1. Watched a bit more of Romancing the Stone. Again, this was the first time I saw any of it in ca. 20 years. Frankly, I would have watched Jewel of the Nile on Instant, had it not been in the wrong A.R. Instead… [Netflix Instant}
2. Hamilton (2006, Matthew Porterfield) I’m a great admirer of the much-buzzed Putty Hill, and am sorry to report this is a dry run that fails to overcome charges that Porterfield condescends to his low income subjects (which is not the case with P.H.). His camera stares blankly, but still judges for wasting lives, having kids at 17, etc. Minimalism still striking, though. [B-/C+] [Netflix Instant]
3. There’s a lot of Richard Lester on Instant, a director I was quite smitten with in college. Rewatched bits of The Knack and How I Won the War. Last third of the former still delightfully uneasy. The latter still uneasy uneasy. [Netflix Instant]
4. I’m going to get around to watching all of Foreign Correspondent (1940, Alfred Hitchcock), one of my favorite Hitches, over the span of ten days one of these days. [ditto]
1. Angel (2007, François Ozon) Amusingly sarcastic anti-biopic with wildly ambivalent take on its horrid protagonist. Can’t exactly sustain a full two hours and eventually succumbs to the genre’s faults, but still a nifty machine and awesome awesome Romola Garai. [B/B-]
This was the weekend two very good friends married eachother, so I was mostly away from movies, TV, YouTube, etc. I also drank way too much or just enough depending on how you look at it. Regardless, I found time for:
1. I Am Number Four (2011, D.J. Caruso) [D+] [theatrical, for work]
2. A good stretch of Romancing the Stone (1984, Robert Zemeckis), my first in ca. 20 years. [Netflix Instant]
3. Easy A (2010, Will Gluck) “Let’s Bucket List this bitch.” [B] [DVD]
4. This, whose little troll dance I will one day learn and perform in public and never get laid again. Nice B&W texture, Hammer & Tongs!
1. /Ne Change Rien/ (2009, Pedro Costa) Saw it projected this time, which does make a lot of difference. On video this still looks video; projected on film, save the two bright scenes (including the finale), it looks like the most gorgeously lit B&W film this side of Tarr. There are several levels on which this film can be enjoyed, and this time I was mostly grooving on the lighting. Or lack thereof. [A-] [screening]
2. The Adjustment Bureau (2011, Gregory Nolfi) [C+/B-] [screening]
1. Belatedly caught up with the near-smackdown delivered to the human race by our new computer overlord, who has decreed Toronto is now a U.S. City. [YouTube]
2. Madea Goes to Jail (2009, Tyler Perry) I am one of many, I assume, white critics who have never seen a Tyler Perry film in its entirety. Chose this because a) it’s apparently indicative of his style without being too unbearable and b) it’s on Instant. Basically what I expected: crazy tone shifts between broad comedy and earnest drama. What I didn’t expect is that the former is actually pretty bearable. Sorry, but Madea is kind of amusing, albeit less so when she’s wielding guns and destroying sports cars. At least as her — and definitely not in his beyond dull straight role — Perry has sharp timing and deploys his insults with elan. How about that.
Then I went to bed, unaware that something bad but not physically bad was going to happen to me in the morning.
I’ve been freaky sick all weekend, which means I’ve had lots of time to lie in bed, feel sorry for myself and watch movies. Early on, I made a semi-conscious decision to revisit classics I hadn’t seen in roundabout a decade, which is why I did up two Hawkses (Ball of Fire and The Big Sleep, 1946 version) and, piqued by Mike D’Angelo’s revisit not long ago, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This fest turned into a rather lurid rekindling of passions with Preston Sturges, with re-vieiwngs of The Palm Beach Story, Hail the Conquering Hero and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. About the former: holy shit I forgot how awesome and twisty-turny this picture was. My new favorite Sturges. Who wants to start an Ale and Quail Club?
I also, for the first time, took in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935, Leo McCarey) and A Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948, Max Ophüls), two pictures I can’t wait to keep revisiting for the rest of my life.
1. Finished The Philadelphia Story (1940, George Cukor) So loose and unpredictable — Stewart’s never been cooler, plus many freewheeling drunk scenes — and yet it’s still my least favorite of the big three Hepburn-Grants. [A-] [DVD]
2. Whimsically watched the first third of Spartacus (1960, some guy). [YouTube]
3. Krull (1983, Peter Yates) I am not an 11 year old boy, and yet there’s still a charm to this, notably in the ridiculous production design and in the way it kills off almost all of its characters, sometimes cruelly. (Example: the selfless badass pictured.) Lindsay Crouse is noticeably terrible even when dubbing another, probably even more terrible actress’ lines. [B-?]
