My Week: January 14, '12

Roman Polanski, 2011
Though I haven't had the distinct pleasure, "The God of Carnage" struck my fancy from the stage and the arrival of four new actors of pedigree under the direction of Roman Polanski had me more than a little thrilled. "Carnage" highlights Yasmina Reza's classic comedic playwriting loaded with little lovable character touches - work on par with the likes of "Arsenic & Old Lace" - as brought to life especially well by Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz, though that is not to discredit the other two ever-reliable talents in the least. Wariness is advised for couples - as the characters hilariously swap alliances and oppositions amongst one another through contemporarily raw human nature over the course of an hour and twenty minutes (going through the motions of politeness but constantly, also hilariously, trying to end their meeting) it will be easy for one to have and audible knee-jerk reaction of agreement or disgust with certain (particularly gender-concerned) sociological observations. Similar to the likewise purposefully inconclusive "Burn After Reading", "Carnage" is thoroughly funny and quotable (despite a dubiously harmonious, Haneke-esque bookend). At first this quality is in rather a tongue-in-cheek manner though I suspect that, just like with the Coens flick, with each repeat viewing I'll be rolling and bellowing more and more.

The Artist
Michel Hazanavicius, 2011
For nigh a century, "talkies" have been the Hollywood-generated norm, in the same sense that since the '80s, thanks to Sony's Walkman, portable music has been "normal" and analog can be widely considered "weird". What we never truly needed becomes automatically expected as our collective innocence lessens with each advance. The design of "The Artist" knows well this climate of product, tailored with a narrative more than justifying with relative subtlety what could have been a mere gimmick - its claim to fame as a new millennium silent film. The styling is eclectic, ranging from homages to popular silents themselves including American romances and adventures, epic Soviet propaganda and legendary German affairs up through more noted Orson Welles pictures, trashy bandwagon franchises and fleeting filler. Modern sensibilities regarding pacing, editing, camera angles, character development and picture quality (if that counts) have been imbued to aid the successfully enveloping nature of the experiment, though I could have done without the accessibility-broadening canine sidekick. Our sequence of events will feel explicitly familiar to any fan of "Singin' in the Rain", and perhaps that's no coincidence as star Jean Dujardin emulates Gene Kelly in a big way (to the point that protagonist George Valentin almost feels like Don Lockwood is having a bad dream), but oddly it's only once these similarities fall by the wayside in the second half that the film seems to wallow, apparently unsure how to capitalize beyond its depressive lament for a dying art form. In terms of 2011 films celebrating the silent era, "Hugo" takes the cake, but "The Artist" is an experience not to be missed on the big screen.

Jackass 3D
Jeff Tremaine, 2010
There's a lot to be said about the fact that "Jackass 3D" held its premiere at the Museum of Modern Art. One could mock up the film's summary as a poetic series of video documents celebrating camaraderie and fellowship through the dramaturgy of abandon and vulgarity. Basally, it's all about upping the persistent shock value's ante, and the storied boys have certainly triumphed on high in that regard with the highest entertainment value here quite possibly being their own intact shock and disbelief at the acts they inflict upon themselves and one another. They tickle both the funny bone and gag reflex, often simultaneously, with rapid-fire daredevilry that pays homage to the legacy of both "Jackass" itself and the general MTV mentality (pre-"Shot of Love"). Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam, Dunn, Wee-Man and the rest of the gang have... I'm debating using the term "achieved" here... yes, achieved a pinnacle in the world of stunt/prank pornography that does in many regards deserve the ostentatious location of its premiere. I never thought I'd say this, but I really do wish I'd seen it in 3D.

Total: 3

Rewatches (1): Young Adult (Reitman, 2011)
- Here's a (likely foolish) sob (slash whine) story for you. Though I figured my fourth was my final theatrical viewing of "Young Adult", during its last week at my theater I got the itch once more. I planned for Wednesday at 2:20 - the only time that would have worked within my hectic schedule - but a getting-the-girlfriend's-vehicle-professionally-cleaned obligation came up and I forced myself to be understanding of the priority. The film will be on Blu-Ray soon enough, anyway (ha, "soon enough", who am I kidding?). So at precisely 2:20 on Wednesday I showed up to the car wash... which was closed! Because it had sprinkled at 10AM!! Admittedly, I was livid (still kind of ticked, to be honest). What a tease. I finally figured, okay, I'll just have to go to the next closest theater... their showtimes are 4:20 and 9:50 (yes, I knew the other theater's times for "Young Adult" offhand). But oh, wait, they're not showing it into the new week, either! Blast!! Curses!!! I'll get you next time, Gadget!!!! So, in desperation, I did it. I... downloaded a cam. YES! I confess!! After supporting the film with a total of six admits and planning to purchase the Blu-Ray ASAP, I did the politically unthinkable and grabbed an illegal torrent! It looks terrible (tilted, off-center, flickery), it sounds terrible (echoey, audience noises)... but it's still "Young Adult"!! It'll have to do.

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