The filmmakers wisely limited themselves to a short period of time in Capote’s life. This is definitely a good companion piece to In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman was amazing. A few months after seeing it, I still can’t get his performance out of my mind.
I have not seen a film that captures loneliness in such a vivid manner as this. No crying, no long speeches, no histrionics - just pure day to day melancholy. This Japanese film is loveliness incarnate. A man finally finds a woman to marry but her obsession with buying new clothes proves the marriage’s undoing but in an uexpected way.
I have been a fan of Michael Haneke’s films since I saw the sadistic Funny Games right after I moved to New York. He has an amazing talent for keeping his films incredibly tense from beginning to end. This aspect drove Jim crazy. He wanted some sort of release which he felt like he never got. I love that as a viewer, I’m never given a real chance to catch my breath. Others were pissed that the ending never really gave any answers. I felt like I was given just enough that I wanted to read more about it and talk to people about it.
I don’t think this movie is as good as Mulholland Drive, but much like that film, I left the theater completely perplexed. I had to read many critiques of that film and talk to many people about it before seeing it for a second time before I felt like I could truly appreciate it. I look forward to seeing this movie again to see if some of the theories I’ve read about since seeing it work or not.
The New World
A lot of people I know are going to blow this movie off (or say that they are) because Colin Farrell is in it. That would be a mistake. This is a very good film. Yes, some of the narration can be a little much at times. And yes, the Christian Bale segments aren’t as good as the earlier segments. And yes, the film is a tiny bit too long. But there is so much to like about this film that I can overlook those elements and rate it this high.
This and The Thin Red Line are very similar in tone and storytelling structure. Both are heavily concerned with the indifference of nature to the pettiness of man. Both are told from the point of view of many narrators. However, where The Thin Red Line has many fight scenes, seemingly a never ending amount of shots of nature, and seemingly dozens of narrators, this film only has one real fight scene, fewer gratuitous shots of nature, and only three narrators.
This movie isn’t for everyone but much like films such as Morvern Callar and Kippur, this film put me in a trance. Malick really captured some amazing moments in his portrayal of the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Having not seen The Thin Red Line since it came out, my initial take on this film is that it is a more coherent, more successful movie on very similar themes using a different historical time and place as the template.
I haven’t seen any of Gregg Araki’s other films so maybe I should at least give The Living End a chance after seeing this movie. At times, this film was predictable but for the most part, I didn’t really know where it was heading. The cinematography was great as was the pacing of the film. Every actor was incredible and believable from the fag hag to the confused teen to the gay best friend to the sweaty fat Johns. This film was pretty damn disturbing so make sure you have a strong stomach for subject matter about child molestation if you venture into this.
Supposedly this is Ingmar Bergman’s last film. It is a sequel to his gutwrenching Scenes From a Marriage from the early 70’s. After having not seen each other in thirty years, Liv Ullmann decides to visit her ex-husband and ends up staying with him for awhile. She finds herself embroiled in a family drama that involves her ex-husband’s son from a previous marriage and his granddaughter. Of course, this being Bergman, it is fascinating. A treatise on growing old, mortality, and what it means to be alive, flaws and all, this is a really good film. I hadn't seen Scenes From a Marriage in ten years and barely remember but that didn't really impact my enjoyment of this film.
A History of Violence
No car crash sex, sideloading VCR people, man-flies, or drugged out twin gynecologists in this flick. No schizophenia either. Instead, David Cronenberg delivers an entertaining as hell genre piece. Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, and William Hurt are all incredible. It almost makes me hope Cronenberg doesn’t return to his crazy ass stuff and simply made more flicks like this one. Almost. This film is sure to garner a number of Oscar nominations and it should. While some of this reminded me of Scorsese’s Cape Fear this film has a lot more on its plate than that.
Creepy creepy creepy Japanese flick. Half the time, I had no idea what was going on but I was scared anyway. Ghosts apparently have run out of space in the spirit world and now they are coming for our sorry asses through our computers and other technology like cell phones. A fascinating film about how new technology that should be helping us find new ways to reach out to each other is really just making us incredibly isolated and lonely.
Howl's Moving Castle
It is hard to do a follow up to one of the best films of the past few years, Spirited Away, but Hayao Miyazaki comes close. It has all the magical and crazy elements you could want. It reminded me of parts of Spirited Away, Triplets of Belleville, The Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Seuss. All in all, even Billy Crystal couldn’t ruin the fun.
Just Missed the Vaunted Top 11
While this is indeed Jim Jarmusch’s most conventional film to date (flashbacks?) it is still pretty damn great. Every little moment is perfectly paced and acted. Bill Murray continues to play the same character he’s been playing for a few years now but it works much better in this film than in that last Wes Anderson film. Instead of being precious, he’s much more tender and raw in this film.
Each vignette from his travels is its own little encapsulated funny story. Jarmusch’s first three films (Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, and Mystery Train were seeped in a big city Lower East Side hipster bohmeian kind of vibe even when the films were set elsewhere. This one has a much different feel to it than his earlier work. He’s exploring more of a suburban existence.
Who is this man that needs to explore the country, to get out of his bubble, to find out who his son is, to find out who he is? Murray is a man who doesn’t know what he wants - hell he made his fortune from computers but doesn’t even own one. Parts of this film also reminded me of last year’s much reviled Brown Bunny - a lot of driving around on interstates as the protagonist searches for something within himself.
Ki-Duk Kim’s followup to my favorite from last year - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring Again. There is very little dialogue but it does not matter. Like Spring, Summer ..., this film doesn’t need the spoken word to tell its story eloquently.
This film is about a couple (the man rescues the woman early on from a terrible relationship after breaking into her house) who break into people’s apartments when they are sure no one is home. The male protoganist delivers menus in the morning and then comes back in the evening to see who hasn’t picked up their menu - Jamie better be careful to pick up all of his delivery menus in the future.
They go in, they fix something, they cook a meal, they hang out. Each person who lives in these apartments and houses are lonely people who find it impossible to really communicate with each other. This mostly silent couple are completely in love with each other and completely put all of the other foolish souls to shame. It is hard to fully describe how romantic this film is. In lesser hands, this film would be a ridiculous exercise in New Age baloney, but not here. Well worth seeing.
In the first annual “Marilyn Raphael Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film," this plucky Argentinian road movie is a bittersweet slice of life film. There are three different people from the same dusty town all heading to a bigger city a long drive away. Each is seeking redemption in some manner. There is a shy, young mom who wants adventure and some adulation and a chance to win a prize for her town. There is a traveling salesman who is in love with a client in the other town but he hasn’t mustered enough courage to tell her. Instead, he goes to great lengths to show up with a great birthday cake for her child who he has never met. And then there is the old man seeking to make amends with his dog who he had treated poorly and who had run away years before. An incredibly charming film.
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