[On DVD]

I stopped posting Netflix stuff at some point last year because, really, I saw a lot and it was impossible to keep up with. I do want to still post some things I see on DVD, because they are interesting or lesser-known or just old or perhaps really terrible and you should be warned away. Basically, if I have something to say about it, I’ll post, but you don’t need to know that I watched In Her Shoes for the third time this month. For example. Not that I would do that. Do de do.

* Away From Her was a brilliant directorial debut for the astonishingly talented Sarah Polley. I heard a lot about Julie Christie in the (American) press, but Gordon Pinsent’s performance is what I took away from the film. Beautiful.

* The Lives of Others. Gorgeous. See it.

* Children of Heaven. This was so great! It’s an Iranian film about a brother and sister who have to share a pair of shoes (he lost hers, and they can’t afford a new pair). A lovely small film about a family trying to protect each other.

* Rope. Somehow, I had never seen this before! It was pretty cool to see John Dall again so soon after watching Gun Crazy. What a delicious role. I really loved the interview portion of the special features. It’s rare to watch a behind-the-scenes and have people be critical of a film. The screenwriter (if I recall correctly), thought that the murder should not have been shown (so as to increase tension as to whether or not there was a body), that Jimmy Stewart was miscast (his part should have had a sexual undercurrent with at least one of the murderers), and he also questioned the way it was shot. That point is interesting to me, because I think the illusion of seamlessness increased tension. It’s something that could be done better now, but was an interesting experiment then.

[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.