Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday break

I've kept good on my promise to post every three days but I'm going to take a week off while in New York. I'll be getting some new inspiration for posts. Hopefully.

I'll be back on January 1st and plan on keeping up the every 3rd day effort into 2009. Upcoming posts include The Delman, more Danish films, reviews of Cloverfield and Let the Right One In and the much anticipated posting of the 2008 stats. I know people want to see those stats!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

David Lynch interview

David Lynch was interviewed by Deborah Solomon for the New York Times; published on November 23, 2008, this is a portion of that interview.

Solomon: How do you feel about someone watching your films--Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive--on a laptop?
Lynch: More and more people are seeing films on computers--lousy sound, lousy picture--and they think they've seen the film, but they really haven't.

Solomon: Because the small screen emphasizes plot over visuals?
Lynch: It's a pathetic horror story.

Solomon: On the other hand, you do appear on countless computer screens ever day, giving a weather report from your home in Los Angeles, on your Web site.
Lynch: Peope are kind of interested in weather. It's not artistic. It's just me sitting there in my painting studio.

Solomon: Who films you?
Lynch: It's a camera that comes down out of the ceiling.

Solomon: Do you see yourself as an American Surrealist?
Lynch: Dennis Hopper called me that, and that is the way he sees it. It's more than just Surrealism to me.

: I think of you as someone who transported the noir sensibility from the city into a Norman Rockwell setting. What do you think of his paintings?
Lynch: I love his work. It's like Edward Hopper. They see a certain thing, and they catch it.

...I posted this just for the great DL photo...and he loathes watching films on computers...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hanging out with Preston Sturges in New York

I'll be in New York for the last week of 2008. Obviously movies will be on the agenda along with other cultural endeavors and favorite restaurants. Dedicated readers know I love screwball comedies from the 1930s/40s and the absolute master of the genre is Preston Sturges. You can imagine my excitement when I found out there will be a Sturges fest at the Film Forum the entire week I'm in Manhattan.

It looks like most of Sturges' films will be shown. Film prints. I will be laughing and soaking up my beloved screwball with such films from him as The Great McGinty, Christmas In July, The Lady Eve (an all-time favorite of mine), Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero. Sure, I've seen them before but to see a print and to watch them in the darkened theatre as the film flickers through the light--well, I can't miss that or I'll forever kick myself. It looks like I have found something to occupy a chunk of my time on my trip and Preston Sturges will be my much loved companion and guide.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Heart Audrey Tautou

No brainer. Who doesn't have a thing for the woman who played Amelie? Well, I do. If you don't or aren't familiar with Audrey Tautou--then you need to get into your Netflix queue real quick and start adding movies. Although Amelie is the pinnacle, Tautou has not just been a one film actress as she's carved out a prominent role for herself in French cinema.

Let me brag for a second and talk about how I was a fan of Tautou before the aforementioned Amelie came out. She had a supporting role in the film Venus Beauty Institute in 1999 and while it wasn't a large role, Tautou gave a fresh performance that had me wondering who this dark-eyed Frenchwoman was and hoping I'd see her in films in the future.

Two years later and Tautou and director Jean Pierre Jeunot created one of the quirkiest, most romantic films (and film characters) of all time--Amelie. And yes, I said of all time. I love this movie. Every time I watch it I get a warm, "I'm just glad to be alive!" feeling that makes radiate happiness and hope for tomorrow (not a frequent attitude in my pessimistic nature for those reading who don't know me). Tautou as Amelie is one of the best casting decisions in the last few decades. I've read that Emily Watson almost got the part and while she might have been okay, there would have been serious issues with her in this role. Tautou is just so natural and appropriate in the role of Amelie that it would have been a shame had someone else gotten the role.

