Wednesday, July 21, 2010

so many movies, so little summer...

Inspired by a nifty double bill I missed in May at the Cinematheque...

[Breathless Days, a double bill that paired Godard's New Wave classic - Breathless, a 1959 Cannes competitor that hit North American screens the following year - with Hitchcock's strangely comparable 1960 departure Psycho: "After years of suave, sophisticated, highly polished colour thrillers, Hitchcock abruptly and unexpectedly changed gears with this made-on-the-cheap monochrome masterwork..."]

...I queued up the Godard and the Hitchcock in my Videomatica list, and will be watching them maybe tomorrow. (Amazingly, I've seen neither in their entirety!) Which got me thinking what a swell little Turn-Of-The-Decade Fest I could have in my living room over the next week. So many films on my "I Gotta See That" list land right then; The 400 Blows, Anatomy of a Murder, Eyes Without A Face, Black Orpheus, Pickpocket, Peeping Tom ("compared to the black and white of Alfred Hitchcock's somewhat likeminded shocker Psycho, the vivid Peeping Tom comes across as more immediate and ultimately more frightening..." 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die), Splendor In The Grass.

Or maybe it'll get trumped by a Music Movie Fest. Watched It Might Get Loud tonight, which included a chunk of "Sittin' On Top Of The World," which is featured in the Mississippi Sheiks Tribute Concert DVD I bought at the Folk Music Festival this weekend (Steve Dawson, Jim Byrnes, The Sojourners, Bob Brozman, John Hammond, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Colin James...). IMGL also included hunks of U2 performances, made me want to watch Live At Red Rocks and Rattle & Hum. And "The Weight," which made me want to watch Easy Rider to see where it's used, and The Last Waltz to say goodbye to The Band. And I've got a copy of Calle 54 on my shelf here...

Heck, I could rip that scene from Easy Rider and YouTube it and start my Great Pop Songs In Film Series; Fiona Apple's "Across The Universe" in Pleasantville, Elliott Smith's "Because" from American Beauty or his "Angeles" in Paranoid Park. The utterly memorable use of the over-wrought sentimentality of "Rain And Tears" in Hsiao-hsien Hou's emotionally muted Three Times. Or Penguin Cafe Orchestra: "Nothing Really Blue" from the astonishing final sequence of The Princess & The Warrior, or "Music For A Found Harmonium" in Napoleon Dynamite (!). "Tell It Like It Is" in the overlooked South African drama Forgiveness, "Cold Water" by Damien Rice in The Girl In The Cafe, or an unlikely Nordic pop cover of "How Deep Is Your Love" that provides fitting perplexity at the conclusion of Adam's Apples. "Don't Be Shy" or "Trouble" or "If You Want To Sing Out" from Harold & Maude (can you imagine that movie without Cat Stevens?), or "Indication" or "Rose For Emily" or "She's Not There" or "Time Of The Season" or "The Way I Feel Inside" or "Woman" from Dear Wendy (can you imagine that movie without The Zombies?) or "One" in Magnolia (can you imagine that movie without Aimee Mann? Heck, that movie wouldn't ever have happened without Aimee Mann). "Easy To Be Hard" as it appears in Zodiac, the Fleetwood Mac instrumental "Albatross" used beautifully in Man On Wire. "The Good Life" from Matchstick Men, or "Summer Wind" in Matchstick Men or at the opening of The Pope Of Greenwich Village, which reminded me of "Stayin' Alive" during the opening of Saturday Night Fever. Jazz: Coltrane's "It's Easy To Remember" which appears only slightly anachronistically in Capote, "Jordu" from The Notorious Bettie Page, Nina Simone in Shallow Grave ("My Baby Just Cares For Me") and Bella ("Nearer Blessed Lord"). How about the eerily effective use of Nat King Cole's "I'd Rather Have The Blues" on the car radio during the opening of Kiss Me Deadly -- or other car radio numbers, "If I Didn't Care" in Shawshank Redemption, or the super-sexy "Wonderful World" in Witness, or half a dozen tunes in American Graffitti. "The Only Living Boy In New York" or the song that put the Shins on the map (of New Jersey) in Garden State - "It'll change your life, I swear." Israel Kamakawiwa'ole's gloriously scrambled "Over The Rainbow / Wonderful World" in half a dozen movies, or the Louis Armstrong original in Good Morning Vietnam. The theme from "Lakme" in every film made in the mid-Eighties. Maybe even memorable credit tunes: "Ride Ride" at the end of The Good Girl (Gillian Welch) or Dylan's "He Was A Friend Of Mine" at the end of Brokeback Mountain or Lyle Lovett's too-perfect "Stand By Your Man" as the credits roll for The Crying Game ("Sometimes it's hard to be a woman..."). Did I miss any?

