Thursday, November 15, 2018

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 (2004), A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (2004, FRANCE)

2004

George W. Bush exudes confidence
in Fahrenheit 9/11

In the divisive age of Trump, it almost seems quaint going back and watching Michael Moore's documentary about the political aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but there you have it. I like Moore, though he has a lot of detractors on both sides of the political spectrum. He was an early critic of the Iraq invasion and turned out to be right about that one. He talks here about the complicity of the media of being more of a cheerleader for the invasion as opposed to being skeptical critics. This still seems to be true of corporate media no matter who is president. Bush comes across as a bit of a dolt who seems to be oblivious to things going around him while his administration runs roughshod over the constitution (The Patriot Act) and illegally enhances their own business ties and relations with foreign countries (Saudi Arabia). I'm so glad things have changed since! (That was sarcasm). Fahrenheit 9/11 became the biggest box office documentary in history, but didn't prevent W. form serving another four years. I guess we will get fooled again.

Audrey Tautou searches for her fiancee
 in A Very Long Engagement

Trying to recount the plot of A Very Long Engagement is very simple-A woman engaged to a missing in action World War I soldier tries to find out if he is alive or dead against all odds. However, this film is anything but simple. Based on a book by Sebastien Japrisot, the viewer is presented with a plot rich and very detail oriented. We also have an innovative filmmaker (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) who puts you right in the middle of the war, as well as the world outside the war for the duration of the film. It is a beautiful to look at and always keeps moving. And how many movies can boast of having Jodie Foster in a bit part speaking French? This one would make my book.

Here are some movies I've seen from 2004 that have never made the 1001 movie list:

13 Going on 30
30 year old woman goes back to when she was 13 in 1987 and listens to music that was popular in 1983. That timeline discrepancy really bugged me.
If they had called it 13 Going on 33 and just
went back to 1983, there would have been no problem

50 First Dates
A pretty good Adam Sandler movie. That isn't something I say often.
Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler on
one of their 50 First Dates

Alien vs. Predator
Actually not a bad idea to put these two against each other. Spoiler: Predator is a baby face now, but Alien is still a heel.
AVP 
Guess I have to be on team Predator now

Christmas with the Kranks
Critically panned movie based on the John Grisham book that I found amusing enough. I especially liked Dan Aykroyd as the irritating neighbor.
Christmas with the Kranks
Dan Aykroyd on accordion backed by 
Cheech Marin and Tom Poston? Cool!

The Day After Tomorrow
What I remember as a pretty far-fetched disaster movie I suppose could be looked at as a climate change metaphor.
The library is closed until...
The Day After Tomorrow

Dodge Ball
So-so comedy does at least have Rip Torn in it. And I always played Dodge Ball in a circle, so tht fact that they played in a straight line bugged me. (I guess a lot is bugging me today)
/Torn! Dodge Ball! 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Very original film from the creative if not spotless mind of Charlie Kaufman
Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey explore the
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Forgotten
Forgotten is a good word for my recollection of this movie experience. I seem to remember a lot of plot holes involving aliens and wallpaper...
I think Julianne Moore is trying to remember
something long ago Forgotten

Friday Night Lights
I've never seen the popular television series, but I do like the original movie about Texas high school football.
Billy Bob offers coaching advice in
Friday Night Lights

Garfield
My son was a big Garfield fan so I had to take him to see this one. I do like Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield (channeling Lorenzo Music a bit?)
Garfield with Odie

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The third in the line of Harry Potter films...or was it the fourth? It couldn't have been the fifth?? I know it was the one with Sirius Black. I guess the eternal sunshine of my spotless mind is not functioning at peak capacity right now.
Gary Oldman and the Harry Potter crew in
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Hidalgo
Spotless mind not functioning again. Was this a Western or a Lawrence of Arabia kind of adventure? A bot of both?
Sandstorm! Sandstorm!
Hidalgo

