[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!

[In theater part three: free movies]

And then are the movies I saw for free:

* In Bruges. Hated it. I was excited, because I loved “Six Shooter”, but no. Brendan Gleeson was really great, but the high point for me was probably the scene where the background music was Townes Van Zandt. Also, Bruges is a really pretty town, on film anyway.

* The Band’s Visit was disqualified from the Oscars because more than 50% of the dialogue was in English. Which is tragic. It’s a charming as hell little movie, funny and gentle and true, with, hands-down, the best courtship scene I have ever seen.

* Paranoid Park just didn’t do it for me. It’s gorgeous — how can it not be with Christopher Doyle lighting it? — but what should have been meditative felt repetitive.

* Young @ Heart was freakin’ FANTASTIC. It’s about the Young at Heart chorus, from Northampton, and it follows their rehearsals and lives leading up to a performance. I loved it to tiny bits, and if it doesn’t make you laugh and cry you have NO SOUL. I’m just saying.

[In theater part one: paid & current]

I saw a bunch of stuff in between when I stopped posting on LiveJournal and when I finally managed to get this space up. Let’s discuss, in brief and also in four parts!

Here are movies I paid to see, which actually came out more-or-less recently. Like in the past three months.

* There Will Be Blood. I don’t think I can add anything to the conversation about this movie. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I think Paul Dano’s performance was fantastic and sadly overlooked.

* The Savages. Messy & real & difficult to watch for anyone who has a turbulent relationship with their parents. Which is basically all of us, yeah?

* Persepolis. Gorgeous. See it. Go! Now! It was totally robbed by fucking Ratatouille at the Oscars.

* Girls Rock! When it ended, a woman in the audience said, “I want to go to Rock Camp!” Me too, man, me too. Loved it to bits.

…more soon!

[One more for 07]

I took myself out to see Charlie Wilson’s War after work on Christmas Eve, thinking I deserved it (see “working” and “Christmas Eve” for starters.) I wanted to see it mostly for Aaron Sorkin’s script, from which this film is trimmed. Only about 70% of his script appears on film, smoothing it down, drawing fewer parallels to the current state of affairs, and the bookending flash-forwards hammer all the heroism home.

As it was, it’s an engaging film with all the snap you would expect from Sorkin. Hoffman is awesome. It stays with you. It’s worth a rental. But with that other 30%, with that complexity, with those guts, it could have been great.

(In state-of-the-journal news, I will likely be putting all of my seen-in-2007 into a post, then a sum-up that some of you have seen elsewhere, and then I am going to look into exporting the whole she-bang to WordPress. I will create a feed & let you know when that happens. If anyone cares 🙂 )

[Almost year end!]

Most of this batch is nearly two weeks old. I apologize.

* The Golden Compass was extremely pretty, and, I thought, very well-cast, but very cold. I didn’t connect with a lot of it emotionally, whereas the book was devastating in places. Things that were particularly awesome: Iorek Byrnison, Lee Scoresby, Pantalaimon. Things that did not bother me: where it ended in relation to where the book does. I still think that to end it at the same place as the book would have been really weird in terms of pacing, and that the way it did end felt right for the end-of-the-first-part-of-a-trilogy. So there. Not that there will be more of the trilogy, unless it does really well overseas.

* I’m Not There, while not perfect, was definitely the most interesting film I saw that weekend. Cate, of course, is marvelous, and I was surprised to be so taken with Richard Gere’s segment. The world-building there was made for me, though, the West and masquerade and religion. Christian Bale’s portion was terrible, and Ben Whishaw had potential but was poorly used. Totally worth watching, though.

* Sweeney Todd was one heck of a movie to see at 10:30am on a Sunday, I gotta say. Though I don’t know the show, I know the story, which put me ahead of a portion of the audience. I can’t even imagine going into that cold. Visually it was *stunning*. The opening credits are up online, and watching them last week made me want to see it again. I just wish that Burton had held back a little on the blood. Slightly less cartoonish would have been more effective, but I am still really grateful that Burton got it instead of Rob Marshall, as was rumored after Chicago.

* On the third try, I finally made it to a screening of Juno. I am so excited for all the well-deserved attention Ellen Page is getting now. Basically it is fantastic and everyone needs to see it. And then buy the soundtrack. But please do not freak out Kimya Dawson.

* Finally, tonight I saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I had been a little hesitant about this, not because I didn’t think the movie would be good, but just because this has been a really long week, and it’s in French and about a fellow who is paralyzed and can only move his left eyelid. I thought I might have to be in a particular mood to see it. If that’s true, then I was. It was gorgeous, difficult, and utterly captivating. I’m really glad I went.