Tuesday 3 September 2013

Scribblings Of A Random Nature #25

With TIFF just days away, I thought I'd clear out a few screenshots I've gathered and say a few words about some recent films watched. I really should do this more often...

Ferpect Crime (2004 - Alex de la Iglesia) - It's pretty impressive how de la Iglesia walks several fine lines throughout this sharp and stylish comedy. On top of his two main characters being both reprehensible and still somewhat sympathetic, he also manages to craft a story that occasionally borders on misogyny while also being a strong female empowerment tale. OK, that last point isn't perfectly handled (maybe it's only ferpectly handled?) due to some assumptions about what female beauty is considered to be, but even that is handled as a stereotype and played up. Guillermo Toledo (even better in the great Only Human - one of my favourite "movie you've probably never heard of" titles) is perfectly suave and slimy as Rafael - a manager of a women's lingerie department who builds his own empire by hiring (and seducing) only the sexiest of assistants. Until the one remaining "unattractive" woman starts to get the upper hand. Clever on just about every front.

Love In The Afternoon (1957 - Billy Wilder) - Though I still have some classic Wilders left to see, I had to go and choose this...Granted, I was certainly able to fill up on a big dose of Audrey Hepburn (always satisfying - note that she's in just about every screencap below), but I also had to stomach the rather bland Gary Cooper (I'm coming to the realization that I'm just not a big fan of the guy...). Worse, though, was the charmless plot, very few moments of humour, a love story with no spark and a wretched ending that kinda made me a bit angry. I know I'm watching the movie through lenses calibrated 56 years later on, but any sympathy I had built up for the characters was washed away in several moments. All of it was quite depressing actually. Except for Audrey that is...

Defending Your Life (1991 - Albert Brooks) - Easily my favourite Brooks directed film so far. Not that I was complaining about the other efforts I've seen by him, but this had a great concept (a holding ground after you die where you review key scenes of your life and defend your decisions in a trial format to see where you are headed next) and what felt like a zippy pace. Brooks lands just about every one of his jokes and gets to play off a lovely Meryl Streep. Every supporting role, no matter how small, seems perfectly cast which leads me to think that this is a big component to successful comedies - stack your cast with people who can steal scenes. As much as I enjoy seeing Brooks on screen recently, I'd love to "see" him back behind the camera again.

Side Effects (2013 - Steven Soderbergh) - Though I eagerly anticipate any Soderbergh release, I didn't rush to the theatres to see Side Effects when it debuted. Part of it was because I wanted to delay seeing the last of his films (though I guess Behind The Candelabra fits that description better), but in reality the plot of the movie as I knew it from the trailer and descriptions just didn't quite grab me. I figured it would be fine and I very much like Rooney Mara, but something held me back from being excited. Silly me - why did I doubt Soderbergh? The tale is snappy, it throws some decent unexpected turns (though I admit I stayed away from any further description of the plot after I thought I had the initial concept) and boy does it look great. Not just the cinematography, but I especially love the framing throughout the entire film and the way it moves Mara's character around to all the different corners. A fine way of portraying her scrambled ideas. Can't wait to see Candelabra - and this time I won't hesitate.

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