mulholland drive. usa, 2001. Having just seen this again, I have to put some comments in. This is a truly fabulous film – everything that a film buff loves. It’s amorphous; don’t expect a clear narrative, logical progression, or anything so trite. The biggest virtue of the film, in my view, is that no one can agree on what exactly happened. Better yet, everyone who likes the film comes away and argues about the plot, about the meaning of symbols (what is that blue box supposed to mean?). And reinforcing the bewildering plot is a sumptuous style and excellent score, cinematography and directing. This one’s a winner, folks.
gosford park. uk, 2001.
the shipping news. usa, 2001.
the castle. australia, 1997.
the lord of the rings. new zealand / usa, 2001.
le dîner de cons (the dinner game). france, 1998.
le temps retrouvé (time regained). france, 2000.
trust. usa, 1990. My friend Lars insisted over and over again that I watch a Hal Hartley movie. Eric Brochu played this for a new movie night, and I now see why Lars liked the director. Initially, it felt a little too much like Ayn Rand: selfish characters interacting. But I warmed to the style, the verbal sparring and unreality that Hartley seems to favour. Good acting, and incredible considering the budget.
fucking åmål (show me love). sweden, 1999. Yes, after hearing about this film umpteen times from Lars, I finally got around to showing it. In fact, I played it for the Green College film nights, to much acclaim. It’s quite a well-assembled film, with excellent character development, and utterly real. If virgin suicides was the first film I’d seen that showed the high school prom accurately, then this is the first film that shows the high school house party correctly. I really liked the sympathetic shots of Elin’s male love interest – obviously a dim fellow, but still a nice guy, still human. Prime quality.
warren miller’s snoworld. usa, 2001.
kandahar. iran / afghanistan, 2001.
planet of the apes. usa, 2001.
rosemary’s baby. usa, 1968.
tilsammans (together). sweden, 2000. I have to put in a good word for this flick, since it’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year. If you’ve grown up with left-wing parents, then run to the nearest specialty video store and rent this film! Set in a 1970s Swedish hippie commune, it follows a wide range of characters lives. The primary focus is Elisabeth, who has just left her alcoholic, abusive husband to join her brother in the commune. The strange characters in this house are vividly portrayed, and the humour is first-rate. The director, Lukas Moodysson, does a great job of developing sympathy, and doesn’t take any cheap shots. Even the abusive husband is deserving of sympathy. This is the best comedy that I saw in 2001. (Note that I didn’t seen amélie until 2002…
le 15 février, 1839. québec, 2001.
atanarjuat, the fast runner. canada, 2001. The first film in Inuktitut is good, and not simply as an anthropological curiosity. A traditional Inuit tale of betrayal was set to film with real panache. Handheld cameras reveal the scale of the Arctic landscape and the rhythm of life in the north several centuries ago. The culture is undoubtedly alien, but human elements remain at the forefront, although there are (thankfully) no apologies for lifestyles that may seem politically incorrect to Western sensibilities. I found this film truly engaging, both in terms of culture and story.
moulin rouge. usa, 2001.
la goût des autres (the taste of others). france, 2000.
the godfather part ii. usa, 1974.
eat my twisted shorts. various. I saw this at the festival juste pour rire / just for laughs festival recently. The National Film Board put on two sets of shorts, one regular and one “twisted”. There were some hilarious films amongst the twisted set, plus a few that were a little too disturbing. The standout was definitely rejected from don hertzfeld (usa, 2000). From the first few seconds of stick drawings, the audience was already giggling – it’s that good. The premise is that the animator was commissioned to do a series of commercials for the (fictional) Family Learning Channel, which were rejected. And you can see why they’d be rejected… they’re kind of messed up and disturbed.
ai. usa / uk, 2001.
taxi 2. france, 2000.
apocalypse now. usa, 1979.
pulp fiction. usa, 1994.
pleasantville. usa, 1999.
the godfather part i. usa, 1972.
yi-yi (and a one and a two). taiwan, 2000.
