Monday, December 3, 2007

The Recently Watched Films

Its winter, its dark, its cold, and my natural instinct to watch movies is on. Forgive me for breaking the brevity rule, but I love talking about this stuff!

Several weeks ago, I saw the Darjeeling Limited. It has everything one expects from a Wes Anderson film - an absurdly dysfunctional family, absurdity and silliness in general, an unconventional and forbidden romance, death and loss, sloooow motion, a crazy-good soundtrack full of 60's psych-pop, the usual cast of actors, and that wonderful, obsessive visual lushness that boldly humps the line between sublimity and madness. And as with Anderson's other films, I'm sure it'll take repeated viewings to really understand. I'm still trying to get my head around Angelica Houston's scenes, for example. All the same, an excellent flick from one of my favorite film makers.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to rent the Prestige, it finally happened. I've been psyched for this one for a while, and why not: you got Christopher Nolan directing Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, plus David Bowie as Nicola Tesla. Yes! Christopher Nolan is indeed the master of the non-linear narrative. The story follows no straight time line what so ever, and yet holds together without a hitch. I love how he does that stuff. All the same, one of the two big twists at the end felt forced, absurd, and rather ruined my suspension of disbelief. So, not the utter stroke of brilliance I was hoping for, but still completely enjoyable, and worth it for the Bowie. Oh, and Andy Serkus is in it, too, as Tesla's sidekick - gotta love that guy.

Beowulf! 3-D! Imax! It was like being in a ginormous video game. I've never read the classic epic, but know the basic chain of events. The film actually tells an almost feminist revision of the story, and that I find satisfying. This, though, is not a reason to see it. Go see it for the crazy visual effects, the 3-D glasses, the monsters, the swords, the viking dudes in helmets, the gore, the violence, the strategically placed candlesticks hiding Beowulf's full-frontal animated penis, and a floating, naked Angelina Jolie coated in gold. What they can't do with computers these days. Not deep, but very fun.

Tonight I watched another film I'd been wanting to see for a while, the Talented Mr. Ripley. The cast of this film is totally golden, a dream team of actors. Matt Damon is wonderfully subtle and complex, and always a winner, heart throb Jude Law actually pulls off an American accent in this one (ever seen I Heart Huckabees? My god, he can't keep the same accent for more than a sentence!), Gwyneth Paltrow is perfectly Grace Kelly-like - bold, strong and feminine, Cate Blanchett is irresistibly charming as always, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is delightfully slimy and unlikable. This film is not for the faint of heart, a psychological thriller on par with Frenzy or the brilliant the Machinist - painful to watch because its so damn good. The story is fucked up and suspenseful, the violence is brief and nasty, and the ending is horrific. I squirmed a lot and loved it.

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