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Paul's Movies for November

Posted by phduffy on 2007-12-02 11:56:44
Zardoz (Boorman) - 1974 sci fi film starring Sean Connery, in red underwear. The future is separated between Brutals and Eternals. The savage Brutals live on the outside, and are manipulated by the Externals. Connery, a Brutal, stows away with Zardoz, the god-like Eternal who rules the Brutals. He goes to the land of the Eternals, learns about their world, death, etc. Bad special effects and cheesy cheesy dialogue. At one point Connery actually says "And then I lost my innocence".

The Believer (Bean) - I think this was Ryan Gosling's breakout role. He plays a white supremecist/nazi, who has a secret - he's Jewish. He does a very good job of showing us the confusion going on with his character. I'm not Jewish, nor do I have any close friends who are Jewish, but I'd be interested in their reaction to this movie. I suspect they will either love it or hate, whereas I thought it was reasonably good.

A Face in the Crowd (Kazan) - Stars Andy Griffith as a hobo who ends up getting a radio show, a tv show, a national tv show. Follows his rise and loss of personality. He starts out good-natured, and a man who won't sell out, and turns into a corporate shill with contempt for his viewers. The problem is, I didn't really buy his conversion - one minute he's mocking his sponsor, the next minute he has a big offer from New York, and he creates a slogan for a 1950s version of Viagra? Not bad, but the rise and fall of a great character has been done better in other films (starting with Citizen Kane).

American Gangster (Scott) - A solid film from Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. At times as I was reminded of The Wire (and two cast members of the Wire show up in AG), however this is not as powerful as The Wire. I think we were supposed to see the duality of Washington and Crowe, and either they didn't do a good enough job of showing it, or I'm bored with that concept. If you want to see that, rent Woo's The Killer. Crowe is more the star than Washington, which was fine by me, as I think Crowe is probably the best actor alive right now (I realize a lot of people dislike him, but I'm a fan. I think he's a great actor who chooses good roles). So, overall, this was a solid, but not great, film. Also, Jude Law was at the theatre when I watched this, so I guess that was cool.

Gone Baby Gone (Affleck) - I loved Mystic River, so I was excited for this. Affleck co-wrote the script, and at times I was reminded of Good WIll Hunting - I thought someone was about to call someone else Wicked Queer. Serious, sad subjects, just like in Mystic River. I don't know that Affleck Jr, Monahan, Harris and Freeman equal Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Fisherburn, etc, but I was impressed by all the performance, particularly that of Harris. At times, this also reminded me of the Wire, and it also had a few cast members of th Wire. Casey Affleck Jr plays a PI who's asked to help investigate a kidnapped girl by the girl's aunt, since she's not sure that everyone in her neighbourhood will talk to the police. So Affleck Jr and his partner (Michelle Monahan) take the job. I don't want to reveal too much, but there are twists and turns, and multiple layers to this film. This is also the first movie in a long time that actually made me think about a moral quandry at the end.

Better Off Dead (Holland) - 80s comedy starring John Cusack as a dumped teenager who can't get over his ex. This movie is very very 80s. Cusack races his station wagon against Japanese brothers who have a mic and loudspeakers on top of their car, one of whom narrates the races in full-on Howard Cosell voice. Also, oddly, his little brother is kind of like Stewie from Family Guy, and the guy growing up across the street from him looks like Peter from Family Guy. We had fun watching this movie, but you'd have to be in the right mood. This is very fine 80s cheese, and if you didn't like those then, you won't like them now. Personally, I found that it brought back some memories of this type of film, but at the same time, as I'd never seen this before, there was a sense of newness.

The Kid Stays in the Picture (Burnstein & Morgen) - A 'documentary' about Robert Evans, the actor turned VP at Paramount turned producer. Not a traditional documentary, in that it's mostly still shots of Evans while Evans narrates his story. I think the lack of video footage led to some poor decisions - ie, each scene has music, which is fine, but the mix of music to Evans' voice is such that at times Evans is extremely hard to understand. I also didn't completely trust Evans here. According to him, Coppola's Godfather wasn't a very good movie until Evans convinced him to extend its length. The movie also glosses over multiple parts of his life - it only discusses 1 marriage, while wikipedia lists 7. Still, an enjoyable look at an interesting guy.

Treed Murrary (Phillips) - Business man is taking a walk home, cuts through the park, gets lost, asks for the directions, kid he asks tries to mug him, he hits kid, rest of gang come and chases business man up a tree. So the gang spends the night taunting the business man, he works on ways of not letting them bring him down, and of using them against each other. My girlfriend thought that this was similar to Suicide Kings, but I liked it. All the actors did a good job, and believable for what it was (although there's one part that's a little over the top).

Spanking the Monkey (David O. Russell) - Son comes home after first year. His mom has a broken leg, his dad is an asshole and a traveling salesman. I thought that this was going to turn into Garden State, but about 30 min in this takes a very different turn. The kind of movie that, once you hear that 'indy' film-goers liked it, makes you think that indy film-goers have no taste.

Dirty Pretty Things (Frears) - A story about immigrants in London struggling to cope with the INS (UK version), and making a living. The main character, Owke, finds a human heart in the toilet of a hotel he works at, and begins to wonder what the hell is going on. Not really a happy movie, as it presents a very shitty view of what being an immigrant would be like (for some) and I suspect it's disturbingly accurate. I thought this was going to be film noir, but there's not wisecracking detective in this, just characters fighting for dignity and life. Slow, but good for when you're in the mood for a film like this.

No Country for Old Men (Coen) - Not sure what else needs to be said about this. I thought it could have been about 2 or 3 scenes shorter... I'm still taking it in. I liked it, but I'm not sure I'm ready to call it the best film of the year (although I might, I just need more time to reflect).