[Another week in 69]

All I knew going into Paint Your Wagon is that it was a not-great musical western where Clint Eastwood sings. Things I did not know: that Lee Marvin has all the best lines ever, that the singing was bad but also endearing, and that it featured a sight gag that still makes me giggle when I think of it, as well as a surprisingly complex threesome, though not at the same time. I enjoyed the hell out of it, in a guilty sort of way.

It’s showing with The Wild Bunch, which is basically the polar opposite Western. It takes place at the end of the Wild West, a pretty violent film about an aging gang taking one more job. Excellent, but I do wish the Spanish had been subtitled.

Finally, this week they also screened The Rain People, a 16mm print sent from Australia, with gorgeous color but somewhat lacking in sound quality. An early Coppola, it’s the film basically responsible for American Zoetrope, which is the company Coppola and Lucas founded to make films outside of the traditional studio system. It’s in the tradition of an American road movie, but with a woman in the lead. Shirley Knight is Natalie who, dissatisfied in her marriage, hits the road & encounters bits of the country in the company of James Caan (as a brain-damaged ex football player) and eventually Robert Duvall. One of my favorite things about it was the incorporation of flashback to show us moments from various character’s memories, suddenly and without fanfare, just as memory actually operates.

[Last of 2008]

* Let the Right One In. Fantastic. Seriously. Go see it.

* Angel. I hated it. I went because of the director & because it was free, but I could not stand the lead character. Nor could I stand everyone else’s adoration of her. See 8 Women instead.

* Quantum of Solace. The crap reviews are all crap. It rocks. Also, Mathieu Amalric is the villain. How is that not awesome?

* Slumdog Millionaire. I have to be honest — I am not quite getting the showers of awards on this. It’s a formula film. A formula by Danny Boyle, and therefore formula with quite a twist & gorgeously filmed, but a formula just the same. It’s good, but in danger of acquiring the label “overrated”.

* Milk. This was actually more effective the second time. The first was a rough cut, though, so.

* Wild Child. Fascinating film about the wild boy of Aveyron, though it made me grateful for the Internet so I could learn What Happened Next.

* Frost/Nixon. I keep forgetting this was a Ron Howard film, because its Peter Morgan screenplay (adapted from Morgan’s play) is such a strong voice. (He wrote The Queen & The Deal, both of which also starred Michael Sheen, there as Tony Blair.) It’s excellent.

* The Godfather Part II. I hadn’t seen it before, so getting to see the restoration in the theater was amazing. I might almost like it better than Part I, thanks in no small part to the flashbacks with De Niro’s Vito, but I need to see both of them many, many more times to be sure.

… and I think that’s 67 in the theater this year, which is not as good as last year, but still Not Bad. I’ll probably want to see a few more of the end-of-year award contenders before I do my wrap-up. I am sure you are all waiting with bated breath.

[Holy Pajamas.]

I saw one movie a month for a while, which didn’t seem worth posting about, but now all of a sudden I have found my groove again. Let’s catch up. (Which is possibly the most-typed phrase on this blog. Oh well.)

* Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Exactly what you think it will be, and probably all the more effective because I got to see it with some of my favorite ladies in the world.

* The Pineapple Express. Loved it. Shut up, all of you. I can’t help it. Saul+Dale=BFFF.

* Burn After Reading. People have such short memories. When No Country For Old Men came out, people were surprised, as if there had never been Blood Simple. Then this year the Coens come out with this, and there’s, like, collective whiplash. Catch up, folks. It’s a wicked amount of fun, but it didn’t stick with me, which is totally fine.

* The Lucky Ones. Three clichés on a road trip, while on leave from the war in Iraq. Terrible, but not in an interesting way. I suspected as much going in, but Rachel McAdams is cute, the movie was free, and what else am I going to do on a Sunday morning?

* The Godfather. Recently restored & reissued, it played at the Cinerama, which is basically the best thing ever. Just as utterly captivating as always.

* Richard III. The Ian McKellen version. Fabulous. Obviously. I am not even close to a Shakespeare purist, so my toes curl for interesting updated. 1930s Fascist England? Why not? Also, the music is *fantastic*.

* Looking for Richard. Shown as part of a double feature with the above (and also in the same weekend that I saw The Godfather. Quite a lineup.) I love basically everything about Richard, from the high propaganda of Shakespeare to the back-to-the-source telling of The Daughter of Time, and in this piece, we get a peek on on actors approaching the text. Great fun.

* The Secret Life of Bees. Another free movie. I am ashamed to admit that its treacly sentimentality totally worked on me (hey, sometimes it happens) but oh MAN. Can we please, for the love of god, someday have this movie without the damn white people? Thanks.

* Ashes of Time Redux. Gorgeous. Can’t wait for the DVD. (Please, don’t bother with the original DVD. It is literally unwatchable.)

* Zack and Miri Make a Porno. One more for free. I love Kevin Smith, I love Seth Rogen, & I loved the surprising number of featured handknits. I also love that the couple sitting next to me got up and walked out a half-hour into it. I mean, seriously. Seriously. It’s not like *anything* in the movie was a surprise. I mean, come on. It is exactly what you think it will be.