Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April movies

One quasi-sentence reviews for my April films!

You're Gonna Miss Me...2004...usa **** (good music doc on roky erikson & his lost mind)

Run Fatboy Run
...2008...usa **1/2 (should have been better with a title like that)

The Eagle
...1925...usa *****! (5/5 due seeing it in restored movie palace w/ wurlitzer organ!)

Black Book
...2007...germany ***1/2 (surprisingly suspenseful ww2 film about a young jewish woman trying to survive)

Lila Says
...2005...france *** (bleak, erotic coming of age film)

Note By Note
...2006...usa **** (one year in the life of making a steinway piano, will be in running for top doc in '08 for me)

Tears of the Black Tiger
...2005...thailand **1/2 (saturated images + over the top thai spaghetti western melodrama)

Boarding Gate
...2008...france ** (first half beyond horrible, second half better, asia argenta acts like an wild animal)

...2007...usa *** (romance angle muddies this '20s set screwball throwback, more football, less sourface)

La Captive
...2000...france ** (i felt like i was held captive this was so slow--and i love slow!)

Roman Holiday
...1953...usa *****! (one of my all-time favorites...watched again, romantic, funny and just flat out good)

Art School Confidintial
...2006...usa **1/2 (how come this wasn't better? art school, satire, zwigoff--disappointment)

Blood and Black Lace
...1964...italy *** (mario bava, early slasher film, lighting gone amok)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Unmasked. Last week I was milling around the Circle Cinema projection booth and this photo was taken. Photo by Chuck Foxen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Full frontal nudity on jets

I’ve been doing more travelling recently and I’ve taken my portable DVD player along for the domestic flights to help pass the time (I’m a white knuckler so it helps me forget the fear too). I usually watch a foreign film because it has subtitles and sometimes the jet is too noisy to pick out dialogue; the subtitles provide a back up for what’s being said.

I tend to watch things not usually seen on jets—‘60s Milos Forman (Black Peter + The Fireman’s Ball) or obscure Spanish films like Soccer Days have been screened in the past. One thing that has worried me when I’ve watched some of them (you never know with foreign movies as their actors are a lot less concerned about taking their clothes off than in American films) is the worry over nudity or other “offensive” material out of nowhere that might send someone more conservative over the edge or expose an underage person to an image their parents don’t want them to see.

This past week I went Tulsa—Dallas—Albuquerque for a mini vacation to New Mexico. My two films: Tears of the Black Tiger from Thailand and La Captive from France. Tears of the Black Tiger had nothing objectionable (although it was a bit weird for airplane fare) but then I started watching La Captive, and, it being from France, started to lean toward some nudity and fortunately I was on the perfect flight for that.

Evidently, Albuquerque is near some military bases because half the jet was full of a variety of soldiers. I almost wanted terrorists to try to take this jet to witness the unholy beat-down that would have commenced. Back to La Captive: Sylvie Testud stops taking a bath, stands and begins to dry off, beginning a few minutes of full frontal nudity.

I cautiously look around to make sure some 11 year old isn’t behind me—I was safe, it was just another soldier. I look quickly over to the soldier to my left who is in his early 20s to see if he was even paying attention—he was. He seemed to be looking at Testud’s bare skin and looked up and caught my eye and gave me a quick nod and a thumb’s up in approval of what I was watching. This guy might not have been interested in a French film on a flight to Albuquerque but he was into this portion of the French film!

Coming home I sat next to a woman in her 60s but lucky for her and my own embarrassment, I was re-watching the 1953 film Roman Holiday and it offers no full frontal nudity. I’ll save another one of those for a later flight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Heart Sanaa Lathan

A few months back I watched a surprisingly smart romantic drama/comedy called Something New. I vaguely remember the trailer from its release—black woman, white man, they meet, resist the sparks between them, give in, resist some more and ultimately give in. It could have been complete formula but thanks to a strong performance from the female lead and an intelligent script, the movie rose out of the mire to become a winning little film that I don’t think many people saw.

That female lead was Sanaa Lathan. I’ve spent the last couple of months going through some of her films via Netflix and have discovered someone who delivers a lot of sharp performances. Lathan seems drawn to strong willed, independent and lively characters and for women these days—particularly African American actresses—those kinds of roles are difficult to find. Although, to be honest, I didn’t watch Lathan in Alien vs. Predator in 2004 so I don’t know if that role had those same characteristics.

I did watch her in Out of Time (okay), Disappearing Acts (not so good) and Love & Basketball (pretty good actually, Lathan dons a variety of basketball sweats and has to play a little hoop). In the latter two movies Lathan is the heart of the movie, the anchor that the story revolves around and she provides that backbone quite nicely. I’d love to see her in lighter material or something outside the romantic drama genre (again, I did NOT see Alien vs. Predator so maybe Lathan delivered the performance of a lifetime and that was definitely not a romantic drama unless the film takes a surprising turn between one of these killing machines. Do you get the notion I loathe the idea of putting these two horror/action villains in the same movie trying to kill one another?).

