy. Mark was the victim of a brutal attack, and when he could no longer receive traditional therapy, he started constructing an extremely detailed town out of dolls to enact stories. The town is set in war ear Belgium, but many of Mark's friends appear in alternate form as characters. Mark himself has an alter ego (which looks like a Nicolas Cage doll), and often these stories end up being at least influenced by events in his life. He also takes photographs of the dolls posed in different scenarios, and I cannot emphasize enough how strangely moving and good these are. Eventually he gets discovered by a photographer and an art magazine editor, and they set up an art show for him. Highly recommended. 4.5/5

Night of the Shooting Stars (1982) Taviani - During the end of WW2, two groups of Italians fight against one another. Our main character is 6 year-old Cecilia, and we see the war essentially through her eyes. Some incredibly tragic events transpire - pregnant women killed in bombings and children being shot point blank. It's not always easy to know who to root for. 3.5/5

Play it Again, Sam (1972) Ross - Allan's wife Nancy wants a divorce to live a more "swinging" lifestyle. Allan's friends try to ease the blow by setting him up on dates. The most awkward dates in history. Of course he falls for the wife of the couple who are trying to help him. Initially this is because he doesn't recognize her as an option and therefore can just be himself. She's also pretty neglected by her husband, leaving the opportunity for their friendship to turn into something more. 3.5/5

Radio Days (1987) Allen - Plays like short stories from the '40s. Most deal with one particular Jewish family living in Brooklyn, but others focus on more peripheral characters, and include War of the Worlds, commercials, and human interest themes. A glimpse of old timey Brooklyn and nostalgic fun, but pretty fluffy. In some ways, people seemed to be more connected to one another because they were all listening to the same thing. 3.5/5

the River (1951) Renoir - Too much voiceover, too much imperialism, too much emphasis on traditional gender roles, and too much cheesy technicolor melodrama. 2/5

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