talktooloose: (Saints in Love)
Last night, we watched "Going Places (Les valseuses)," a 1974 Bertrand Blier film, starring a young and shockingly hot Gérard Depardieu. It's a loose, giddy 70s movie about two childish, violent but charming young criminals on a rampage of spontaneous crime in the name of living a free life.

I think in the context of the time it was made, it was a kick in the crotch to the establishment and we are supposed to be rooting for the two criminals and identifying with them as they twit the bourgeoisie and let out their rage against anyone in authority.

The movie works very well, but the misogyny is pretty off-putting. It's like to the filmmakers, there are only two archetypal women: mothers and wives, and both are seen as stifling hypocrites who must be fought against and degraded. The women in the movie either resist this abuse and "get what they deserve" or awaken to their own sexual and societal freedom by being slapped around and threatened with rape. heh, having written this last paragraph, I'm angrier at the film than I was when i watched it.

And it's hard to say if Miou Miou, as their muse and eventual crime partner, actually has the most power in the trio by the end.
talktooloose: (fucktard)
Last night, we watched the 2004 movie, "A Home at the End of the World," based on the Michael Cunningham novel.

The first half hour is so luminous and magical that it makes the rest of the incomprehensible exercise in wrongheadedness maddening in the extreme. In fact, the only things that kept me going during that last annoying hour were Colin Farrell's eyes (which I could stare at all night) and wondering if Robin Wright Penn was ever able to exact revenge on the hair and makeup department.
talktooloose: (locke_destiny)
We watched Into the Wild this weekend and I'm still reeling from it. I spent half the night in a half sleep trying to help Chris cross the river.

All the awards shows are so lazy. It's too unrelenting and idiosyncratic to have been nomianted, I guess.

This is an extraordinary, unique film that is as disturbing as it is inspiring. Performances, cinematography, editing, structure. All startling. As usual, narration might be cut.
talktooloose: (crestfallen_sidekick)
***SPOILERS FOR ROME SEASON 2 AND SOPRANOS SEASON 6***

We just finished watching our way through Rome Season 2 which ended the series rather abruptly. What a fucking mess.

The show was beautifully designed and acted and much of the direction was good, but the writing was often fucked up. The writers didn't really understand Roman society or that the values were far different than Anglo-Saxon values.

The basic gimmick of the show was to follow both the famous historical figures (and their less famous friends and relatives) while simultaneously showing us scenes from the "lower orders". The historical stuff ultimately worked much better. This divide became wider and wider in Season 2 as the historical stuff rose a notch (even without the brilliant presence of Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar) while the plebian stories descended into historically inaccurate claptrap and melodrama.

The creators, as I understand it, were told about the show's imminent cancellation quite late in production. The last two episodes, in which they attempted to cram a lot of shit in too quickly, were ridiculous and often hilarious.

Lucius Vorenus has run away from Alexandria with Cleopatra and Anthony's son Cesarion because Octavian wants him dead. Octavian sends Titus Pullo out to find him, not knowing that Pullo is actually Cesarion's father and will attempt to aid the escape.

First night in the desert, Vorenus and Cesarion are bonding around a campfire when suddenly Pullo shows up and there's a big "Hey, friend, how you doing?" Pullo goes on to say that 10 legions are looking for the boy. Wow, and yet Pullo found them in like 12 hours in the middle of the desert. Impressive. Even more astonishing that Vorenus wasn't, like, hiding at all and allowed a man on horseback to get within 10 meters of them before he noticed. Let's not even talk about the open campfire.

The other big problem in the season was the casting of Cleopatra. The actress had no chemistry at all with James Purefoy who played Anthony in the season's best performance. This lack of chemistry sunk the whole ending.

In the long run, this show needed a sense of otherness that was mostly absent. To really be drawn in as viewers, we needed to see how differently Romans thought and felt about issues than we in the 21st Century do. It is by doing the work of seeing through this otherness that the viewer becomes involved and empathizes at a deeper and more disturbing level.

As I watched the utterly predictable death of Gaia, I found myself comparing it to the death of Christopher on the Sopranos. The latter death was horrifying. It was unexpected and yet inevitable. It threw a wall between us and Tony and, disturbingly, made us culpable as we wondered if he'd get away with it. It was impulsive, brutal and so, so simple and underplayed.

