Sunday, 3 October 2010

Long Time...

Right, a few things have happened. I've moved to Berlin. It had been in the cards, but it then all became concrete in a very short space of time, and then I left, and then I had to find a place to live, and now I have and I'm in Berlin and I love Berlin and I am only here for a couple of months so I'm going to try and make the most of it. Of course, I love films, so they are going to keep popping up, but there's no way I'm going to hit my target of 365 over a year - I'll be very lucky to hit 270 I think. Still, a good effort considering.

I'm also way behind on writeups, so I'm going to give some very brief notes on all of those that I'm behind on over the next few entries, spreading them out a little.

First things first:

I'd never seen Oliver Stone's Wall Street until recently. Never. It had always kind of drifted around wanting me to watch it, always there hovering somewhere in the middle of the list of titles I want to pick up. Probably due to the recent release of the sequel I finally got it out. I gotta say, I didn't overly love it. Michael Douglas' performance in it was fine, but even that didn't really wow me. Strong, yes, but not mind-blowing. Some good moments, the 'greed' speech being obvious, but I've never much liked Charlie Sheen either. That phone of Gordon's is hilarious. And sure, it was entertaining enough, towards the lower level of enjoyment. Let's go with 2 stars.

I saw Inception right when it came out in the UK (that's how far behind I was to start, and then the last almost month in Berlin has taken even further behind...) and came out of it really, really liking it. Visually amazing, though goddammit I want to see Leonardo DiCaprio smile at some stage soon - after Shutter Island and then this I'm so tired of his furrowed brow, and I know he can do other things. Joseph Gordon Levitt (future husband) I loved, but I'll love him in pretty much anything, and Tom Hardy gave his character a difference to what one might imagine for his Hollywood breakout - his Bronson promise will hopefully come good. I thought the film as a whole was very cerebral, very clever, but lacked an emotional core. I sense that the Marion Cotillard segments were aiming for it, but I don't think Christopher Nolan managed to pull that off. Now that I think about it, his films always seem a little detached from the heart. It is a terrific film, a very showy piece that doesn't go over the top, and what it does show, it shows well. I don't understand how people found it confusing - if you're paying even half the attention any film deserves, they spell it out pretty clearly as to which dream layer you're in. Very good, but not great, and a couple of months on my desire to rewatch that was very strong after exiting the theatre has become a general feeling that it's not necessary for me to go there again any time soon. Very entertaining, but not earth-shattering. 4 stars.

I was alive in the 1980s, but only just, and I've never much liked the period. It's only recently that the fashion, the music, the general vibe of the decade hasn't grated on me, so I'm putting the blame for having never seen The Breakfast Club right in the court of the 80s in general. John Hughes' seminal teen flick starring Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwals and Ally Sheedy was fun to watch with its broad characterisations and strong stereotypes. As a basic introduction to cliques and generalised judgements of character it works well by keeping it light while introducing us to the characters. Maybe if my viewing of it had been more timely, instead of twenty-five years after the initial release, my opinion would be different. Maybe if I sat down and laughed and watched it with friends I'd have enjoyed it more. That being said, it was fun, but it's not in my own personal canon. 2.5 stars.

Melissa Leo gives a tour de force performance in Courtney Hunt's debut feature Frozen River, which won the Dramatic Prize at Sundance in 2008 and netted Leo a deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Leo is single mother trying to get together the money to pay for her new double wide before the cut off date when she loses her deposit when luck finds her united with a native American people smuggler. On the border of the US and Canadia, the pair take people back and forth between two reservations on opposite sides of the frozen river that is the national border. It's a marvelous story of what two different women will do for their children in very different circumstances. I wasn't a huge fan of the ending, it all felt a little 'righteous Hollywood', but there's no denying the power of Leo's performance. Hunt is surely someone to watch. 3 stars.

When I saw that Caligula was the next film on my list I did kind of laugh out loud. This film is a fucking mess, but a brilliant and hilarious mess nonetheless. It was only after the fact that I realised there are about a trillion different cuts out there, and I saw the tamest, shortest one. I'm half inspired to go and find the original 7000 minute version or whatever, but then I also remember how bad this was, and despite the camp hilarity, do I really want to do that again? Though the cast is terrific - Peter O'Toole, Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, John Gielgud - it is a ham-fisted mess, apparently directed by Tinto Brass though with financing from Penthouse's Bob Guccione really directing the themes of the film and what goes on screen. Caligula is the young heir to the Roman throne, and after doing away with his predecessor takes over, becoming quite popular despite his eccentricities. There's a bunch of debauchery involved. There is incest and intrigue and coercion, and finally Caligula is murdered. It really is a terrible film, but so terrible as to be almost entirely watchable. I will one day hunt down the longer version. 1 star.

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