Friday, January 28, 2005

Movies Early 2005

It's a new year; I'll start afresh. Watched Lost in Yonkers (1993) tonight, and I wish I were more impressed. As always, Richard Dreyfuss is wonderful -- all the acting was wonderful, as was the writing (based on a Simon play), the sets, costumes, lighting -- all super. Maybe it was just too leisurely? It lacked that spark for me, to make it compelling. Near miss, though.

Watched an oldie, tonight - The Thin Man (1934). What a delight! Funny, classy, effervescent -- although they didn't drink gallons of champagne, but instead bathtubs full of whiskey! Wow, people used to drink and smoke a lot in "the pictures." I absolutely loved the film, and will watch out for the rest of them. William Powell and Myrna Loy were just delightful.

Well, last night a fascinating film, musical French murder mystery! 8 femmes (2002), known here as 8 Women. One murdered man, and 8 suspects, trapped in a house together: Danielle Darrieux played Mamy, the mother-in-law of the murdered man, and sang my favorite song of the 8. Catherine Deneuve was Gaby, Marcel's wife. Isabelle Huppert was Augustine, Gaby's resentful sister. Emmanuelle Béart was Louise, the maid. Fanny Ardant was Pierrette, Marcel's estranged sister. Virginie Ledoyen was a radiant Suzon, the older daughter, just home for the holidays from college. Ludivine Sagnier was Catherine, the younger sister, and Firmine Richard was Madame Chanel, the cook. Marvelous cast, fun writing, great SET. Fun, fun, fun!

For a complete change of pace, tonight a drama I checked out of the library on DVD, The Circle, or Dayereh (2000) by Iranian director Jafar Panahi. Very powerful, mysterious, haunting, -- banned in Iran. I don't think it is just about religion, just about women, or even just about the authoritarian regime in Iran. It is about humans, and how we can enlarge our circle of restrictions by supporting one another. Great acting, wonderful script, masterful shooting. See this film.

Thanks to Debra, tonight we saw Garden State (2004), which I so regretted missing in the theater. It was just GREAT, and it is unbelievable that this is Zach Braff's first film as director -- and writer! SO excellent! I enjoyed watching the deleted scenes, too -- although I think the film was definitely better without almost all of them. Ian Holm's big scene was wonderful -- too bad it couldn't have fit, but the film was better without it. :( Natalie Portman was good -- almost erased her Star Wars drek in my head - not that it was HER fault!

Tonight was a very wierd echo of last night's Garden State. We saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) which had the shut-down fellow being brought to full life by the full-of-life girlfriend, although that is where the parallels stop. This one zigged and zagged, but while mystifying sometimes, ultimately made sense. The imagery was wonderful, script was intricate but understandable, acting was TOP-NOTCH -- completely enjoyable and satisfying. Carrey & Winslet get better and better with every outing. Check out the DVD for some of the extras, too. Completely wonderful.

Masterful, gripping, chilling. Richard III (1995) is Sir Ian McKellen's staging of Shakespeare's famous tale of murder, ambition and betrayal. Sir Ian is magnificently evil as Richard, and Kristin Scott Thomas as his doomed wife, and widow of his brother (whom Richard murdered) was also GREAT. Jim Broadbent, who I last saw in Iris (2001), was also VERY good as the smiling but ultimately doomed Buckingham. Richard would not honor anything less than total and instant obediance, you see. I also enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.'s small part. Was he smitten with his sister the Queen? Set in a mythical 30s fascist England, Richard III springs to awful and powerful life.

Tonight, watched The Grudge (2004) with Colin. Interested horror film based on a Japanese folk tale, which was first made as a Japanese film. Sam Raimi was interested in bringing it to American audiences, so it was re-made in Japan and Hollywood, with American lead actors, but the original Japanese director and crew, and the same locations, aside from the house. Just being in a foreign culture would be disturbing as well as exciting, and this fact was built into the new script. Creepy, scary, and interesting. Seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar as a character other than Buffy was cool too! She's good, and I hope she can break out of the teen super-hero role she had for so many years as The Slayer. Nice to have no "Hollywood happy ending", too.

More horror - May (2002), Nastasia's movie. Delightfully gory and twisted! Black comedy morphing into horror, mixed up with a little bit of twisty sex. If you can't deal with blood (and sewing), this one's not for you! "If you can't find a friend... make one."

Piñero (2001). I just checked the DVD out of my local library, and was blown away. Benjamin Bratt carried it off totally, and I thought that the back and forth color/black and white and time-shifting was perfect to portray the fractured nature of this troubled genius. I loved the plays and poetry being woven in with the glimpses of popular culture. Great film, although it doesn't quite escape from the biopic genre.

Favorite Movies (mid-2004):

Latest and Favorite Films (late 2004):

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a doorway for the human spirit. - Helen Keller

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