Or, to take along on my photography road trip, Born Into Brothels and Rivers & Tides and The Diving Bell & The Butterfly and The Assassination of Jesse James and Smoke. . . .

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

robbie robertson + luis bunuel

Watched IT MIGHT GET LOUD tonight (very fine), which ends with The Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White working through The Band's classic song, The Weight. Got out the guitar, got in trouble for playing and howling so late, and for the first time really tried to figure out what the song's about.

Turns out the doc about rock guitarists isn't the film's only cinematic tie-in. The Band's official website mentions not only Easy Rider but...

The Weight became a signpost of the time. Featured in the film Easy Rider (but not on the soundtrack for contractual reasons), it was partially inspired by the work of Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel.

"He did so many films on the impossibility of sainthood," says Robertson about Bunuel, "people trying to be good in Viridiana and Nazarin, people trying to do this thing. In `The Weight' it's the same thing. People like Bunuel would make films that had these religious connotations to them but it wasn't necessarily a religous meaning. In Bunuel there were these people trying to be good and it's impossible to be good."

"In The Weight, it was this very simple thing. Someone says, `Listen, will you me this favour? When you get there will you say hello to somebody or will you pick up one of these for me? Oh, you're going to Nazareth, that's where the Martin guitar factory is. Do me a favour when you're there.' This is what it's all about. So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it's like, `Holy shit, what has this turned into? I've only come here to say "Hello" for somebody and I've got myself in this incredible predicament.' It was very Bunuelish to me at the time."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Juno: "Whip-smart"

"Juno is a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy..."

"god bless the whip-smart, snarky and powerfully funny screenplay by blogger / author / former stripper Diablo Cody."

"The film's narrative centers on whip-smart Juno MacGuff (Page), a teenaged girl faced with.."
Rhino Records

"teenage parenthood is devistating for teens and their kids. Perhaps instead of blaming Juno and it's whip-smart dialoge as a potential cause for a rise in teen births, perhaps you should..."
Huffington post blog reply

"The film stars Ellen Page as the youngest mother of them all, a whip-smart high-school student named Juno MacGuff who discovers that she is in the family way..."
Peter Chattaway, CT Movies

"Juno is a whip-smart Minnesota teen living by her own rules."
Barnes & Noble

"the dialogue tones down a bit after the dangerous opening - still whip-smart and quirky, but somehow sweeter."

"The fictional character’s whip-smart dialogue and well-rounded fallibility make her more empathetic..."
Hollywood Today

"It's whip-smart, cool, and very, very funny."
Chris Roberts, Uncut

"Whip-smart, witty and mature beyond her age, Juno finds herself pregnant after ..."

"Stars Ellen Page as the title character, a funny whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy..."

"Ellen Page, well, of course, she’s glorious, the most talented young actress in America and the reason to see Juno. Whip-smart and razor sharp, she plays the role just about as well as it could possibly be played."
Dartmouth Free Press

So not only the character, but also the screenwriter and the actress are all, coincidentally, "whip-smart."

"Part whip-smart teen comedy, part drama, backed by a quirky soundtrack and the most subtle comic performance by a youngster in years, Juno is a rare feel-good film in the morose pack of Oscar contenders."
Sun Media

Ah, so even the film itself is whip-smart. Cool.

And then this one. Apparently I'm not the only person to have noticed...

"Juno is supposedly “whip-smart.” That’s what every review of the movie says. This demonstrates that most reviewers are too lazy to frame the movie in their own words—they just mirror the advertising copy...."

Okay, enough. There are hundreds more.

It was actually a review of Slumdog Millionaire by the verbally virtuosic, usually cliché-free Joe Morgenstern that triggered this whole "If I ever hear a critic say whip-smart again, I'll show them whipping and smarting" jag. "This quiet, passionate, whipsmart kid has lived almost every answer he gives; the questions he needs are provided by destiny." Joe, Joe, Joe. And I used to think you were so whipsmart....

Monday, July 05, 2010

Thursday, July 01, 2010

jul 1-7 | now playing

Jul 1-7 2010
Cinema's silly season is upon us. Here are the big screen gleanings.

