Monday, March 05, 2007

TIME FOR A MOVIE ROUND-UP

I just don't have time to put any real thought into writing about "cultural" stuff these days. The no-look-hand-pass mp3 blog thing is incredibly easy - post the song, write some inane text and boom, there you go. Yet here's an attempt to provide a bit of a peek into some films I watched over the past month. Perhaps there are some titles that you recognize. Perhaps, like me, there are some that you will enjoy. Please allow me to continue:

DESPERATE MAN BLUES - I was so excited to find a DVD documentary about legendary record collector Joe Bussard that I bought this thing without knowing a thing about it, & after watching it I'm glad I had the gumption to do so. The DVD's actually two docs in one - one made by an Australian crew a few years ago about Joe & his foibles, and another similar one made by heroic archivists Dust-to-Digital just last year. If you have a place in your heart for the thrill that comes from rescuing some incredible pre-WWII musical artifact from oblivian (which Bussard has built an entire life on) or from hearing it, then this snapshot of a true American giant is for you. A-

THE DEPARTED - Watched this the night before it took the Oscar for best picture so I could say I'd seen at least a couple of the films that were up for the award.....like just about everyone, I dug it. For a 2 and 1/2-hour movie, it moved quickly & played like a great thriller, and I thought the concept of setting up the two different "rats" in the Boston police force and playing them against each other was pretty clever. Even Leonardo DiCaprio was great. Good one, Martin. I'm not sure that guy's even made a movie I can remember since "GoodFellas", and the only thing I remember about that one was the whole funny-like-a-clown bit..... B.

PAN'S LABYRINTH - Believe the hype - very enjoyable, fantastic dazzler about a young girl who escapes her mother's shacking up with a sadastic fascist military commander during the encroaching Spanish civil war by inventing an alternate-but-parallel below-ground reality, full of spooks both comforting and terrifying. Much more violent and creepy than I'd anticipated, which was all well & good. Very well done, just don't take yer little ones. B+.

DEATH OF A CYCLIST - I ventured to a historic San Francisco theater to watch the revival of this 1955 Spanish film directed by Juan Antonio Bardem, about an adulteress and her lover who mow down a cyclist on a back road, and then spend the rest of the movie writhing with guilt. I was a little taken aback by the horrifyingly moralistic way the film wraps up, and the syrupy strings & weeping melodies that came up during every dramatic moment made me feel like the film was more 1945 than it was 1965, if you know what I mean. I guess I was a little disappointed, but that Lucia Bose was quite a dish. C.

THIS IS NOT A PHOTOGRAPH - THE MISSION OF BURMA STORY - For Burma fans only, is what I'm recommending. A documentary on how the band made their way back to live & recorded action a few years ago, very well done & with some outstanding archival footage as well, but maybe lacking any sort of broader theme beyond "Mission of Burma are back and isn't that great?". B-.
TALLADEGA NIGHTS - Absolute garbage, full of clunking jokes and bizarre non-sequiters that go nowhere. Only thing I laughed at were "Ricky Bobby's" redneck kids, but this one was snapped off about two-thirds of the way in. Excruciating. D-.

10 comments:

Possum Jenkins said...

"The Departed" is a remake of a movie from Hong Kong titled "Infernal Affairs" that came out in like 2002. "Infernal Affairs" is such an incredibly good movie (5 stars in my book) that now I'm a bit afraid to see "The Departed" because I don't want to be let down. Thanks for the tip about the Joe Bussard documentary, I heard a great story about him on NPR about 3 1/2 years ago.

luKe said...

For me, THE DEPARTED is the first remake of a movie that surpasses the original. I saw INFERNAL AFFAIRS on an Asian film festival in 2004, quite liked it but THE DEPARTED goes much deeper.

In 2007, I myself very much enjoyed INLAND EMPIRE, KHADAK, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, CA BRULE, THE HOST, WEED, SCREAM OF THE ANTS, LES ANGES EXTERMINATEURS and one real masterpiece called SUMMER PALACE.

Anonymous said...

Jay, I can't believe you liked The Departed. My friends and I found ourselves laughing our asses off about halfway through the film, given how bad the over-the-top acting and dialogue was. Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson and Mark Walberg were all so uniformly awful, they actually made DiCaprio look OK. I LOVE Scorcese's earlier (1972-1990) films, and am glad he won a belated Oscar just for the hell of it, but if he hadn't also made the outright shocker, Gangs Of New York, I'd rate The Departed as his worst movie. Last year's Best Film at the Oscars was the truly horrific turkey, Crash, and this year it's The Departed. I just don't get it...

- Dave Lang

Seanrude said...

I have to agree with you about Talladega Nights. Absolutely awful which is unforgivable given the rich material they were working with. If you can't get some laughs making fun of Nascar, you should not be making movies.

SKM said...

As a Bostonian, I was impressed with much of the accuracy of The Departed -- updated from the HK original to fictionalize Whitey Bulger, the head of the Southie Irish mob until he skipped town after being tipped off by the FBI. There were a few piss-poor accents (esp. the psychiatrist), but not as bad as the average movie that claims to be about Boston.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I can understand why a Rudy Giuliani fan and seanrude would despise "Talladega Nights." I'm sure Ann Coulter hated it, too.

Me, I laughed my ass off.

Let's hear it for Baby Jesus!

luKe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

I laughed really hard at some scenes in Talladega Nights -- the saying grace scene was a mini-masterpiece, and John C. Reilly was funnier than Ferrell throughout -- but man, I had to turn it off halfway too. Worst pacing I've possibly ever seen in any movie! For every belly laugh, a good 17 minutes where I didn't even grin! Totally bizarre experience (and I wasn't high).

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Sure, it wasn't as good as Borat. But any mainstream movie that jams it up the colon of nitwit Jesoidanity is okay with me.

daryl licht said...

I second your recommendation/opinion regarding Joe Bussard and the "Desperate Man Blues" DVD.

Man, if I'd only been taking a similar tack (going door to door, "Hey buddy, ya got any records lyin' around that ya wanna get rid of?") in the late 80's/early 90's when so many fools were just dumping their vinyl (and often for cheap!) in favor of CDs, who knows what amazing scores I would have made/how much bigger/better my record collection would be!