My Week: February 4, '12

A Dangerous Method
David Cronenberg, 2011
Though not the exact interlocking portrait of Jung and Freud I might have desired from such a pipe dream coinciding of talent and subject, this welcomely refined Cronenberg's "Method" is a rivetingly gorgeous and unexpectedly humorous story fueled by the essentials of early psychanal-- I mean, psychoanalysis. The matter-of-fact manner by which indubitably Cronenbergian provocation is approached boils in the most sophisticated manner as Michael Fassbender dominates frames even whilst compositionally backgrounded. Fantastic picture.

Further first-time viewings:

The Martian Chronicles: The Expeditions - Michael Anderson, 1980
The epitome of melodrama with an unrealistic abandon of character professionalism, the appropriately unwieldy "Martian Chronicles" miniseries might not have struck me as a retelling of the Ray Bradbury work I love had it not come with the same title. Dull and hokey as it may be, however, its adapted subject matter (not to mention the involvement of the great Bernie Casey) is enough to intrigue throughout despite wide technical mediocrity.

Film socialisme - Jean-Luc Godard, 2010
A half-brilliant piece that's often nice-looking and impressively irreverent.

Balada triste de trompeta (The Last Circus) - Álex de la Iglesia, 2010
If nothing else, I can absolutely respect a film with conviction. "The Last Circus" at least has that, through its every last scrap of celluloid. If you're really in the mood for sideshow strangeness with a side of politics, however, I'd say your time would be a little better spent with Jodorowsky's "Santa Sangre". I'm reminded I still desperately need to get around to Tod Browning's "Freaks".

Trespass - Joel Schumacher, 2011
No comment. Wait, wait, I've got one: And here I thought Nicole Kidman's career had hit rock bottom when she played a walking poop joke in a Happy Madison movie.

No Strings Attached - Ivan Reitman, 2011
Okay, I only actually made it about 10 minutes in to this movie. It's entirely unfair when I do this, but please don't just for the sake of posterity make me sit through more of about the most transparent, forced, hackneyed, run-of-the-mill, clunky, grating, boring and bullshitty bullshit I've seen since... I don't know, let's go with "The Help" ("X-Men: First Class" would be slightly more accurate, but hating on the similarly marginalizing and manipulatively backwards Oscar nominee is more pertinent). At least the casting of the younger Natalie Portman was fairly spot-on; the only way they might have done better would have been to get that kid from "Leon" [insert knee-slap].

Total: 6

Rewatches (4): The Weather Man (Verbinski, 2005), Young Adult (Reitman, 2011), Rampart (Moverman, 2011), Horrible Bosses (Gordon, 2011)
- I've noticed a trend in some of my very favorite films, which is present in both "The Weather Man" and "Young Adult". These films tend to open with the 30-to-40-something single protagonist awakening in their detached urban flat and preparing for the day as their surroundings inform us of their character (other prime examples being "Vanilla Sky" and "Bamboozled"). "The Weather Man" in particular grabs me and sticks throughout with this focus on character, as Nicolas Cage's David Spritz embodies precisely what I both dread and hope for my own future, which, just as it did for Spritz, becomes narrower and narrower every year, leaving me with who I am as opposed to how I used to envision myself. I won't be "chucking" my own "Breaking Point", however.
- Outside "Our Idiot Brother", Summer 2011 was a terrible time for big rated-"R" comedy. A rewatch of "Horrible Bosses", which I consider to be one of the better of the category for the given time frame, galvanizes that position. It has its moments (mostly the ones involving Charlie Day) and some quotable quotes ("I'd like to bend her over a barrel and show her the 50 states"), but for the most part... yeah, should have kept it to just the one viewing.

Episodic Television (1): Key & Peele (Pilot)
- It's rare a promising new show comes from Comedy Central. "Ugly Americans" made waves with me a few years ago but lost its appeal quickly. Like a more politically correct "Chappelle's Show", however, "Key & Peele" is rife with belly laughs of both social and pop cultural relevance. I'm already quoting a couple sketches on a regular basis, and I'm eager for further episodes!

Video Games (4): Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Wario Land 4
- "The Sacred Stones" is my first "Fire Emblem" game, and while it's surprisingly addicting (its chess-like strategy role-playing unintentionally weened me from the notoriously immersive action role-playing "Skyrim", for crying out loud) I can't help but feel it's designed for the perfectionist gamer. I'm on Eirika's Chapter 14 of my second play-through, which I commenced because I decided I wanted to repeat my former actions (which had also reached Eirika's 14) without losing any characters or bonus items. Well, I wound up missing the cherished Orion's Bolt anyway, leaving my Neimi a pithy Archer as opposed to a formidable Ranger (a role Gerik is fulfilling on his lonesome), and now that I've all too hastily commenced the current chapter without patiently training to the extent I did on my premiere campaign, I'm all but certain to lose characters - if not in the castle, at least outside once the two Grado armies set upon me. I have not glanced guides to alert me to this forthcoming ambush, but have crash-coursed the preceding castle to help strategize. That's the thing, though. If you want to get the most from them, every level is so painstaking and time-consuming that in all honesty, for as much as I'm enjoying the game I'm ready to put it down for want to avoid going insane.
- Noting a theme in my current game-playing? Yeah, I'm a 3DS "Ambassador", meaning I indeed got those 20 NES and Gameboy Advance titles for paying an extra $80 for the innovative yet content-barren handheld (I hopped on early for the appealing novelty and the impressive "Ocarina of Time" upgrade, which I'm still telling myself was worth it). When examining the offered selection, would it surprise you to hear that I'm far more taken with "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link" than the more recent "Minish Cap"? Neither are considered greats in the "Legend of Zelda" franchise, but I could hardly put "Zelda II" down before I reached the final dungeon, which is quite frankly the video game version of torture. "Minish Cap" did surprise me at first, though. The gameplay pretty much matches that of the same year's "Four Swords Adventures", which means it's fun but feels more like a Chinese knock-off of "Zelda" than a true "Zelda" entry (think Dairy Fairy as opposed to Dairy Queen, etcetera). What really got me was the opening festival sequence in Hyrule Town, the atmosphere of which reminded me of the special Starlight Celebration in my beloved "Final Fantasy XI". With story progression, however, the puzzles become so uninspired and awfully tedious they remind me of the first "Pokémon". Mind you, I'm only on the second dungeon... but it's not looking promising at the moment.
- I loved "Wario Land 2" for my old GameBoy Pocket. "Wario Land 4", not so much. This and several other GameBoy Advance titles I've experienced seem to represent the awkward transition from the challenging, innovative and iconic Nintendo to the gimmicky, childish Nintendo of today. At least Sega had the graceful consideration to switch much more rapidly from awesome to suck.

Literature (New!): Committee for Undiscovered Findings (Frank Mungiovi, 2008)

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