Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Weekend plans

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

We may try the Petaluma Film Festival for this Saturday’s festivities.  Here’s the event’s home page. Dinner somewhere interesting in Petaluma and then catch the 7:30 program of shorts.

Briefly considered alternative: The Beaches of Agnes at the Sonoma Film Institute. It’s a French thing (as you’ll quickly notice), but for a moment there I thought they were making a sort of pun on ‘beaches’ / ‘bitches’ and that it might apply to the movie.  But I suspect I’m totally making this up on my own.

Sunshine Cleaning

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

A nice little movie. Nothing really heavy here, or particularly hilarious, either. If watching people make stupid choices in their lives bothers you, this might be a tough movie to endure.  But in the end, father and daughter each manage to stop doing something stupid in their lives.

I couldn’t help but note the different kind of character that Amy Adams plays from when I first noticed her in “Julie & Julia“. On the other hand, the Alan Arkin character seems so similar to the character he played in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (which is a great movie).  Makes me wonder about other characters I’ve seen him do that I can’t quite remember, but may have that same sort of hustle-to-make-a-buck but not too bright aspect.

What’s really fun to watch is the DVD extra of the interview with the 2 women who actually own and run a biohazard & crime scene cleanup business.  They observed a few of the un-real things in the movie that I did – such as – if you find parts of bodies on the job, you dont’ just toss ’em in the garbage with all the other stuff, you leave them right where they are and call the authorities and let them know they need to come back and finish their work. And the movie doesn’t really capture the gooey messiness of objects that have been soaking in bodily fluids for a while. Particularly floors. You don’t just give the kitchen floor a thorough mopping or give the carpet a really good shapooing – you have to rip up subflooring to remove blood, etc, that’s soaked in.

Yeah, the movie can be sort of grisly, but nothing over the top.

Darjeeling Limited

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

This movie so Wes Anderson.  It has a lot of the same feel as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  There’s even the cameo appearances of Bill Murray at the beginning and end.  Very similar color tones – bright, contrasting with the very understated emotional tones, long takes with lots of lateral camera movement through objects. The “extras” on the DVD shows how they filmed it on an actual train – although highly modified to allow camera and crews to have the angles for shooting.  I did feel a bit uncomfortable at the portrayal of Indians (in India, that is) as “exotic landscape”. But the ending scene when they finally throw their father’s luggage away and head off into their future is so apt.

Walk Hard

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

(more catching up)

I like watching John C. Reilly. This movie is correctly categorized in the Netflix library as a parody of the rock star biopic. The other instantly recognizable actor in it is Tim Meadows, of SNL-fame. (“you don’t want no part of this shit”) It can be a bit much on the parody. There is no message in the movie – the main reason to watch it is to see what sort of silliness the production thought up.

Phantom of the Opera – the 2004 movie

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This is the only version of this I’ve seen.  I’ve not seen a live theatre production. I’ve not seen other films of this. Nor any “adaptations” of this story, either.

It’s a weirder story than the impression I was getting from others who’ve seen it and talked about it.  Unlike Beauty and the Beast, in this story the Beast loses the girl. Despite her offering love and acceptance (well… at least one loving kiss near the end – “thanks for the singing lessons”). But she’d rather go with the rich young handsome (and law-abiding, too) Compte than with the tortured soul that’s … er … uh … something.  A gift for singing tutor and leading lady selection??  After all, Mr. Phantom is so twisted up in his misery he kills people and destroys lots of property.  Can the girl’s love rescue his soul? Apparently not. Well, is that sad, or is that a relief!

It certainly does play in emotional tugs. And not just a few tugs, but more like sturm und drang. The back and forth with the flashbacks is neat, though. Although I get lost in keeping track of the characters between the two time periods. I’m not sure who the woman is at the auction.

And like “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane, the role of the little monkey-music box seems very device-only. It simply shows up at the begining, in the middle, and at the end. There’s obviously supposed to be a connection, but I missed it. It’s only a plot device to connect the flashbacks and flashforwards. No explanation given for why this box means anything to anybody.

And since I’m in a curmudgeonly mood, I think the musical numbers drag on too long.   It’s almost 2 and 1/2 hours of movie and could really be chopped down to 2 hours easily by shortening the musical numbers. Not that 2 hours is some goal in itself, but that the musical numbers get their point across, with a little extra for the singers to show off their beautiful voices, but then don’t stop and let the story resume.

Avatar – speaking of movies

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Went into town to the IMAX theater and watched Avatar in 3-D.

It’s a cool movie.  Visually stunning. But I suspect that in a few years (not too long, really) people will see it again and wonder what all the fuss was about. Banal story. Trite dialog. Noble natives bearing spears and bows and arrows prevail against massively overpowering technical military might. Totally populated with archetypes.  Although someone in the group I went with said that it does a good job of adding to the archetype of the driven-only-by-profits businessman. The material he’s after is called “unobtainium” – sheesh!

One big leap I had to overlook was why the local natives would allow one of the avatars into their inner circle of cultural training. They make it clear they know they’re avatars – they call them “dreamwalkers”. They know (or ought to for crying out loud) that a dreamwalker can “fall asleep” at any moment if the folks back in the lab decide to break the connection to the avatar. Why would you trust any such fake-being into your tribe?  (oh yeah, the little fluffy things are attracted to the avatar… whatever…)

But the big “oh give me a break” is at the end when the big bad business people and their military force are walking back to their ships to leave the planet. The natives stand above them and watch, glowing in their victory, as their enemy leaves with defeat written all over their faces. Come on!  All this means is that big bad business will be back – with a take-no-prisoners attitude and no attempt at any sham of diplomacy. They want their unobtainium and they’ll get it next time – and they won’t putz around with avatars.

Serendipity – a great tirade

Friday, February 19th, 2010

A week or so ago, I watched the movie Serendipity. It’s a total romantic comedy. Nothing particularly special about it.  In the throes of the flu, it was about as much movie as I could watch.

But there’s this great line in it that sorta echoes my sentiments about all the crap-ware that’s foisted off on us by the technorati. Sexy web stuff, time-wasting social networking of every merest utility, etc.

The character is trying to get a kid to divulge the previous tennants of an apartment. The kid is resisting and claiming privacy laws. Finally, he explains to the kid whose privacy is being protected…

Pimple-faced college drop outs who have made unhealthy sums of money forming internet companies that create no concrete products, provide no viable services, and still manage to generate profits for all of its lazy day-trading son-of-a bitch shareholders. Meanwhile, as a tortured member of the disenfranchised proletariat, you find some altruistic need to protect these digital plantation-owners?

Yeah!