My Week in Movies: November 19, '11

Werckmeister harmóniák (Werckmeister Harmonies)
Béla Tarr, 2000
Trying to write about Tarr without more time to process his work is a bit like leaping headlong in to an abyss. "Werckmeister Harmonies", contrary to the definitive Soviet misery of "Damnation", is timeless and endlessly interpretable, if trying at times when taken in a single sitting. Listen to further thoughts on Reel Time #028.

Further first-time viewings:

Scared Shrekless - Gary Trousdale & Raman Hui, 2010
Putting its typically grating cleverness to good use, holiday special "Scared Shrekless" (which, even without Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy, brings back the main voices that matter the most - Mike Myers' and Antonio Bandaras') plays with genre tropes - relatively subtle and overtly parodic - that any horror buff will giddily appreciate, making it likely the best "Shrek" title I've seen from Dreamworks.

Martha Marcy May Marlene - Sean Durkin, 2011
Endless parallels are drawn between two psychologically blurred (via contoured scene transitions and sound cues) ways of life - one of familiar, convenient excess and immediate concerns from which the parental figures push their infantile young away, and one of communal personal connection and naked human purity within which refugees are embraced and sheltered. Both venues of comfortable misery are frequently shown eating as just one illustration of how they're each focused on preservation and survival, etcetera, only in drastically different ways, and they are captured with occasionally impressive camerawork. Where "Martha Marcy May Marlene" falls apart, however, is at that certain point you realize one of the debating sides is not being given a fair shake - apparently there just has to be a maddeningly bad seed, inexplicably negating the arguable positives of the commune lifestyle and going as far as to render it a Charles Manson-esque "family". At only two hours this insanity feels overlong, with an open ending that is less encouragement to discuss interpretations after the fact and more first-time feature writer/director Sean Durkin seeming to throw his hands up in forfeit after realizing his approach makes no sense. Listen to further thoughts on Reel Time #029.

Breaking Dawn - Part 1 - Bill Condon, 2011
Now four films in, it's next to impossible for one to reenter the "Twilight" franchise without an accepting understanding of the melodramatic, sometimes goofy fantasy it represents, and naturally this works in the favor of "Breaking Dawn - Part 1". "Eclipse" came as a pleasant surprise, demonstrating what this material can be at its best, and "Breaking Dawn", while not as redefining, carries the torch without regressing to the soapy fan service that plagued the main events of "New Moon". Read the full review on page 64 of Icon's Winter 2011 issue.

Like Crazy - Drake Doremus, 2011
It's "Love Story" meets Sundance plus suck. I felt like the screen was taking a dump in my eyeballs. Listen to further thoughts on Reel Time #029 (coming soon).

Total: 5

- Hey, where be all the movies? I'm not sure. Ask Bethesda.