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Watching this movie on AMC right now. It's about time to go and do something else.
This movie is unconvincing. The bad guys are unintentionally inept, and not all that bad, just unpleasant. There is no sense of suspense, and in fact, the "good" characters are not sympathetic. There is nothing in the way that they are presented that makes a person wish that they be saved from their circumstances. "You're really beginning to bore me," says one of the bad guys to another. I was saying the same thing after about the first five minutes after the central drama was introduced. "How am I supposed to really care?" says the wife character, to one of the bad guys. Couldn't have said it better myself.
Just go ahead and kill them already. Geez. Whatever.
The Producers (2005)
Not worth the $3.00
I have always heard about how stunningly funny "The Producers" was. To my delight, I came across a copy of this version at a $3.00 DVD sale last week.
I should have saved my $3.00, and hope I might be able to find a used copy of the original that I can trade up on. I did genuinely laugh during "Spingtime for Hitler and Germany," but that was it.
This version of "The Producers" is highly polished, splendidly arrayed, has a huge number of dancers and actors. It is also terminally unfunny.
I seriously wanted to enjoy this, but for the most part, it was just impossible.
Gets "something" about growing up gay in Minnesota
There are not a lot of films about growing up gay in Minnesota, so this one particularly caught my eye. It appears to be the one and only work of Keith Froelich, who dedicates the movie to the memory of his father, who died the year it came out. It is too bad he hasn't done more.
For all its flaws, and the surface beauty of his actors, Froelich gets "something" about growing up gay in Minnesota that is quite essential: being frozen out didn't just happen during the winter. It happened in smaller and larger towns throughout the state and the country. His usage of anti-gay language was not merely gratuitous--it was, if anything, tame. The hope of the city of Minneapolis, to which each of the young men goes, was a hope for many of us, and perhaps a place where our dreams of escape came true, and for many others a place of hardness and death. Froelich captures all of this beautifully.
Many have commented on the use of Black & White. In the case of Toilerers, it works to help capture a sense of desolation that is just not possible in color. To me, this choice mutes the beauty of the characters and at the same time enhances it. But it also destabilizes the sense of time setting in a way that was not particularly helpful, as I kept wondering if it was set in the 70s, or 80s, or perhaps early 90s (the film was made in 95).
(SPOILER) Philip's illness at the end was piercing, and connected in my mind to the beginning when Udo's Aunt was remembering all the "beautiful boys" who died in the war in Germany under Hitler. So many beautiful boys died of AIDS, and still continue to suffer. Was Philip one of them?
Birds are people too!
I first heard of this movie when I was walking down the Greenwich stair-walk with a couple of friends who had seen the movie shortly before our walk. This is the same staircase featured in this movie. Based on their enthusiastic recommendation, I was excited to see that this movie when it listed in New Haven.
This documentary is primarily effective for one reason: discovery-driven, instead of agenda-driven, film-making. The viewer gets the sense in "The Wild Parrots" that she is a part of the evolving action. I daresay that "The Wild Parrots" is not only sublime but actually exciting because of the sense of evolving discovery that underlies each spontaneous moment.
From the standpoint of characterization, Mark Bittner is given development beyond his position as bird care-taker. He is the sort of man that many would not give a second look at, but by the end of the movie, he is someone I would really like to get to know better, someone whose outlook on life could, if applied on a large scale, make for a better living experience for all people and birds alike.
Mark gives many of the birds names, because he cares to get to know and observe them. Significantly, the observation on the part of the San Francisco Zoo's Curator of Birds that Mark began by describing the relationships among the birds underlies Mark's deep understanding of relationships that take place in the natural world without our knowing of such relating going on.
Mark sees, and convincingly relates to his viewers, that these birds are more than mere animated objects, but are indeed persons. What is a person? Someone who can love? Reason? Form relationships? Be thankful? Ask yourself the question "what is a person" after seeing "The Wild Parrots," and I suspect you might have a wider understanding of what a person is.
In fact I left this film feeling moved and with questions that could change the way I think of relating to other people, the animal world, and myself. Despite a slow start, "The Wild Parrots" finishes as a convincing and transformational experience for subject and audience alike.
Glen or Glenda (1953)
A Voice for the Voiceless
I don't know where this movie falls in the development of camp, but it sure is a milestone along the way to Pink Flamingos and other masterpieces of bad taste.
"All those people, all going somewhere!" Ok, so the dialogue is laughable, the editing could have been done better than a 6 year old, and there is really no development. But this is entertainment and a pretty brave statement in favor of those who've been bending gender for centuries. I value Ed Wood for giving a voice, albeit a fractured one, to those thousands of men who have feared their feminine side, and those who, like the young fellow in the film who killed himself, have been silenced by prejudice, fear, and hatred.
Watch it with a friend, preferably one who wears angora.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Marky Mark as Dirk Diggler?
Ok, so "Dirk Diggler" was pretty hot, before his descent. But Marky-Mark was nowhere near the barely-illegal age of 17 that he was supposed to be at the beginning of the flick. He looked about 35-40, even though he was late 20s when he did this role. I just gave up on it after the bashing scene--brought back memories of Matthew Shepard, who was similarly "jacked" by gay men pretending to be straight men pretending to be gay men.
The car ride with Jack Horner and Rollergirl encapsulated all of the hopefulness, disrespect, and ultimate behind-the-scenes ugliness that much porn has engendered. Ultimately, women and men both are used and thrown away, to be "refreshed" by new up-and-comers (so to say), who enter the same cycle.
I saw Paradisco just once, last summer at the LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco. Three quick observations: First, it awakened in me a great nostalgia for the 1970s, of which I saw (or lived through) 5 years.
Second, it reflected on death and change in a way that was neither overly morose nor sugarcoated; what is fun in Paradicso is fun and joyous, and not judged in any way as being excessive, foolish, or dangerous. From that standpoint, there was a sense of innocence on the eve of the AIDS crisis, yet it was neither retrospectively judgmental nor naive. The feeling of moving on, both explicit and implied, was explored in a way that would make this film appropriate for some who are grieving or working through some other kind of loss.
Third, no matter the official intent, I read the two main characters, in their morning-after reminiscence, to be the same man, something of a before and after the party that was 20 years of one man's life.
Only the French can make something as dear as this little musical.
Suburban anxiety, Minnesota style
Having grown up 80 miles north of Fargo, I can say that the film Fargo contains many inside jokes that quietly (or not so quietly) remind one that she is watching a movie about that part of the country. And whatever people think of the acting, story, etc., Fargo does capture much of the anxiety that the great plains quietly thrusts on those who live there (you can see this in the way Jean chops veggies), often hidden behind a smile or seemingly polite word.
One might note that this is a picture of mostly suburban Minnesota, around the twin cities, not rural. The film may have been better entitled "Edina" or "Maple Grove". Also, the accents, funny as they may be to most outside of the area, sound a little more like southwestern Wisconsin than North Dakota or Minnesota. Phrases such as "you're darn tootin" have never, to my knowledge, been knowingly been said by anyone in Minnesota. But aside from these minor quibbles, the Cohen bros do capture much of the darkness of a rather dark part of the world.