Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Screening Log for July and part of August: Short Version

I've been too busy to keep up with this properly, so not much in the way of notes this time around - just ratings. However, I'm always happy to chat about movies, so questions and/or comments about the ratings are welcome. As always, anything that I've starred is recommended. Anything not starred I couldn't, in good faith, ask that anyone else sit through.

Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955) (v) ***** - Glad I saved this one for the proverbial rainy day, rather than rushing to check it off a list back when I was seeing movies just to say I had seen them.

The Inglorious Bastards (Enzo Castellari, 1978) (v) **

Kings and Queens (Arnaud Desplechin, 2004) (v) **** - I know: I'm a rube and a philistine for preferring this to Esther Kahn. (Or myabe I don't put such a high value on severity and perversity?)

Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski, 2009) ***

The Power of Kangwon Province (Hong Sang-soo, 1998) (v) ****

Momma's Man (Azazel Jacobs, 2007) (v) *

Hannah Takes the Stairs (Joe Swanberg, 2007) (v) **

Sleeping Dogs Lie (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2006) (v) ***

Brigham City (Richard Dutcher, 2001) (v) ***

In the Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009) (v) **

You, the Living (Roy Andersson, 2007) ***

La deuxieme souffle (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1966) (v) *****

World's Greatest Dad (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2009) (v) **

Esther Kahn (Arnaud Desplechin, 2000) (v) ***

Two Lovers (James Gray, 2009) (v) **** - My favorite movie of the year, so far.

The Number 23 (Joel Schumacher, 2007) (v)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (Scott Derrickson, 2008) (v)

12 Rounds (Renny Harlin, 2009) (v)

Eagle Eye (D.J. Caruso, 2008) (v) - It's rare that I ever want to use the word "turgid", but this film did it for me.

Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009) ***


Key:

(v) = Seen on home video (dvd, dvr, etc.).
(r) = Not my first viewing.
(s) = Short film.

Star system ("borrowed" from the Chicago Reader)

No stars = Not recommended
* = Redeeming feature(s)
** = Recommended
*** = Highly recommended
**** = "Masterpiece"
***** = A place in my personal pantheon

2 comments:

Anagramsci said...

would love to hear your take on Public Enemies--darned if I didn't hate it! (except for the finale moments intercut with Manhattan Melodrama)

I fear it replicates everything that's bad, weird and nativist about the Dillinger legend... this is something that Sherwood understood in the Petrified Forest--how did Mann not get the message?

I didn't go in expecting anything quite THAT unreflective... I'm not a Mann fan, by any stretch, but I think HEAT has a lot going for it (as one of the most powerful modern examinations of the understandable impulse toward--and the inevitably damaging results of--antisocial behaviour under late capitalism)

I thought Public Enemies might serve as a kind of prequel to Heat,and it IS that, I suppose, in its move toward hero-worship, but it doesn't show any of the complexity (or the sheer NOISE) of these futile clashes...

Ordet, on the other hand, is sheer genius... have you seen Gertrud?

hope you're well!
Dave

Jon Hastings said...

Dave -

I certainly wasn't surprised to find out (via Eddie Campbell's blog) that PE plays around pretty liberally with the timeline, real events, etc. To a certain extent, I think it being a Dillinger movie is a bit of a distraction, since it really is one of those abstract metaphysical action movies a la Jean-Pierre Melville (La douxieme souffle would make a great double bill with it), Sam Peckinpah in The Getaway, The Killer Elite, and Alfredo Garcia, or Johnnie To in his The Mission/Exiled mode.

Here's what I liked:

The way the movie sets up and orchestrates these moments of sudden reversals and transitions in relationships - which are always shifting, contingent, and impermanent. In the opening sequence: how Dillinger's captor turns out to be his accomplice, how quickly the the tide turns against the guards, the way the gang decides to oust the trigger-happy guy. Or the way the deaths of Floyd and Nelson play out, with the emphasis on capturing that moment right when life leaves them.

I think it is a step down from Heat and a couple of steps down from Melville's best, partly because Mann's moment-to-moment orchestration of these themes/ideas doesn't really carry over on the macro scale. There's a way that all of the sequences are kind of sitting in a big pool of mythic/epic time, with no sense of how little time passed for Dillinger in "real life" (less than a year from the initial prison break to his death). BUT I want to see it again before I make my final judgment on it in that regard. Mann is one of the few filmmakers working at this scale in America who DOES get the moment-to-moment stuff right that I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.