4.07.2012

MY WEEK #43: Titanic 3D; Urga; Faces

Urga
Nikita Mikhalkov, 1992
AKA "Territory of Love", AKA "Close to Eden". An often beautifully assured and expertly executed depiction of a dwindling culture being absorbed by vastly more powerful neighboring countries, though it is plagued by an oddly ignorant American sensibility that fights to cheapen it throughout.


Further first-time viewings:

Faces - John Cassavetes, 1968
What begins in an appealingly raw fashion almost pre-echoing "Putney Swope", if you will, quickly dissolves in to an actor's playground full of relentlessly obnoxious antics and bipolar thought processes even less sensible than seen in "A Woman Under the Influence".


Total: 2


Rewatches (1): Titanic (Cameron, 1997)
- Seeing "Titanic" for the first time at age 13 - brought to the theater by my father once the rating was dropped to PG-13, an experience he remembers me being resistant to - it was easy to write off the experience as, well, from a 13-year-old perspective, 3 hours of what was expected just to see some boobs. But on a more serious and more important note, it was easy to write "Titanic" off as exploitative of travesty just for the sake of telling a sweeping love story. Now with my much-anticipated revisit to the epic (which I'd seen countless times between on dual-tape VHS) having come to pass, I reverse that notion. "Titanic" is first and foremost about the history and the human disaster - what went in to causing the catastrophe and why so many died due to class hubris, and weaves these aspects in with the character narrative seamlessly. The themes couldn't be more obvious and at many points experience excess, but all the while we have the "Romeo & Juliet"-esque lovers Jack and Rose and their supporting cast of clear archetypes to relate to amongst the chaos, and through putting ourselves in their shoes does the experience truly begin to flourish. The romance itself is somewhat obligatory - rooted in a winning desire for freewheeling liberty in defiance of oppressive hierarchal differences yet almost too perfect and grandiose to really become intimately involved with - but again, it works swell, and James Horner's capitalizing score allows it to occasionally soar. There is plenty left to desire compositionally and emotionally from this film, though it is inarguable that in utilizing unfettered cinematic spectacle Cameron crafted a suitably effective and draining experience that runs the gamut and leaves you breathless (despite what is perhaps too frequent a reliance on comic relief) while not being afraid to get quiet when appropriate. Returning to the picture on the big screen brings new relevance to the opening framing sequence, in which we empathize most with Rose in the capacity of a return audience - we are going back to "Titanic" as she is, and viewing Bill Paxton's selfish scavenger hunt through more knowing eyes. Even with its length the enveloping film flies by in no time with practically zero filler to be found. The new coat of paint does the picture well, and the 3D is adequate, at times enhancing immersion and particularly assisting in our comprehension of and marvel at just how titanic the Titanic really was. The nature of converted classics is imperfect, of course, as the films were not composed with 3D in mind and this shows when Jack and Rose share close-up OTS shots and their eye-lines are just off enough to be noticeable (though not detrimentally distracting). What are you waiting for, go see "Titanic" again! Big screen! Billy Zane!! Just don't do what my audience dubiously did... I swear, there was exodus right before the aforementioned boobs, as if the scene were being treated as intermission. I honestly have no idea what those people were thinking. Boobs over popcorn any day, I always say.


Episodic Television (2): Wings (Hell Hath No Fury Like a Policewoman Scorned - Friends or Lovers?); The Office (Search Committee Part 1; Search Committee Part 2); Futurama (The Prisoner of Benda; Mobius Dick - All the Presidents' Heads)
- I'm just including "Wings" with first-time viewings because when I used to watch was so long ago and only on rare sick/snow days (in hour blocks right before "Ned & Stacey"!) so I hardly remember which ones I've previously seen! Great sitcom. Total comfort zone material. "High Anxiety" brings the show's first real emotional highlights.
- Man, I know this is beating a dead horse but "The Office" has gone so far downhill. I'm morbidly curious about the current season, but it took enough sheer boredom just to feel like slapping on the rest of season 7...

Episodic Television Rewatches (2): Parks & Recreation (Woman of the Year; Park Safety); Scrubs (Our First Day of School); Kid Notorious (Pussy Power); Futurama (Rebirth - The Late Philip J. Fry)
- Man, I used to adore "Kid Notorious". This is the first time I've managed to track it down since it got prematurely cancelled. I wish I could say it held up, but it's brazenly insensitive and relishes simple mentions of sex as titillation alongside cheap slapstick and toilet humor. Maybe the subsequent episodes were better? I'll have to see if I can find those, now. I seem to recall more Hollywood insider humor and a particularly excellent Christmas episode involving Slash, Kim Jong Il and cocaine snow.

Literature (1): Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America (Leslie Knope, 2011)

Stand-Up Comedy (1): Louis C.K.: Hilarious (2009)
- On the heels of viewing "Chewed Up", "Hilarious" is rather a disappointment. Carelessly repeated jokes and weaker material all around, although there is one bit toward the end that had me in stitches.

Video Games (1): Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (1992)
- Wow, could they have improved any more on (the already competent and fleetingly fun) "Super Mario Land"? This is almost like the leap between "Super Mario Brothers" and "Super Mario World". My only very minor complaint so far is that the jump physics are just ever so slightly off, as I suppose they kind of were in the predecessor as well (though not nearly as far off as the recent "New Super Mario Brothers", or any handheld and recent 2D iterations of Sonic, for that matter). I mean, in one stage the goombas wear Jason masks... how can I not love it? And it was free through a GameStop promotion! Score!


Notes
- In less than an hour, at 2:22 in the afternoon, I commence my 28th year of life. I'll be 27. What a number. I'm so old. I'm still waiting for my real life to begin. But it's actually looking to be taking some steps soon, so the waiting might end and the proactivity may begin! Only the remainder of 2012 will tell. Or something. I didn't plan this to be so pseudo-melodramatic. Insert any Ron Swanson quote about birthdays here. Went out to brunch with the whole family - Jaime, Tuesday, mom and dad - and then went diaper shopping, hurray! Also ordered myself an iPad 3 the other day, ho ho ho! And my Facebook is blowing up more than ever. Specialness. Hope you're having a good day, too!


"My Week in Movies" is a Saturdaily column in which I share preferentially ranked capsule reviews for the films I view in, well, a week, along with thoughts on other forms of media I'm taking in (or masochistically subjecting myself to).

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