[DVD roundup]

Once the film festival ended, I reactivated my Netflix account. Oh, you lucky people!

* Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Not my favorite of the Apatovian genre, but these two things I much adored: Paul Rudd being decidedly not typical Paul Rudd, and the puppet vampire musical. I swear, if people had told me earlier about the musical, I would have seen the damn thing in the theater. This probably says too much about me.

* Old Joy. Two old friends reunite for a road trip to a hot springs in the Cascades. Humpday totally lifted these character types, making Old Joy the interesting & awkward, reconnecting-masculine-friendship part of Humpday without the angry-making trading on straight privilege in pursuit of ‘art’. I actually got it because it’s from the same director as Wendy & Lucy, which is one of my favorite films so far this year. Old Joy is good, but Wendy & Lucy is better. (No, I am not just saying this because I love Michelle Williams.)

* Gran Torino is a difficult movie to pin down. It was extremely effective storytelling (also, which no one has mentioned, gorgeous cinematography), but I finished it with a lot of complicated feelings about the racial politics of it, a problem regarding which others have spoken better than I could manage in general, let alone in a capsule post.

* The Wrestler. I missed an opportunity to see this for free before it came out, and I am glad I did. I think the fighting scenes in particular would have been too intense, but at home on the TV the impact was lessened to some extent. Still compelling, though.

* Nothing but the Truth. I think this went straight to video, which is unfortunate. It’s a solid film with a stronge ensemble including the always-worth-watching Vera Farmiga, story inspired by the Valerie Plame case. Good stuff.

[Long weekend]

Friday Deadline USA & Scandal Sheet kicked off the third Noir City series down at SIFF Cinema. I preferred the first for its several great women, particularly the reporter, but the second is the closest to straight-up noir. Both made for an awesome start to the festival.

Saturday I was eaten by the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival & didn’t make it back to the city in time for any noir. Woe. (I watched a little Dexter season 2, which certainly has its elements of noir. Well-lit, neo-noir maybe.)

Sunday brought Ace in the Hole, which was easily one of the most cynical movies I have ever seen. It certainly lived up to its billing. If it were released today, the script could be essentially unchanged, except maybe tidying up the portrayal of Native Americans (though, really, that was very much another point criticizing the majority) and the addition of a Twitter hashtag for Leo. Very good, unsurprising as it’s Billy Wilder, but I don’t need to see it again any time soon.

If Cry of the Hunted, the B reel, were to be released today, it would instantly have a LiveJournal community and a ficathon, and I would be on the sidelines of fandom complaining about how there weren’t enough stories about the women. It was basically on crack, but a lot of fun.

Sunday night I took a little break from noir, crime, and the freezing SIFF Cinema. Wendy and Lucy was picked up by the Northwest Film Forum for a week after its original Seattle run ended, so taken were they with it. And deservedly so. Michelle Williams (a criminally underrated actress, in my opinion) plays Wendy, a woman traveling from Indiana to Alaska with her dog Lucy. We meet her in Oregon, where things start falling apart. Some people are helpful. Some people are assholes. It’s a beautiful slice-of-life film, heartbreaking & true. I need to put other work by the director in my Netflix queue now.

First up on Monday was The Big Clock, which was great. It’s a pretty traditional noir, with an innocent person getting caught up in someone else’s nefarious plot or sleazy circumstances. It was also the second film in this series with Sherman Potter Harry Morgan (ahaha IMDb pulls up “Dexter” stories on his page). He was a cigar-chomping photographer in Scandal Sheet, but here he was a heavy with no lines at all, which is interesting for an actor with such a distinctive voice. Anyway, The Big Clock is available on DVD and definitely worth a watch for Charles Laughton’s twitchy media mogul & Elsa Lanchester as a totally loopy artist.

It was followed by Strange Triangle, which I have nothing to say about at all. It was very formulaic and it’s been a long weekend. So be it.