So, my roommate just sent me this YouTube -- as I watched it, I sounded like I had Tourette's ...
Thursday, December 24, 2009
So, my roommate just sent me this YouTube -- as I watched it, I sounded like I had Tourette's ...
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
As expected, I fell pretty hard for the characters in “Crazy Heart.”
Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, a rundown, alcoholic cowboy singer, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jean Craddock, the young, beautiful journalist who becomes Bad’s unlikely darling—all set to dreamy folk songs that take me back to my roots (Fictional Bad Blake is from my hometown of Houston).
How could I not fall hard?
From the start, Bad is despicably charming. In the opening scene, he slams shut the door to his beat-up Suburban—Bessie—sidles out unsteadily, and looks up to see he’s been booked to play at a bowling alley in the rural Southwest. At that, he swears, spits, and shoves his hand inside his truck to pull out his portable toilet—a plastic jug (looks like it once housed anti-freeze?) and dumps the contents on the pavement.
Maybe that gesture’s only despicable, and not charming, but to each his own.
Despite this delightful start, as the film moved forward, I didn’t expect to find the story as – perhaps, predictable? Rote?
After we watch Bad give a few performances where he barely (though still, somehow, charmingly?) makes it on stage because he keeps stumbling behind the bar to retch; after he sleeps with the dregs of these honky-tonk bars; after we see him repeatedly fall asleep with McClure’s whiskey on his big belly, only to wake up face first in his own filth; after we … well, understand just how dire his situation is, he meets Craddock and suddenly he’s somehow got a will to live. His whole demeanor changes, if not his unsavory habits.
Though there are certainly some spins on this tried-and-true story of an old, washed-up drunk who seeks redemption and perhaps a new lease on life, I guess I wished for a little more originality.
Bridges is more than fantastic as Blake, as everyone’s saying, and he sings all of his own songs in the movie; Gyllenhaal is too gorgeous for words, per usual. And, there is a great story there.
I’ve just seen it so, so many times.
Next up, "Invictus," which I saw last night as part of a double feature.
I should've gotten 2+ more hours of sleep and saved my pennies (I really tried to like it, too!)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
"Cool Hand 2":
Friday, December 18, 2009
It's finally out! I've been waiting for "Crazy Heart" to grace the silver screen for months, and today I get to see it. The Dude (err, Jeff Bridges) and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in this film about a hard-living, disaster of a country singer, Bad Blake (played by Bridges), and a journalist (Gyllenhaal) that's doing some exposé on the man behind the music.
I'm such a sucker for these two, (and, secretly, sad folksy country music), that I can't imagine I won't love it. Angelika Film Center, here I come to empty my (shallow) pockets, once again. Will report back.
"Crazy Heart" trailer:
And, for shits, a "The Dude" clip because there can never be too many viewings:
Thursday, December 17, 2009
So, I arrived at my favorite East Village cinema to find only one movie of interest playing: Chilean writer-director Sebastian Silva's “The Maid” (“La Nana”) about a crazy housekeeper/nanny who's dead set on keeping her position of twenty years in a Chilean upperclass household.
Raquel, played by Chilean actress Catalina Saveedra, is bug-eyed, has atrociously frizzy hair and about as much social grace as a goat. She also has a curious hatred for the eldest girl of the household; a creepy infatuation with the young sons; and a "Single-White-Female" streak during scenes where she tries on the lady of the house's clothes and later buys them.
Raquel begins having health problems, so it's suggested that the family hire additional help. This leads to some evil jealousy, yet pretty hilarious exercises by Raquel to eliminate the new maids by driving them away screaming, humiliated, and scraped up.
That is, until the younger, sweeter Lucy turns up as the new help and is more unwilling to be battered around by the bullish Raquel.
The movie takes some quite curious detours, and you're often left wondering what tone Silva was going for. It was often very funny, but there were many moments I found myself cringing and tense, worried that Raquel had really lost it and that just-around-the-corner we were going to find one of the new maids with her head lopped off. I thought for sure she might try to grind up the cat and serve it for dinner a few times.
