Friday, May 28, 2010

UTW review of Kites

Go here if you want to read my review in Urban Tulsa of the Bollywood film Kites. It's a Hollywood style romance, western, noir melodrama that is entertaining yet I'm not sure it's any good. Full-tilt is a good brief description.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Budapest, 1995

A while back I wrote about seeing The Life of Brian in Budapest on a TV/VCR rolled out onto a stage (see November 2009 archives) and wanted to write about another film I saw when I was staying in Budapest--John Cassavetes' 1976 drama The Killing of a Chinese Bookie at the Blue Box

I liked watching movies at the Blue Box (recently called the Kultiplex although it might have a name change from that). I don't know how long it had been showing movies but my guess would be not very long. It was a non-descript, boxy building on a mostly residential neighborhood that focused on art films. The theatre was flat and most of the seating was either loose individual fold-up chairs or park benches. Let me repeat that--park benches. I usually chose a bench in case I wanted to lay down as I watched a film. It's hard to top laying down on a park bench inside a movie theatre when watching a movie.

This particular screening is memorable 15 years after it happened because I watched it with this guy named John who I'd just met. John was from Oregon and we met a few days earlier at a launch party for this literary magazine called Trafika. There were lots of pretty Hungarians and expats at the launch and John and I bonded over our shared loathing for the hipster types behind the magazine. It seemed they all went to Harvard, Yale, Columbia and other well-heeled institutions and were letting out their pompousness via microphoned toasts and readings. In 1995 I was a bitter college dropout. John and I mocked these people without mercy even though we just met and agreed to meet a couple of nights later to see a depressing movie at the Blue Box.

We met early and sat in the concrete accentuated lobby (in Hungary, concrete is a common way to decorate a building) at one of the few tables offered. We talked some more about the Trafika launch while reaffirming our distaste for the monied, silver-spoon bluebloods slumming it in the Eastern bloc. John started telling me about how he needed to do laundry and that he was out of clean clothes. He said he'd worn the same clothes a few days now and was only wearing a single sock. Strange thing to mention I thought.

"A single sock?" I asked.
"Where's the other one?"
"Lost, I guess."
"Why are you only wearing one? Why not just wear no socks or two dirty ones?"
"Well, I'm wearing one real sock that's clean and one non-traditional sock."

My interest was definitely piqued by this choice of words concerning John's sock situation. He expanded on the topic further.

"Well, as I said, I've been out of clean clothes and didn't have time to do laundry. I can't stand to go without socks so I had to make do with the only other clean item I have."

John pulled his jeans up to reveal his ankle where I saw he was wearing a pair of white underwear on his foot as a sock! He'd poked his foot through one hole and was using a clothes pin to take up the slack of excess underwear fabric. After much laughter and incredulous questioning from me regarding the thought process of his decision to wear a "tighty whitey" as a sock, we went into the theatre to watch The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

Later that night, as I walked back to the small room I rented in a dour, working class, Soviet era complex dominated by grey cement, I thought about John's foot, how we met and how those arrogant Trafika people would never have the gumption or audacity to wear underwear as a sock. It was clearly a class division that separated them from people like John and myself. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

UTW review of Just Wright + Reel Injun

Go here if you want to read reviews of two films I saw this past week on Urban Tulsa--Just Wright and Reel Injun. Just Wright is a romantic comedy with Queen Latifah and Reel Injun is a documentary that looks at the portrayal of Native Americans via cinema through the years.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Movie tickets #15

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back to the Future Delorean Time Machine - Ride Along

Since Back to the Future won the time travel poll, here's footage of an uber-fan of the movie and his geeked out car he's built to resemble the car from the film.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Amen Roger Ebert!

Are you as sick of the 3D overload as I am? It's 3D this and 3D that at the multiplex. It's a cash stampede as Hollywood has figured out there is a lot of money to be pilfered from ticket buyers regarding higher prices for 3D releases irregardless if the film was shot in 3D (Avatar) or given a shoddy transfer to the medium just to dupe suckers into paying extra (Clash of the Titans). As more and more old films are rumored to be given new life in 3D (Star Wars) and the list of new films in 3D becomes too numerous to even mention, some people are frankly getting sick and tired of it. Count me in on that. Film critic Roger Ebert is another person and has recently lashed out at 3D in a well-reasoned, sensical tirade via Newsweek that I happen to completely agree with on all his points. All of them.

Go here if you want to see if you agree with Roger too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Five baseball movies that Cameron McCasland enjoys

Since it is baseball season for about a month now, I thought I'd post a friend of mine's recent video blog regarding baseball films.

