Comments on watching and making films.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

DVD - Werckmeister Harmonies

I have no idea what this film was about. I had heard Bela Tarr was this AMAZING filmmaker and that I had to see his stuff, so I Netflixed one of his more popular films. Needless to say, after two and a half hours, a lot of dancing, a giant fake whale, and a very confusing riot sequence, I still have absolutely no clue what this film is about. If you have decoded it, please drop me a line and let me know.

Matt Christy's "Desert"

Desert from matthew christy on Vimeo.

I helped make this. I love the way his mind works.

The Non-Commissioned Officers' "Sweet Eleanor"

Sweet Eleanor from MAKE-OUT with VIOLENCE on Vimeo.

Sweet Eleanor is one of the tracks from the Make Out With Violence soundtrack. The film was co-written and co-directed by fellow Watkins alum Chris Doyle. I saw an early cut of it (not the final one), and really liked it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

DVD - Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

Disturbed genius's are always good fodder for documentaries. Two of my favorite music doc's are DiG! which is partly about Anton Newcombe, the musical genius/crazy dude behind Brian Jonestown Massacre, and The Devil and Daniel Johnston about Daniel Johnston, an Austin musician who lost his mind and became an underground sensation. Scott Walker:30 Century Man is no different.

The film explores the career of Scott Walker, a man who has influenced generations of British and American musicians from Bowie to Blur and beyond. Walker started out his career as part of a trio, and grew into a solo recording career, before deciding to completely abandon the public aspects of being a "rock star", and retire to a life of solitude, only occasionally recording and releasing albums. His story is mostly told through reminiscence of those who have known him over the years, though Walker does fill in some of the blanks. While his music shifts between classic pop and stuff that is mildly unlistenable, Walker, himself, is always interesting and strikes you as the kind of person you could easily listen to for hours, if he would even be willing to talk to you.

DVD - If...

The 1960's were a time of hope and experimentation, and the idea of taking down the old systems, both in the US and abroad. Lindsay Anderson captures some of the spirit of the 1960's in England in his film If...

The film stars Malcolm McDowell, in his feature debut, as Mick Travis, a rebellious young teenager who attends a preparatory school in England. He and his friends could care less about all of the posturing and formalness that the school is trying to force down their throats, and do all they can to break away from it (even with the knowledge that they will be punished for their actions, and punished more and more severely the more they do). Mick is determined to live life his own way, though, and not give into his "masters".

If... is like a record of the final breakdown of the general acceptance of this upper class attitude in England. After this period, people of this class would never see the kind of respect they had always had, and people like Mick would be the one's to usher that in. If... is the perfect counter cultural movie for its time. It isn't preachy, it doesn't try to solve every problem. It simply presents a world and a time as its disintegrating.

(500) Days of Summer

In his feature film debut, director Marc Webb weaves a modern tale of boy meets girl, gets dumped by girl, has no chance of ever getting back with girl, eventually realizes he may have a future.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom Hansen, a twenty-something who gave up on his dream of being an architect, and now works at a greeting card company, writing copy. One day, a new girl, Summer Finn (played by Zooey Deschanel), starts working at the company as the assistant to Tom's boss. They eventually, after a lot of high school antics, end up together, have a relationship, and then break up.

Webb wraps his tale in a very seering reality, and it feels like the things these characters are going through are things that all of us of that age have gone through, said the same things, felt the same things. Somehow Webb, and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, connected into the zeitgeist of love at this very moment and managed to make it into something totally unromanticized or un-Hollywoodized. Much like Juno or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, or even Lost In Translation, to some extent, (500) Days uses the perfect mix of clever writing, subtle and endearing art direction, and a mixture of pop and indie rock to tell our generations love story.

One thing I would like to point out, as well, is the writers GENIUS addition of the concept of Tom basing his belief in destiny by misreading The Graduate. It's not difficult to see the hard reality of love in that last scene of the movie, when Ben and Elaine have escaped the wedding, and their happiness dissipates as they get farther and farther away. Summer gets this, and see's it happening right in front of her, but Tom still believes, blindly, that his love will be enough for both of them. It's a hard reality that most people discover in the most awful times of their lives - sometimes love and good intentions just aren't enough to hold a relationship together.

The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow has made a name for herself as being, basically, the only ultra successful female action film director. With a list of films to her credit that includes Near Dark, Point Break, and the critical and commercial misfire K-19, The Widowmaker, Bigelow has spent over twenty years building her name in the industry with films that have been successful, whether that be commercially, critically, or both. Bigelow returns to form, after some time off, with The Hurt Locker, a film about a small unit of soldiers whose job is to disarm bombs planted by terrorists in Iraq, circa 2004.

Jeremy Renner plays the death wish loving Sergeant Williams, with Anthony Mackie as Sanborn and Brian Geraghty as Eldridge, the junior officer who's ability to deal with the war is breaking down as Williams keeps putting them in more and more risk. Williams is one of these guys who has nothing to lose, or at least feels like he doesn't. He has a wife and newborn at home, but whenever he calls them, he refuses to talk, leaving his wife, on the other end, wondering if its him before he hangs up. Sanborn and Eldridge, after having seen their previous Sergeant die before their eyes, are not about to let Sanborn take them down with him.

The Hurt Locker is a singularity among most current war films, in that it doesn't really make a judgement call on whether our involvement in Iraq is good or bad. It simply follows a group of soldiers who have one of the most difficult, most intense jobs in the entire world, and how that affects who they are, both physically and mentally. It is tense, and when Bigelow tightens the strings, she doesn't let up. She obviously has the pedigree to make these kinds of films, but, by the time Hurt Locker is over, there is no second guessing.