Well, this is only mildly funny. A couple days ago Funny or Die posted a spoof for Sofia Coppola’s upcoming The Little Mermaid film. If you remember back in March it was announced that the Lost in Translation and Somewhere director was going to be at the helm of a live action adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairytale. Because this news seemed so outlandish and far from anything Coppola has done so far the internet didn’t waste anytime and sure enough we got our first spoof (and the movie isn’t even out yet). Continue reading
This weekend Adam Sandler’s follow-up to the horrible and painfully unfunny Grown Ups will be released in theaters. Based on how terrible the first film was and judging by the trailer for this sequel I can, in good conscience, advice you to stay away from it. I’m not sure if
Transformers Pacific Rim is any better, but it got a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s officially socially acceptable to like that movie (unlike Transformers). Anyway, we’re not here to talk new releases, although you should absolutely check out Thomas Vinterberg’s Jagten (English title: The Hunt) starring the amazing Mads Mikkelsen.
Any-who! This is a short list of five films is about young adults still stuck in the adolescent phase, not wanting to grow up. I personally feel like that sometimes, so this is a subject close to home and certainly one of the movie topics that fascinates me most currently. I even started watching the aptly named television show Arrested Development and it’s the only thing on TV I watch right now, and I can certainly recommend it if you’re into all that.
So in (dis)honor of Grown Ups 2 here’s a list of my Five Favorite ‘Arrested Development’ Films. This week I don’t feel like ranking them, so I’ll present them in chronological release date order.
5. I Vitelloni (1953, Federico Fellini)
If you thought this whole “arrested development” discourse was something new, think again. Federico Fellini was already sensing it in the fifties, I guess he was way ahead of its time in a lot of ways, but like most of his films they’re still very topical even today. I Vitelloni is about a group of young adults in a small town in Italy trying to figure out what to do with their lives. In typical Fellini fashion there are happy party scenes and then sad and melancholy moments of reflection at the beach. Besides being a funny, yet deep film, I Vitelloni went on to inspire contemporary filmmakers from Martin Scorsese to Sofia Coppola, so if you like any of their films at all you owe it to yourself to check out I Vitelloni.
4. Being There (1979, Hal Ashby)
This one might be a bit of a stretch. One could say that Chance (Peter Sellers) is a big kid, afraid to go in the real world, but he also might be suffering from psychological problems. Then again one might say that adults stuck in adolescence almost certainly have issues in their past they need to resolve. Anyway, aside from the very ending (the “gag reel”) I love this film. It’s Peter Sellers, it’s funny, charming, quirky and deeply moving. This film is about so many issues our society is currently still trying to resolve. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it and it’s definitely due for a re-watch, but if memory serves me correctly it’s also gorgeous to look at.
3. The Darjeeling Limited (2007, Wes Anderson)
Considered by many Wes’ worst film, I actually think this one is underrated and not even half as bad as most people say. In a lot of ways almost every Wes Anderson film has characters “trying to grow up”, but this one especially is about these three brothers trying to figure out their lives and how their family fell apart, while on a train trip in India. It has Wes’ signature humor, cinematography and cast. Co-written by Roman Coppola, this small gem of a movie is actually my third favorite of his, behind The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom.
2. Somewhere (2010, Sofia Coppola)
I’ve already mentioned her, I always do, but Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere is about a young actor who is bored out of his mind after the shooting of a film. Looking at the larger implications of it, he is also very dissatisfied with his life. Why? Because he is very detached from everyone. He has alienated the people who love him and people can’t love him, because he doesn’t love himself. Also, who do you trust in the film business? This film is about loneliness and trying to connect, oh and while there’s no Wong Kar-wai and Michelangelo Antonioni on this list, they’re certainly worth mentioning because they inspired Sofia and discuss some of the same themes. If you haven’t read my review of Somewhere yet and you want to, by all means please do.
1. Young Adult (2011, Jason Reitman)
Directed by one of the most interesting American indie filmmakers and written by one of the most talented and exciting screenwriters Diablo Cody, Young Adult is one of my favorite films in recent years. Charlize Theron gives an Academy Award worthy performance, and that was a great year between her and Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia: Who won the Oscar again that year? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure these ladies were robbed. Oh, I bet the Weinsteins were involved! #mafiosi! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Returning to Young Adult it’s a fairly depressing, yet darkly funny film. The cinematography might seem unspectacular on a first viewing, but it’s so subtle, I caught it’s genius only on a second viewing. Hats off: Eric Steelberg did a career best job on this picture. Who won ‘best cinematography’? Just kidding (kind of). But no, this is a great film and it’s tough to summarize it in a couple of sentences, but expect a full review as soon as I re-watch it.
