Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week. My internet went out for nine freakin' hours today, so I'll just shoot thru this.

FLIGHT (2012)
While spending a decade making motion capture movies, director Robert Zemeckis apparently forgot how people work and made a cloying, self-important, completely obvious, overwrought TV movie with a wildly overpraised central performance. I also didn't like the much-praised plane crash sequence, which starts off genuinely suspenseful but then just gets edited, zoomed, and scream-narrated ("Oh, god! Now we've lost the LEFT engine!!!!") into just another movie scene. *

Here. This movie has been surprisingly polarizing. I've gotten some flack from people for being so "harsh" in my review, but to be fair, the movie's a tedious waste of time with zero depth or coherence. *1/2

RIFIFI (1955)
Excellent heist flick from Jules Dassin, director of Topkapi, another excellent heist flick. The centerpiece is a half-hour long sequence of the heist itself, completely without dialogue, which only increases the tension. As I keep saying, silence is really the great attention-getter and suspense-builder. It's a masterful film. Another one of those films that I'm sorry it took me so long to see, but also glad that I'm getting this wonderful surprise at an age when I too often feel like I've seen most of the greats I wanted to see. Movies like this, nearly 60 years old though it is, almost make me excited about watching movies again. Stylish, engrossing, fun. ****

I'm not really interested in discussing Quentin Tarantino flicks anymore. At this point, you know what he's about, you know what his movies are, you know they're going to be long and self-indulgent, and either you enjoy them by now or you don't. I enjoy them. I enjoy them a lot, but I found this latest to be not as good as the rest of his filmography. Since Pulp Fiction, I've always seen a new Tarantino film and felt like it was even better than the last one. This is the first time I didn't. This is the first time where I really felt like Tarantino was using the running time in a less interesting way. Which isn't to say that I didn't like it, because I liked it very much. I'm just saying that the last half hour or so takes the long way 'round the barn to get where it's going. Varying performances; liked Jamie Foxx, loved Christoph Waltz, was mesmerized by Samuel L. Jackson's downright scary performance, and thought Leonardo DiCaprio fit the tone of the movie even though his performance was more or less DiCaprio begging for an Oscar. Great soundtrack, of course. Even slightly lesser Tarantino is better than a lot of movies released in a given year, so I look forward to seeing it several more times in the course of my life. (Oh, and as for the much whined-about acting cameo of Tarantino himself, who honestly gives a damn? He's not there long enough to derail a sequence that didn't even need to be in the movie, and the "Tarantino can't act and is a distraction" meme is long played out. I get it, he's polarizing somehow.) ***1/2

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