Watched: Noah; Nymphomaniac

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Now that’s a pairing; and were Nymphomaniac not its own double-feature, I might propose a double-feature. Both films are splendid. 2014 is off to a rollicking start. I don’t know that either would end up on my top ten list at the end of the year (although there’s ample time for the bottom to fall out of 2014, so who knows), but they are both kindred of my very favourite type of movie: the movie that just makes me glad it exists.

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Watched: The Host; White Squall; Veronica Mars

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I certainly watched the first season of Veronica Mars back in whenever-it-was; I don’t think I ever watched the second (or the third). I don’t “get it.” I watched the movie over the weekend too, and was mostly delighted that - per the flick’s Kickstarted imprimatur - I didn’t have to go to a movie theatre to do it. It day-and-dated on the iTunes store, which for a movie based on a TV show that disappeared into the cracks in the middle of the digital decade, seems about right. Maybe Veronica Mars is a big-screen cinematic triumph, but I’ll never know.

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Watched: Trance

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I keep circling back to Danny Boyle for no particularly good reason; he hasn’t made a movie I’ve enjoyed since 1997. I guess “no particularly good reason” isn’t accurate, as there are three particularly good reasons, which are the three movies he made before 1997; they’ll be in my DNA until I’m dead, I think, as most of my cinematic obsessions in the film school era shall be. But Trance doesn’t break the streak. I got up a good head of steam to watch it, falling for the “Trainspotting / Shallow Grave throwback” branding, but as has been the case with every other movie since The Beach, the storyteller who made Trainspotting and Shallow Grave is no longer in residence. These movies don’t feel remotely like they were made by the same guy.

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Watched: Cries & Whispers; Riddick

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We’ve got The Dew Over coming up, and I picked 1973, so one of my homework assignments was to watch Cries & Whispers, which (for some reason) had been sitting on my DVD shelf still in its shrinkwrap, in a lovely Criterion edition. (I have to assume a Barnes & Noble 50%-off sale, and the attendant panic-fire desperation that goes into title selections at those times, is responsible.) There’s not a whole lot of point in my waxing poetic about Cries & Whispers, in the #Blindspot sense, because I’ll add nothing to the overall conversation. The movie is great, and builds further evidence for my (late-in-the-day, but growing) concern that Bergman might be the best filmmaker of all time. That’s a short race (from my standpoint) anyway, but Ingmar is gaining on Akira.

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Watched: Time After Time

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Another one from the slush pile, Time After Time falls into the “always wanted to watch it” category, not the “recommended by psychiatric professionals” bin. It’s Nicholas Meyer’s first feature film as a writer and a director, so it was always part of the conversation around his credentials to direct Star Trek II; and besides, I find that whole notion fascinating, and always have: that you could direct one or two loosely-connected other projects and be handed a major franchise picture. (A major franchise picture in dire need of bailing out, in Wrath of Khan's case, but whatever.) As premises go, Time After Time's is so goddamned loopy, I find it legitimately adorable. Jack the Ripper steals H.G. Wells' time machine and travels to 1979, and Wells follows. Remake. Remake. Remake.

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Watched: The Stunt Man

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My psychiatrist told me to watch The Stunt Man. That’s not the normal run of things, psychiatry-wise, is it? I don’t think the advice was therapeutic in origin, as we talk about movies fairly regularly (surprise surprise) and spent at least our first four months together articulating every single useful piece of information via a Seinfeld reference. For a somewhat befuddled older gentleman, my psychiatrist’s a fairly cool dude.

It took me a month or two to track down a copy and then I made the mistake of trying to watch the movie with Daniel, who had seen it previously and wanted to revisit. Not that watching movies with Daniel is a bad thing, but we do have a minor history of leaving movie-watching projects half-finished. (We’ve been meaning to get round to Symbiopsychotaxiplasm 2.5 for five years. No luck yet.) In the case of The Stunt Man, we literally left the project half-finished, i.e. we turned the movie off at the 1-hour mark. And then left it for several months. This was, in pretty much every regard, my fault. Prior to watching the movie we’d gone to a horrible, horrible bar and consumed two pitchers of beer in a very short space of time. I’m not much of a drinker. The result is that I slept through half of The Stunt Man's first half (so, a quarter overall) and hallucinated my way through the other half. I spent the next few months plagued with the vague suspicion that Peter O'Toole was following me around on a chair/camera mount with a big propeller over his head. No such luck.

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Watched: Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Crash Reel

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Here we are at the end of all things, or at least, the end of 2013; which, according to your personal definitions, may or may not have been a cursed year. It wasn’t a stellar year for moviegoing - my top 9 drops in a few hours, and I’ll probably ruminate further on the year’s serious failings from a cinematic perspective on both Mamo! and Destroy All Monsters - and sifting through the rubble to find the gems became a chore this year more often than not. Every year, the end-of-year race to close all the loops and catch all the potential listmakers starts to feel more and more like completing a term paper on an all-nighter the day it’s due. 

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Didn’t Watch: Nebraska, Dead Ringers, O Brother Where Art Thou?

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The best thing I did last week was turning off Nebraska, 25 minutes in. I had a pristine moment of clarity: I have not, ever, actually enjoyed an Alexander Payne movie. Why was I watching another one? (Cue half the internet: “Uh, technically, you haven’t seen About Schmidt, and therefore your opinion of Alexander Payne is uninformed.”) A lot of people whose opinions of film I respect had seen the film and passed it with flying colours; and towards the end of any given year, we all (“we all” in this case being the semi-OCD online film community) try to grab as many Top Ten List contenders as we can, to pad out, and give maximum rounding to, our final choices. Top Ten Lists, especially for non-professionals, are basically a pissing match anyway: “I saw, and was aesthetically sensitive enough to value, this!” That’s why we all put at least one defiantly “you’ve probably never even heard of this” movie on our lists, every year. This year, mine’s The Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari. Look it up. I am fucking sensitive, bitch.

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Watched: The Butterfly Effect; Conan the Barbarian (Khal Drogo version)

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I’ve probably expanded upon this previously on the blog, but I play mental Butterfly Effect-style games with my own personal history quite a lot. I like time travel and “what if” scenarios generally, and alternate universes fascinate me. (I’m on the fence about whether Blog Space Nine will follow Blogging the Next Generation, but either way, I’m gonna take a victory lap through DS9's mirror universe anthology, because it's just so much effing fun.) On premise alone, then, The Butterfly Effect is built for me. I never tire of mentally altering a single detail of my cummulative past and seeing where the cause-and-effect ripples take me.

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Film is not a mission

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"Film is not a mission," I thought to myself at some Lightbox screening or other in the last few weeks, whereupon I’d had a thoroughly uninteresting time watching some movie I was meant to have watched because it was  considered so generally significant; and amidst conversation all around me about what films in the Cronenberg series or the Coen series or the whatever-else series every one of us "should" see. "Should thinking" is the bane of human existence in all its forms, and no less so for moviegoing. Film is not a mission.

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