Okay, I was distracted from doling out compliments for Lathan there by a tangent about a silly idea by a greedy Hollywood. Back to Lathan—she’s quite easy on the eyes (I dig the tiny scar on her cheek) as well as being a good actress. I’ve got more films in my queue and look forward to seeing Lathan in what she does in the future.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The battle over texting continues

A few months ago I wrote a long diatribe on one of the most annoying things that occurs while watching a movie—teenagers texting one another over and over during the film. I’m blaming teens as I seem to notice they are the main guilty party when it comes to people flipping open their cell phones and reading texts and then quickly writing in some silly shortened, bastardized “text English”.

A few nights ago I went to see Run Fatboy Run and noticed when I entered the theatre a large group of “teens” at the back. I took a seat as far from them as possible as I knew phones were going to be going off and talking was going to happen. Good plan, right? Unfortunately, four of them decided they needed to sit in the second row as soon as the credits started.

Two teenage couples, maybe the worst sight and most annoying thing on earth, who promptly began to gibber, giggle, read their texts, reply to their texts, hold hands, get into an argument, storm out of the theatre after argument, make up, change seats, read some new texts and reply to those life or death important texts. You get the picture?

These teens would hold their phones up in the air slightly, never having done that I’m guessing to see them better with the light of the image on the screen. This is just a guess from a texting novice. They would show the people next to them the text, push a few buttons in response and then flip it noisily closed. Over and over.

When the film ended and I was strolling out, I noticed they were exiting at the same time. “Enough is enough,” I thought as I stepped up to a female and male and without warning launched into a little rant along the lines of: “Do you know that every time that you open your cell phone to check a text, you are annoying the ENTIRE theatre? Could you please lower the phone or better yet, not read those important texts until AFTER the movie?”

The problem: I quickly noticed these two were about 14 years old after I started my first sentence. It was too late to stop so I just went on with my etiquette lecture as I figured I was doing my civic duty. As I walked off after delivering my blast I heard the boy, barely into puberty, ask the girl, “What did he just say?” “Something about not checking texts during the movie!” I heard a lot of muffled conversation after that.

Maybe I was being a tad over zealous? I don’t think so though. This ceaseless talking, answering your cell phone and taking texts has got to stop! If it takes me having one confrontation at a time until either we are rid of this scourge of rudeness or I’m beaten/shot/stabbed/arrested, I will not give up!

Monday, April 07, 2008

See Heston in the classic Planet of the Apes trailer

Heston gets to deliver his "It's a madhouse!" line multiple times! It does not get any better than this.

Charlton Heston 1924-2008

Charlton Heston passed away a few days ago—I was a fan of Heston’s for five films he made that I loved: The Ten Commandments, Touch of Evil, Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man and Soylent Green. Heston’s acting style was a bit on the macho side. He was often cast as a survivor or “last man alive” and he’s blessed with that voice. He was known for being the NRA spokesman, or president or whatever it was he did for them, in his later years but it is those five films that etched Heston into my film memory.

The Ten Commandments was a yearly family tradition in my house. ABC would air the epic, usually on a Sunday night starting about 6pm and running until after 10pm. Heston plays Moses in the Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza. As a kid I was was always completely blown away by the huge scale of the film. 1956 was the year. No CGI, just thousands of extras and huge sets as DeMille attempted to bring something to the movies that the emerging television could not replicate (vivid colors you couldn’t get at home either). Heston was the anchor of the film.

Two years later in 1958 Heston takes on one of the leading roles in Orson Welles second best film (uhm, a little film called Citizen Kane would probably have to rank at the top) Touch of Evil. From the mesmerizing first shot it is clear that this was going to be a different, more artistic and intense rendering of the “noir” genre. Heston actually plays a Mexican official in Touch of Evil.

Over a five-year period Heston was cast in three sci-fi cult classics: The Planet of the Apes (1968, one of my favorite films ever), The Omega Man (1971) and Soylent Green (1973). I absolutely loved these three films, as they were dark, strange, futuristic, kind of racy, full of violence, a tad cheesy, full of political statements burning in that era and just so much fun! These are full on genre pictures and I loved them when I saw them as a kid and still am quite fond of them all.

Charlton Heston R.I.P.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

March movies

I saw a lot of okay types of films in March--eleven rated 3* out of the twenty films I saw. Either I need to be more harsh or need to watch more polarizing movies. I saw a lot of pleasing, entertaining films--flawed but still entertaining. Except for the Rear Window for teens rip off that was Disturbia. Maybe I'll hate more stuff in April? I did hand out a 5 and a 4.5 in March.

My Favorite Wife
...1940...usa ***1/2
Bob Le Flambeur...1956...france *****!
Great Expectations...1998...usa ***
The Ten...2007...usa ***
Offside...2006...iran ***1/2
Disturbia...2007...usa **
Quinceanera...2006...usa ***
The Hoax...2006...usa ***
Night at the Museum...2007...usa ***
In Bruges...2008...ireland ***
The Bank Job...2008...england ****
Girls Rock!...2008...usa ***
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song...2007...usa ***1/2
Caramel...2007...lebanon ***
There Will Be Blood...2007...usa ****1/2
Amarcord...1974...italy ****
Wyatt Earp...1994...usa ***
Control...2007...england ****
Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day...2008...usa ***
A Guide for the Married Man...1967...usa ***