Monday, June 30, 2008
The June event for films had to be Indy-A-Thon '08. Check that post out and the comment box for my running journal throughout the day.
The Savages---2007---usa ****
Be Kind Rewind---2008---usa **1/2
Secondhand Lions---2003---usa **1/2
A Stranger Among Us---1992---usa **
Iron Man---2008---usa ****
I Do---1921---usa ****
House of Voices---2004---france **
Mother of Tears---2007---italy **1/2
Gunslinger's Revenge---1998---italy *
Raiders of the Lost Ark---1981---usa *****!
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom---1984---usa **1/2
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade---1989---usa ****
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull---2008---usa ***
Mr. Bean's Holiday---2007---england ***
The Pompatus of Love---1994---usa **
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired---2008---usa ***1/2
Knocked Up---2007---usa ****
The Butcher---2007---france ***1/2
Joe Louis: America's Hero...Betrayed---2008---usa ***
A Guy Named Joe---1943---usa ***
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Infamous for her large, winged tattoo that takes up a good sized portion of her stomach above her pubic bone (see photo), Argento is starting to get leads in pictures and to be frank, I’m not sure this bodes well for the film because of her style of acting. She seems to tap into some kind of primal quality while delivering a performance. It’s not good (or is it?) yet it’s somehow too raw and animalistic to turn away as you watch her on screen. Argento pouts, rages, stares and delivers these hyper-brooding looks at the camera that I can’t put my finger on—is this good or the worst thing I’ve seen all year?
I watched her in the not very good Boarding Gate (2007) a couple of months ago and what a train wreck this French film from Olivier Assayas is. Argento delivers one of her most vexing, unhinged performances that consists of her wildly over or under acting (often in the same scene!), stripping most of her clothes off repeatedly (and showing off that tattoo) and basically just bewildering me time and time again. It’s terrible—yet I can not look away.
Mother of Tears (2007) is her latest bit of “acting” for her father and she gets to say some of the goofiest dialogue in a silly horror film that you are likely to see. There’s a reason these are called b-films (I’m not being mean-spirited as I happen to like B and C films) after all. In Mother of Tears she’s mostly scared as she’s chased by demonic witches or creatures out to do her ill. Although, a few minutes after almost being killed by some otherworldly thing she’s completely calm, as if out for an afternoon stroll. It's the Argento range in full effect.
The word “un-acting” seems to fit what Argento does because her performances are so confused, meandering and all over the map—I wonder if she is taking direction from anyone at all? It’s possibly a new form of acting altogether: un-acting. There’s a numb quality to her performances for long durations, and then there’s an explosion of rage or fear or emotion that kind of jolts you awake.
I'm going to have to see more films to figure it out I guess--Tony Gatlif's Transylvania is one I'm aching to see but it's not out on DVD yet. Until then, I'll just be captivated by Argento's bad/good style of un-acting. Maybe it's just one of these cinematic puzzles that you can never figure out?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I love the name of this small little theatre--Renoir. Kind of neat the place was named for the famed French director. What would be great is if more theatres took the names of famous filmmakers from the past. Imagine going to see a film at the Chaplin, the Hitchcock, the Truffaut or the Lubitsch. How cool would it be to say, "Oh, I'm going to the 7.30 screening at the Malick." I would really love that.
Directly across the street from the Renoir is an amazing film oriented bookstore called 8 1/2 (if only the Renoir was called the Fellini!). 8 1/2 was a treasure trove of books, images, posters, and curiosities (I got a nice t-shirt and a little box with a scary image from The Shining on it) all relating to film. Most items were in Spanish unfortunately, although I did find items in English.
Back to the Renoir. I re-watched Juno, a sweet-hearted comedy that I'm sure you know about but Hidden Staircase hadn't seen. I was curious to hear the reaction of the Spanish to the slang + culture heavy film through the subtitled wringer. Not many people were laughing except for us so the answer is--Juno lost a lot in the translation.
I did get to break out a proper bit of Spanish without having to stop and thing for 45 seconds before butchering their language. As we entered the downstairs theatre (aka the sub-cave!) it was completely dark--no light whatsoever. There was a Spanish mother/daughter right behind me and I said to them, "Donde es la luz?" ("Where is the light?") That is good Spanish if I do say so myself (unlike the time earlier in the day when I blurted out, "Donde es English?" thinking I was asking if they spoke English and got baffled looks and a confused "Que?" in response).
Photos: Exterior of the Cines Renoir, Replicant + Hidden Staircase waiting for Juno to begin & the screen itself.
Monday, June 23, 2008
One afternoon on the trip I saw the theatre emptying out and decided I'd try to enter and at least look at the theatre for a bit. I got to the concessions in the lobby when a young kid in a broom stopped me and started in with some rapid fire Spanish. I told him I only spoke a little bit of Spanish and tried to ask if I could just go in and look at the theatre. He went and got another person--this time a young woman--and I asked her about looking inside for a few seconds. She said no. Only for a minute I said to her. "No," was her response. "Porque?" I asked. "No," she said again. I'm not sure her English was actually better than the kid before but I left the gigantic lobby without getting to go any further than the lobby.
