“i never wash my pants. i like to keep the night on them”

i was looking back through my previous post on my anticipated films of fall 2008, and realized that there’s 2 on the list that i could have seen but haven’t (this one, and wendy and lucy but that doesn’t open in c-town for another month.  ah to live in a big market.)  so i thought i’d watch this tonight and do a quick little write-up.

i had almost completely forgotten that this film had even been released.  it really got no pub, and with the indie darling michael cera attached, i was sure that it was going to be a bigger hit than it was.  and too be honest, i have never been a huge michael cera fan.  he was ok in superbad and juno, and i was never a fan of arrested development (i think it was mostly because of david cross.  i cannot stand that man and if he is on the screen i just instinctively turn it off).  but michael cera truly won me over in this film.  he was able to be hilarious and completely charming while at the same time a complete idiot, and i bought every second of it.  to me, it was his most sincere performance he’s turned in.  and i’d much rather see him continue to chose roles along these lines instead of these ones.

the music is for the most part good-to-ok.  nothing that really took me by surprise or had me wanting to rush out and buy the soundtrack, and for a film that’s based largely around music i think that’s saying something.  i love films that are staged in a “all happens in one night!” way.  there’s something about the pacing of a 90 minute film that really feels like you’ve spent the entire night with the characters on the screen.

some of the screenplay felt pretty clunky to me, and got a little too sentimental for me in parts.  and the multiple scenes of little cameos by semi-famous people got pretty distracting.  they show up for two lines (or sometimes none) and really slow the film down and take it out of any sort of context i had placed it in by that point. but cera really saves a lot of scenes with his charisma.  he is why you should check this film out, and why it’s enjoyable.

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student filmmaking update – i’ve pretty much finished writing my script, and monday will be looking to do some location scouting.  the basic premise of the film is a young man travels across the country (or northeast ohio) to find his father, who abandoned him when he was 5, to tell him that his mother has died (or his wife.  i’m not sure how the syntax of that sentence works).  so yeah.  if you’re interested in reading the script and giving me some feedback let me know and i’ll email it to you.

2008 round-up

February 22, 2009

comparing this year to the past 3 years, i have to say that i am fairly underwhelmed by the quantity (and quality) of great films this year. especially all the films getting the praise (slumdog millionaire, frost/nixon, milk). i liked all those films, but found them for the most part to be fairly pedestrian.  there were however some films that i really liked.  so let’s talk about those.

be kind rewind – for my money, one of the most underrated films of the year.  what gondry does is make a movie about loving movies.  and it’s not cynical.  there’s no irony.  it’s just about the pure unadulterated joy of creating art, of embracing life, of remaking robocop.  i’m an unapologetic jack black fan, and his earnestness is what makes the humor in the film.  to stand there with utter conviction believing that you’re singing the ghostbuster’s theme song the right way, when you’re completely butchering it.  but that naivety (and i almsot hate to call it that) is what fills the characters of the film.  they believe that through the power of art, of creation, of film, that they can save their business.  what they find is that it not only saves their business, but gives more purpose and meaning to their lives.

ballast – a film that most people have not seen, or even heard of (i always hate when people say, you’ve probably never even heard of this film because i always thought that sounded very pompous and elitist.  you’ve probably never heard of this film — but i have and let me tell you why it’s better than everything you have heard of.  i didn’t mean it that way).  i believe it was independently distributed so it made it’s way around independent theaters, and actually played at our art museum.  it’s the story of a boy, his mom, and his uncle, living and coping with the suicide of their father/husband/twin brother.  it’s slow, it’s subtle, it’s got very little dialogue, it’s intense, it’s heartbreaking, it’s gorgeous, it’s amazing.  if you don’t like films that really take their time in setting up the story and use a slow methodical pace throughout, then i wouldn’t tell you to rush out and see it.  but that’s something that i really love in movies.  and for my money it’s the best film of 2008.

