Author Topic: Movie News  (Read 34558 times)

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #120 on: August 14, 2007, 10:31:24 am »
I finally saw the latest Harry Potter movie last nite and I was entranced by the character Luna Lovegood. Late in the film she says something like, "The things we lose have a habit of finding their way back to us in time." Was that the right wording? Also, I loved the ending line by Harry, when he said that Dumbledore's Army has something their enemies don't have: "We have something worth fighting for."

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moremojo

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #121 on: September 02, 2007, 06:08:40 pm »
I went to see Superbad last night with my sister, and we both enjoyed it. Not a great film, but a fun one. Essentially a raunchy teen comedy, the movie is graced with an underlying and sincere sweetness that is rarely encountered in this genre, and is similarly distinguised by solid performances by a coterie of talented, charming actors.

Possible spoiler alert: I think there was a distinct suggestion that Seth (played by Jonah Hill) harbored homosexual or bisexual tendencies, and that his love for his best friend Evan (played by Michael Cera) was not wholly platonic. One of the striking and admirable features of the movie is its insistence on the worth and importance of male friendships, and its acknowledgement that such friendships are a genuine manifestation of human love. The subplot involving the third friend Fogell (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the two feckless police officers played by Bill Hader and Seth Rogen also touches on this theme.

Out of a wide range of accomplished performances, I was especially struck by that of Mintz-Plasse as the nerdy but endearing Fogell. This young actor seems to have a flair for understated and idiosyncratic comedy, and is someone to watch for in the future.

Offline Kd5000

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #122 on: September 03, 2007, 10:13:24 am »
Watching the news yesterday evening, it seems that Harry Potter was considered an underperformer for the summer season.   You think with all the publicity about the last book, there would have been a symbiotic effect...

There is nothing at the cinema right now that appeals to me.  The summer blockbusters have all been there for some time.  And nothing is really grabbing my attn to go see a movie on Labor Day.      I don't have any interest in going to see CHUCK and LARRY. 

Here's hoping the Fall Season looks more appealing...




moremojo

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #123 on: October 02, 2007, 11:47:40 am »
I managed to make it to the Kenji Mizoguchi film Ugetsu Monogatari last night.

I had only seen the ending of this film before on cable television, and was pleased to have this opportunity to experience such a major work as a film projected upon a screen. The title, which can be translated as 'Tales of the Pale Moon After Rain', is a 1953 work set in the sixteenth century, during the turmoil of the civil wars. The story is a ghost story which also doubles as a cautionary tale, about how we often don't realize what we have until it is lost.
 
The main character, Genjuro, is a poor but skilled and ambitious village potter who leaves his family to pursue trade and profit in the towns. He is lured to the luxurious mansion of a mysterious and beautiful aristocratic lady, Lady Wakasa, who indulges him and asks for his hand in marriage. During the course of the story, Genjuro learns that Lady Wakasa and her attendants are ghosts, spirit representatives of a noble clan wiped out by the wars; Lady Wakasa's soul has returned to earth because she died before ever knowing carnal love, and seeks a man with whom she can return to the spirit world. Genjuro's life is in danger, and with the help of a Shinto priest, he successfully wards off the spirits in order to make his way back to his abandoned family, to be greeted by a bittersweet surprise.
 
The film is distinguished by its evocative black-and-white photography, replete with a variety of creative lighting effects, and an effective, apposite musical soundtrack. Most memorable of all are the fine performances by the central actresses (Mizoguchi was celebrated for his consummate direction of women), namely Kinuyo Tanaka as Genjuro's stoically suffering wife Miyagi, the lovely Machiko Kyo as the dangerous Lady Wakasa, and Kikue Mori as Lady Wakasa's ghostly nurse Ukon. The most powerful scene for me was one where Ukon, realizing that Genjuro has learned of his predicament and seeks to flee, angrily confronts him and then, astonishingly, begins to plead desperately for his eternal presence alongside her beloved charge. The emotional shift in the sequence is striking, and Mori conveys the character's conflict and plight masterfully. The scene is also most unusual in that it is a testament of love by proxy--Ukon reveals that her sorrow over her lady's lack of fulfillment led her to take them both back to the world of the living, and that she wanted nothing more than her charge's happiness, even if it could only be obtained in the realm of the dead. She selflessly advocates for the heart of another, who pines silently to the side throughout the sequence.
 
All in all, an interesting, masterful film that I would recommend for those who appreciate beauty in the cinema.

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #124 on: October 09, 2007, 03:48:37 pm »
I saw an interesting Japanese film last night. Though I retain a general antipathy to war films (which this was), this was nonetheless an accomplished work of cinema that I found rewarding and memorable; I would recommend it, especially to those who are interested in unheroicized stories of war and its real human costs.
 
