My Week in Movies: August 6, '11

Stellet Licht (Silent Light)
Carlos Reygadas, 2007
Part fascinating docudrama, part devastating emotion, "Silent Light" is both meticulously and freely gorgeous throughout, recalling on occasion Malick's admiration of youth and nature. Another objective and reverent culture study if not in the vein of work from my recent director darlings Byambasüren and Brosens at least in the same nervous system, it allows the viewer to come as close as they may be likely to come to experiencing a different lifestyle, liberated of the Western necessity to blur, fleet and fly. Through conclusively self-assured, often mesmerizingly precise camerawork and the unique ethnography of the Mennonites the film has an otherworldliness about it that transcends narrative, but when the story's core does effervesce it makes for some of the strongest moments. Screenshots after the jump.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Rupert Wyatt, 2011
And lo, from the malaise of a summer marked by mere product unexpectedly rises a real movie - an honest-to-goodness blockbuster with brains, heart and teeth! And no reliance on perpetual expository dialogue (thank goodness for the apes - whose animal behavior is accomplished just as expertly as their developing humanity - not quite being able to speak yet)! My sole complaint concerns a single cheaply executed character who might have been better off axed in favor of another character's greater prominence (in this case, to an extent, a la Fuller's "White Dog"). With a grabbing, classically paced story harkening back to creature feature legends yet featuring plenty of modern flair, state-of-the-art visual effects the likes of which may not have been executed this daringly since "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End", thoroughly inspired direction from relative newcomer and lucky sonuvabitch Rupert Wyatt and, not to be forgotten, a handful of well-woven nods toward the 1968 original (I.E. the pre-established version of what is to come), "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is why we go to the movies. Listen to further thoughts on Reel Time: Episode 16.

Din of Celestial Birds
Edmund Elias Merhige, 2006
How's that for a great title? Merhige's intensely consuming successor to "Begotten" goes all "Jupiter & Beyond the Infinite" on us, perhaps surpassing in its brevity the achievement of its fortuitously crude forerunner. It must be experienced! It's full of stars!

My Winnipeg
Guy Maddin, 2007
There is an involvingly Palahniukian stream-of-consciousness carrying through likewise subverted suggestion and an admirable Soviet influence (seen partially through overt homage to early animated propaganda and Eisenstein's "Strike", respectively) to Maddin's yet most reputed work. I still haven't quite fallen in love with the "Guy", but through this lucidly autobiographical portrait of his hometown it would finally appear there is hope.

Further first-time viewings:

The Hound of the Baskervilles - Paul Morrissey, 1978
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore again bring their signature cutting tongue-in-cheek wit, this time to the end of sending up Sherlock Holmes' notoriously nuanced mythos - perfectly at first, then less so but still notably. It seems rather odd Morrissey helmed this, as it appears so definitively a product of the on-screen duo with none of the "Flesh" or "Blood" from the director's distinct stylistic idiosyncrasies (or did those only surface through the Warhol partnership?).

Fortune Cookie - Darren Aronofsky, 1991
Not without spirit or some inspired flair beyond your standard student film (and indeed several hints of what was to come in "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream"), and while without quite enough of these to transcend student mode, the overall verve brings it through.

Lick the Star - Sofia Coppola, 1998
Coppola shows ample promise with what is widely a precursor to "The Virgin Suicides". Thing is, "Lick the Star" is subjectively just that - a preview of the adolescent insipidity "Suicides" brought us, though thankfully in a somewhat less heralded form.

Swingers - Doug Liman, 1996
For better or for worse depending on your viewpoint, "Swingers" is to something like "It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books", "subUrbia" or even certain Jon Jost pictures as something like "True Romance" or "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" is to "Reservoir Dogs", "Pulp Fiction" or even certain Martin Scorsese pictures (and would you look at that, there they go riffing on "Reservoir Dogs" and referencing Scorsese in the process). It's competent and amusing but being mired in derivative '90s-ness bars me from making a critical leap.

No Time - Darren Aronofsky, 1994
What is this, an episode of "Reality Bites" if "Reality Bites" were trying to be sketch comedy? And who'da thunk Aronofsky was so fond of fart humor (seen for the second time here after the gaseous bathroom stall brawl in "Fortune Cookie", given he did not pen that script nor the one for "No Time"). How does one arrive at the conclusion anyway, to perform the introduction of Pink Floyd's "Money" with noisy bodily functions (and I don't mean in a Le Pétomane kind of way)?

The Last Airbender - M. Night Shyamalan, 2010
I believe what is best said here could be, "No comment."

Winter's Bone - Debra Granik, 2010
Sundance doesn't seem to get anymore that it takes more than shaky cam and depressed, conflicted teens to make a "good" movie. Pretty neat to me the lead character's name is Ree, though, since it's my significant other's middle name after her godmother's first name and outside of those two I'd never heard it. So... for what that's worth... I guess.

Knucklehead - Michael W. Watkins, 2010
I'm sorry, Paul, this is a nigh unwatchable horror of a picture prolonged fart joke.

Total first-time viewings: 12

Rewatches (3): Midnight in Paris (Allen, 2011), Kung Fu Dunk (Yen-ping, 2008), The Matrix Reloaded (Wachowski & Wachowski, 2003)
-Though now knowing the big surprise of "Midnight in Paris" dissolves some of the picture's mirth, it's all so convivial and just plainly, delightfully charming that it's next to impossible to wipe the smile from your face throughout. A rewatch does, of course, help one admire the subtle complexities. I could sum up the ultimate morality with a quote from the nostalgic "Dazed & Confused", "...the '70s, oh, my God, they obviously suck", but there is so much more at such reflexive work (yes, everything on this blog is relatable back to "Dazed & Confused"). I only wish the film were longer!
-Have you seen "Kung Fu Dunk"? Why not? What could you possibly be doing with your life so important you haven't seen "Kung Fu Dunk" yet? In all seriousness, do yourself a favor.
-Where certain beloved films only prosper with virtually infinite rewatches, "The Matrix" sequels make for yet two more films I was once in love with but whose affects further erode upon each go. As time passes and the momentous hype surrounding the series dissipates, the many drier, exposition-heavy sequences hold less and less gravitas. I do still dig the revolutionary action sequences and the unwavering totality of deeply philosophical motivation behind them, though, and that's enough to guard the pair's' esteem in my mind (and believe me on that philosophy bit... in '03 I actually started - never finished, go figure - a Wikia-esque series of interconnected articles detailing my interpretations of each individual character and what they mean within the worlds).

-This is the first test run of that week-by-week (Saturdaily) format I mentioned for what has thus far been referred to as "My Month in Review". Let's see how it goes... if I'm not feeling it, it won't last long. So far, however, the "feeling" is optimistic.

Silent Light

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...