Saturday, June 10, 2006

What you know about a big DVD pile, son? (the third)

Note: Especially through the summer, this will be made a regular weekly feature.

  • "The Man Who Wasn't There" -- This another solid movie from the Coen Brothers that's everything you expect from them: dry, dark humor, crisp images and restrained acting performances. To be honest, I didn't even recognize Billy Bob Thornton in this movie for the first five or ten minutes. He's so low-key and white bread (read: non-southern), you don't even figure its him.

  • "Catch Me If You Can" -- Spielberg is so good with period peices like this, ranging from the dapper '50s to the swinging mid-'60s (the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" single on reel-to-reel tape circa '64 coupled with bright mod pastelles is a nice touch), and you get to see President Bartlett (I refuse to call Martin Sheen by his real name anymore, he's President Bartlett and he'll never be anything else) with a deep southern, New Orleans accent! And Tom Hanks with a New England one! Hijinx ensue!

    I only refer to specific fragments of this movie because it is so dense and there's so many different acts to the movie, and therefore the real-life basis for the film, Frank Abagnale Jr. It really is a well-acted movie, and that's probably its strongest attribute. I once heard an old southern belle refer to this movie as "cute." "That movie was cute," she said. For some reason I had that in mind throughout watching this and I was floored at the kind of selective memory some people choose to have. I suppose "cute" is pretty close to the mark of how to describe this film, though.

  • "Fateless" -- Kind of a downer (it's a Holocaust movie, which is as prevalent as romantic comedies now), but also kind of a "triumph over overwhelming adversity through faith" movie. It helped me understand the kind of mindstate that desperate people have, groveling for their lives, and how they (and future generations) deal with that kind of psychic shockwave afterward. Specifically, it made me realize that Jews and African-Americans have co-opted their respective religions in such a way that it is more than just a faith in times of trouble (read: faith "when you need it"), but the very thing that gives them hope and the will to carry on... at all times. It may be sad but true, but its also a testament to the human spirit, or at least human adaptivity.

  • "Flirting With Disaster" -- It's one in a long line of liberal family movies, but its a very good liberal family movie because David O. fucking Russell did this movie, who consistently impresses me with each movie he does. "Three Kings"? Great movie, probably his best. "I Heart Huckabees"? A little annoying, overwritten, but an excellent movie. One of the most unique writer/directors I've ever seen. "Flirting With Disaster," his first and possibly only straight-up comedy, only has a couple of his unique flourishes (like the acting out of tangental possibilities) but his snappy dialogue is all over the place. And check out the cast delivering it, for God's sake: Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Téa Leoni, Alan Alda, Mary Tyler Moore, Pearl Coplin, George Segal and Lily Tomlin. See this movie, for serious.

    So I'll be seeing "Prarie Home Companion" and probably "Cars" this weekend. Both of these movies I heard about years ago, so it should be nice to close the book on them. Both should have a lot of talking, so I'll sit up front. PHC will probably be one of Robert Altman's last movies, so I'm seeing an Altman movie, now, in the theater, while I can. I suggest you do, too. His movies are hard to listen to (because of all the overlapping dialogue that you, or I, struggle to hear), but there's a contrast to that: you know the dramatic technique where someone is about to give shocking news to someone else, they tell a third party and then go into another room to tell the person who it will shock, or crush? Altman invented the technique of the dramatic door close and the mute delivery of the news, as used often on "ER" or "The West Wing", or probably anything else John Wells has been involved in. (A quick endnote: According to Entertainment Weekly (shut up) and backed up by IMDb, Altman's stand by on PHC was none other than Paul Thomas Anderson, who was on-set with him at all times, no doubt learning a whole lot-- say what???)

    Blogger Matt Gilmour said...

    I've been meaning to see Flirting With Disaster and I <3 Huckabees for a while now. Three Kings is one of my favorite movies.

    the PT Anderson thing is old news by the way. I'd heard about that months ago. Anderson is (obviously) a huge Altman fan and I can only imagine how much he's taken away from him being in that position.

    6/12/2006 12:54 PM  
    Anonymous Linda Mik said...

    In "Fateless," the youth, Gyuri, is not religious. His mother country, Hungary, let him down by turning his family and him over to the Nazis. His father is dead. His stepmother remarried the guy who bought his father's factory in a hurry. His mother is a distant figure. So he has neither religion nor patriotism nor family to fall back on. The neighbors, friends of his childhood, react to the experiences of the now-young-man by intellectualizing them. What Gyuri (nickname of Gyorgi) has to give him strength is the feeling of freedom from his belief that his life could end at any time. He also has memories of his favorite time in the concentration camp at dusk, after work, when he and the other inmates relished their near-starvation supper rations. He dares to call this happiness

    6/14/2006 3:07 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

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    6/17/2006 3:18 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Flirting With Disaster is one of my favorite flicks...I don't think any movie has distilled Stiller's awkwardness better. So much great dialogue too...

    Arquette: But you said mutilate!
    Segal: Please.

    6/17/2006 3:19 AM  

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