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I'm Not There. (2007)
Amazing, Brilliant and Stirring....
There are already 170 comments here... there is nothing that I can say that is original.... I just saw the film and I sat in awe, provoked intellectually and philosophically and moved once again by his music as I heard it in my youth. For those lived life along the same time frame of Dylan, so many of the images in the movie must have evoked for them photographic images of Dylan either pensive or in motion. I had not realized how iconic those image now are as part of our culture. I also realized that I never, when I was younger (I am a few years younger than Dylan) understood the import of what he was saying... perhaps he didn't either ... he was so young when he said them and it may have been most intuitive. But Todd Haynes' movie shows how Dylan's comments and reactions pushed the philosophical edge of perspective on living onto another plane challenging everybody to ponder as he pondered himself.
When I walked into the theater -- the local theater for the artsy crowd, the ticket taker, a young man in his late 20's or so.. said what a great film it was -- in particular how awesome Heath Ledger was in it. Heath ledger has just passed away a few weeks before this comment. Honestly I did not think he had as great an impact as Cate Blanchett who was truly remarkable -- and has deservedly been nominated for best supporting Actress for the Academy awards. She had the most and most powerful screen time and I was curious as to why she went for best supporting actress. It probably was strategic, increasing her chances of winning in a year of a large number of great films. But upon reflection, I realized that the star of the movie was Dylan himself who though not present physically in the film is present in forceful spirit throughout the film.
The Illusionist (2006)
I gave it an 8 but I really loved it....!!!!
I gave it an 8 because of the quality of the film.... It is good, at times really good... but it is not a GREAT film.
But it is sooo romantic and it is so surprising, so unexpected, intriguing yet puzzling.
I don't want to write much more than that because anything more would give something away. And the whole premise of the film is captured in its title: Illusion.
Other posters give a description of the film... I will just say it is visually stunning and amazingly acted. Paul Giamatti plays such a convincing personality that is completely different from his other roles: he is wise, calm, filled with good will in a job that both elevates his character while simultaneously forces him to be subservient. One would like such a character as he plays to be in a position of authority.
Ed Norton is always convincing though in a role that is not wholly believable but very engaging and entertaining. Jessica Biel is an incredible vision of loveliness, which is her prime purpose on the screen. But she executes that deftly and intelligently. It is the limitations of these two characters that prevent the film from being higher than an 8 in my mind. But that doesn't mean I didn't love the film. A film does not necessarily have to be great to be thoroughly enjoyable.
So if you relax and allow yourself to be swept away by the tenor of the film, you will come away quite satisfied.
Billy Elliot (2000)
Flashdance Flash Back
I don't understand why no one I have read here (but I haven't read them all) has noted that from a dance perspective this movie is just a replay of Flashdance, only the dancing is pretty terrible in Billy Elliot and Billy's interest in dancing unconvincing. When they finally get a decent dancer to perform (Billy as an adult) it lasts 15 seconds. Extremely frustrating. Ballet was my first career effort, starting when I was 5. I danced every opportunity I had, in my room as a child, on the streets, in restaurants, in class .. whenever and whatever..I would make up any dance form or steps if I did not know ones to do. Even after I gave it up as a career path, I still loved dancing in social settings and didn't quit going to dance night clubs until it was too embarrassing because of the age gap between me and the others around me. That love for dancing is what is attempted to be conveyed in Billy Elliot but it is pretty unconvincing when the actor is physically graceless and there is (what I presume is) a double who is a rather mediocre dancer himself and the choreography is pretty terrible. The scenes of the teacher "refining" Billy's movements before his tryout were laughable as Billy could barely raise his leg for positions in which his leg was supposed to be parallel to the floor...no evidence of dance "genius" here. (Even the little girls in the dance class were better dancers than Billy..though how that was possible, with such a "poor teacher", is another weakness of the film.) It was impossible for me to suspend disbelief throughout. Though Jennifer Beals had an uncredited double doing her dancing for her at least the dancer was good, the choreography fun (and at times exciting) to watch and the editing well done. I feel Billy Elliot does a great disservice to the effort to communicate what the love for dance means. And the rest of the film...well others have already commented on its shortcomings. But what I found really did the film in for me was the dozen or so sappy "endings." There were so many of them, one right after another, one more of a tearjerker than the last.... it amazes me that this film got as strong reviews as it did. The only part I found worthwhile was the portrayal of the mining town and the strikers at that period of time. But it had no meaningful context for the dance theme.
A number of people here have said that they did not like the film the first time but did upon other viewings. I suspect I won't and probably won't give it a try. But the movie has motivated me to see Flashdance again which I have not seen since the first couple of years when it came out. I wonder how it stands the test of time. Not a great film but charming and I was very stimulated by the dance in it.
Auto Focus (2002)
Addiction without romance
At someone's suggestion I am re-posting a comment I made on the bulletin boards here as a review. It is slightly edited.
I just saw Autofocus and it is a truly good film. It accurately portrays the descent into sex addiction which, based on what has been discussed and factually reported extensively in many sources about Bob Crane's life since his death, he suffered from...though the concept was not recognized until the early 80's (after Crane's death) and only now is becoming part of public awareness since the Clinton years. The only real fault I find with the film is its allusion to people's recognition (e.g., the priest and Crane's agent) that Crane suffered from an addiction, when the addiction model (other than to drugs and alcohol) had not yet been developed, certainly not as it is understood today...yet the movie implies many knew..that only Crane himself was clueless. At that time, everyone was clueless to sex addiction-- a fairly rampant psychological dysfunction that takes many forms. (Certainly the ascendancy of Playboy magazine and the lifestyle it represented to many reflected one such). And as with many emotional diseases, the sufferers have nowhere to turn to address what is happening to their lives because no one can even recognize that there is an underlying problem. There is just a collective distaste for the consequences.
The criticisms of the film by "Scotty", Crane's youngest son, are rather petty. Even if every one of his complaints about the inaccuracies were true, they are so minor and are irrelevant to the basic thrust of the film.
Autofocus just opened where I live which is a medium-sized city with an atypically large support for more artistic films. Though I did not see it in one of the more artistic-oriented theaters--I saw it in a suburban multiplex--I was still stunned, given the tremendous advanced positive press, that I was one of only four people in the movie theater. One of the other four was my friend. And she did not like it because "it was too disturbing." She also didn't like Greg Kinnear in the role. She "loves Greg Kinnear" and could not tolerate "his playing such a disturbing character." I think this is an incredible compliment to Kinnear. I find that with each role I see him in, he becomes more subtle and complex in new ways. I think he got the cluelessness of his character's attitude just right. That attitude was rampant at that time and it was rather hard to escape its influence, even if one did not naturally come to it. I suspect that the lack of attendance in the theater is due to the general population's unwillingness to look at this kind of emotional malaise directly in the face...witness my friend. Another film that I did not even get to see because it left so fast, "Secretary", also deals with another aspect of what can be a form of addiction..Domination and Submission. The reviews of that film run the gamut from "breakthrough" and "daring" to "silly drivel" and the reviewers run the gamut as well. Another role that did not get the attention it deserved was Ben Stiller's "Permanent Midnight" which is a remarkable portrayal of the descent into drug addiction and the path it can take. I was thinking after seeing Autofocus about why the public has such a hard time dealing with the self-destruction of addiction. And then I thought of "Leaving Las Vegas"'s popularity. Was it because alcoholism is so much better understood and accepted as a "disease" that it is not as frightening for an audience to observe? Or was it that it played second fiddle to a romance between two actors lovely to watch that kept the audience there anyway. Regardless, I heard from quite a few people that they walked out of "Leaving Las Vegas" or wanted to or refused to go see it altogether because it was too disturbing. But they expressed this in confidential tones and with great embarrassment because it was such a highly acclaimed film.
There is not much of a romance or any other plot to overlay the addiction in Autofocus...which is far more realistic when an individual descends into addiction because by its nature, it is very emotionally isolating. Perhaps that is why it is so disturbing. Because in many ways most of us paper our lives over in various forms of addictive behavior...compulsive eating, shopping, talking, etc. And then we seek films that paper over addiction with fantasies of romance between a suicidal alcoholic and a submissive prostitute to escape our own lives.