4. About a half hour of subUrbia (1996, Richard Linklater), rewatched on a whim on [Netlflix Instant]
1. Alan Partridge Mid Morning Matters Episode 7, aka the new one, aka the one where he “interviews” himself and loses his shit because his lowly assistant appeared the night before on a much superior show. Wonderful that there’s still milk to seize from this udder. [YouTube]
2. Swept Away…by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August (1974, Lina Wertmüller) It’s entirely possible I’m letting my own, partially modern day sensibilities get in the way of reading this as Wertmüller intended, but it seems to me this “rape fantasy” (because, of course, Mariangela Melato’s rightist rich bitch totally represents Women and not much moreso the heartless upper class) is fairly complicated by the fact that Giancarlo Giannini’s commie worker is a complete and utter fucking dick. He chastises the wealthy for not caring that many people stave to death, but he treats Melato to very same heartlessness mere seconds after they’ve reached the island. He’s a misogynist fuckhead who proclaims that “woman was born to serve man, not the other way around.” He regularly coldcocks his female companion. He’s deeply annoying, and treated to endless unflattering close-ups as he rants and raves. And he generally represents the desiccated corpse of old school machismo. Sexual politics remain questionable, but claims that this is a male fantasy inexplicably made by a woman require outright ignoring key components. Still, Wertmüller is no Buñuel, although it is a kicky idea to splice secondhand Buñuel with The Swiss Family Robinson. [B?] [Netflix Instant]
3. A small but wholesome amount of The Philadelphia Story (1940, George Cukor) which I will resume later. [DVD]
1. The new New Pornographers video for "Moves," the one starring everyone. I almost wish Kevin Corrigan was the in the New Pornographers. [YouTube]
2. Obama vs. O’Reilly. This constitutes the only thing that I watched from last night’s Bowl. [YouTube]
3. The trailer for Submarine (above), the recently Sundanced feature debut of British comic actor Richard Ayoade (Moss on The IT Crowd, if you know him at all). Word is this is Wes Andersonish, and judging from the trailer it is, provided you’re not talking about the particular sense of humor and especially not the visual style. There’s no reason a British comic’s first film has to look this moody and accomplished; good on him. [YouTube]
4. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations S02E03 (Peru) [Netflix Instant]
I neglected to mention yesterday that I passed the month anniversary of my Screening Log. Good on me.
Also, I changed the look, albeit only slightly. Not thrilled with the template, but I’d say it’s better than it was, yes?
1. The Roommate (2010, who cares) I enjoy trash. This is not trash. It’s shit. There’s a difference. [D] [theatrical, for work]
2. Salt (2010, Philip Noyce) Retarded but fun. Usually with Kurt Wimmer it’s just the former. [B-] [DVD]
3. Our Beloved Month of August (2009, Miguel Gomes) Shapeless sorta-doc becomes slack sorta-fiction. Emotions conveyed primarily through live performances of cheesy pop songs (above). I dig. [B+] [screening]
4. /Dogtooth/ (2009, Giorgos Lanthimos) I feel more secure that I picked the right scene for Skandies. (The Frank Sinatra bit.) Although I missed out on listing Christos Stergioglou as the dad. [A — why not?] [Netflix Instant]
5. Buried (2010, Rodrigo Cortés) Hollow but engaging. 95 minutes of an actor I don’t like trapped in a coffin zipped by. I’m sure there are more logic holes than holes in that coffin — and the climax is essentially just cruel — but I still can’t believe I cared whether Ryan Reynolds died or not. [B/B-] [DVD]
6. Rewatched still more Parks and Rec. Of particular note is S02E15 (the “Sweetums” one), which is a beautiful elucidation on how regulatory government isn’t Big Brother but someone who actually gives a shit whether you live or die. Also, if you ever want to turn a skeptic onto this very brilliant show, try S02E05 (“Sister City”).
1. The Office, Parks and Rec and The Office. Will do up Community tomorrow. Couldn’t they just pack these four together in one block? Would make life so much easier. Watching Parks and Rec (amazing) enabled me and the roommates to watch… [actual network television]
2. Three more episodes of Parks and Rec. [Netflix Instant]
3. A good stretch of Last Tango in Paris. RIP, shit. [Netflix Instant]
1. Nashville (1975, Robert Altman) A friend compared this to Infinite Jest or a Pynchon novel. Which I somehow never realized is basically accurate. Loved, among other things, the scene where Keith Carradine fucks all his mistresses and wouldbe-mistresses with an Oscar-winning song. [A-] [screening]
2. Finished Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations S02E01: China; started S02E02: Miami.
Thinking this template doesn’t support YouTube embeds. In any case, embedding hasn’t worked, otherwise I would have uploaded a clip from Nashville rather than the same sorry picture of Haven Hamilton (my next Halloween getup) you’ve seen ten billion times. Very soon, this template, it’s a-changin’. (Sorry.)
1. Parents (1989, Bob Balaban) Exists at the nexus of David Lynch and John Waters, though not remotely as interesting or successful as either. I’m split between Siskel and Ebert: I’m with Rog in that this lacks rigor, but also with Gene in that it’s still amusing. Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt are fucking awesome. [B-/B] [YouTube]
2. Matilda (1996, Danny DeVito) DeVito is the perfect fit for Roald Dahl. Unfortunately he chose the wrong book. Basically engaging until its shrill back end. DeVito and Gilliam ought to engage in a wide angle lens-off. [B-] [YouTube — the IMDb lists the intended AR at 2.35:1, though the only available versions have it at full frame or, in the one I viewed, slightly wider; that’s depressing]
3. The People Under the Stairs (1991, Wes Craven) I dig the Val Lewton approach. Not about the people under the stairs than about reuniting Twin Peaks' Big Ed and Nadine as sibling lovers. [C+/B-]
All three of these, mind, were watched for an article. And watched in one night because it’s fucking awful out there.