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.....more to come
Twentynine Palms (2003)
A quiet classic.
Given the talk on this film, I really wasn't expecting much. And after watching it, I can safely say, that I will never trust the opinions of others again. Unlike my opinion, which you should all listen to! The complaints from people who say it's too slow moving, have obviously never treated themselves to some of the better films from Leigh or Jarmusch. I can imagine what they'd think of Stranger than paradise. These types of movie goers should be ignored at all costs. These ADD movie watchers are the reason films like Breakdown have to turn into a Rambo movie somewhere in the middle. Because studios are afraid these cinematic sugar addicts will never follow a film not layered in one liners, cool dialogue, and fast action.
Directed by Bruno Dumont, Palms moves along not so much in a slow and uneventful manner, as rather in a real life, non Hollywood fashion we all move in. Especially when we find ourselves in a small and hot desert town, as this couple does.
David (David Wissak) and Katia (Yekaterina Golubeva) are out in the California desert to find a setting for a photo shoot for David, an independent photographer. It's great that there are no distractions from the two main characters. No lights or heavy traffic, or friends stopping by for coffee. These two are as passionate as they are unstable in their relationship. They regularly shift back and forth between controlled arguing and uncontrolled sexual release. All of which is magnified by the heat and isolation of their surroundings.
What I love about this film is that I can't remember a single line from it. Just as I can't remember most conversations overheard in everyday life. They talk about the same mundane things we all do, while having the same petty arguments most in relationships have as well.
I know that hardly sounds like great movie viewing, but don't worry, that's not the entire film. Nor is it what makes this film brilliant. What makes it brilliant is how it uses the seemingly uneventful as it's base, while building upwards from that with a constant undertone of tension and dysfunction that shifts back and forth between blunt and subtle.
This is not a fun movie to watch. But it is one that I will never forget.
She Hate Me (2004)
He hate subtlety
Well it's that time of the year again, when those of us who love movies wait to see if Spike has directed another Do the right thing, or School Daze. Another 25th hour or Bamboozled. Well it seems as if he's done more of the latter unfortunately.
To be fair, it's nowhere near as bad as School Daze, but to be honest, it's nowhere near as good as The 25th hour, his last and one of his best films.
This film is somewhat doomed from the beginning, right when it becomes clear that the lead actor (Anthony Mackie) who plays John Henry, can't carry a film. He does have a bit of charisma, but you never really connect with him, and that's a big no no when it comes to lead characters.
In fact it's hard to feel connected to any character in this film, with the exception of Geronimo Armstrong (Jim Brown), John Henry's father. But his character is not in the film enough to save it.
The basic story is about Jack (John Henry) Armstrong's fall from grace. He (Jack) works at a big American corporation as the youngest VP they have. Everything seems to be going fine, until one of his co workers and friends has, shall we say, a setback. Troubled by his friends experience, Jack decides to do what his friend was too afraid to do.
Well let's just say this doesn't go over to well at this big American corporation. That's when Leland (Woody Harrelson), the head of this big American corporation, decides that maybe Jack Henry Armstrong should make other career plans. Out of a job, and quick to find out how long and wide a big American corporation's tentacles can stretch, Jack does what any out of work VP who's been blackballed by corporate America would do. He starts getting a bunch of lesbians pregnant for profit.
That's where Fatima (Kerry Washington) enters the film. After she and her girlfriend Alex (Dania Ramirez) get Jack, her former fiancé, to donate some baby fertilizer to them, she decides to become a pimp. Jack, now a professional sperm donor, is for obvious reasons, just a wee bit frustrated. Not only by his new profession, but by the fact that his former fiancé wants to be with Alex and not him. You would think her pimping him out to lesbians would destroy their feelings for each other, but it actually seems to bring them back together, sort of.
She hate me is a political film wrapped in love story paper, but because it's Spike, you're not too surprised when you open it. The only surprise is how amateur some of the dialog and scenes are. Spike is a long time film vet, he should have known better than to do some of the things he did in this film.