chungking express. taiwan, 1999.
the dish. australia, 2000.
man on the moon. usa, 1999.
the virgin suicides. usa, 1999. So, the dark little flick from Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter Sophia came my way recently. I knew nothing about this, going in, but was pleasantly surprised. It’s not an easy film, and my John Woo-fan friends didn’t take well to it, but it’s well made. Flipping quickly from funny to bleak, it takes some adjustment. I liked the cinematography, and I really liked the shot of Lux leaving the football field… that really stayed with me. The little documentary-style inserts were intriguing too; usually, tricks like that feel manipulative, but this story lent itself well to that treatment. I’ll be watching for more from this director, and not just on account of her father’s name.
roman holiday. usa, 1953. Okay, so my friend Naomi loved it, and Sameera liked it too. Naomi even imitated Hepburn’s moves when she visited Rome. And it’s cool to see all of that familiar Roman landscape. But it’s still a pretty schlocky story, dripping over with silliness. I think I’d have to watch this in a really lovesick mood to enjoy it properly… I’m too critical otherwise. (Okay, it is funny, it isn’t too culturally insensitive, and it’s a classic. Don’t take my critical uppiness too seriously.)
wild strawberries. sweden, 1957. Ya gotta watch some classics some times. Ingmar Bergman’s best known film filled my evening a few nights ago, and it wasn’t bad. I’m not sure what to make of it overall – some of the characters seemed way too outlandish for 1950s Sweden – but it was well-made. I loved the silly flirtatious girl, and the yesteryear characters’ wickedly wanky mustaches. I still have trouble getting absorbed by black-and-white the way I do with colour, though.
la veuve de st. pierre (the widow of st. pierre). canada/france, 2000. Ben, c’est le premier film français que j’ai vu depuis… euh… septembre. Malheureusement, ça ne vallait presque pas la peine. Les trailers étaient les pires que j’ai vu de ma vie – des films québécois que j’espère sortiront jamais de la belle province. Le film lui-même avait des points forts: la cinématographie est exquis, des bleus muets et les paysages maritimes éblouissants. Quelques-uns des comédiens faisaient bien aussi, y compris Daniel Auteuil, mais la reste ne vallait pas la peine. Peut-être j’avais malcompris trop de la dialogue française, mais je trouvais l’histoire ennuyant et maladroit. Trop révisioniste pour mes goûts.
being john malkovich. usa, 1999. I’d heard so much about this film that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. The premise is cool, from the half-floor to entering John Malkovich’s brain, and much of it plays out well. I loved the world filled with John Malkovichs, and the ra-ra-puppeteering games. But I didn’t take well to some of the bits that felt too much like… my high school joke videos. The “we’ll build a place for midgets” gag was just sad, as was the “isn’t John Cusack pitiful?” running joke. Okay, the hippy people are clueless, just as the ad exec is predatory – show me a new cliché, guys. Ordinarily, I’d overlook this, but it doesn’t belong in such a highly rated film.
snatch. uk/usa. Okay, I probably shouldn’t admit that I really liked this… but then, I haven’t seen lock stock, so I don’t know how derivative it is. The film had me laughing most of the way through, even if it didn’t make much sense at times. Mostly, it’s about Brad Pitt’s kickass accent, or the gratuitous Madonna reference, or the slicin’ dicin’ Brit accents. I don’t know why del Toro is in this film, since he does basically nothing… but whatever. Enjoy.
oh brother where art thou? usa. I’m not used to the Coen brothers, honestly – I liked the big lebowski, and I liked this film, but I can’t really say why. The zany humour, the musical numbers, the uselessness of George Clooney’s character, the wacky interweaving of Homer references… none of these really explains how such an off-the-wall film was so damn enjoyable. I really did like that music, though, and I’ve never been one for country or bluegrass, although I have a soft spot for dixie jazz… which wasn’t in the film. So, screw my critical skills, and suffice it to say that the flick’s good stuff.