Monday, September 17, 2007

Movies, Spring & Summer 2007

What I can remember from summer and fall 2007. I guess I'll start a new list on the Equinox!

An amazing film to end summer with, was Good Night, and Good Luck (2005). Wow, the guts it took to create the reality this film was based upon, and then the courage to make the film NOW -- immeasurable. David Strathairn was beat by beat perfect as Edward R. Murrow, but George Clooney wrote AND directed. It is unbelievable to me that it was nominated for so many awards, but won so few. Not a SINGLE Oscar, with six nominations! Courage was admired if not practiced in the past; now I guess it is so rare that it can be almost ignored. Don't ignore this film, though. Imagine if we still had a press with eyes, heart, and backbone?

I guess I'm trying to pack in as many films as possible before the equinox! First up tonight was The Holiday (2006), a pleasant romantic comedy. Very nice to have two leading ladies; both get their groove back by trading houses for a couple of weeks. Perspective really is everything, I guess. Nice to see Eli Wallach with a juicy little part. Unfortunately, he's the only part of the film not totally predictable.

Now, the second film, Caché (Hidden) (2005), by contrast, had my heart in my mouth. The tension builds oh so slowly, until it is nearly unbearable. Daniel Auteuil as Georges Laurent carries the film, like a heavier and ever more painful burden. Juliette Binoche as his wife Anne is as usual marvelous; mystified, angry, and perhaps hiding her own secrets. Maurice Bénichou as the tortured Majid -- I don't know what to say. He has very few lines, but is really the center of the plot. Little is explained, but so much is made clear. My heart is still beating very loudly. I like this film so much that I checked the DVD out of the library, just to view the last few scenes again, and watch all of the DVD extras -- an interview with Michael Haneke, director and writer, plus a documentary about the making of the film. Not much hidden is made clear, however. This is a film made for thoughtful pondering.

Tonight's movie was a real surprise. Although I love Nicholas Cage, Weatherman (2005) was both a painful and pleasureable experience. Filmed in Chicago, it was just beat for beat surprising and *right*. Casting was excellent; special pleasures were Michael Caine as David Spritz' father, and his two children, played by Gemmenne de la Peña and Nicholas Hoult. See this film!

Tonight was a double feature, of two I had seen some time ago. First, Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000), charming but a bit too thin. Not as good as I remembered, especially after just finishing Tales of the City. Fun to see Zach Braff as a frickin' BLOND, and to see him, Andrew Keegan, and Justin Theroux as such youngsters! Second up, Joss Stone's Serenity (2005), which WAS as good as I remembered. I've just *got* to see Firefly, the cancelled series which the movie grew out of.

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) - great film about the classic years of Hollywood; David O. Selznick's Hollywood. Wonderful thread about the Hollywood connections:

Tales of the City (1993) is more of a mini-series than a film, but it has some great moments, and great scenes. Armistead Maupin wrote the novel, Richard Kramer the teleplay. Two thumbs up! All of the commentary on the DVD is worth the listen. I wish it was completely uncut, however.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) is a rather dated character study of a Scottish teacher who gives everything to "her girls", for good and for ill. Fabulous acting by Maggie Smith, however, and a wonderful supporting role as the cold-blooded'Sandy' by Pamela Franklin. I'm stunned that she hasn't become a huge star by now! Celia Johnson is also wonderful as the long-suffering school mistress who finally gets rid of Miss Brodie.

Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991) or Lovers on the Bridge: wonderful! The more I think about this film, the more in love with it I am. Written and directed by Leos Carax, and beautifully acted by Juliette Binoche as Michèle Stalens, Denis Lavant as Alex, and Klaus-Michael Grüber perfect as Hans. What an excellent film.

Another French film, this time a cartoon -- Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003). So unusual, and not for everyone -- it isn't pretty, and the comedy is dark. Absolutely enchanting! Created by the genius Sylvain Chomet who wrote and directed, with music by Ben Charest.

Finally saw Little Miss Sunshine! (2006) Well worth waiting for! Offbeat, funny, and heart-breaking.

Also "finally saw" -- Aladdin (1994)! Much better than I thought it would be; not nearly what it could have been. Oh, well.

Some time in the last few months, I also "finally saw" My Own Private Idaho (1991). One of the posters on IMDb called it a "surreal character study," and that's true, but it's more than that. Not for everyone, to be sure. Gritty, Shakespearean, and bewildering by turn, it is ultimately just REAL. River Phoenix is amazing, and Keanu Reeves as Scott Favor is too.

And we've just finished the entire run of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, of which I watched a bit over half this time around. Someday I hope to finish watching Angel, and then watch both series intertwined as they were originally televised.

Martin Scorsese's insanely great Dylan documentary No Direction Home (2005) was well worth watching twice. Maybe only once if you don't love Dylan's music:

Empire Records (1995) was fun. A bit cliched, but the music made up for that.

Zorro the Gay Blade (1981) -- over-the-top, great fun. George Hamilton is FABU!

The Libertine (2004) was chilling, yet engaging. Johnny Depp is electrifying.

Whale Rider (2002) is amazing! I loved everything about this New Zealand film. Absolutely top-notch. Keisha Castle-Hughes is unbelievably wonderful. She is heart-breaking.

I think I forgot to write about Swimming Pool (2003) before. We watched it quite awhile ago, but I still ponder it, at times. Very interesting film!

M. Butterfly (1993) was a revelation. Such sensitive, beautiful acting, and an excellent riff on the operatic tale of Madame Butterfly. Jeremy Irons, always excellent, plays René Gallimard, based on a historical character, who is in fact still alive. John Lone as Song Liling is electrifying.

The high points of the summer, of course, were Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007), which were both enormous fun. HP just gets better and better, as the story darkens. Pirates was the finale, and a topping good one it was! ARRRRR!

Earlier, we saw Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del fauno, 2006), a dark tale indeed, set in Fascist Spain. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

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