And, there were certainly some loose ends as to the matriarch's motivation for keeping the crazy maid on for so long—as if there was some bond, or back-story, between them that we're missing. But, all in all, it was a pretty great film, if uncomfortable, confusing in tone, and meandering. Catalina Saavedra as the maid was fantastic.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Jake Gyllenhaal, with those man-whiskers.
I probably patted myself on the back as I waltzed out of the theater with a tub of half-eaten popcorn in my paws, saturated with movie-theater butter, no doubt.
But, Food, Inc. -- that really took the cake.
I eat roughly a dozen eggs a week; that's a very meager estimate. I toss in some tofu from time to time, just to make myself feel I'm doing myself some protein service. I don't think about the chickens; I certainly don't think about how my little eggs are procured.
I had to turn that movie off: exploitation of Mexican workers (my people!), inhumane treatment of dirty animals (my people!), and all for making corporate brass richer (my future husband(s)!)
I didn't like it one bit. See below my angst:
Margaret Sandwich: sure thing.
and hey, learning things is painful
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I don't like following in the footsteps of David Denby. I get it; we're both blowhards who tend to think our opinion means something. That said, what follows are some notable flicks that I likely saw while twiddling my thumbs and making sure that 10 fingers still exist. That is, there weren't a boatload of speakable movies this year (There was no "No Country for Old Men" or "There Will Be Blood") -- sad to say.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Last week, the movie gods unveiled a sweet online paradise when Movieclips.com went live. I was straight off the heels of remembering my first (and, hopefully, last) layoff from a corporate behemoth, The Blerg, and I was looking for fictitious commiseration. This website provides cinephiles like myself with most anything they need.
You can hover over the tiny icons that promise a minute or two of your favorite movie scenes; it suggests a bunch beneath your search results to entertain yourself while your specific movie-choice loads.
While we close PopSci for February, I've been checking out some favorite scenes of telling the "Haters. Gonna Hate." (see above animation) of the corporate world to go shove off.
See below iterations of a couple fun movies from the past decades, where the characters tell their bosses and/or stories of their disillusionment--and their desire to QUIT.
Lordy, me, the resolution and nice capsulized versions of these bits gives me goosebumps. Please check out the Movieclips site, yourself.
A seven-figure settlement in "Office Space." This is from YouTube, since the MC site is giving me errors (it could be my fiddling with the html so it won't Autoplay), but ... I can't watch/relate this scene enough. It's brilliant. I work hard and very, very well at PopSci; at The Blerg, I was Peter:
Well, tonight turned out to be an impromptu double feature.
After a late day at work (Pop Sci's February issue is closing this week, so it's all push, push, push), I decided to go see “Up in the Air,” the new George Clooney movie about a man whose sole purpose in life is to ruin everyone else's. His job is to travel from corporation to corporation to rid them of pathetic souls. The first minutes of the film feature a series of poor dopes getting the ax (shot from Clooney's point of view), and I must admit I found it a little unnerving—it brought me back to the morning when I was the poor dope, and the Blerg was letting me go.
No matter how much I hated that job—and, oh, how I hated that job—the indignity felt from being told to leave instead of leaving on my own volition ... well, I suddenly remembered the rush of tears and expletives that fell from my face and spilled from my mouth.
I imagine that millions of Americans will feel a similar sting once they see this film (if they can afford it—zing.)
Clooney's character is Ryan Bingham, a wry, cynical (if devilishly handsome) man who prides himself on being able to live out of a figurative backpack (or carry-on). Possessions are baggage, weighing one down (“Moving is living.”); personal relationships are burdensome anchors, to be avoided at all costs. (I'd heard from a colleague that Clooney plays a pretty despicable, unlikeable character, but, in truth, I rather liked him, and one day aspire to be him! I digress.)
Bingham considers the sky his home, airports a refuge, and his permanent residence in Omaha, NE, a veritable hell. He averages 300,000 miles of air travel a year and loves the elite status it affords him at hotels, car rental places, airports, etc. And while he doesn't delight in ruining people's lives—he's not evil—he seems to think that on the whole people are better to be cut loose from their shit jobs to pursue some latent passion; and, a job's a job, and his affords him the ability to be accountable to no one (Sweet.).