So, I stayed in a hotel that let me see the top of the marquee from my window. I walked by the Capitol every day for four days but it just teased me as I didn't get to go into the auditorium once. Heartache! I did get some nice photos of the marquee including these two--one taken by The Hidden Staircase with me standing underneath the massive, neon-lit marquee and one from across the street with the subway entrance sign.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
A change of venues will occur so we can clear our heads of the first half of Indy-a-thon '08 and cook some chicken + other things on the grill. Then we will watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We will then move to our third location of the day to see the latest, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (the title is not a good sign for the one I've dubbed "Geriatric Jones").
We hope to be finished around 10 that night after watching four films at three separate locations, grilling our dinner and spending the entire sunny, summery Sunday indoors. I should get some Robot cred points from a few readers for this, right?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The Savages is a smart, biting dark comedy about a brother and sister who are forced to deal with their father's slide into the mental abyss. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney are at the top of their game--is PSH ever not?
Be Kind Rewind does not hold up for a second viewing. While enjoyable, a closer look at the film reveals a flimsy picture and Jack Black doing some of the worst overacting in his career (who has built a career built on overacting).
Cashback is an English film that has one major element to it that I'm obsessed by: the ability to stop time. If a story has time travel or time stoppage in it, I'm usually into it. This is a coming of age film with time stopping, lots of female nudity and some funny bits about a guy in art school. I'd never heard of it so any film I've never heard of with time stopping in it at 10.30 on a Thursday night in Barcelona is going to be good.
(photo of Melies + some stranger in the entryway by The Hidden Staircase)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Now, Southern Comfort, a drive-in style film from 1981 is what I expect to see Boothe in. Directed by the great Walter Hill (who made some of my favorite films in the ‘70s and ‘80s with The Warriors, The Long Riders and 48 Hours), Southern Comfort is kind of an unknown gem of a film that has gone under the radar for too long. Southern Comfort, like Hill’s best work, is a well made thing of beauty that’s a lean, mean and gritty film that delivers great action and suspense.
Southern Comfort is a survivor tale in the vein of Deliverance (1972) that has Cajuns trying to kill people instead of Appalachian hillbillies. Like any good survival tale—this has people out of their element (in this case an overzealous National Guard unit) going up against locals and it doesn’t look good for the outsiders. These Cajuns make all kinds of mincemeat on the soldiers as they try to make it out of the swamp alive.
The film has a great cast—Boothe, another favorite in Fred Ward, Keith Carradine and the late, great bad guy Brion James as the main Cajun. James, who featured prominently in Blade Runner, was one of the best “unknown” screen villains so to have James going up against Boothe, Ward and Carradine—that’s action film gold!
If you are in the mood for an old-school, drive-in esque, action film with Cajuns trying to kill off outsiders from an underrated American director in Walter Hill—Southern Comfort is recommended. Watch it late at night with the lights out for best results.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Book review time here at CineRobot. I was intrigued by this film related memoir when I came across it on the new release shelf at a local bookstore. The premise is interesting in multiple ways—father lets 16 year old son Jesse drop out of high school if he agrees to a few conditions: no drugs and watch three films a week together.
As someone who hated school with a passion as a teenager who was obsessed with film related culture—I think this bit of parenting is not only daring, it’s downright genius! Granted, I have no kids so that might skew my opinion. My days in high school were a complete waste of time. I was a voracious reader outside of school and loved learning—just not within the restricting confines that was my small town
Gilmour agonizes over his decision as his son seems to drift and drift—is he ruining his son’s future and causing him damage rather than inspiration? Gilmour also writes a lot about other things in his life—his turbulent work situation, his ex-wife, his current wife, his childhood and Jesse’s romantic life. All the subjects merge into one cohesive narrative that Gilmour intersects throughout the book.
Of course, any book called The Film Club is going to have a lot of film talk and that’s a major aspect of the book. Father and son watch all kinds of films—ranging from classics such as Citizen Kane to Basic Instinct. There’s a nice blend of film history (all the biggies are covered from French New Wave to Kurosawa) and immediate reaction from the viewers and it’s interesting to see just what films Jesse responds to and the ones he dislikes.
The Film Club is pretty thin. I read it on an airplane and in an airport very quickly. It’s also got a level of suspense in it regarding what is going to happen to Jesse—is he going to find something to be passionate about or just keep on drifting. While I’m not a big fan of memoirs—this one hooked me in due to Gilmour’s direct, honest, simple writing and the film angle.
Monday, June 09, 2008
First Saturday In May---2008---usa ***
Love Affair---1939---usa **
Speed Racer---2008---usa *1/2
Forgetting Sara Marshall---2008---usa ***1/2
First Blood---1982---usa ***1/2
The Visitor---2008---usa ****
I Could Never Be Your Woman---2007---usa ***
The Final Season---2007---usa **
Blade Runner (Final Cut)---1982---usa *****!
Un Chien Andalou---1929---france ****
Monday, June 02, 2008
I have heard ZERO phones going off, I have seen ZERO people texting or looking at texts and I have heard ZERO conversation from other people in the theatre. That´s right--nothing. I did hear one lady who was squeeking the back of her chair off and on during one film but that´s something only a noise fanatic like me would hear--I was with Hidden Staircase and she didn´t hear it.
So there you have it. Two more countries who are obviously more civilized than the one I call home. It will be again painful to return to the land of the ¨text¨ and the ¨phone call¨ and the ¨let´s talk to one another during the film just like we are sitting in our living rooms¨...a period of adjustment will have to take place or I´ll be back to my combative ways.