[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.

[One week in November]

I might see as many as three movies this weekend (I’m eyeing The Golden Compass & I’m Not There, plus I have a pass for Sweeney Todd), so it’s high time I got caught up here. I saw these all in the seven days prior to Thanksgiving.

* A local cinema has been putting on an on-going classics/revival festival, but as yet I’ve only made it to one. It was an excellent choice, though, Days of Heaven, which I had never seen before. (Oh my gosh this is so awful. I was trying to figure out what specifically I remembered Brooke Adams from. The answer? The Baby-Sitters Club. I don’t even know what to say to that.) It occurs to me in reading about Malick that what I like about him is also what I like about Wong Kar-Wai. They both are all over the place in shooting, and only in editing does the film really emerge, visually stunning & meditative, and often with a dreamy sort of voice-over. Hmm. Anyway, Days of Heaven is amazing, and it was particularly interesting to see it shortly after The Assassination of Jesse James, which clearly borrows from Malick a lot visually.

* Since we saw it, Into the Wild won Best Feature at the Gotham Awards. Which is weird, because it’s not. It *was* precisely the movie I needed to see after the parade of cynicism that had been my other movies that month. And it was visually lush and tremendously moving & hopeful through the various people McCandless encounters. But best feature is pushing it.

* Coming closer to best feature, though, is Atonement, which I loved to heartbreaking little bits. I hadn’t read the book, but I now have it on order. I really hope that James MacAvoy finally gets some attention from this, as he’s been painfully underrated in the past, but is just fantastically good here. Also, the score is brilliant, something I don’t often pay attention to, but it draws on and develops incidental sound. Epic, beautiful, contender for sure. The Dunkirk scene alone is worth the price of admission.

* Finally, SIFF Cinema ran a Kino series recently, including a Wong Kar-Wai double feature. First up was Fallen Angels, which I’ve never seen, even though it is somewhat kind of sort of maybe related to one of my favorite films, Chungking Express. Because I am shallow, it is possible that Takeshi Kaneshiro was my favorite part of the movie. His character was fantastic, though. And at one point he wears a Tank Girl tshirt that reads “Mother Figure”. How awesome is that? Extremely awesome.

* The second film, and the main reason I bought my ticket for the pair six weeks in advance, was Happy Together. I love this movie a lot, not just a little because it managed, ten years ago, to do that thing no American film has managed — it’s a film about a gay relationship where it is not at all about being gay. It’s about these people together in this time. Astonishingly simple, really. I notice different things every time I see it, and this time I paid more attention to Chen Chang (who now I see I remembered from Three Times, where he was excellent, even though the film didn’t work for me). This film as a whole was still marvelous, of course, and a treat to see on the big screen.

[Annie Hall]

Annie Hall is my favorite movie of all time, so obviously I jumped at the chance to see it at the Northwest Film Forum.

It’s really a perfect film. This is the first time I’d seen it with anyone else, which was great, and the first time I’d seen it big (relatively — the Film Forum is a seriously tiny venue) so there were a number of visual details I had missed before, especially with Annie’s photographs. The only quibble I had was an ongoing framing issue, but that’s the theater’s problem. It must have been an off night for the projectionist.