A Home at the End of the World
I remember showing this one at the library and liking it, but I'm still trying to get my spotless mind repaired at the moment, so foggy on the details.
Colin Farrell finds
A Home at the End of the World

The Incredibles
I do remember liking this Disney film about a superhero family. I saw the trailer for the sequel recently in which they seem to mostly apologize for not having a sequel sooner. I didn't realize I was waiting for a sequel, but okay!
The Incredibles family

Kinsey
The T. C. Boyle novel The Inner Circle is a great reading companion piece to Kinsey, the film about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey.
 Liam Neeson is Kinsey


The Ladykillers
I seem to be the only one who doesn't think this is the Coen Brothers worst film. It is strange to see Tom Hanks as a roguish villain, I do admit.
The LadyKillers
I know he's Tom Hanks, 
but you still can't trust him!!

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Originally told story of Peter Sellers with a wonderful Geoffrey Rush as Sellers. 
Rush as Sellers as Chance the Gardner in
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Fun with Bill Murray as a Jacques Cousteaulike adventurer in this Wes Anderson comedy
Bill Murray (need I say more?)
in The Life Aquatic

Meet the Fockers
More focking going on and it is fun to see Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Striesand as Ben Stiller's parents.
Some funny Fockers in
Meet the Fockers

The Merchant of Venice
http://1001afilmodyssey.blogspot.com/2010/02/merchant-of-vencie-2004.html
Al Pacino is
The Merchant of Venice

Napoleon Dynamite
Really hard not to like this goofy teen movie. Don't forget to vote for Pedro!
Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro
formulating an election strategy

The Polar Express
A computer generated Tom Hanks in The Polar Express was even stranger than the wicked Tom Hanks in The Ladykillers.
Tom Hanks (I think) in The Polar Express

Saw
Effective and gross, though I never felt compelled to see any of the many Saw sequels.
Saw: Cary Elwes realizes he's not in a 
Princess Bride sequel
Secret Window
I guess some liked this Stephen King adaptation, though I thought it was mostly a pastiche of older and better King movies and stories.
Johnny Depp battles writers block in
The Secret Window

Shrek 2
I didn't see where Shrek story had to go after the first movie...but then they brought in the in-laws and that cat and ended up making a really good sequel!
 The Shreks in Shrek 2

Spiderman 2
Yes, the one with Dr. Octopus was my favorite in this series.
Alred Molina offers a hand or two 
in Spiderman 2

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
2003/2004 was the era to watch Spongebob. For the record, Squidward was always my favorite character.
The residents of Bikini Bottom in
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

The Stepford Wives
The Stepford Wives 1975 played it straight. The Stepford Wives 2004 never let you forget they were in on the joke. I'm with The Stepford Wives 1975.
Nicole Kidman in 
The Stepford Wives 2004

Supersize Me
Morgan Spurlock's noted documentary about eating at McDonald's for every meal for a month and it almost kills him. Certainly made me hesitant about ever ordering a Big Mac again.
Cheers! Spurlock about to inhale dinner
in Supersize Me.
Team America: World Police
I admit I love Trey Parker and Matt Stone's marionette movie. I also admit to catching myself singing Pearl Harbor Sucked and I'm so Lonely to myself on occasion.
 Team America ready to save freedom even if they have
to destroy it in the process

The Terminal
Okay. We've had the roguish Tom Hanks in Ladykillers, the computer generated Tom Hanks in The Polar Express and now we have him as kind of  variation of Andy Kaufman's Latka from Taxi character in Steven Spielberg's The Terminal. An interesting year for the always likable Mr. Hanks.
Tom Hanks trying to find his way out of The Terminal

The Village
M. Night Shyamalan offers some interesting twists in this one. But doesn't he always?
Something weird is going on in The Village

Welcome to Mooseport
Everybody loved Raymond, but were less enthusiastic about Welcome to Mooseport.
Ray Ramano prepares to battle
Gene Hackman in Welcome to Mooseport