Since Amelie Tautou's done a bunch of films I've seen enjoyed. I love French cinema so it's no surprise she pops up a lot in classy French farce like God Is Great and I'm Not, He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not and Priceless. Cedric Klapisch's ensemble diptych The Spanish Apartment and The Russian Dolls are both worth watching as is 2004's reteaming with Jeunot for A Very Long Engagement. After writing this I need to finally watch The Da Vinci Code just so I won't miss any of her films. Tautou is playing Coco Chanel in a big biopic in 2009 so she might garner a lot of attention for that promising role.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Movie tickets #3

Monday, December 08, 2008

You Can't Take It With You

The work of director Frank Capra left behind a film term born from his movies--"Capraesque." Such films as It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are the archetype of a Capra film. A regular guy (it seems Jimmy Stewart is that ultimate regular guy as he's in both the mentioned films + You Can't Take It With You) redeems self with friends/community/love interest after prevailing from some sort of test. Capra films are known for the big emotional payoffs at the end. Some people love that, others don't.

The "Capra" sub-genre, whether it's a film by Capra himself or a person inspired by him, are not movies I usually enjoy. While the films do pull at the heartstrings it often feels these films try too hard to pierce the heart. I don't mind dropping a few tears here and there when watching a movie (check my "tearjerker" stats when I post the 2008 stats in January!) but if there is one thing I ask when watching something--do not manipulate me. Too often that's what a "Capra" film feels like to me.

You Can't Take It With You was a Pulitzer prize winning play in 1936 by George S. Kaufman and Moss Heart (great name). Capra's film adaptation followed two years later and although the source material is not Capra--this has his touches all over it. The surprising thing for me is just how much I loved this story as it unfolded as I'm always slightly leery at the start of a Capra film. There's a sweet romance, social statements and a wild assortment of comedic characters who make the film a lot of fun. The people are just so likable and the cast is top notch--it's impossible to not root for them (damn Capra!).

You Can't Take It With You won two Oscars and was nominated for five others and is centered around the romance of Alice (Jean Arthur) and Tony (Stewart). He's from a very wealthy, snobby family while she's from a rambunctious, eccentric family. The two families meet and it results in explosions (literally. Alice's family enjoys making their own fireworks in the basement among other oddball behavior).

This being the 1930s there are lots of things Capra has to say about the economic depression that still gripped the nation at this time (having not read/seen the play, not sure how much some of the social elements were in it before adapted to film). There's pointed barbs regarding banks (every decent person's villain at this time), the poor, the heartlessness of the wealthy and class elitism. The gulf between the haves and the have nots is not impossible to overcome in this world though (Capra!) but you'd have to be a complete nimrod to miss the messages amid the comedy.

You Can't Take It With You is one of my favorite Capra films--the screwball classic It Happened One Night is one of my favorite films ever so this can't come close to passing that one. It's still a great film though. It's funny, romantic, heartfelt, quirky, not dated at all and gives you a full dose of "Capraisms" (for better or worse). This time I thoroughly enjoyed the sub-genre of Capra. Skip the December cliche that is It's A Wonderful Life and watch You Can't Take It With You instead.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Prize for quiz hi-score

There might only be five people who attempt the quiz but the hi-score is going to get a prize...the latest t-shirt for Circle Cinema in the size of your choice. If you bend the rules--that's between you and your ethics. Any ties will be decided by a random tie breaker decided by me at the deadline.

The deadline for taking the quiz will be December 15th to give lazy readers a chance to check in and take the quiz. So, if you haven't taken the quiz yet--send me your answers and you might have yourself a nice new t-shirt before the year is out.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Movie quiz

My friend David works for the Tulsa City Library and from time to time is involved in hiring for the media center. He creates a quiz to test knowledge in a variety of cultural areas to separate the applicants from one another. This 24 question quiz is the latest hand out he delivered for a recent job opening. I wish I would have interviews for employment that included questions about Kubrick or Kurosawa! For the record, I scored a 22 out of 24. I'm still kicking myself for not thinking out question #9! Inexcusable error from me!

Take the quiz, be honest, don't go on the internets and e-mail me your answers (unpavedroad@yahoo.com) and I'll post your results in the comments box. Do it.