The film is Nobi (Fires on the Plain), a 1959 feature directed by Kon Ichikawa. The print shown was visually excellent, looking almost new, and I was impressed by how well the film had been preserved or restored. Shot in black-and-white 'Scope, the film was distinguished by a consistently intelligent visual design, being illustrative of the especially high quality of Japanese widescreen films of this era.
 
The story involves a private in the Japanese Army named Tamura, who is stationed in the occupied Philippines during the waning days of the Second World War. Diagnosed with possibly terminal tuberculosis at the story's beginning, and shunted between a unit that fears his diseased presence and a military hospital that lacks the resources to treat him, Tamura is thoroughly demoralized, has lost his will to fight, and is only clinging onto life as he knows of nothing else to do. The Japanese realize that their defeat is imminent at the hands of the conquering American forces, and a general retreat to the island of Cebu is underway. Tamura falls in with his equally demoralized comrades, and witnesses a gradual degradation of his fellow soldiers' humanity that tests his own moral boundaries to their limits.
 
Tamura is a highly flawed character, but is equally fully and recognizably human. Desperately ill throughout the story, some of his reactions and choices may be attributed to a mind racked with fever and fatigue. The ultimate horror that Tamura countenances is not apparently the indiscriminate killing that surrounds him, but the men's resorting to cannibalism to survive their ordeal. In the end, Tamura kills his comrade Nagamatsu as apparent punishment for this transgression, which to my mind makes Tamura a distinctly less heroic figure. He dies himself under a rain of enemy bullets, with the knowledge at least (flawed, to my thinking) that he did not debase himself as Nagamatsu had done.
 
To speak of the main character's flaws is not to diminish the film's quality. This was an intelligent and harrowing work that seeks to depict the realities and costs of war without romanticization, and also without didacticism. It is surely as relevant today as it was in 1959 (the film is a welcome antidote to many American war films of the same era, and shows war from the angle of the losing side).
 
The soundtrack of the print was not in as pristine a shape as the visual element, and in the last quarter started to snap, crackle, and pop in a most uncomfortable way, but ironically reflected the increasing hellishness of the story.
 
Even for those who are not fans of war movies, this classic of the Japanese cinema can provide for time well spent.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 07:10:23 pm by moremojo »

moremojo

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #125 on: October 15, 2007, 12:33:22 pm »
I did manage to see Eastern Promises Saturday evening with my sister Cathy. We both enjoyed it, and found it to be an accomplished and rewarding film of real artistic merit. Directed by noted Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg to a Steve Knight screenplay, the film has some of the flavor of Francis Ford Coppola's and Martin Scorsese's gangster pictures, but without the idealization/glamorization of the violent ethos and psychology of the worlds depicted in those works that I find so distasteful and hypocritical.

Set in the world of the Russian mob in contemporary London, the story is a timely window onto the high price that globalization and the advance of unrestrained capitalism has wrought upon so many people struggling for life and parity in today's world. Anna (played by Naomi Watts) is a midwife who delivers a stricken fourteen-year-old Russian girl named Tatiana of her baby, only to have the girl die, leaving her infant daughter alive but alone. Finding a diary in Russian among Tatiana's effects, and a card naming a Russian restaurant in London, Anna consults the restaurant's owner for help in establishing the girl's identity and story.  Unbeknownst to her, the restaurant owner, Semyon (played by Armin Stueller-Mahl) is a leading member of the Russian mob, and has played a central role in Tatiana's demise. Semyon's chauffeur Nikolai (played by Viggo Mortensen), who is rising through the ranks of his adopted criminal family, comes to interact with the increasingly endangered Anna, and both prove helpful to one another in unexpected and surprising ways.

There is a distinct homoerotic undertone introduced to the story through the character of Semyon's son Kirill (played by Vincent Cassel), who is clearly (if subliminally) attracted to Nikolai, and whose affections Nikolai subtly encourages and exploits for a range of reasons. There is also more than a note of homoeroticism in the film's most celebrated set-piece, wherein Nikolai is attacked while completely naked by a couple of assassins in a public bathhouse. This is one of the most ferocious ballets of violence I have seen in cinema, and is electrifying to watch while the horror and pain being meted out by the characters is never diminished.

The complex humanity of all the characters is one of the film's strongest assets. While many are shown engaging in truly terrible acts, everyone is always depicted as fully human, with nuances of feeling and choice with which they are constantly grappling. This thematic sophistication mirrors the often intransigent complexities met in real life.