To round-up the discussion.
These are all ‘dramedies’, that is dramas with comedic elements to them. Far from Grown Ups, and this is the last time I’ll mention that abyssal film, I promise. What do they have in common besides that? Well, since I’ve picked those out, they all look great and they deal with their characters in a respectful, non-judgemental way. They have a sense of irony and wit, but they never make fun of the characters or look down on them. That’s precisely why I like them: They don’t offer ready-made solutions to life’s problems, but they also don’t shy away from discussing some topics that most filmmakers would be uneasy discussing, and thus would either trivialize or treat superficially.
Greetings, Welcome back! Another edition of ‘What did you watch last week?’
Last week as you may have noticed I mentioned Sofia Coppola and her new film The Bling Ring almost everyday: That’s because I was really excited for its (limited) US release. This week I promise not to turn into a Sofia Coppola fan club and to talk more about other directors and films too.
I didn’t watch a lot of movies last week, so instead of three posts I’ll just do this one. Also, I only watched ‘good’ films and a ‘bad’ one, so there’s no need for the ‘meh’ section.
So in chronological order, here’s what I watched this past week and a couple of thoughts.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) – 4 (IMDb 4.8) – Horror (USA)
This was supposed to be a direct sequel of the original horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). The opening titles refresh younger audiences’ memory about what exactly happened (as if we needed that). While this newest addition to the franchise certainly has some interesting ideas it’s overall very clichéd and run-of-the-mill. There’s nothing to distinguish it from the general horror remake and sequel craze happening in today’s American film industry. The characters are flat, the story is predictable, the aesthetic is boring and there’s not really much gore or excitement either. It certainly isn’t worthy being associated with the original film, especially considering how scary and innovative that one was when it first came out. My two cents: Happily skip this one, unless you’re a die-hard fanatic of the franchise. I watched it in 2D, so I can’t say much about the 3D aspect, except that some stuff you thought was cool in 3D looks beyond silly in 2D.
That Obscure Object Of Desire (1977) – 8 (IMDb 7.9) – Comedy, Drama, Romance (France, Spain)
Written & directed by genius Luis Buñuel, Cet obscur objet du désir is a charming art house film about a middle-aged man recounting his romantic entanglements with a with a young, attractive schizo/gold-digger/both? to strangers on a train. Played more “straightforward” than his other films, I found myself really enjoying this film for its playfulness and lighthearted romantic comedy with dramatic elements. As part of the Criterion Collection one can however also see how it’s an important film. It’s shot very well, there’s a political subtext, there’s a confusing double-casting of Conchita (the object of desire): Carole Bouquet plays a frigid, puritanical woman, while Ángela Molina is the voluptuous, sexy, seductive side of the same character. All in all highly recommended, especially for Woody Allen fans.
Lick the Star (1998) – 8.5 (IMDb 5.9) – Drama, Short (USA)
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Lilya 4-Ever (2002) – 8 (IMDb 7.8) – Crime, Drama (Sweden, Denmark)
Prova d’orchestra (1978) – 7 (IMDb 7.1) – Drama, Music (Italy)
Orchestra Rehersal is part of Federico Fellini’s color/art house-era and it shows. This film doesn’t present the traditional narrative, but is rather played as a faux-documentary. Fellini himself is interviewing musicians on their instruments, how it relates to them personally and the instrument as part of the bigger picture: The orchestra. Of course being a Fellini film it is imbued with his typically irreverent humor and populated by the characteristic collection of people cast solely because of their interesting face. Prova d’orchestra is a charming little film, with political undercurrents and social commentary on the goings-on of the period it was made in: There’s big talk about unionized labor and the orchestra could be read as a metaphor for society as a whole. Good film, but a bit slow in certain parts.
Somewhere (2010) – 9 (IMDb 6.3) – Drama (USA)
Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is a famous Hollywood actor living at the Chateau Marmont. Between the routing that comes with promoting his films, getting awards and lending his face for special effects Johnny Marco is bored and on the verge of an existential crisis. His life feels empty, he’s literally spinning around in circles going nowhere. Even sex lost its taste. Everything suddenly changes when his eleven-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) comes to live with him for a brief period of time. Johnny realizes that he’s been neglecting her and that he doesn’t know her at all. Spending some quality time with her on a trip to Milan, Italy something in him is awakened and he finally seems to want to take responsibility and be a part of Cleo’s life. Ending the film on a hopeful note, Marco finally seems to be going somewhere. Continue reading