[The Men Who Stare at True Grit]

I had not been in a hurry to see The Men Who Stare at Goats, because I had heard such mixed buzz, but after a pretty difficult day at work we decided that Ewan MacGregor and George Clooney being goofy was just what we needed. And we were right.

They have great chemistry, the story is bizarre enough (and convoluted a bit with flashback) that I didn’t know where it was going, and it was exactly what we needed: a ridiculous movie about the New Earth Army, claiming that more of it is true than we’d think.

::

The last movie I saw in the 69 Series, True Grit, was also pretty darn entertaining. Kim Darby is a 14 year old girl who hires (a drunken, eye-patched) John Wayne to hunt down the killer of her father. One of the original reviews described Darby’s performance thus: “the supposedly 14-year old heroine delivers her campy archaic lines with all the aplomb of an elephant playing hopscotch”. How great an image is that? All the more so because it’s true.

Also tagging along is Glen Campbell, who wants to bring the killer back to Texas. Robert Duvall is the killer in question. Great fun, though the ending was a bit overlong.

I am astonished that it was rated G, though. You can kill heaps of people and it’s appropriate for general audiences? Film ratings are total crap, with pretty much zero consistency.

[DVD through March]

* First off, did I forget to post about For the Bible Tells Me So? I am thinking I did! Fail. Every year at the film festival there are movies I hear about in line, but never manage to see. For the Bible Tells Me So was 07’s, and now I understand why. I’ve seen a lot of queer-themed documentaries, and even a few others on gays-and-religion, but this one was easily the best. American-focused, of course.

* On a recommendation from a friend, I queued Shackleton, the story of the 1914 trip of the Endurance to the South Pole. Beautifully filmed & acted. It is long, yes, but I thought it was well-paced. I have to admit I was particularly taken with all the scenes including the men singing, showing how they passed the time at sea. Also, I have to give a shout-out to Matt Day who played the photographer Frank Hurley. He’s in one of my favorite comfort movies, the criminally underrated Love and Other Catastrophes (which seriously needs to come out on DVD soon, before my VHS wears out.) Oh! It was also neat to see it after going to the Maritime Museum in Greenwich this summer — they have the replica of the James Caird used in the film.

* The Lion in Winter was utterly delicious. I’m just sorry that there wasn’t a revival of it to pair with last winter’s big screen adventure with Becket.

* Kiss of Death was in my queue already after Noir City, but I bumped it to the top after the death of Richard Widmark in late March. It’s a solid enough noir on its own, but (as everyone knows) it’s Widmark’s portrayal of the villain Tommy Udo that makes it particularly worth seeing.

* The week after Widmark passed, his Night and the City director Jules Dassin died, so Rififi moved on up the queue. I wrote a bit about Dassin on the ephemeral blog already, but in between the two films, he was blacklisted, which is why Rififi was filmed in France. It’s *the* classic heist film, worth seeing for lots of things, but in particular for the heist itself, something like a half hour with no dialogue but an excellent score. Um. No pun intended. This is not a hijinks sort of heist movie. It’s very dark.

* The Best of Youth was a six hour Italian film, originally aired on television in four parts, and then as an edited version in the theater. I am a total sucker for any sort of epic family history piece, and this was beautiful and satisfying. Also, I might now have a bit of a crush on Luigi Lo Cascio.

* Toy Story, I realize, is sort of a random selection, but I’m in a group on Ravelry that’s working through the AFI Top 100. I actually hadn’t seen it in years, possibly not since shortly after it came out on video, and I was surprised to see how well it stands up. The animation is still strong (my favorite bits being the details like scuff marks at the bottom of doors), the story has a lot of great stuff going on, and probably the use of classic toys helps it feel all the more timeless. But the thing I noticed most about it this time around is that Andy’s is a single parent household. His mom cares for him & his sister, maintains a gorgeous home, plans his birthday and the family move, and there’s never a mention of a father. So cool!