White Chicks
Sometimes really stupid movies will make you laugh despite yourself.
The Wayans as White Chicks

Saturday, November 10, 2018

LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003), COFFEE AND CIGARETTES (2003)

2003

Bill Murray is Lost in Translation


I've been a fan of Bill Murray dating back to his tenure on Saturday Night Live in the Late 70's. His movie career has been varied to say the least. Over the years, he has been in starring comedic roles, idiosyncratic indie films, dramas, movies with ensemble casts, cult films and movies that defy categorization, such as Space Jam and Osmosis Jones.

His best critical notices may have come for Lost in Translation, Sophia Coppola's story of an aging movie star (Murray) who gets involved with a younger woman (Scarlett Johansson) during a business venture in Japan. The relationship between the two is atypical and always interesting to watch unfold and can't imagine the film succeeding without Murray. He manages to be a bit self-pitying, but somehow never makes himself unsympathetic. A lot of people thought he should have won the Oscar that year, but it wasn't to be. I would have liked to have heard that acceptance speech.

A different type of Murray role from this year was his one scene in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes. This film is a series of vignettes involving people sitting around smoking, caffeinating themselves and talking. The success of the film relies on how interesting the talking parts are. I'm a Jarmusch fan, but I didn't find this nearly as successful as Night on Earth, for example. It's largely hit or miss. The Murray section is one of the hits. Murray's section features two rap artists from the Wu Tan Clan at a cafe talking about the evils of caffeine and nicotine when their waiter comes up and it is none other than Bill Murray playing himself! Their interaction here is brief, amusing and probably the highlight of the film. Why is Bill Murray a waiter at this restaurant, again? I can'' even  remember, it's just fun that he was.
Bill Murray dishes it up in Coffee and Cigarettes

The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor by Robert Shankenberg is a good reference source to Murray's career. It's made me realize I have some surprising holes in my Murray viewing resume (Why haven't I seen Quick Cuts or Saint Vincent?). Need to work on that.




Here are some other movies I've seen that were released in 2003 that didn't make the 1001 Movie Cut, none of which feature Bill Murray.

Part I: You know you had young kids around in 2003 when these are some of the movies you've seen...

Brother Bear
I thought this pretty good animated feature had an unfortunate title. The title just made me picture The Care Bears...which can never be a good thing. 
Brother Bear
The Cat in the Hat
"It was ruined when she bought it." I remember thinking this was a funny line from this adaptation. Other than that, read the book instead.
The Cat in the Hat
Daddy Day Care
I'm pretty sure me and the youngest watched this kid-friendly Eddie Murphy vehicle...
Daddy Day Care
The Haunted Mansion
...unless I'm thinking of this kid friendly Eddie Murphy vehicle

The Haunted Mansion

Elf
This is actually a pretty fun Christmas movie and one I should really check out again this holiday season.


Elf
Freaky Friday
The Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan version, though I still prefer the Barbara Harris/Jodie Foster version. I can't say I've ever read the Mary Rodgers book.
Freaky Friday

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

I can't say I've ever been a big fan of this series. The first one was okay I guess. I do love the ride at Disney World.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

School of Rock
I found this movie awfully fun and I confess that I almost always like Jack Black. I recently saw the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical stage version of this as well. It's a fun show, but the first name I think of when I think of head-banging, stick it to the man rock and roll probably isn't Andrew Lloyd Weber.
School of Rock
X2
I prefer this one to the first X-Men movie. I'm just a Nightcrawler fan, I guess.
X2
What a Girl Wants
I saw What a Girl Wants? Really? I think it's time to move to the next category.
I'm still not sure What a Girl Wants

Part 2: 2003 movies that I didn't watch with the kids.

Gothika
The category being what it is, I actually did watch this one with my older niece, now that I think about it. I remember it as a pretty mediocre thriller/horror, though it apparently did do pretty well at the box office.
Gothika...did I spell that right?

