Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week. Frankly, I'm a little high on prescribed antidepressants right now, and I'm kind of pissed that Blogger ate my first draft, so I've not really got the energy for full reviews. So here we are:

PARIAH (2011) **** Beautiful film about identity.

A SEPARATION (2011) **** Fascinating look at the Iranian legal system, gender relations, and class relations.

THE SITTER (2011) ** Not as bad as you've heard, but still a miscalculation. Another attempt to make a John Hughes movie that actually wouldn't be bad if it was remotely funny. All the other elements are right there.

HYSTERIA (2011) * Film about the invention of the vibrator in Victorian England, stupidly played as though it were tremendously hilarious. Because why make an interesting film about gender relations when you can make an idiotic, shrill drawing-room comedy for the type of people who think hearing the word "penis" is shockingly naughty and hilarious? This flick really seems to think it's going to make ladies faint and gentlemen drop their monocles.

CIRCUMSTANCE (2011) **** Beautiful, sad Iranian film about two girls who fall in love with each other and how their opportunities for happiness are taken away from them in a country that doesn't value their happiness. Why am I seeing so many of the best films of last year just now?

THE AVENGERS (2011) **** Detailed thoughts here.

(On a side note, I was disappointed to see someone leave a long comment on the post and then delete their comments. I didn't necessarily agree with your points, but they were interesting points. I don't mind if you disagree with me, I just don't want to be attacked personally for my irrelevant opinions, and you did nothing even close to that, so I very much appreciated what you had to say.)

SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME (2012) **** Saddening but fascinating PBS documentary detailing one of America's worst human rights abuses--the kind of thing we're always chastising other countries for. I didn't realize just how large and detailed and thoroughly dehumanizing the post-Civil War program of leasing African-American prisoners was. I was already well aware that an African-American at a certain point could legally be arrested for loitering and put in a prison work detail; I just didn't realize before how profitable it was and for how long someone could be kept ground down under this arrangement. It's a disgusting event from our often-disgusting history, and something that went on for far too long, sometimes with federal knowledge. I admire Teddy Roosevelt, but finding out here that he could turn a blind eye to this kind of abuse for the sake of the Southern economy is disheartening in the extreme. I also didn't realize the large role this played in popularizing the misconception (read: filthy lie) that black people were more "apt" to be criminals.

NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS (1958) *** I think it loses something in the second half when the plot gets a bit convoluted, but Andy Griffith is just so dang likable. I really would've loved to see him do more movies in this time period. He does guileless innocence here as compellingly as he did dangerous charisma in A Face in the Crowd. Maybe I'll watch The Andy Griffith Show... it's on Neflix and I've never actually seen it before.

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (1958) **1/2 So much distracting bluescreen... Stilted; it misses the sweep of the sea and the drama of the old man's life that was such a part of the story (pretty much the only Hemingway work I ever liked). Instead onscreen it's just Spencer Tracy sitting in a boat in a studio tank.

WIN WIN (2011) ***1/2 Thomas McCarthy's third film isn't quite the graceful connection that The Station Agent and The Visitor are, but it's still an amiable film with a grain of truth in it. I particularly liked Amy Ryan, who I want to see in so many more movies.

DANCE OF THE WEED (1941) ***1/2
MRS. LADYBUG (1940) ***1/2
Really well-animated Rudy Ising cartoons for MGM. His work never had the easy grace or the fulfilling storytelling of Disney, but they're not wastes of time.


phoniexflames said...

Hey there. The person that deleted their comment? That was me. I posted something of the same thoughts in a forum that I frequent, and was attacked pretty hard for it. When I piped up and said that it was just my personal opinion from my personal experience and that the attacks were kind of petty, I was told by one of the moderators that it was the way that I had presented my thoughts that had garnered such a negative response. That confused me a little, because what thought what I said wasn't ripping on anyone for liking the movie, and I didn't feel like I was taking away from anyone else's enjoyment of it. So instead of trying to make my case further, I just pulled down what I said where I could.

I am a longtime reader of your blog, both here and at hobotrashcan, and enjoy your critiques and thoughts a lot, and the last thing I wanted to do was make you as angry as the people from the other forums for not enjoying the film as much as you did for different reasons that I tried my best to articulate as neutrally as possible. I should have given you more credit than the people whom I had such a bad experience with on that board. I'm sorry about that. I will go back and repost what I said.

SamuraiFrog said...

Well, if you're a longtime reader you probably HAVE seen me fly off the handle a lot at comments, but your didn't seem personal to me at all. I always try to do the same thing--just present my personal opinion from my personal experience, which is what I said a bit in that review. I think The Avengers is one of those situations where people are enjoying it so much that any less-than-total-abject-adoration come across to some as ruining the experience, which is... well, you've read what I had to say about that on Hobo Trashcan.

But yeah, your comments were very interesting. Like I said, I don't necessarily agree with them (I mean, obviously, given my review), but I didn't think they were negative towards me and what I thought, which is like a dream for a comment that disagrees with me. I think I've inadvertently created an atmosphere where people think I don't want to experience any contrary viewpoint, when really it's just that I don't want to be called names or disrespected.

Sorry you had such a negative experience in a forum. I can't even go into forums anymore because of things like that.

Devilham said...

I loved the Andy Griffith show...he's kind of like a superhero in a way (the sherrif that is)

Roger Owen Green said...

I saw Slavery on a larger screen at the U Albany a couple weeks before it aired on TV; quite affecting. And TR disappointed me too.