It was "otherness" personified. Our time in the Sopranos' New Jersey gave us a sense of travelling farther from our centre than Rome's world ever did. Rome was a tragic waste of talent and resources.
talktooloose: (puppy_jump)
OMG, gonna have a little musical theatre orgasm here...

How is it I didn't know about this? Tim Burton directing the movie of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd?

Coming this Christmas?!

Starring Johnny Depp as Sweeney and Helen Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett?!!

Hell, Yes!!

I watched the trailer which included a bit of Johnny singing the Epiphany. Smart, smart Timmy! Sweeney doesn't need to have an operatic voice, he can be all low menace!

Sweeney always works best when it's done with a sense of macabre and bloody fun. Who better than Burton?

I'M SO EXCITED!!
talktooloose: (Perky!)
Two quotes (plus the above) from 24 Hour Party People:

"Jazz is the last refuge of the untalented. Jazz musicians enjoy themselves more than anyone listening to them does."

"And tonight something equally epoch-making is taking place. See? They're applauding the DJ. Not the music, not the musician, not the creator, but the medium. This is it. The birth of rave culture. The beatification of the beat. The dance age. This is the moment when even the white man starts dancing. Welcome to Manchester. "
talktooloose: (slam_naked)
As I decided what to prepare for breakfast this morning, I was very pleased to note I had all the ingredients for a Turkish breakfast in the house: bread, olives, tomatoes, yoghurt and feta cheese! mmmmmmmmmmmm

Last night we watched 24 Hour Party People which is going to be a movie I have to watch 2 or 3 more times. It is the story of Tony Wilson and rise of the Manchester scene in the 80s and early 90s, with special stops at Joy Division, Happy Mondays, New Order and birth of Rave culture.

The movie is a beautiful celebration of anarchy and faith in human potential, even when that human potential is completely wasted in a heroin stupor. Michael Winterbottom and an amazing ensemble create a tightly controlled movie that feels entirely spontaneous and loose. Amazing photography and sound and a real understanding of what makes music great or sucky. Inspiring!!!

I love Steve Coogan.

In other news, I am working four days instead of three this week and it sucks and my body hurts. This will be a major exercise in "boo-hoo" for the majority of you who work five days a week and don't have time to LJ in between tasks.

Sunshine

Oct. 29th, 2007 01:57 pm
talktooloose: (Phoenix)
I don't know when the North American release date for the Sunshine DVD is, but our video store got in an Asian release and we watched it Friday night.

This is, hands down, the best science fiction movie of the last 20 years, unless I've forgotten something. No, not Space Truckers.

The movie takes place in the not-too-distant future. The sun has suddenly decided to ramp down and the Earth is cooling towards extinction. A last-hope mission is sent off in a portentously named ship, the Icarus, with a big nuclear device to restart the star.

Not only was the movie beautiful and superbly acted, but it worked on "real" and metaphoric levels with equal vigour and never lost track of its themes. What especially excited me was the way that the journey from the Earth to the Sun became a de facto journey into abstraction. The crew left Earth amid hoopla, carrying the hopes of billions on their (uniformly attractive) shoulders but soon entered a realm of isolation and individual doubt which mirrored the physical space they were travelling through.

The movie starts as they enter the zone where solar interference will cut them off from communication with home. That is the first level of isolation in the movie. The process will continue as the number of the crew dwindles and as symbolic and metaphoric concerns take on a larger and larger part of their world.

The creators of the movie recognize that this movement into metaphor is inevitable. As the sun looms closer and closer, protean and deadly, the crew can't help but see divinity and fate in its fires.

Furthermore, an early visualization in the movie lets us know that eventually the A.I. that runs the ship will be useless as relativistic forces close to the sun make known physics less and less applicable. In the end, we are signalled, it will be up to human will, human intuition, the realm of the soul whether mankind survives or not.

In fact, the greatest danger the mission faces is in the form of a human who has become twisted under the philosophical/religious/metaphoric pressures of the situation.

The fact that Danny Boyle and company can make a film which works this way and stays coherent is nothing short of remarkable.

Would I have done things differently in the last act? Probably, but I'm not sure anyone could have done it better.
talktooloose: (marvel_boy)
I found the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated at the library and thought it would be a mildly diverting if incestuous look at the world of movie rating in the US.

I had no idea!