American Splendor
Nice independent film about the life of acerbic comic aritist Harvey Pikar. I first became aware of Harvey through his rather combative interviews during the 80's with David Letterman.
American Splendor: If Paul Giamatti's name is above 
the credits, you are probably about to watch an indy film


Cold Mountain
Based on the Charles Frazer novel about a civil war deserter, this features Nicole Kidman and won an Academy Award for Renee Zellweger. I thought it was a pretty good drama...at least at the time.
Zellweger takes aim in Cold Mountain

Dogville
Another Nicole Kidman movie and under the category of "movies my wife hates. It's sort of like Our Town meets an allegorical tale of American expansionism....Probably one you will either hate or love.
The residents claim to know what is best for Nicole Kidman
in Dogville

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
A really, really annoying "date movie." It just got on my nerves is all.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days not including
taking him to see How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Intolerable Cruelty
This was a date movie more to my liking, though not usually considered among the best of the Coen brothers.
Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney
dancing cheek-to-cheek in Intolerable Cruelty.

The Last Samurai
Entertaining flick with Tom Cruise as the drunk Wild West fighter who goes East to teach them how to fight, but gains enlightenment on the way.
The Last Samurai 
Are you sure giving the Japanese tips on how to fight
is a good idea?

Love Actually
One of those movies that a lot of people always said that you need to see. Well, I finally saw it and I did find it fun and most engaging. Several intersecting stories of love around Christmastime. We may have to make viewing this a holiday viewing tradition.
Love Actually Maybe not  perfect,  but very entertaining

Master and Commander
Based on Patrick O'Brien's novels, this rollicking tale of high sea adventure directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe was a real crowd pleaser. So why didn't we get any sequels to this, yet endless sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean?

Master and Commander: Let's chart out a course
for a sequel!
Matrix Reloaded
The first Matrix movie I did like (My wife loved it.) This second one totally went off the rails for me. No shortage of action here for sure, but I truly lost the thread of the plot about half way through.
Matrix Reloaded: I had forgotten about these guys

A Mighty Wind
Maybe the most fun of all the Christopher Guest mockumentaries. It's about a reunion of folk stars for a public television reunion. Eugene Levy has got to be on the short list of funniest people on the planet.
Levy and Catherine O'Hara in A Mighty Wind:
And I also love the song Kiss at the End of the Rainbow

Monster
The 1001 list has had two documentaries on serial killer Kathleen Wuornos in different editions. This is the feature film about Wuornos that has the Oscar-winning performance of Charlize Theron. There has also been a television movie about Wuronos. I prefer the two documentaries, though one viewing was enough for all of these films in all honestly.
Monster: Enough with the Kathleen Wuronos movies!

Mystic River
Spoiler; Now, really. Why doesn't Kevin Bacon arrest Sean Penn at the end of this movie? I know it's based on Dennis LeHanes story, but....just still pissed about that.
 Sean Penn reaching to steal Bill Murray's Oscar
in Mystic River

The Room
Tommy Wiseau's film has achieved the status as being one of the worst films of all-time. The making of this film was adapted into a book and the film, The Disaster Artist. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, you may want to watch the review of The Nostalgia Critic online.
Tommy Wiseau contemplates where to next throw
the metaphorical football of life in The Room

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring
Korean film about the passing stages of life is an absolutely beautiful film. Highly recommended.
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring does
a lot more than scratch the surface

The Station Agent
It did seem for awhile that every low-budget indie we showed at the library had Patricia Clarkson in it. This one also had Peter Dinklage.
The Station Agent:
Clarkson and Dinklage staring at...okay, I don't remember what
they're staring at, but it's a pretty good film

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
One Terminator too many. It seemed to nullify all the good work they did in the first two Terminators by saying nothing they did mattered in stopping the rise of the machines.
Machines are going to fail...or maybe it's just us
Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines