Friday, 25 July 2008

Random Notes #1

Thought I would start doing shorter snippets on things that jump to mind. A few films I've seen recently:

Be Kind Rewind (2008 - Michel Gondry) - A slight film in many ways, but it didn't feel like it should have had the drubbing it received. It feels like people simply wanted a long form series of "sweded" videos with Gondry's sleight of hand and when they didn't quite get that, they ignored the rest. Sure those were my favourite parts of the film too, but I really ended up liking the rest of it as well. Well, OK, the ending was a bit much...But that extended single take of them putting together their versions of "2001: A Space Odyssey", "King Kong", "Men In Black" et al was brillant - especially that forced perspective shot of Jack Black's King Kong reaching for the character Alma.

Classe Too Risques (1960 - Claude Sautet) - I'll watch pretty much anything that Criterion releases (not everything works for me, but a rather large majority does), so when this popped up in the video store recently, I snagged it without much thought (or knowledge of the film). It's down right terrific. But as great as Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura (from "Army Of Shadows") were, the revelation for me was Sandra Milo. I guess I had seen her in both "Juliet Of The Spirits" and "8 1/2", but she stood out here. And not just because she is gorgeous:

Semi-Pro (2008 - Kent Alterman) - Were they even trying? I actually like Will Ferrell and I think both "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights" are two of the funniest movies of the past 5 years or so. But where those two films actually have memorable characters all the way down the cast list, give their actors funny things to do and allow a great deal of room for improvisation, "Semi-Pro" wastes everybody and gives them nothing to do. Ferrell has a few amusing moments, but I can't think of a single funny thing that anyone else in the film did.

The Dinner Game (1998 - Francis Veber) - Very funny French comedy with subtle and broad moments a plenty. The concept is that a number of snobby rich friends have a regular dinner to which they invite the stupidest people they can find. Pierre thinks that his current "catch" will far out do anyone else's. Two great things about it: 1) I had worried that the humour might be a bit too cruel, but within minutes you realize you can't wait for the game to begin; 2) when the game doesn't quite play out the way you think it might or start when you think it will, you don't mind one bit. Just great fun.

Noise (2007 - Matthew Saville) - A small budget Aussie film I picked up on a whim. A police office with Tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) is pulled into two separate murder cases - a mass killing on the subway and the death of a young man's fiancee. It feels quite ambitious with what appears to be several themes running across different storylines and characters, but it really held me throughout and left me pondering its resolution (or rather lack of full closure on all fronts). An additional thing I liked about it and kept noticing was the recurrence of small out of focus coloured lights in the background. The film is set around Christmas time so there's always some lights in the picture:

It's possible that this is actually by accident, but near the end the officer is rifling through another character's notebooks and comes across:

I just thought that was kinda cool.


James Yates said...

Interesting post. I also posted a look at snippets that I've thought about this week. Also, I watched "Semi-Pro" last weekend and was unimpressed.
I have a soft spot for Will Ferrell, and was in comedy heaven last night, watching clips of "Celebrity Jeopary" on, fueled by three or four bottles of Session Lager. Good times.

Bob Turnbull said...

"Celebrity Jeopardy" - oh man, that's equal to prime SNL - especially mixed with malted beverages.

I'm catching up with my blogroll, so I'm popping over to check your snippet post now...

Ed Howard said...

Be Kind Rewind had interesting ideas that it never did nearly enough with: the communal potential of movies, the joy of homemade aesthetics, the conflicts and affinities between creativity and technology. I would've liked the film much more if Gondry had done more to develop his themes in coherent ways, but too much of the non-sweded time is given over to sappy exposition and cliched characterizations. Contrary to your experience, I thought the final scene was one of the best, an unabashedly fantastical celebration of the power of movies to draw communities together and provide rewarding emotional experiences. The way the movie-viewing experience literally spills out into the streets of the city at the end is the film's most poignant image. I could've done with more of that, and less of the turgid recycled plotlines involving Danny Glover and Mia Farrow.

And yes, I won't lie: I also would've gotten a real kick out of 2 solid hours of just watching the guys swede movies.

Bob Turnbull said...

Hi Ed,

I think we mostly agree with "Be Kind Rewind" - the idea of how cinema can unite people, the imperfect nature of the film itself and the fact that 2 hours of Gondry's own sweded movies would've been gold.

I love the idea behind that final scene, but for whatever reason it just didn't work for me within the context of the film - I can suspend my disbelief if something works within the rules set up in the film's world but that final scene went over the top for me a bit. It's funny though, because as I think back on the film, I don't know why that is...Considering the video store's patrons kept coming back for more of those sweded films, it should've worked. Oh well, I expect to watch it again so I'll see if that changes.