Cameron McCasland does a blog called The Red Headed Revolution and the link is on CineRobot.

I'm outraged there's no Bad News Bears but it's fun hearing what Cameron likes and why. Enjoy and check out his blog as he has a lot of these video posts.

You'll get to see his awesome beard in various stages!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

UTW review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Go here if you want to read my review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in this week's Urban Tulsa. Based on the incredibly popular books by Stieg Larsson, this is the first installment of two more films in the trilogy.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

London movies

I always watch movies while on vacation if I'm able, it is vacation after all and I like movies, hence CineRobot. Here's some short reviews of films I saw in theatres on my recent trip to London: Dogtooth, Lourdes, Beeswax and The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Dogtooth is an unsettling but captivating Greek film from director Giorgos Lanthinos about a middle class family. This isn't a normal group as the husband and wife have decided to shelter their three adult kids from the outside world. The kids have absolutely no clue about anything except their stunted relationships with Mom, Dad and each other within the confines of the house/yard. They think airplanes flying overhead are toys, cats are vicious killers and all sorts of weirdness. This film has an unrestrained power to it and isn't afraid to take major risks. I love that. Dogtooth is dark, hypnotic and very hard to forget after you've watched it. Recommended for the brave.

I saw a lot of serious films while on my trip and next up was Lourdes from Austrian director Jessica Hausner. The film is set in Lourdes, France, where pilgrims and religious folk gather to pray for a miracle healing of various ailments, from cancer to being paralyzed. Lourdes is slow, quiet and an interesting look into the desperate side of Catholic faith. Sylvie Testud gives a great performance as a sweet woman bound to a wheelchair. I liked that the Lourdes doesn't really just hand you its story up on a platter, there's multiple interpretations here if you want there to be. Isn't that just like religion or a miracle? Those things aren't that clear cut and neither is the movie.

Beeswax is the latest micro-budget film from Andrew Bujalski. These sorts of movies have been dubbed "mumblecore"--truly an awful, preposterous tag that I would want to shed as quickly as possible if I were one of the filmmakers lumped into that world. These films have no budgets, unknown actors and a raw, D.I.Y. aesthetic. I enjoyed a couple of Bujalski's previous films, Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation,  but I didn't care for Beeswax at all. I mostly found the characters ingratiating and scenes/dialogue incredibly forced and frustrating. Full of bad acting from half the cast, Beeswax was a tad too contrived for me.

The last film I saw in London was the nasty little kidnapping thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed. I wasn't expecting much with it but there was nothing else to watch (don't get me started on the bizarre choices London programmers make regarding start times and when they decide to show the films) to match my short window before I had to catch a train at Waterloo Station. This only has three characters but it is a fast-paced, twist filled, tightly constructed little film. Eddie Marsan is awesome as one of the crooks and Gemma Arterton is sexy as hell (although she's the kidnapping victim and spends a lot of time tied down on a bed). The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a very pleasant surprise and a solid piece of genre filmmaking from director J. Blakeson (use your full first name and it will be easier to be taken seriously in the future).

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

UTW review of The Joneses

Go here if you want to read my review of The Joneses in the latest Urban Tulsa. It's a satire about the American obsession with consumerism.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

April movies

One thing is certain, due to my writing reviews for Urban Tulsa, I'm seeing more bad films and it will make my worst film of 2010 a lot harder to pick out. Lots of one and two star films this year. Painful for me to have to endure them AND then write 800 words about it. Although, it is fun to attack and mock what I see. I'll be writing about some of the films on this list on an upcoming post relating to what I saw when in London. I just got back to Tulsa and am suffering a strong case of the ol' jet lag.

The Last Song---2010---usa   *1/2
What Just Happened---2008---usa   **1/2
American Psycho---2000---usa   ****
Date Night---2010---usa   ***
Mid-August Lunch---2009---italy   ***1/2
Death at a Funeral---2010---usa   ***
Kick-Ass---2010---usa   ***1/2
The Art of the Steal---2009---usa   ***1/2
Hot Tub Time Machine---2010---usa   ***
Did You Hear About the Morgans?---2009---usa   *1/2
The Joneses---2009---usa   **1/2
The Apple Dumpling Gang---1975---usa   ***1/2
Dogtooth---2009---greece   ****
Man of Aran---1934---usa   ****
Lourdes---2009---austria   ***1/2
I Am Love---2009---italy   ***1/2
Beeswax---2009---usa   **1/2
The Disappearance of Alice Creed---2010---england   ***1/2