man on wire – you might have already heard a lot of praise for this documentary about philippe petit’s crossing between the two world trade center towers on nothing but a small wire, but i just have to give it some love.  i found it hard to imagine how they would fill the 90 minutes with material that wasn’t just about the event at the world trade center.  but the film builds so much suspense to that moment, using gorgeous black & white recreations, lots of philippe’s homemade film (which looks like it was professionally shot), and the standard interviews.  but because philippe is so enigmatic the standard sit-down interview becomes exciting.  seeing him walk across the massive space between the two towers is one of the most thrilling experiences i had all year.  it literally took my breath away to see some of the shots.  philippe is one of the most interesting characters of the year, and watching him cross the wire is one of the most suspenseful moments i have ever witnessed.  and the crazy bastard went back and forth eight times!

shotgun stories – the next two films have already been featured on 4films, but they’re just so good we have to do them again.  shotgun stories was jeff nichols directorial debut, and features a slew of great performances from the cast, but most notably that of michael shannon.  the man got an oscar nom for his turn in revolutionary road, and is now getting some pub.  but do yourself a favor and quickly go see this film (if you haven’t already) so when people say “wow. did you see michael shannon in revolutionary road?” you can be like “yeah.  i also saw him in a starring role in a much better film.  have you seen that?  face!”.

4films earlier write-up on shotgun stories


chop shop – if i had to pick a director whom i most looking forward to seeing his next project from this group it might be ramin bahrani the director of chop shop.  while watching the film i could just see his potential coming through every shot and every moment.  i knew i was watching the budding of a great filmmaker (coincidentally his next film goodbye solo looks horribly generic).  chop shop is challenging, deliberately paced, subtly directed and acted, and a beautiful meditation on life, our dreams and aspirations, and the crap that gets in the way.  and alejandro polanco gives one of the most honest and heartfelt performances of the year (probably only second to the man a few inches down on the screen).

4films earlier write-up on chop shop

the wrestler – ah mickey.  you’ve heard all the praise for his performance already, but if you needed to hear it some more — mickey rourke is amazing.  absolutely perfect.  so perfect that his performance has to go down as one of the greatest on-screen performances ever.  and i have this feeling that the more you watch it the better it gets (i have only seen it once so it’s just a hunch).  arronfosky trades in his hyper active visual style for more or less a documentary style.  the screenplay is more or less good-to-better than good, but mickey is really where the movie is at.  he makes it, he brings it, he delivers.

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i’ve just now realized how much work is going to have to be put in school (mostly the short film that i’m directing this semester – if you want to finance some of it hit me up with an email :) ).  so i’m not sure if i’ll be around the blog too much for a while.  keep checking in reguarly (if you’re still here at all) and i’ll do my best to put something up (maybe updates on the film i’m working on? no?).

recent viewing history

February 6, 2009

haven’t posted in awhile.  i’ve been pretty busy with school so far, and some other commitments.  so i haven’t had a lot of time to watch movies.  but i have seen some…

midnight cowboy – really confused about my reaction to the film.  at parts i loved it.  at parts i hated it.  at parts i was confused.  at parts i was annoyed.  i thought the final shot was amazing.

eagle eye – a blatant rip-off of 2001: a space odyssey.  but worth watching if you rent it from the library and aren’t looking for anything to serious.  and even then it’s meh.  so if you want a meh night then watch it.

eraserhead – ummm……yeah.

annie hall – masterpiece.

hannah and her sisters – another masterpiece.

some of night of the hunter – not exactly a masterpiece, but i’ve already said how much i dislike it.

american teen – complete garbage.  contrived.  boring.  stereotypical perception of high school.  it doesn’t add anything interesting to the discussion.  it wants us to get sucked into the melodrama of high school, and makes excuses for the behavior of all the subjects.  even the kids that are supposed to be the “interesting” ones turn out to be pretty plain.

city lights – the first chaplin feature i’ve seen.  and it’s a masterpiece.  it’s hilarious, perfectly choreographed, wonderfully acted, and beautiful.  i love the way chaplin subverts our expectations, especially with the final scene which has to go down with the greatest last scenes in all of cinema.  definitely made me a lot more interested in chaplin, and the silent era in general.

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be on the lookout for the 2008 roundup as well as write-ups on platoon, full metal jacket, and some hitchcock.