Sunday, February 7, 2016

VOLVER (2006, SPAIN)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 33 of 50)

Some quick takes on the most relatively recent listings from the
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list


All right, I admit it...I'm writing my opinions on Volver about three months after I saw it...What was it about again? Where's that Wikipedia article?

Oh, yeah! (I'm looking on Wikipedia) It's Penelope Cruz in that Almodovar film. Penelope Cruz and her sister and her aunt keep seeing Penelope's dead mother. Oh and oh, God! The part with her daughter and the step-father and the secrets and the hiding of the body and all that. And wasn't there a transsexual in there somewhere? There always seems to be a transsexual somewhere in Almodovar movies...and the affair and the fire...Yes, this one was pretty good. I just might want to take more notes next time.

Though my favorite Almodovar film is still The Skin I Live In.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

COLLATERAL (2004)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 32 of 50)

Some quick takes on the most relatively recent listings from the
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list


I've always liked the pace of  director Michael Mann's movies such as Heat and Thief and found I like Collateral as well for my first time viewing. Mann's movies have a lot of action, but they create characters that are real enough to care about, which isn't true in a lot of action movies for me.

Collateral is about a hit man played be Tom Cruise who hires an unsuspecting cabbie played by Jamie Foxx to take him to a hit. The viewer knows that the innocent Foxx is going to accidentally get drawn into the ruthless hitman's world, because if he dropped his fare off and just went home, you wouldn't have a movie.

But the cabbie does get involved in all sorts of wild hitman and crime stuff, and it is a bit far-fetched, but I liked the story overall and I'll give Cruise some credit for bringing a lot of bite to the hitman role. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS (2003, FRANCE)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 31 of 50)

Some quick takes on the most relatively recent listings from the
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list


I didn't know anything about The Barbarian Invasions going in, but glancing at he DVD cover below, I assumed it might be a clever romance. After viewing, all I can say is who the hell designed this cover? The core of the film is about a grouchy, philandering, liberal and dying professor and his relationship with his conservative, high finance son. The surprise of the story is that the son turns out to be a pretty good guy and does anything he can for his dying father, including scoring some heroin to ease the pain of his dying father. Many moving scenes here, but The Barbarian Invasions is filled intelligence too.

And the romance depicted in the picture? The heroin dealer the son hooks up with (hooks up with drugwise) wants to hook up with him in other ways, but he is too nice a guy and loyal to his wife despite sharing some of the same feelings. And though this sub-plot is interesting, it is a sub-plot nonetheless. 

So I recommend the movie, but give a thumbs down to the DVD cover. I guess showing a dying man in a hospital bed wouldn't sell as many units as two attractive people kissing.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

WHIPLASH (2014)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 30 of 50)

Some quick takes on the most relatively recent listings from the
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list


My preconception of Whiplash was this was probably going to be another one of those inspirational teacher movies pushing his star music student to excel. It is that in part, but Mr. Fletcher (the teacher) comes across as more Full Metal Jacket drill instructor than as the beloved teacher from Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

The film is dominated by J. K. Simmons as Fletcher, the relentless music instructor and is intimidating every time he comes on the screen. Luckily, Miles Teller as his student drummer is also very good, which gives the adversarial relationship between the two a nice dramatic balance. Simmons won the Oscar for his role, as I think the Academy was afraid he might yell at them if they didn't.