Collected Dailies 11

I find that an hour of Sons of Anarchy followed by an hour from a Shaw play such as Heartbreak House, makes for fun viewing. The contrast emphasizes the strong points of both.

***

Bright Star (2009) – There is a moment in this beautifully made film that was just perfect for me. I hope to revisit it. On my not-worthy side, Ben Whishaw kept reminding me of a young Johnny Carson.

***

Fast & Furious (2009) – I like this franchise. Number 4 is an honest effort. So was number 3. I’m glad to see that number 5 is being so well received.

***

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009) – Acting school is now in session.

***

 Drive Angry (2011) – It’s why I watch movies.

***

To Die For (1995) – When this movie came out, I glanced at the reviews and gathered that it was a serious movie about a woman who killed herself, probably courtesy of an eating disorder, in her attempt to reach the top of the TV news business. A podcast set me straight the other day, and I finally watched this topnotch black comedy.

***

 One False Move (1992) – How did I miss this class movie? Bill Pullman takes the Timmy Olyphant Justification role, same voice, just fine, years before acquiring those three wives and settling down in a series with them. This is Billy Bob Thornton five years before Sling Blade. I forget who his dialog coach was, but I could have got those line readings out of him better. I wonder if Angelina ever saw him in this one… He married his co-star (Cynda Williams) shortly after the movie wrapped… Texas grows some extra hills as the Texas scenes were shot in California.

***

The Rite (2011) – Worthy film for exorcism lovers. At the end of the movie, when the young priest must amp it up to cast out a devil, we have a good example of shouting versus having-a-big-voice. A Geigud or Olivier or even Hopkins, the shoutee here, could scare the devil out of an oak tree with a couple of good roars blowing straight up from their fundament. Colin O’Donoghue has the priestly genes ok, but not, or not yet, the true exorcist’s lungs and voicebox.

***

The Mechanic (2011) – Comparing this one to The Mechanic (1972): in the early 70s, the hero is flawed, suffers, and dies; in 2010, the hero is the thunking heart of a potential franchise, dude. You’d be crazy to kill him. If you did make that mistake, as they did in Crank (2006), fergeddabout it. Bring him back anyway in Crank 2 (2009), with no apologies.

***

The Town (2010) – Affleck channels early De Niro in a film rooted not in Charlestown but in Hollywood.

***

 MILF (2010) – Before you deride these actors, remember that if you were called on to star in a movie tomorrow, you wouldn’t do half as well as they do, probably. Plus, at least half of them have had their teeth whitened.

***

The Tourist (2010) – Two things about the movie: (1) The viewer’s wonderment at the ending. Really? Two big stars? Big budget? And you’re going here? See my Life in Hollywood posts for an explanation of the scriptwriting business. (2) Angelina Jolie. It’s just about looking at her. It’s fun. She’s like a Star Trek alien of some kind, but in a good way.

***

The Next Three Days (2010) – Brian Dennehy gives a class in how to keep all eyes on you even when you have absolutely nothing to do in a scene. Elizabeth Banks tries out this and that; some of it works.

***

Fish Tank (2009) – Good looks at Barking, Tower Hamlets, Dagenham, Havering, Tilbury, and Stanford le Hope, all on the east side of London. Doesn’t make me want to live there, though.

***

Fringe (Season 2) – There is a term, which I forget, for standalone episodes thrown into a series that has a through line. BSG would do this from time to time. I usually find these episodes annoying, and in Fringe they abound, at least up to Episode 8 of the second season, at which point things get back on track (that’s where I am now). Someone on a podcast mentioned the patience shown by the network wrt to this dilly-dallying, and I decided to keep watching through the seemingly detached Episodes 6 and 7 at this promise of things to come. The main story, or what little of it has been revealed, has finally returned and I’m interested in it… Ulp. Episode 9, back to the standalone. Episode 10, back to the through story… 11, back to standalone. The series is more standalone than through. But every once in a while they throw in a few moments of the mysterious central character played by, yes, Leonard Nimoy. Hard to leave when he’s hovering around… Oh, never mind. It’s almost all standalone. But sort of entertaining.

***

The Good Guy (2009) – The bad guys are Ebert and the NYT, who suggested that this movie was worth watching. It features (1) that sinking feeling you get when you suddenly realize where the plot is going; you’ve been there before, many times, (2) the female protagonist suffers from Meg-Ryan-helicopter-pilot syndrome: she’s a wet noodle who is supposed to be on her way to directorship of a big-city department; no way. The movie also fails that test, the name of which I’ve forgotten: (1) It has two or more women in it, check, (2) They talk to each other, check, (3) They talk about something besides men, nope.
***

Legion (2009) – Seems like I’ve seen Dennis Quaid in so many movies that I’ve liked. Catch him in Savior (1998) for the rare movie in which he never smiles, or grins that grin of his; although he doesn’t smile much in this one, either… Question: while Michael and Gabriel are fist-fighting to determine the fate of the world, what are the other two archangels, Uriel and Raphael, doing?

***

Ocean’s 12 (2004) – Rewatching with the spouse. I find the Ocean movies eminently rewatchable.

***

Heartbreak House (1977) – Eighth Shaw play in my marathon.

***
Sports Night
(1998) – Laugh track. The first chuckle, I thought it was a cast member. Maybe Sorkin himself. Next chuckle, disbelief. Then a cast member read a benign line that was followed by a guffaw from the track. So I watched maybe two minutes of Season One. Not bad, except for the track.

***

Grown Ups (2010) –  I’ll add this to the list of movies that got horrible reviews but I liked anyway. Not unusual when Adam Sandler is involved. And I did quit partway through, just because I had other stuff to watch. Ditto Police Academy (1984). The Green Hornet (2011) Seth Rogen slimming down. How often does that happen? Plus, Admiral Adama in retirement. The big-screen extravaganza at the end somewhat lessened by viewing on letterboxed PC on stomach in bed.

***
Secretariat (2010) – Written by the Sports Movie Screenwriting Robot with it’s originality chip removed, the film still engaged me in the race scenes, especially the last one. Though there is an unfortunate moment in one of the first races where the film is speeded up to make the horses run faster. That was just embarassing.

 ***

Rabbit Hole (2010) – Nice. Screenplay by the author of the play. Might have been best not to watch it in parallel with Mrs. Warren’s Profession, though. Shaw is tough to be compared to.

***

Mrs. Warren’s Profession (1960) – Mother and daughter discuss at length the moral and social imperatives that cause one to choose prostitution and the other engineering. My seventh Shaw play and just as engrossing as the other six… Shaw drops a rare bombshell plot twist at the end of Act 2 in this one.

***

The Special Relationship (2010) – I’ve always thought that Hope Davis sort of looks like Hilary Clinton. Through all of Season 2 of In Treatment, there Hilary was, with her therapist. Now Hope  gets to actually play Hilary and they’ve made her look less like her. Strange.

***

Sons of Anarchy – Wife of the club president enters menopause. Now that’s a biker show.

***
Conviction
(2010) – The spouse liked it. I got a little bored although, paradoxically, Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell were never boring.

***

Fair Game (2010) – Eight years of Bush and his minions. I’m sure glad that they’re gone. There is a school of thought that the Civil War was caused mainly because of a failure of the government to solve the political problems between North and South in the ’50s. Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan come in for a lot of blame. I wonder how the Bush administration would have handled that challenge.

***

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) –  A worthy addition to the “Drift” subgenre of racing movies. Unanswered question: How is Vin Diesel ever going to get that huge muscle car to drift at the end of the movie?… We learn here that you can get by perfectly well in Tokyo, going to high school, working, etc., without speaking a word of Japanese.

***

The Train (1964) – If you want to watch old steam engines puff around and derail and get bombed, this is your movie. Ditto if you want Burt Lancaster in his prime, doing plenty of his own stunts. Probably couldn’t afford to make a movie like this today, outside of the Thomas shorts.

***

Medicine for Melancholy (2008) – Indie movie. African-American mumblecore vibe. The medicine is to hang out with a good-looking, articulate, passionate stranger in San Francisco for twenty-four hours or so. Wears off shortly after the stranger leaves?

***

In all the movies, they hold the flashlight overhand. I probably never have. I’m thinking that the next time, I’m gonna do it, even if it’s a little tiny single-AAA battery guy.

***

Local Hero (1983) – Haven’t watched it in years. Still great.

***

Mrs Warren’s Profession (BBC Play of the Month) – Seventh in my Shaw marathon. Begins, like so many Shaw plays, with a long scene introducing the four principal characters while we observers sit back and enjoy the dialog.

***

Stone (2010) – I haven’t looked into it, but this seems like the project of someone who has had some success and can now make any movie that he/she wants. At any rate, a labor of love. It’s a meditation, with stars, unlike most dramas out there.

***

Chantrapas (2010) – My second visit to a film festival, this one the San Francisco International. Chantrapas was two hours spent mostly in the Republic of Georgia, or whatever they’re calling it these days. I liked the movie and I liked the festival venue and atmosphere. The writer/director of the movie, Otar Iosseliani, a very European-seeming curmudgeon, came out before and after the movie for Q&A, which itself was worth the price of admission.