Of course, old Bingham's every-man-is-an-island world gets rocked by two ladies. First, he meets Alex (the beautiful Vera Farmiga) in a hotel bar; she's his female equivalent, and they start a steamy little romance that they manage to find time for by arranging meetups in airports across the country. Second, there's the young Cornell grad who's begun to work for Bingham's company. The little go-getter (Anna Kendrick) has hatched a plan to save the company millions of dollars by conducting layoffs remotely via the Interwebs.
This would obviously ruin Bingham's ideal existence. He'd be grounded.
Bingham's boss (Jason Bateman) decides it'd be a good idea for the new kid to join Clooney on the road. He and Alex carry on.
I really liked this movie. While there were some predictable elements, all does not end hunky-dorily for everyone; it feels realer, and sadder, in a somewhat refreshing way. I loved Farmiga and Clooney, and this Kendrick kid was quite good as a neurotic square.
By the end, I was feeling super lonely and sad, imagining my ultimate fate of dying sad and alone—something that usually doesn't trouble me as I think of how I'll be able to watch 18 hours of movies a day in peace when I'm old, without fear of social reprobation.
As I was walking out of the theater, I glanced over my shoulder just to see what some of these happy couples surrounding me were going to see … and I saw that “Brothers” was playing in 10 minutes.
So, I somehow decided it'd be a good idea to tend to my uncharacteristically-aching heart by going to watch a movie about the tumult and suffering war bestows on families.
More on that later or tomorrow. Needless to say, I feel like someone just broke my heart, then water-boarded me. Must fall asleep to something uplifting before I toss myself out of my fourth floor window.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Walking out of “Broken Embraces” (Los Abrazos Rotos) last week, I was
rambling, per usual, about the movie’s merits and demerits compared to director Pedro Almodovar's
the other films. As we strolled down
Houston St. from Sunshine Cinema, I asked my old friend what he’d
thought of the movie, relinquishing my death-grip on the conversation.
He sort of shrugged his shoulders, cocked his head, and said: “Eh, his
films all run together to me.”
While my heart palpitated a bit, thinking of the intricacies of each
and every one of Almodovar's films, how he's a filmmaker's Film Man –
a film student who's never grown up – I took a deep breath and said,
“Yeah, I can see that.” Sure, I could tell you the ins and outs of
“Talk to Her,” “All About My Mother,” and, lately, “Volver” – but
there's an elemental sameness to all Almodovar films that make them
unwittingly Almodovar without need for credit recognition. Every
character has a twisted, twisted back-story – and they all tie
themselves seamlessly together in a beautifully-shot sequence of
events, somewhere down the line.
That said, there've been some Almodovar stand-out scenes that
couldn't erase themselves from my memory, were they to be Magic
Ink-erasable. I'll never forget the images and themes from “The Bad
Education” (La Mala Educacion), with one of my old loves, Gael Garcia
Bernal – he plays a fledgling actor-cum-transvestite-cum-
Those images and sequences are so engrained in my warbled movie memory
that I'll never lose them – and I'll never forget making many a soul
watch that film.
So, back to “Embraces.” Penelope Cruz plays the gorgeous protagonist lady;
she's the star in Almodovar's immediate film that we're watching, as well as his film
within-the-film – he shoots a comedy within an atypical drama. We
learn early on that her father's sick, she's an assistant at a huge
corporation—which is run by an ineptly ruthless CEO-type (aren't they
all?)—and she's got to make the all-too-rough (not) decision whether
to sell her beautiful self to the sexually voracious old man, or let
her Pops die in the hands of an unsympathetic hospital.
Enter the dreamy man protagonist (who's been involved in the story as
a narrative from minute 1), an oft-used Almodovar standby, Lluis Homar
(of “La Mala Educacion”) – a dreamy director who's fallen for Cruz's
beguiling looks and clutchable soul.
Well, no point in going on with the narrative arc.
It's a great story, fantastic role-playing on both sides (Cruz and
Homar's), yet only a good movie. It's a great effort, and it's so, SO Almodovar; it's just not told
in the same deft, clever way that he usually spins his tales,
unraveling them layer by layer till we're left with just the most
brute forms of humans—which he's so good at. This feels like he
started in the middle of opening a can of worms, got nervous and made
sure he closed the can back up.
It's good, but not great.
Still worth a see.
Broken Embraces trailer: