Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Last 10 Movies I've Seen

by Brian
All About My Mother: By far my favorite of the now 6 Almodóvar movies I’ve seen, and a great argument against watching his films on DVD. It’s cinematic in the best possible way, and I can’t help but feel that a lot would be lost in a home environment.

Half Nelson: A bunch of very good performances but I’m not sure how much else. As much as the filmmakers seem to want to avoid the typical “heroic inner city teacher” movie, I think they still fall into the trap. At the end of the day, they don’t really deal with the subject matter in a way that was meaningful to me.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles: It seems funny, but the movie that was on my mind while watching this was David Lynch’s The Straight Story. Thematically, they struck me as fairly similar.

Law of Desire: An early Almodóvar, less successful than the others I saw during the Viva Pedro! retrospective. Obviously shares themes and subject matter with Bad Education, but it’s not nearly as sharp as the later film.

Hollywoodland: I added my comments in Jackrabbit Slim’s review thread.

All the King's Men: Not as bad as the reviews would make it seem, but still not very good. I actually didn’t have a problem with Sean Penn as much as I did with … nearly everyone else in the movie, come to think of it. Plus, it’s a really, really bad idea to have a movie revolve around someone who makes it a point to not know what’s going on.

Jesus Camp: Like with The Boys of Baraka, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady do really great work with kids, but I would have liked to see this movie dig a little deeper than it did. One of the great strengths of Baraka was that we got to see the difference the school, and its closure, made in the lives of its students, but that’s not really the case here. The film really only scratches the surface of the role “faith” plays in these kids’ lives. A follow-up in ten years would probably be fascinating, though.

Matador: Another early Almodóvar, probably the most farcical of the ones I saw. Fun stuff, but somewhat aimless, and I don’t think the third act really works for me.

The Last King of Scotland: Very well-made and well-acted, and packing a considerable visceral impact, but the story problems are so great that it makes me think that the whole idea was fundamentally misconceived. Again, it’s not wise to build a movie around a character who is wholly ignorant of what’s going on around him.

The Departed: Mostly great, although as the end approaches things get progressively murkier, and the last shot especially damn near ruined it for me. The first two hours, though, are inarguably awesome, and Mark Wahlberg, of all people, really kills here in a supporting role.


Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

As for The Departed--loved it, but it is essentially a popcorn film (not that there's anything wrong with that). I now know why Wells keeps stressing that it doesn't have much depth. I agree with you with the last shot, it was sort of a "is that all there is?" moment. And *spoiler*

What was in the envelope that Billy gave Madeline?

10/12/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

*further spoiler discussion*

Good question on the envelope, one of the "murkier" things I was referring to. I presume that the contents of the envelope led directly to Dignam's final appearance, though.

10/12/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

*Still more spoiler discussion*

The speculation on the IMDB message board would agree with you. Clearly it was something to implicate Sullivan, but we needed a quick scene establishing that there was something inside it that directed Madeline to go to Dignam, as there was nothing in the film to suggest that they knew each other.

10/12/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Saw The Last King of Scotland yesterday. I found it to be okay enough, but as I was watching it I sort of had "what's the point" feeling. Yes, we all know Amin was a madman. Does this say anything new? I suppose what the creative team was trying to do here was show us, with the Scottish doctor character, of how we can be seduced by power when it comes in the form of someone charismatic. But I'm a little tired of films about Africa seen through the eyes of white people. At least Hotel Rwanda had an African protagonist. The doctor character is just annoying. As for Forest Whitaker, he hits all the right notes, but I didn't come out of the theater bowled over, and there are some rather unpleasant Emperor Jones angles to the performance.

10/23/2006 07:39:00 AM  

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