Back in the day, bel canto became all the rage in St. Petersburg, and the Italians set up a school to teach it. When a child came to try out, the Italians, not speaking Russian (and the Russians not speaking Italian), would say, in French, either “Chantra” or “Chantrapas.” That is, “You can sing” or “You can’t sing.” “Chantrapas” became a synonym for “failure.” After Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and sundry other notables were deemed chantrapas, the word came to mean, not a failure, but someone out of the ordinary. The movie Chantrapas chronicles the movie-making adventures of a young Georgian chantrapas, in his native land and in France. It’s a comedy, but since it deals with the Georgian Communist bureaucracy, it’s not always easy to tell when it’s kidding. Nobody gets shot, but everybody drinks constantly and smokes their brains out. It’s worse than Mad Men that way, if that’s possible.

***

Today’s love letter to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The reason I liked Lost so much was that from week to week, anything could happen. Surprises in every show. the Terminator TV series started out with a T888 chasing Sarah and her son and I wondered how that chase could possibly stretch over two seasons. I wasn’t reckoning on other T888-like bad-guy robots who didn’t agree with the T888s, or the liquid metal versions, bad but somehow ambivalent, or the good robots continually evolving, or multiple futures, which seem to keep changing, or present-day soap. The writers are given a blank slate and are invited to create something interesting, and they do.

***

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009) – Had to go back and read the Wiki plot summary of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). Was reminded how, when the whole serial killer thing was revealed, I realized that that movie was strong cheese disguised at first by its Swedish vibe. This time around, I picked up the cheesiness even before the gratuitous lesbian sex on the rug. I assume that there was a rug under them. Meanwhile, that whole Wiki thing: it’s like humans as ants, building an anthill. Creepy… And having finished TGWPWF, yes, cheesy, way cheesy.

***

The Major and the Minor (1942)  – I first saw this on TV as a kid staying home from school sick in the 50s. Thought it was awfully romantic. Now, watching the first third or so, I immediately pick up that sort of strange Wilder vibe that is present in various of his movies, to me at least. Rogers is in her thirties and looks it, playing eleven. A lot of suspension of disbelief necessary; otherwise, Ray Milland is just plain nuts… But now, the vibe recedes. But Ginger at the prom, playing a kid only by elevating her voice a little, that’s a stretch. Also, Ginger doesn’t look quite like I remember her, he says, without getting specific. She looks a little older than her true age, in fact… Diana Lynn was only 15 in the movie, so her kid-hood worked better… After the movie was over, I checked the vibe left in my head. Yep. A little strange, a little creepy. Maybe just a little German. Billy Wilder had the creepy gene.

***

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles -The first season ended abruptly, to the shock of the actors, after 9 episodes. For Season 2, we get 22 episodes and after the first four, I’m already mourning the cancellation of the show after two seasons. Oh, well. 18 more to enjoy. There’s a lot of plot room when you can send somebody back from future when things get slow, good guy or bad guy, T888 or liquid metal. Throw in the FBI and a giant evil corporation and high-school romance and road trips and Sarah Connor and her possible love interests and the teen babe robot pretending to be Arnold, with commentaries, and how could this thing get scotched so soon? It’s an outrage.

***

Cairo Time (2009) – Doesn’t make me want to go to Cairo, but I am going to look up the depth of the Nile. I jog every day next to water that ripples like the Nile, when the tide’s in. Then the tide goes out, exposing miles of mud flats and revealing that the water is only about six inches deep… Hmm. Average depth 35 feet. That’s deep.

***

The King’s Speech (2010) – Deserved the Oscar more than The Silence of the Lambs (1991), I thought. The Silence of the Lambs. How did that happen? And why were the lambs silent? What was that about? And why was it so cool that Hopkins ate people? And why does the poster have a moth over Jodie Foster’s mouth? Where’s the lambs?

***

The Switch (2010) – I didn’t quite make it to the end of this one, so remind me. When the mismatched pair in a rom com finally link up at the end, has the one (or the both) who is wacky, eccentric, gruff, or whatever, become less so – has become more normal – or does the other member of the couple just accept him or her for what he or she is? In the recent one with the morning news show and perky news showess, Harrison Ford transforms himself from a mean old bear to a teddy. Which is more unlikly, a complete character transformation at the end or acceptance of a flake into a romantic relationship by a non-flake?

***

Mademoiselle Chambon (2009) – Just watch Brief Encounter again.

Advertisements

3 Responses

  1. What was the moment in bright star that was perfect for you?

  2. Oops, I forgot that at the moment I actually have a reader, or I wouldn’t have put that in. Let’s just say that I was reflecting on past relationships as I watched Bright Star, and wishing that I had handled a situation the way that Keats did.

  3. By dying? (Just kidding.) Your reader, L

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: