I haven’t done this in a while, but I have watched quite a few movies lately, so I’ll reprise it this week and try to keep it up. It’s not like many people care anyway, but to the few good souls that actually read my stuff: Je suis désolé. After a month of basically non-stop horror, I wanted a week where I could basically just watch whatever, based on my mood and my snobbish sensibilities. And so I did. I was mostly successful in my intent, but of course you can’t avoid a couple meh flicks, nothing bad though, so that’s cool.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Frances Ha (2012) – 8 (IMDb 7.6) – Comedy, Drama, Criterion (USA)
Slacker (1991) – 7 (IMDb 6.9) – Comedy, Drama, Criterion (USA)
Richard Linklater’s Slacker is a film about a bunch of slackers, all seemingly living in the same area (boy business gotta be bad down there). It is only appropriate that the film has the same attention span and focus of a pot addict, since most of the films protagonists seem to be smoking some sort of substance. There is no real story or recognizable plot, the film sort of follows these slacker characters for a couple of scenes, then moves on the the next slackers, the “new” ones that made their appearance in the previous scene. Unfortunately, sometimes just when things were about to get interesting, the film changes subject and characters. Most of the slacker-dynamics are very similar: There’s the very talkative, almost annoying slacker, the quiet slacker, the stoned out of his mind slacker and so on. It’s just the actors that change. All in all, as with every Linklater film dialogue is king. While there are some interesting thoughts and discussions in Slacker the film is far from his strongest effort.
The To Do List (2013) – 6.5 (IMDb 5.8) – Comedy (USA)
I was ready to dismiss The To Do List as a bad teen comedy with no spine and guts, but I had to change my mind watching the film. Of course Aubrey Plaza was the deciding factor in me even giving it a shot, but I must say that I was more impressed with Johnny Simmons in this film. Set in the 1990s the movie is about a nerdy high-school girl graduating with top grades, but lacking sexual experiences. Being a very organized and serious girl, she decides to do a check list of all the sexual activities she needs to learn before going to college (and sleeping with her crush). What sets this film apart from standard genre fare is the ending (which I won’t spoil). Oddly enough, even though it’s supposed to be an homage to the 90s, the film feels more 80s than anything else in its structure, humor and characters. One issue I take with the film is Plaza’s character, which is not as likable and relatable and ends up feeling artificial and annoying. Not all the jokes work, but overall the film is entertaining enough especially if you like this type of films.
Casino (1995) – 6.5 (IMDb 8.2) – Biography, Crime, Drama (USA)
Directed by Martin Scorsese Casino is the story of two guys trying to make it big in Las Vegas in the casino business. Of course being a Scorsese picture, you know it’s going to be about the mob, the seedy underbelly of the Sin City, the Italian tough guys with strong accents and goofy voices. I’m not going to lie it’s a great film, but I was overwhelmingly annoyed by Joe Pesci’s voice-over. I detest his whiny voice. His lines were supposed to be funny, but made me cringe instead. Every time he was talking I checked out mentally and actively tried not listening to him. Aside from that I’d say the film’s strength lies in the great performances and the overall solid acting (including Pesci). De Niro is great, Sharon Stone is almost unrecognizable (which is automatically a good thing, right?). It’s an intriguing story, even if sometimes it just seems like a list of events and names. One last complaint is that the film is a bit too long. Some leaner editing, less running down facts and voice-overs would have made the whole thing more enjoyable. Still a great film on every other technical level.
Bitter Moon (1992) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.9) – Drama, Romance, Thriller (France)
As a big fan of Roman Polanski when I heard that he had done a Lolita-type story, I was immediately curious to check it out and I must say that I wasn’t disappointed. Bitter Moon is about a couple (Hugh Grant & Kristin Scott Thomas) traveling to India by ship. On their journey they meed a strange disabled man on a wheelchair and a drop dead gorgeous femme fatale (Emmanuelle Seigner), who is his wife. Of course Grant’s character wants to have an affair with the mysterious voluptuous woman, but the man in the wheelchair know this. So instead of forbidding him to touch his wife, he starts to tell him the story of how they met and how she basically ruined his life. The whole film is basically just Peter Coyote telling the story, but the story is so intriguing, sexy and twisted that it works. Like with every Polanski film you have to ask yourself if it’s not all just a bad dream. I was very impressed with this film, great casting and actors, an engrossing story, well-rounded, three-dimensional characters and a very romantic, yet dark atmosphere. Highly recommended.
If you thought this week’s mini-reviews were particularly inspired, you can thank the ridiculously adorable brunette that was irradiating the library with her beauty today. Or maybe it’s just the pretty pictures I added to this section. Yeah, it’s probably just the pictures.
Riddick is the third film in Vin Diesel’s crazy sci-fi/action trilogy, so this week’s topic is going to be trilogies. What are some of your favorite trilogies? Usually I always hear the same ole franchises mentioned when people talk about trilogies, but few people know that many auteurs and indie filmmakers work in that format as well. Since I tend to gravitate more towards the art house camp, my favorite trilogies are going to be a bit more “unusual” maybe, or pretentious, depending on how you see it. Don’t be offended if your favorite trilogy isn’t mentioned, just leave a comment with your favorites, so that my ridiculously elitist point of view will be counterbalanced.
Note: Some critics count Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light and The Silence as a trilogy. Now, I’m not sure if that’s “official” or just the Criterion box set, but in any case those movies are amazing and some of the best in cinema history, so I’m not going to count them in my list, but they’re definitely some of my favorite films.
So, without further ado and in order of release date: Here are my five favorite trilogies and below some other I dearly love and wanted to mention because I don’t want to exclude anything.
5. Michelangelo Antonioni’s Alienation Trilogy
La Notte (1961)
4. Michael Haneke’s Glaciation Trilogy
The Seventh Continent (1989)
Benny’s Video (1992)
71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994)
3. Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors Trilogy
Three Colors: Blue (1993)
Three Colors: White (1994)
Three Colors: Red (1994)
2. Whit Stillman’s Doomed-Bourgeois-in-Love Trilogy
The Last Days of Disco (1998)
1. Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy
Before Sunrise (1995)
Before Sunset (2004)
Before Midnight (2013)
Honorable Mentions: Wonk Kar-wai’s Days of Being Wild Trilogy, Lars von Trier’s The Europa & Golden Heart Trilogy, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Trilogy and Park Chan-wook’s The Vengeance Trilogy.
Trilogies I haven’t seen (completely) yet, but plan on watching: Gus Van Sant’s Death Trilogy, Dario Argento’s The Three Mothers Trilogy, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life, Sergio Leone’s The Dollars Trilogy and Yasujirō Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy.
Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and his son Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) are saying goodbye to each other at the airport. Hank is returning to his mother in Chicago after spending the summer holidays in Greece with his father. Jesse feels that he is being a bad parent, living in Paris, while his kid is growing up with his alcoholic ex-wife. Jesse is a writer, Céline (Julie Delpy), his girlfriend is considering a job offer. After meeting in Europe nineteen years ago and then losing sight of each other, only to find themselves again they are finally couple now and they have twin girls. Their holiday in Greece seems to be going well, but then Jesse brings up the fact that he wants to spend more time with his son. Céline deduces that he wants to move to Chicago and feels that she would have to give up her job opportunity. The whole thing escalates into a huge emotional fight where everything that has been bubbling beneath the surface finally comes out, questioning their love and relationship. Continue reading