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 ♥ hated it . ♥♥ 'sok . ♥♥♥ liked it . ♥♥♥♥ loved it . ♥♥♥♥♥ will force you to watch it

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Monday
Sep202010

Monday Reverie: A Complete History of My Sexual Failures

I decided I'm not going to use this platform to tell you about movies you already know you should see, like the 400 Blows, In The Mood For Love and City of God etc (the first two are on netflix instant play, by the by). Instead I'll focus on the shit that I love that no one else is going to tell you to watch.

Meet Chris Waitt. He has been dumped, a lot of times, by a lot of women. He goes on a quest to interview these women (ala High Fidelity, another old favourite) and hilarity ensues. I don't think I've ever laughed this hard in a cinema. I first saw this at the Melbourne International Film Festival couple years ago with one of my best mates, Ryan (who's first feature now has a trailer), at the end of the film I turned to him, I was in tears of laughter, he was in tears, but more on that later.

There are a lot of noise and complaints about this film; on how it's manipulative, how Chris is obviously playing up his character, how the story line is manipulated and how it's basically not a real documentary. Wah wah wah. So fucking what? It is no different from any other documentary, especially in the now climate of Michael Moore propagandist set pieces. In truth, no matter how much Chris tried to play a part of this huge loser and tried to frame his story, theses are still real footage that he recorded when he tried to reconnect with this women. Frankly, some of the more obvious set ups are just jokes that are the result of brilliant editing.

Of course he knew what was going to happen if he took 7 viagra pills, of course he knew what he was getting himself into in that dungeon and I wouldn't be surprised if he staged that call from his mother in the middle of it. Did he know he was going to be a jackass on that first date? Most definitely. Any idiot could figure that out, don't pat yourself on the back for thinking that you're the first person to notice and then call this film a failure. He knows that the audience could probably figure this out, have a sense of humour!

In this end this becomes a very touching story about loves lost and his journey to redemption, and it's a pretty good one. It's also the part my mate teared up at, it was pretty sad. That particular woman who wrote a novel which she dedicated to Chris is actually available for purchase on British amazon, which is pretty sweet to have that kind of meta filtration like that if you ask me. Even if you just pretend it's entirely fabricated, it's a pretty entertaining piece of filmmaking, in the vein of last year's Paper Heart (which I pretty much adore, and it's on netflix instant play). Watch this and feel good about your life, and to laugh out loud, a lot.

Now the dvd of this is not available in the states, but there's torrents of it floating around. Email me and I'll send you a link.

Wednesday
Sep082010

music clippings

PRESS PLAY!!!


this deserves it's own post. George and Jonathan presents The Best Music. free for download. This is going to be my soundtrack for a few weeks.

Sunday
Sep052010

Salt

♥♥♥

So this is why I like Jolie as an action hero -- She has some grit to her. When she leaps from truck to truck, she just clenches her teeth and does it. It looks painful, and hard, and possible. She looks good doing it too, even with a busted lip, a nasty bruised eye swollen shut and blood smeared across her face, she is still breathtakingly beautiful. Back during her Lara Croft days I always thought they over played the boobs. I mean they had to, it was Lara Croft. But when you have a face like that, and you throw the boobs into the equation it just gets to be too much sex appeal. But now she has toned down the sex and turned the smoulder right up. I'm liking that fringe on her.

Enough about her looks, onto the actual film. Admittedly it was a little slow to get started. I don't think anyone paying for a ticket to this expects too much emotionally charged backstory, I am fairly certain that "just enough" plot would have been good enough, as long as it justified the action. In that respect, for the first 10 or so minutes I kind of just wanted the chase sequences and the fighting to start already. Now anytime secret agents come into a story there's always a danger of too many twists, and this movie did suffer a little bit  of that. The whole double/triple agent, who-is-working-for-who tirade got a little frustrating. Also the stakes at play are kinda high. I mean I know that's how it's meant to be with super spies and international intrigue, but it doesn't stop the comic book levels of consequences seem a little, comic book. But it has capable enough actors to pull off the whole "you just saved the world from nuclear holocaust" relatively unscathed.

Can we talk about Liev Schriber's appearance in this for a moment? The last time I saw him was on stage as Eddie in View From The Bridge, so the last place I expected him to be some super spy action movie. I can't exactly say they utilised his talents, but they didn't exactly waste him either. Between him and Chiwetel Ejiofor, I thought they were playing around with some interesting casting against type, but SPOILER ALERT: they didn't. Angie herself is utilizing some of her "A Mighty Heart" resilience and vulnerable strength. Actually all mockery aside, she was beautifully understated and strong throughout, I was well and truly impressed. You don't expect a performance like hers in a movie with a ridonkulous premise like this. There is one scene where !!SPOILER SPOILER!! her husband is shot in front of her and the camera stays on her, she witnesses, processes, grieves, accepts and moves on in the space of about 15 seconds, fully believable and affecting.

Just the other day I was thinking about actresses and how they could fundamentally be split into two categories. Those that start from a place of strength and find their vulnerability and those that start in vulnerability and find their strengh. You do need both to be effective but I do much prefer it when they start from the former. This also explains why, lovely and likable as I think Marion Cotillard is, she still annoys me. You can spot it in every single actress. The devine Ms Blanchett is a no brainer, she couldn't be any stronger, so that when she has her breakdowns the whole world starts to fall apart. Kidman, vulnerability. Cruz, strength. Milla Jovovich (who could have easily been Salt), vulnerability. You can do this in child actresses too, Dakota Fanning can bat her eyelashes all she want but she is all about the backbone. Jolie, strength strengh strengh. (I can do this all day, just throw me a name. Aniston, strength. Heigl, vulnerability. A lot of people would probably slash this theory to pieces but I can't say that I care. I also has a sub-theory involving screen/stage but I'll spare you.)

This movie was written by Kurt Wimmer, the writer/director of Equilibrium and Ultraviolet, both very interesting concepts that were flawed in execution. This time the director at the helm is Australian Phillip Noyce who would be better known to Australians as the director of the heartbreaking Rabbit-Proof Fence. Eventhough he has done other similar genre fare such as The Bone Collector (where he previously worked with Jolie) and even the pilot episode of Tru Calling, it's his sense of sentimental realism that translated especially well to this script. (Oh and he also did The Quiet American, which again, plenty of heart). In a way this reminded me of why the world went ape shit over the first Bourne film. I didn't get it at first, I just thought it was like any other genre film but done well, only with Matt Damon and that cool chick from Run Lola, Run and they got to use found objects like Jackie Chan movies. But it was really about the relative realism. It became addictive to watch this seemingly normal dude do mind-blowingly awesome things with ordinary objects and get away with it. It combined the thrill of a super spy movie with true crime/thriller with an instantly identifiable protagonist. This did it for me too. The actual action was just realistic enough to keep me interested. If only they didn't blow the plot way out of proportions, they certainly left room for sequels. I think I might actually like a sequel. Dammit, that's the second time this Summer I've actively wanted a sequel, the Hollywood turd-gods are winning! NOOOOoooooo!!!

Sunday
Aug292010

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

♥♥♥♥♥

ZOMFG.

YES.

___

sidenotes:

- "Did you learn that at the Vegan Academy?"

- "Bread makes you fat?"

- "I can be quieter..."

- "If your life had a face, I would punch it"

Monday
Aug092010

Monday Reverie: The Wackness

I'm starting a new segment where I get to talk about a movie I really loved. This doesn't mean I'm posting every Monday, but if it happens to be a Monday, and I'm bursting with love for a film I've seen in the past, I'm going to gush here. Let's begin:

It's Summer of 1994 in New York, Biggie drops Ready to Die, hip-hop is crossing over into the mainstream, psychiatry is becoming a pharmaceutical industry, and some kid named Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) graduates high school.

The first time I saw this was when it screened at MIFF in 2008, that time I walked away with the most tremendous sensation of nostalgia. The mid 90s is a backdrop we haven't seen in films that much, at least not since it happened, and certainly not dressed up with all the details in retrospect. The sepia tones and hip-hop soundtrack pretty much sums up the idealised daydreams of my childhood. The film didn't do so well when it first hit the screens, I honestly don't think the cultural climate was quite ready for it then, the 80s revival was in full swing and the films getting all the attention were the Dark Knights of the world. I am absolutely positive that if it saw a theatre release at the start of this Summer all the hipsters would have caught onto to this like leeches. Incidentally, another film that tried to utilise the 90s that came out in 08 was Definitely, Maybe. Which I most definitely enjoyed. Maybe this is just a matter of my taste. Intelligent writing + 90s nostalgia = one very happy Alice.

The opening scene sets the tone perfectly as Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley) gives a therapy session to Shapiro, in exchange for two 1/8th baggies. Shapiro is precocious and instantly lovable. Squires is a complete mess, the accomplished shrink and a child fucking up all at once. It helps that Ben Kingsley is at the helm of this incredibly nuanced character with all his affable energy. There's a romance between Shapiro and Squires' stepdaughter, Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby)which is both life changing, but also insignificant. Thirlby, as we witnessed in Juno, is just so damn cool and I wish she would work more. Much to her credit, everything she does seems pretty effortless without seeming easy, if that makes any sense at all. Stephanie is a full and well rounded character, and easily relatable. Let's not forget Josh Peck who was tremendous in his own right. I didn't know he was some kid star on a Nickelodeon show (a little after my time I'm afraid) and I couldn't tell either. He was sensitive but confident with that touch of bravado teenagers get, and felt every bit like a kid in New York in the 90s, which is a really subtle thing to be able to pull of. It wasn't just the speech or the swagger, he felt like he could have dealt to the kids in Larry Clark's Kids (1995) except he couldn't have been friends with them, because they were deplorable and Shapiro wouldn't have been cool enough.

Hip hop is a pretty huge part of the film, not only so the soundtrack is amazing but it provides this atmosphere of something a little rough around the edges but indefeasible. At the heart of the movie is the relationship between Shapiro and Squires, in some part told using the exchange of music (Shapiro's hip hop to Squire's rock) through mixtapes. There's also a very fun cameo by Mary-Kate Olsen in the only thing I haven't hated her in.

It's the kind of film you stew in, like August in New York. It might not be pretty, but it can be beautiful if you let in all the details lap up the intricate snap-shot of a time period that I bloody loved.