Thursday, February 01, 2007

January in Review

So this was a pretty slow month. I've been getting settled in - I'm out in Los Angeles now - and that's been taking a lot of time, but I really can't account for what kept me from watching more movies in the first week or so. But yeah, I'm in LA, trying to make it in the pitchas or whatever. I'm still in school, interning at a pretty neat company that mostly makes music videos and commercials. So far I've worked on three music videos, the most high profile of which was for Christina Aguilera. I read scripts and do coverage and I do whatever else. It's nice and that's about it.

Here's January:

The Lost Weekend, Billy Wilder. [B] january 3rd 2007.
[This isn't superfun Billy Wilder like Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard - although thinking back on it I can't think of a single Wilder film I've seen thus far that hasn't made me sad - but it's still Billy Wilder and it's still good. His dialogue doesn't crackle as much in this, but I wonder if that's just due to performances. For whatever reason, none of the characters in this film really endeared themselves to me and I found its moralism a little off-putting. It's clearly a product of its time, though, and it needs to be forgiven for that. The movie is still fairly riveting when it isn't clearly trying to show us how wretched the main character is, but actually does show it.]

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, William Greaves. [B-] january 9th 2007.
[I didn't really know what to make of this movie. I watched it on the plane to Los Angeles and I was pretty tired due to only getting in a few hours of sleep the night before. I've actually held on to the DVD rather than returning it to Netflix because I wanted to give it another viewing. From what I was able to gather, it seems like a fairly clever prank and nothing more. After a while it became difficult to figure out what the point of the film was, the premise seemed to communicate as much as the film itself, but I suspect that maybe the lack of an apparent point is part of the point itself. Hence the re-watch. I'll talk about it when I do.]

Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo Del Toro. [A-] january 11th 2007.
[I did not expect this to be anywhere as grisly as it was. I'm glad that I was caught off guard by those elements of the film, though, because I think it helped them hit with their intended impact. As an indictment of fascism, it's as effective as any other indictment of fascism. We all agree it suck, etc. As a movie about resistance and finding your inner strength, it's a lot more effective, largely due to its events being told from the perspective of a child. The fact that we are given opportunities to question her story, despite the film's subjective narration, gives it an added layer of depth. You can choose to believe in the magic or you can not, but her strength, which is derived largely from the fantasy elements of the film, is undeniable.]

It Happened One Night, Frank Capra. [A-] january 17th 2007.
[I've seen this once before. It's a fun, sweet comedy. I don't have much to say about it.]

Idiocracy, Mike Judge. [C-] january 21st 2007.
[This was simultaneously funnier than I expected and much worse than I expected. It starts off kind of strong, if a little bit hateful and mean-spirited, but it quickly loses steam and by the end of it, turns into a completely formulaic studio comedy, with the sentimental lesson learned at the end, which is awful for a movie meant to be a send-up of how dumb our culture is to do. Overall, it's not really worth anyone's time, but if you're bored, there's worse things to watch on google video, though there's certainly better as well. Why not check out Louis and the Nazis?]

My Man Godfrey, Gregory la Cava. [A-] january 23rd 2007.
[So I guess this is the part of my screwball comedy class where the "screwball" part starts being a lot more apparent. I absolutely love manic comedies like this, relentlessly paced. It gets me psyched for the rest of the semester.]

Ax 'Em, Michael Mfune. [F] january 23rd 2007.
[This movie is truly unbelievable. I put an F down because really it fails on every level as a movie, but that's exactly what makes it so worth your time. Netflix this thing and prepare to be astounded. This feels like a movie made by a dude who's never seen a movie before. Everyone who tries to make a narrative movie has been able to have some semblance of a story come across in their work. That's because everyone's seen enough movies to, at least on some rudimentary level, be able to make one, even if it's a crude one. This movie is a horror movie. A genre movie suggests that dude has seen some movies before, but the fundamental lack of any comprehension for how a movie works makes me wonder if he got all of those Friday the 13th movies at all. So fun.]

Decasia: The State of Decay, Bill Morrison. [B] january 24th 2007.
[Like the cinematic equivalent of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops, a recording based around a tape loop slowly deteriorating as it plays over and over, Decasia uses decaying film. I've read some evaluations of the film saying that it's an exploration of life and death and all that, but I just think it's very nice to look at, if a bit on the long side.]

Birth, Jonathan Glazer. [A-] january 29th 2007.
[I feel like I've talked about this movie before. I like it a lot and I think he really is her husbad.]

Easy Living, Mitchell Leisen. [B] january 30th 2007.
[Fun enough, but not quite as madcap as My Man Godfrey. There are some slapstick bits that really fall flat in this movie, too. I'm having a hard time differentiating between this and My Man Godfrey at the moment. They kind of blended together for me and I don't really know what to say about it, so I won't say anything at all.

Madman, Joe Giannone. [D-] january 30th 2007.
[This is just a bad horror movie. Not so bad it's good, just so bad.]

Ravenous, Antonia Bird. [B] january 31st 2007.
[We talked through most of this. The letter grade is largely arbitrary. I'd like to see it again.]

See you next month, hopefully sooner.