Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

This one, about a man in an iron lung who wants to lose his virginity and hires a sex surrogate, took me by surprise. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was nice that they left the cliches out, focused on the characters, and proved that someone could still make a movie about relationships and what sex means in our lives that was an hour and a half long. ***1/2

WAR WITCH (2012)
Riveting, powerful film about a teenage girl forcibly recruited by guerrilla fighters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her ability (possibly) to see ghosts makes her valuable as a "war witch," though that won't do anything to stave off the death that surrounds her, threatens her, and briefly becomes an unavoidable part of her daily existence. Hard to look away from, but very rewarding. ****

NO (2012)
Interesting film about the 1988 vote in Chile on whether or not to continue the Pinochet dictatorship. Gael Garcia Bernal plays the man who looked at the "vote no" campaign and steered in the direction of modern advertising. It's very interesting to see how politics can be packaged and sold as marketing. I like the look of the film; it's shot in the 4:3 aspect ratio and a grade of film that looks like watching the news or home video in 1988. It took me right back to the time period. ****

In reference to what I said about the way No looks, one of my favorite things about The Master is the way it looks, sounds and feels like a film from 1950 (if 1950 had had the modern ratings system). It's a film that envelops its 1950 setting by replicating how the films from that period have shaped our relation to the period. The film is not the expose about the "church" of scientology that a lot of people hoped for (it never mentions the "church" by name), but it's a character piece about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who is lost and becomes fascinated with the Master (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a very persuasive man who is involved with something called the Cause. The parallels are obvious. What the film doesn't focus on is whether or not the Master is a charlatan, but what exactly Phoenix's character sees in him and the things he says. I think that's a very interesting film to make, and I find this one has really stayed in my memory and given me more and more to think about. It's impossible to dismiss. ****

This is where the basic formula settles in. After Paranormal Activity 3, which was surprisingly good, this one tries for a fresh viewpoint (teenagers instead of some skinny white dude obsessed with his camera equipment), but the tension isn't quite there. It's not as scary and doesn't work that same weird spell the others do. It's not bad, there's just nothing really interesting about it. ***

RZA had a chance to make a kung fu/Western/exploitation/wuxia mash-up, so he went all in and threw everything he could think of into the damn thing, and why the fuck not? This flick is fun as hell. I feel like the golden age for these kinds of modern grindhouse flicks has either already come to a close or is rapidly getting there, so it's nice to get one that feels like it's by someone who loves those kinds of movies. ***1/2

SKYFALL (2012)
I've been loving the direction of the reboot-era James Bond, but as much as I really dig the first two, this one really takes it to a whole other level of greatness. I'm really going to just direct you to Jaquandor's post from November, because I would just be reiterating what he says there. ****


Tallulah Morehead said...

To me, the odd thing about Skyfall is that Bond's mission is to protect M from the bad guy, and while he kills the bad guy, the bad guy kills M. Bond FAILS at his mission! That's a first!

There are several big differences from all previous Bond films. For instacne no leading Bond Girl. I'm sorry, but an elderly Sir Judi Dench is not a "Bond Girl." Moneypenny was a supporting player at best.

And then there was the villain's whole plot. Did he want to start WWIII? No. Rob Fort Knox? No. Nuke Miami? No. Wipe out mankind and star over? No. Rule the world? No. He just wanted to humiliate and kill one old lady, using insanely huge ploys to do so. It was petty. Petty on a huge scale, but petty.

And then there was the scene where Bond finally has sex, and they cut to fireworks outside a casino. Holy To Catch a Theif, Batman. We're lifing cliches from old Hitchcock movies?

It's only Craig's third Bond movie, with him getting his 00 in the first one, and he's ALREADY saying he's a dinosaur? A little early for him to be thinking he's obsolete.

But there's no question that it's a highly enjoyable movie, had a fabulous villain (This is a guy who hunts fleas with H-Bombs), and Daniel Craig took his shirt off a lot more than he did in the lame last one. I did enjoy the trip to Bond's childhood home. Who knew he grew up in Wuthering Heights. I only recognized Albert Finney by his voice. Hard to beleive, looking at him now, that 50 years ago, he was up for the role of Bond.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Thanks for the link! You rock!!!