Friday, March 1, 2013

Monthy Round-Up: February Viewing

 In February I watched a total of 32 films. A heap of French Film Festival screeners, and interestingly, a pair of John Hughes classics for the first time.  I also watched three Steven Soderbergh films - The Limey and his new thriller Side Effects for the first time, and Contagion for the second. Re-watching Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained were my top cinema experiences, along with West of Memphis and Cloud Atlas. The films I have written a feature review for have a link. For the others I have supplied brief thoughts (Tweet/Letterboxd reviews).

New-to-Me Films (In Order of Preference)

---------Essential Viewing---------

West of Memphis (Amy J. Berg, 2012)

Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer)

Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Lana and Andy Wachowski, 2012)

The Limey (Steven Soderbergh, 1999) - Stylish, moody revenge/crime drama edited to economical effect. Great dialogue and an intense performance from Terrence Stamp.

The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985) - Five teens from different social circles confront their insecurities and find unexpected friendship in 80's Hughes classic. Found it substantially more dramatic than expected, with the character's individual transformations endearing. Great performances.

Sixteen Candles (John Hughes, 1984) - A forgotten birthday results in a less than memorable day for Sam (Molly Ringwald), but while desiring the attention of popular hunk (Michael Schoeffling), she catches the eye of a geek (Anthony Michael Hall) and over the course of a night - and a wild post-dance house party - their plights influence one another in unexpected ways. Genuinely hilarious, and featuring some great characters and dialogue, this rambunctious coming-of-age comedy was a lot of fun.

We Own the Night (James Gray, 2007) - Crime drama as focused on character/family as drug war. Gray constructs impressive set pieces (including stunning car chase). Joaquin Phoenix is terrific.

 La Jetee (Chris Marker, 1962) - Trippy, contemplative sci-fi about memory and the mechanics of time has a terrific idea and unique, innovative execution.

---------Essential Viewing---------
Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh, 2013)

OZ: The Great and Powerful (Sam Raimi, 2013) - I quite enjoyed OZ: THE GREAT & POWERFUL. Funny, with a clever idea of telling a new story within Oz, creating interesting ties to '39 classic. James Franco and Michelle Williams particularly well cast, but Kunis and some hit-and-miss CGI effects let it down a little. Should prove to be some 3D fun for the whole family.

I Give It A Year (Dan Mazer, 2013)

 In the House (Francois Ozon, 2012)

A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman (Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, Ben Timlett, 2013) - 3D animated reflection on the fascinating life of late Monty Python member Graham Chapman. Homosexual, alcoholic, genius. Different animation styles are seamlessly collaborated with all the quirk of Python sketches, accompanied by Chapman's narration, recorded just years before his death in 1989. Though a tad long, taking some strange tangents, it felt like a very personal journey, hilarious and troubling, an innovative way to honour Chapman's intelligence and life.

Barbara (Christian Pentzold, 2012)

Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006) - Loved immediacy of the opening in MIAMI VICE, and the lack of finality, but Mann's serious update is stylistically inconsistent & convoluted. I liked the confident bravura Foxx and Farrell brought to the mission, and the repercussions placed on their masculinity and professional pride.

Out of the Blue (Robert Sarkies, 2006) - Compelling re-creation of 1990 New Zealand small-town shooting massacre. Admirable focus on local fear, confusion and courage.

Louise Wimmer - Tight, intimate vignette-style social realist drama dealing with a desperate woman's financial hardship. She has debts, a low-paying job she is on the verge of losing and is living with few belongings out of her car. She is forced to pawn her belongings and ask for help from her friends. Quite a miserable film at times, but it's well-made (thoughtful photography and use of music) and acted, and affecting.

Looking For Hortense (Pascal Bonitzer, 2012)

Another Woman's Life (Sylvie Testud, 2012)

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - Out of control. Colourful yet preposterous kid flick moves so fast the flimsy plot can't keep up. Visually, pretty incredible. First MADAGASCAR was okay, and youngsters will likely marvel at the visuals and unashamed silliness of sequel, but adults will tap out early.

Big Night - Middle-aged mohawked, dog-toting punk and his straight-laced brother repair their differences in this narratively-sparse oddball French comedy.  Not much happens, but pair's lifestyle, parking lot loitering and consumer-defiance is...obnoxious. Sense of humour, overall, missed the mark.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (Tommy Wirkola, 2013)

Cherry on the Cake (Laura Morante, 2012) - Veteran Italian actress Laura Morante has co-written and directed (in addition to starring in) this pleasant enough but extraordinarily slight French romantic comedy. Morante stars as Amanda, a woman her friends believe suffers from Anthrophobia, a fear of commitment to men (though there is never any evidence of it). At a New Year's Eve party she meets and bonds with Antoine, a man she is incorrectly led to believe is gay. His marriage is unraveling and he attends alone. She falls for him, and he for her, but once he learns of her confusion he decides to play along (and Amanda's friends keep the truth from her as well), pretending to be gay until she is close enough to him not to set up her natural defenses. The premise is interesting, but for almost the entire 82 minute duration, it is thrown around with very few laughs or dramatic developments. Both characters are frustrating to watch - two sad souls who we expect to be happier if they dropped the facade and supported one another through their emotional wreckage - with Pascal Elbe especially weak casting. A generic French romcom soundtrack accompanies the tiresome events, but poor pacing and lack of any level of psychoanalytical probing results in no cherry and pretty dry cake.

Feu by Christian Louboutin (Bruno Hullin, 2012) - Feu might work in 3D. Some of the captured Crazy Horse performances are impressive, but lack of interview insight results in a shallow and genuinely boring study of the infamous shoe designer's contribution to the cabaret show.

Movie 43 (2013) - Unimaginably horrible.

Re-watches (In Order of Preference)

Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann, 1992)

Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)

Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, 2012)

Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012)

The Perks of Being A Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)

The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009)

Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)

1 comment:

  1. Busy boy! I'm glad you squeezed in a rewatch of Last of the Mohincans. That needs to be done frequently.