Sunday, July 1, 2007

July 2007 mini-reviews

7/28- Rescue Dawn (2006, Werner Herzog) [6] {Most certainly Herzog's most conventional fiction film, but still very Herzogian in its observation of the details of Dengler's story. Bale's performance feels overly fussy at the outset, but once he gets in the camp his work becomes more effective, or maybe I'm just saying that because he's acting opposite Jeremy Davies, twitchy as ever. Steve Zahn is sort of a revelation as Bale's escape companion, as frightened and doomed as Bale is determined. Still not sure about the "up" ending, but it's not nearly as jingoistic as I've been hearing.}

7/24- The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick) [****] {May be the 2001 of horror movies, reconfiguring the DNA of the traditional fright flick into trippy, uncompromising art. Like 2001, it ends up falling down the rabbit hole into another, more twisted dimension, and by the time it's over you realize that it asks more questions than it answers. Perhaps the key to the movie is that Danny knows that, as Halloran told him, the visions are "just like pictures in a book. It's not real." Whereas Jack lets them get to him, and they drive him off the deep end. Also, Garrett Brown is a god.}

7/15- Paprika (2006, Satoshi Kon) [5] {Meh. Some clever and well-drawn dream imagery amidst a muddle of convoluted narrative. Never boring, but doesn't exactly make the heart leap either.}

7/14- Private Fears in Public Places (2006, Alain Resnais) [8] {Although honestly I'll have to watch this again to be able to really appreciate what's going on in a really deep thematic sense. Mostly I just grooved on Resnais' direction, as prone to experimentation now as it ever was. There's got to be more going on here than people failing to connect (reflected in the shots of people talking through screens and panes of glass and the like), but for the first viewing the style is more than enough for me to chew on.}

7/9- Sherlock Jr. (1924, Buster Keaton) [****] {In the old days before CGI, when an enterprising director wanted to do something that hadn't been done before, he figured that shit out or he didn't do it. Thank goodness for Keaton, who took the former route, and it led him to big-screen immortality. Plus this is just really goddamn funny. But I mean, duh, it's Keaton.}

7/7- Pride (2007, Sunu Gonera) [4] {These sports movies might wash better with me if I was a sports fan, but I'm not. Is there a screenwriting program out there that allows people to input their true inspirational sports stories so they can be spat out in screenplay form? Terrence Howard is solid as expected, and I liked Bernie Mac as well- he does his avuncular-grouch routine here, but doesn't really play it for laughs as much as usual, and his expressive face could prove well-suited for more dramatic roles in the future. Otherwise, this is pretty mediocre stuff. Under the circumstances, could it possibly have been otherwise?}

7/4- To Be and to Have (2002, Nicholas Philibert) [***] {Most successful documentaries work because they illuminate what we don't know already, or at least what we don't know that well. However, nearly everyone has gone to school, yet this still works beautifully because it reminds us of things we've long forgotten. That coloring requires deep concentration. That playing in the rain or snow can be a whole different kind of fun. That the only thing worse than writing in cursive is learning to write in cursive. That a field trip or anything else out of the ordinary can be exciting. That there's always one new kid who cries on his first day. And, above all, that there was a time in our lives when the idea that nothing stays the same forever was still a novel idea to us.}

7/3- /Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg)/ [****] {In today's bigger-is-better blockbuster climate, it's a little amazing to think that one of the most popular movies ever (not adjusted for inflation) eventually boils down to three guys in a boat, hunting a shark. Not only are the guys interesting, but Spielberg wisely sticks with them once they've cast out to sea. This is the rare big movie that actually becomes smaller-scaled as it progresses, and that's why it still works. As far as movies like this go, JAWS is perfect.}

1 comment:

Steve said...

Just finished Day Night myself -- funny how, deep down, I suspected that the key line of dialogue was going to be, "Wil you please eat with me? I don't want to be alone."