The MPAA, a secret board, has the fate of so much culture in their greasy little fingers! Things I learned:

  • If a film gets an NC-17 rating instead of an R, it's unlikely to get onto any but a handful of screens and that can also bugger its international distribution because it was less successful in the States.
  • The MPAA has a whole building full of lobbyists in Washington (compared to Apple, for instance, who has one in a rented office) and they work non-stop to get copyrights extended, piracy laws enhanced and to prevent the development of consumer electronic technology in any way that does not directly benefit them. For instance, your next TV may be unable to play any content that they don't deem legit.
  • While violence, often misogynist violence, gets PG-13 ratings, sex is much more frequently censored. While this is common knowledge, the details are interesting. In several cases, a woman having a long, vivid orgasm (camera on her face) had to be cut to get the movie from NC-17 to R. In one case, her pained face on penetration was apparently fine, but her subsequent ecstatic face was not. And queer sex? See below.
  • When your film gets a rating, you can submit a new version but they won't tell you what earned you the higher rating in the first place. You have to guess.
  • When you appeal a decision you may not quote precedent: "But they did exactly that in such-and-such a film and it was PG-13!" "That comment is out of order."

The following video clip is from a section that demonstrated the homophobic bias of the reviewers. On the left are clips from queer-themed movies which were rated NC-17. On the right is the same sex act in an R-rated het movie.

Thar be NSFW smut and injustice!

If you want to share this clip, please copy it to your own server and do not hotlink to it. Thank you.

The movie is also hilarious as they hire a team of detectives to identify the secret board members. Lots of great interviews from Matt Stone, John Waters, Kimberly Peirce, Atom Agoyan, Kevin Smith and more who have been through the ratings mill.
talktooloose: (I See!)
It's a hot smoggy day and I'm hiding in the basement post-spamming!

Two recently viewed movies and why they work and don't:

  • Pan's Labrynth: The secret to the success of this film is that both the "real" and "fantasy" sides of the story make use of archetypal characters. If del Toro had made the Spanish Civil War sections more nuanced and ambiguous, it would have rendered the fantasy sections just an escape for the girl. In fact, the movie invited us to see the hard lessons of fairy tales in the world around us and to view the world as a place where real moral decisions can be made.
  • Fur - An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus: I enjoyed aspects of this movie, especially the performances but it ultimately fails. It is reductive and kind of insulting to imagine that Arbus' whole aesthetic moved into the rooms above her. It reduces the painful process of artistic discovery to a simple key-and-lock exercise. Very disappointing considering how good the writer/director's (Steven Shainberg) first movie, Secretary, was. He made Nicole Kidman do exactly the same investigative moves as Maggie Gyllenhaal did. In fact, Fur was the same movie as an artist biopic.

Also, Nicole Kidman is making a habit of playing revolutionary female artists who later commit suicide. Too bad Sylvia Plath's just been done. Also, also, I have the hots for the guy who played her husband, Ty Burrell (despite his stupid name). It amused me to learn that the character he played, Allan Arbus, later went on to be an actor, most notably as the recurring psychiatrist character, Sydney, on M*A*S*H.

Speaking of fairy-tale movies, François Ozon's Les amants criminels, is a trip and a half. Hansel and Gretl as alienated French killer teens and the witch as a horny, gay woodsman who teaches Hans about love. The Disney/Tarantino ending is just.... wow, dude.
talktooloose: (Default)
We finally saw Pride and Prejudice last week. It was awfully fun and the acting ensemble was in fine form. Good sense of class and economic reality (for instance, they didn't make the country ball too chic and rich) and the colours were spectacular. That being said, the cozy little finale where she gets the rich rich rich man and she's all happy yet supposedly still pure and true to herself made me retch a bit.

Then we saw this totally brilliant film by Don Roos (who also wrote and directed The Opposite of Sex). This one, I never even heard of: Happy Endings. Another bit of brilliant ensemble work including Lisa Kudrow
and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Hilarious and quite sad and totally surprising throughout.

Finally, we're watching our way through season 1 of the BBC series MI-5 (which is called "Spooks" in the UK). It's okay. The melodrama is a bit underwhelming but the political intrigue is very cutting and tough. It stars Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice but without the sloppy hair. He's got delicious eyes, a wonderful nose and a stick up his ass. Don't know yet if we'll bother with the other four seasons. I'm guessing the cute black guy with tiny shoulders will be revealed as gay at some point.

EDIT: Finished MI-5 Season 1 and we won't continue. It's too rushed with one major world terrorist action per week and no time to really care about the characters. And the cute black guy turns out to be a (very unconvincing) serial womanizer. HA!

June 2012

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