[Note: This series is comprised of scattered thoughts on various movie-related topics. I was simply looking for a word that started with the letter "g" that means collection or assortment. Lest you think I'm some elitist wordsmith, I'd never heard of "gallimaufry" and I don't even know how to say it, but it was the only other option the thesaurus provided aside from "goulash" (too foody) and "garbage" (no).]
I suppose I should explain my reasoning for this since it's the first time around. I'm basically imagining these to be mini-reviews and commentaries on all kinds of movie bits that don't really deserve their own post. Sometimes I have an opinion about a recent movie but I don't feel like writing a proper review. Other times I have a random thought or remembrance about a movie, or I read an article or blog post that stirs an idea in my mind. I figure if I record them here I'm less likely to forget them. Here goes...
___________________________________________________Lorna's Silence (A-)
Local film critic Colin Covert recently used the term "ethical thriller" to describe the film genre that includes movies like Lorna's Silence. I love that categorization, and if this is what the Dardenne brothers are masters of then I need to see more of their films, probably starting with the much buzzed about L'enfant from a few years ago.
There's something about this kind of puzzle-piece filmmaking that gets me every time: no setup, no introduction to the characters, no sense about anything at all. We're just blindly dropped in the middle of the story, with only our critical thinking ability, patience, and focused attention to lead us out. If you like to be spoon fed plot details, this is obviously not the kind of movie for you.
Two other great nuggets about this movie are its exploration of illegal immigration (Albanians in Belgium, a refreshing break from the norm) and the revelatory performance by Arta Dobroshi as Lorna, who looks so much different in the photo gallery on her IMDb profile that I wouldn't have thought it was the same person. Even more unbelievable is the fact that this is only her third acting role. It earned her a Best Actress nomination at the European Film Awards but she lost, somewhat deservedly, to Kristin Scott Thomas in I've Loved You So Long.
___________________________________________________Tarantino and a Terrific Trio
I didn't think a movie could be dissected to death more than
I'm not a Tarantino fanboy, having passively watched the Kill Bills and skipping Grindhouse/Death Proof entirely (something I'm sure I'll have to remedy since the feature length version of Machete is due out in the next year). But I love his movies from the 90's, and to the extent that Inglourious Basterds is like those movies, well I love it, too. So that's about half the movie, and the rest I could do without. Even though the majority of dialogue in Tarantino movies is eye-rollingly witty banter between killer and victim, it still makes for an entertaining show (repetitive and increasingly stale with each movie, but entertaining nonetheless).
Though I can't deny the talent this guy has behind the camera, I also can't help but think he would be absolute repulsive in casual conversation. Part of it has to do with what seems like a real fetish with violence, and part of it has to do with quotes like this: (on Landa) "I knew Landa was one of the best characters I’ve ever written...I literally had to consider I might have written an unplayable part."; (on the misspelling of the film's title) "Here's the thing. I'm never going to explain that. You do an artistic flourish like that, and to explain it would just take the piss out of it and invalidate the whole stroke in the first place."
Could he be any more smug?
Variations on my facial expression if I were in a conversation with Quentin Tarantino...At least we can be thankful the guy doesn't act in his own movies. On the contrary, he casts the perfect actors to play his "unplayable" characters. Christophe Waltz (left) is an absolute revelation, a force to be reckoned with both in the film and in the Oscar race. It's at least the best performance in the last two years, and arguably better than DD-L's Daniel Plainview.
Daniel Brühl (middle) was driving me crazy throughout Inglourious Basterds. I knew I had seen him in another movie, I knew I had greatly enjoyed him in another movie, and I had no idea what it was. 2 Days in Paris? Hmm, yes but no. The Bourne Ultimatum? No...ah, of course! The Edukators, an UMOTM if there ever was one.
And then there is Michael Fassbender who has, with Hunger and Inglourious Basterds, quite possibly risen to the top of my "must-watch" list, perhaps bumping Christian Bale out of the spot he's held for the last few years. This guy is absolutely terrific in some really challenging roles. I'm not crazy about his upcoming movies, but I'll deal.
As superb as these three actors are in Basterds, their combined excellence is almost negatively outweighed by Eli Roth's cartoonish, buffoonish, look-I'm-in-the-same-movie-as-Brad-Pitt smirkiness. It's unbearable.
For my thoughts on Inglourious Basterds as a whole, I'll direct you to the excellent review written by Manohla Dargis.
Revisiting the Slumdog Soundtrack
Some songs from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack came up on my MP3 player the other day. I hadn't heard them for a few months but found that I enjoyed them just as much as when my giddiness about the movie was at its peak. I also realized that said giddiness about the movie was partly due to the music of A.R. Rahman. If you didn't like the music in this movie, it must have been hard to connect with it in an emotional or otherwise meaningful way. In other words, all of the people who hated this movie (and boy, they were a vocal group, weren't they?) probably hated, or at least disliked, the music as well.
___________________________________________________Sold Out, Shut Out
A couple of weeks ago was a free screening of Into Temptation, a locally-filmed drama starring Jeremy Sisto and Kristin Chenoweth. The trailer shows some great shots of Minneapolis, which piqued my interest much more than the story of a suicidal prostitute and the priest that tries to save her. Of course I only watched the trailer after the fact, so I guess I'm not sure why I went in the first place if the story didn't grab me.
Turns out it grabbed a lot of other people's interest, though, because the Edina was packed to the gills. I found out the hard way, showing up a few minutes before showtime to find that a waiting list had formed for no shows and empty seats. A seat opened here, a couple seats opened there. The name above me on the list got in; I didn't. Since I was the last one on the list, that means that I was literally the only person who showed up for this movie and didn't get to see it.
It was my own fault of course (my excuse this time: I was getting my bike fixed and running late), and it's definitely not the first time this has happened. My refusal to watch trailers, even inside the theater, means that I usually time my arrival to my seat for 10-12 minutes after the posted showtime, or 15-20 minutes for summer blockbusters that have up to 47 trailers before the movie. For screenings like Into Temptation, I usually show up "right on time", meaning right at the stated showtime, not 10 minutes early like a normal person.
So it's always a guessing game as to where I'll be able to sit in the theater, if I'll truly miss the last preview or, in some cases, if I'll even get into the theater at all. I rarely go to the movies on the busiest nights (Fri/Sat), so when I'm shut out because of a sellout on a weeknight I'm usually pretty frustrated. Makes no sense, I know. How can I complain about something that's my own fault?