Granville 7 | Fri: 6:45, 9:30 | Sat, Sun: 1:15, 4:00, 6:45, 9:30 | Mon, Tue, Wed: 5:20, 8:10
Director Amenabar intriguing in Open Your Eyes, chilling and subtle in The Others, annoying and polemic in The Sea Inside - I'm afraid I'll find this story (nasty shenanigans as underground Christianity morphs into Holy Roman Empire) more Sea than Others/Eyes.
Morefield | the moral failings of Christian, pagan, scientist, and Jew alike make it hard for me to see the film as a plea for tolerance so much as a lament for the costs of intolerance.
Greydanus | Enlightenment myth... a work of anti-hagiography.

Vancity Tue 7:30
Reed | endearing 'do unto others' fable

5th | 1:15, 3:00, 4:45, 7:25, 9:10
arty doc about worldwide babies
Denby | Cuts back and forth among four infants located on the red earth of Namibia, the open plains of Mongolia, and in apartments in the vertical cities of San Francisco and Tokyo as they crawl, eat mush, play, and so on, right up to their first words and steps . . . pleasing, but anodyne as a series of episodes from “America’s Funniest Home Videos.

5th 1:00, 3:05, 5:00, 7:20, 9:30
One of this summer's obligatory Sundance pix (though the big winner was Winter's Bone)
Denby | creepy stay-at-home Cyrus tries to break up an affair between his mother (Marisa Tomei) and her new boyfriend (John C. Reilly), a forlorn, long-divorced fellow looking for love

Exit Through the Gift Shop [1:27]
G7 Thu: 5:25, 8:10
arty doc about street art - people recommending this one. prob final week

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [2:32]
Hollywood 7:30 through Thursday
G7 8:00 | Sat, Sun also 1:05, 4:25
arty foreign thriller from arty foreign best-seller. prob final week. first of a trilogy: #2 opens Friday at Fifth Ave
Denby | journalist hired by rich old man to probe disappearance of teen-age girl forty years before. Quest leads to further unearthings as forgotten crimes are dragged into the light. (So many, indeed, that the film runs longer than two and a half hours.) Hero’s gothic sidekick exudes throbbing air of resentment against the eternal cruelties of man; crow-black garb, inked and studded flesh, cuts a defiant figure in the wintry landscape, refusing to be deadened by the gloom.

Harry Brown [1:43]
G7 Thu: 5:20, 8:05
Gran Torino with better script, worse soul? prob final week

How to Train Your Dragon [1:38]
G7 Thu: 5:40
Surprising recommendations from highbrow movie buddies, theatre scenic designers (KMcA). prob final week

Mao's Last Dancer [1:57]
5th Thu: 1:45, 4:20, 6:50, 9:15 | Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed: 1:45, 4:15, 6:50
arty doc about dancers

Cinematheque Thu: 3:45 | Fri: 6:30 | Sat: 2:00, 3:45, 9:00 | Sun: 6:30 | Mon: 9:00 | Tue: 6:30
One of those "gotta see" flix, w/ long lost footage restored - complete with Soul Food content!

Red Shoes to Jul 6
Cinematheque Thu: 6:30 | Fri: 9:15 | Sat: 6:30 | Sun: 4:00, 9:15 | Mon: 6:30 | Tue: 9:15
Gotta dance, gotta see - has changed lives

Toy Story 3
everywhere including
2D @ RC Thu: 1:10, 4:10, 7:05, 9:40 | Fri Mon Tue Wed 4:10, 6:55, 9:35 | Sat, Sun: 1:10, 4:10, 6:55, 9:35
3D @ SCRP 11:35am, 1:00, 2:15, 3:45, 4:50, 6:45, 7:30, 9:45, 10:15
Does the Pixar streak continue?
Chattaway's delightful pre-screening musings

Winter's Bone
Wow. Every critic I found on line considers this the film of the year, so far. I agree.


IKIRU | Cinematheque Jul 8 9:05 | Jul 10 8:50 | Jul 11 6:30
8 1/2 | Cinematheque Jul 16-18, 6:30 & 9:05
The Magnificent Seven | Cinematheque Jul 20 1:00
Man With A Movie Camera | Vancity Sun, Jul 25 7:30 (Alloy Orchestra score)
RAN | Aug 6-8 7:00
film noir series | Cinematheque | Aug 11 - Sep 2
Taxi Driver | Cinematheque | Aug 18 7:30