A film that is not a bad film, just not a very good one. Good luck next time, Spike.
Nói albinói (2003)
Ice and isolation
Noi is the directorial debut of Dagur Kari, and a damn good one at that. He creates a world of his own, or rather a world of Noi's own, that separates this film from other indies you might have seen with similar plot lines. That plot is as follows, Noi is an above average teen (student wise) living in below average circumstances. His father is a here today gone tomorrow drunk, that obviously loves his son, and tries to be there for him. His mom is a loving but slightly odd woman who tries to keep Noi on track, at least with her unconventional way of sometimes waking him up for school. Which Noi has no interest in. School that is. You really get a dolphin in a fish tank feeling the more you watch Noi go through his daily activities, or more accurately, lack there of.
And that's where Iris (Elin Hansdottir) comes in. She gives Noi something to look forward to for the first time in a long time. Will she provide the motivation he's been looking for? Will their attempts to flee that little frozen abyss prove successful? Only time will tell.
Sånger från andra våningen (2000)
Songs From The Second Floor has been described as a poem put to film, but after viewing this emotional work of art, I can't help but to feel that a Swedish Opera put to film is a more accurate description.
Directed and written by Roy Anderson, Songs From The Second Floor is a visual and emotional masterpiece. Showing Swedish and to a greater extent all of society, through grey colored glasses.
The cast primarily consists of non actors who made an impression on Roy upon him seeing them in everyday life. All of whom make similar impressions on us the viewers upon seeing them in this film.
Kalle (Lars Nordh) is the heart and star of this movie. It's through his story (one of several) that we fully experience this Swedish Opera. The pain, sadness, guilt, and hopelessness of Songs From The Second Floor, can be felt in every slow moving moment of his life.
Religion, love, poverty, and poetry are all common themes throughout this film. Giving it an identity all of it's own. You could watch a hundred films with similar descriptions, and still consider Songs From The Second Floor the strangest and most original film you've ever seen......Highly recommended for those who liked Northfork and Russian Ark.
Días contados (1994)
Dias Contados (Running Out of Time) is a movie about love, lust, desire, hate, death, and regret, that takes place in Madrid, Spain. Antonio (Carmelo Gomez) is in town with two others on personal business. Charo (Ruth Gabriel) and Vanessa (Candela Pena) are two roommates with a laundry list of issues. Lisardo (Javier Bardem) is a local junkie. Portugues (Chacho Carreras) is a drug dealer trying to evade the cops. Lourdes (Elvira Minquez) is one of Antonio's companions to Madrid, who loves him far more than she gets in return. Throw in a husband of Charo getting out of jail, and edgy cops trying to bust Portugues; and you have an amazing movie that should've gotten much more attention here in the states.
The performances in this film are much better than most you see by actors who receive far more attention. Especially Ruth Gabriel, who gives one of the most memorable performances by a young actress (18 or 19) I've seen. Carmelo Gomez is a leading man who should be a household name here, and would be if we respected international films, the same way they do ours. They both give Oscar worthy performances in a film that will definitely leave an impression on you.
Recommended for those who liked Dirty Pretty Things, or 21 grams.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Open Your Eyes
Vanilla Sky is a 2001 remake of the great 1997 movie, Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). And in my opinion, a much more human and emotional version. Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a selfish egomaniac who takes other people's emotions for granted, and thinks only of himself. Jason Lee plays Brian Shelby, David's best, and in many ways, only friend. Penelope Cruz plays Sofia Serrano, Brian's girlfriend whom accompanies him to David's birthday party. Cameron Diaz plays Julie Gianni, David's occasional bed buddy. Kurt Russell plays Dr. Curtis McCabe, a psychologist interviewing David. All of their interactions, and the consequences of them, make Vanilla Sky one of the most emotional, and complex thrillers ever made. I won't explain anymore of the plot, because it's far more compelling, the less you know. Ignore all people that call this film too confusing to follow. If you pay attention, you won't be confused. The film is very complex, but not confusing. And in my opinion, one of the best movies ever made.