The film is distinguished by handsome, warm cinematography by the noted Peter Suschitzky, and a welcome supporting role by Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski as Anna's uncle Stepan. This is one of the more noteworthy releases so far of 2007, and is one I would recommend.

Offline Meryl

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #126 on: October 15, 2007, 05:26:32 pm »
Thanks for the wonderful, insightful review, Scott.  You summarized it perfectly, too, without giving away essential plot twists.  8)

This is one of the most ferocious ballets of violence I have seen in cinema, and is electrifying to watch while the horror and pain being meted out by the characters is never diminished.

Electrifying is right!  Mikaela and I were in a state of shock for awhile after seeing this scene.  It's an instant classic as far as film fights go, IMO.  :P
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Re: Movie News
« Reply #127 on: November 13, 2007, 10:44:33 am »
I'm looking forward to seeing "Black, White and Gray" at the Starz International Film Festival tomorrow. Its the story of NY photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Wagstaff.
May 2019 be better for us all.

Scott6373

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #128 on: November 13, 2007, 10:53:04 am »
I went to see "American Gangster" this weekend (not my choice...I dislike RC intensely), but it was worth it to see the preview of "Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street".  It's one of my favorite musical theater pieces.  I did not know they were turning it into a film.  I am hesitant about Johnny Depp, but still very anxious to see it.

http://www.sweeneytoddmovie.com/

moremojo

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Re: Movie News
« Reply #129 on: November 13, 2007, 11:58:28 am »
I went to see The Passenger (aka Professione: reporter), the 1975 feature directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, last night at a free screening; this was my first experience of this important film. The film had been rereleased in late 2005, and was showing at the same theater I went to see Brokeback Mountain for the first time on Saturday, 18 February 2006--I remember seeing the poster while standing in line, and regretting that I would have to defer my chance to see it until later. (That ended up being much later...in the wake of Brokeback Mountain, I had no energy or desire for other movies for some time).

So this was a second opportunity (maybe once in a lifetime) to see this work, as it was made and meant to be seen...as a 35-millimeter print projected onto a movie screen. The screening was fairly well-attended, so perhaps others were of a like mind, though there seemed to be a significant amount of restlessness in some members, with a few walkouts noticeable.

Antonioni, though one of the supremely great filmmakers (he died earlier this year after more than two decades of poor health), is not for all tastes. His pacing is deliberately patient and observant, his mood overridingly one of alienation and dislocation. He presents a pessimistic view of late twentieth-century man, but filters this through a prism of visual and aural poetry, rendering the pessimism equivocal by virtue of the intelligence and artistry of which the human mind is capable.

The Passenger stars Jack Nicholson as British TV reporter David Locke who, while on location in an unnamed African country, is ambiguously motivated to switch identities with a stranger with whom he becomes casually acquainted and who dies suddenly at the hotel in which they are both lodged. So Locke officially becomes dead to the world, while Robertson lives on in a new body. What Locke doesn't realize is that Robertson was an illegal arms smuggler, and unwittingly inherits Robertson's connections and responsibilities with his new identity.

The story is set up to become a thriller, but Antonioni frustrates and redirects this trajectory in a number of ways. Narrative is less important here than the evocation of mood and the delineation of existential freedom and angst. During the course of his international travels (the film was shot in Algeria, Britain, West Germany, and Spain), Locke meets up with a young woman (played by Maria Schneider), who is no less mysteriously motivated to become this strange man's fellow traveller and lover. Both are running away from the certainties of their past existences into an uncharted and potentially perilous future. And running after them, locked into attitudes of certainty and social expectation, are Locke's wife (played by Jenny Runacre), who comes to realize what her husband has done, and Robertson's (now Locke's) twin nemeses, his illicit accomplices and the law.

There is a subdued quality to Nicholson's performance, and Schneider and Runacre are both strangely affectless in their respective personae. This woodenness may have been deliberate on Antonioni's part, to convey a sense of alienation, which seems to me to be Antonioni's major theme in his body of work. Inspired use is made of the many exotic locations in which the story is set, and the film's (anti-)climax is a stunningly bravura sequence of camerawork (obviously inspired by Michael Snow's 1967 experimental film Wavelength) that literally pushes Locke to the periphery of the action, becoming the dead center of the other characters' frenetic and bewildered attentions.

Antonioni was the supreme cinematic poet of urban alienation, and even in a film like The Passenger, where much of the narrative transpires in rural settings, the blighted reach of twentieth-century urban man is shown to be limitless. Though not as fine as Antonioni's earlier L'eclisse and Il deserto rosso, this film remains a resonant work of art, capable of coloring one's experiences of the world outside the film itself, which is perhaps the most salient qualification of artistic greatness I know.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 06:35:00 pm by moremojo »