Friday, April 30, 2010

What I’ve been watching:

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Nicholas Cage stars in this film as a cop, Terry McDonagh, who is both the best and the worst cop on the New Orleans force. He solves the unsolvable cases and does so completely high on the various drugs he has come across on his path. Cage is in manic mode through most of the film and no one does manic as well as Cage. However, I found the film rather disconnected. The hallucination scenes felt oddly placed—you don’t see the world from McDonagh’s eyes through most of the film so why do you when he’s hallucinating? Also, McDonagh’s ability to avoid getting caught and instead getting promoted was way too pat. Nevertheless, the film is intense and exciting.

Bleak House
Charles Dickens is a great writer and his books seem to translate well into film: this one certainly did. This is a Masterpiece Theatre version starring Gillian Anderson who’s never been more beautiful. Dickens’ characters are always so wonderfully colorful and the story is timeless. It is very easy to get drawn into this series and you find yourself hoping it will never end.

Boats out of Watermelon Rinds (Turkish)
This charming film is an autobiographical story of director Ahmet Ulucay growing up in a very small, pastoral village, being in love with an older woman and being enamored with moving pictures. The boys in the film build a film projector out of wood and scavenge for scraps of film from the local cinema to project them in a barn for their neighbors. The cinematography is fantastic with clear pictures and beautiful colors but what I really love about films like this is that you have to slow down to appreciate them: life in the village is very slow so the viewer has to slow down as well.

Broken Embraces
This is Pedro Almodovar’s latest. I always look forward to his films—no one does melodrama as well as he does. It’s like a return to the American dramas of the 50’s and 60’s. In this one Penelope Cruz plays the mistress of a wealthy and extremely jealous man but falls in love with a film director. The story is told in flashbacks, stories within stories and films within films.

Dalziel & Pascoe
This is a really fun British mystery series taken from the novels of Reginald Hill. Dalziel (pronounced D.L.) is an old school, rude and crude detective, while his junior partner Pascoe is fresh out of college. Dalziel may be a fat old bugger but he has a way of winnowing out the truth from the most elusive criminals.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
George Clooney and Ewan McGregor star in this funny military romp. McGregor plays a reporter investigating the New Earth Army which was initiated to fight the enemy using psychic powers. Clooney is one of these psychic warriors. Together they have a rollicking adventure. No goats were harmed in the making of this picture.

Pirate Radio
Kenneth Branagh is a total caricature of a British lord, determined to see the death of the Rock Radio ship. But he doesn’t stand a chance against young music lovers. Being a child of the 60’smyself, I am the target audience for this film and it totally rocked! This was a fun movie with great music! Long live rock ‘n’ roll!

Having read the book I was afraid this film would be so gritty and bleak it would be unbearable. Instead it was uplifting and inspiring. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen it was so good!

Shall We Kiss?
This fun but lightweight French farce asks the question: is it possible for friends to have sex and still remain just friends?

You the Living
This film is directed by Roy Andersson who is known for his absurdist comedy and for satirizing Swedish culture. The film is made up of vignettes, each depicting some rather silly picture of normal life. There is a quote on the box which I think accurately describes the film: “Monty Python meets Ingmar Bergman. Melancholy, hilarious and utterly unique.” (Uncut)

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