1. The 1925 film Battleship Potemkin was directed by A) Andrei Tarkovsky B) Sergei Eisenstein C) Warner Herzog

2. Clark Gable’s co-star in It Happened One Night was A) Claudette Colbert B) Rita Hayworth C) Vivien Leigh

3. Who won an Academy Award last year for her performance in the movie The Queen?

4. The 1915 film Birth of A Nation was directed by A) Orson Welles B) George Cukor C) D.W. Griffith

5. Katherine Hepburn’s co-star in the 1957 movie Desk Set was A) Cary Grant B) Spencer Tracy C) Burt Lancaster

6. Which film’s plot revolved around a bank robbery? A) The Deer Hunter B) Dog Day Afternoon C)
12 Monkeys

7. Give me the first name of one of the characters played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, or Cynthia Nixon in Sex and the City: The Movie.

8. Which of these documentaries was NOT directed by Errol Morris? A) The Thin Blue Line B) The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara C) No End in Sight

9. Who was the lead actor in A Place in the Sun? A) William Holden B) Montgomery Clift C) Robert Mitchum

10. The Martin Scorsese film Shine a Light is a documentary about what rock band? A) The Rolling Stones B) The Who C) Led Zeppelin

11. Who won a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the movie Capote?

12. What movie does this line come from: “Get busy living, or get busy dying”?

13. Who played Salieri in the 1984 film Amadeus? A) Ben Kingsley B) F. Murray Abraham C) Jeremy Irons

14. Name two films directed by Stanley Kubrick.

15. Which of these films is considered to be part of the French New Wave? A) The 400 Blows B) 8 1/2 C) 2046

16. The 1973 film The Exorcist was directed by A) William Friedkin B) John Carpenter C) Brian DePalma

17. Which of these films was NOT directed by Akira Kurosawa? A) Seven Samurai B) Ran C) A Story of Floating Weeds

18. With what country is the term “anime” most closely associated?

19. Which of the following colors is one of the colors in Kryzsztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy? A) pink B) green C) blue

20. From what movie does this line come: “We’ll always have Paris.”

21. Which film was NOT directed by Steven Spielberg? A) Poltergeist B) Empire of the Sun C) Duel

22. What 1957 Ingmar Bergman film starred Max von Sydow as a knight who plays chess with Death? A) Through a Glass Darkly B) The Seventh Seal C) Winter Light

23. Which actress was in all of the following films: Children of Men, Far from Heaven, and the Shipping News? A) Jodie Foster B) Catherine Zeta-Jones C) Julianne Moore

24. Which of these documentaries was NOT directed by Spike Lee? A) When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts B) Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills C) 4 Little Girls

Monday, December 01, 2008

November movies

During my recent Ghost Town review I mentioned my fondness for the romantic comedy genre--November is proof of that. I saw ten films that would fit into that category (although the Danish film Kick 'N Rush would be more in the drama even though it has some biting humor to it) including the most mainstream style romantic comedy of them all--27 Dresses. It doesn't get more formulaic Hollywood than that.

I saw one of the worst films I'll watch all year in November--the overwrought, pretentious mess of Big Time. I only suffered through it because I'm into Mia Sara and hadn't seen this film that is basically an ode to her. Terrible film unfortunately. Only her magnificent eyebrows saved this from getting a dreaded one star! Happy-Go-Lucky will likely find itself in my top ten for new releases for the year.

Funny Face---1957---usa ****
A Yank at Oxford---1938---usa ****
Happy-Go-Lucky---2008---england ****
The Heartbreak Kid---2007---usa ***
Kick 'N Rush---2003---denmark ***1/2
Dark Blue Almost Black---2006---spain ***
The Who at Kilburn 1977---2008---england *****!
Ghost Town---2008---usa ****
Trouble the Water---2008---usa ***
Old Men In New Cars---2002---denmark ***1/2
Nerdcore Rising---2008---usa ***1/2
Big Time---1989---usa *1/2
Zack and Miri Make a Porno---2008---usa ***
Standing Still---2006---usa **1/2
27 Dresses---2007---usa **1/2
No Man of Her Own---1932---usa **1/2
You Can't Take It With You---1938---usa *****!