Monday, March 28, 2016

BOYHOOD (2014)

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

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


A film that took a dozen years or so to make and dramatizes the growing pains of a boy and his family during the course of that time. Unique in approach and may be dismissed by some as gimmicky, Boyhood works for me and the unusual nature of seeing the boy in the title (and his sister, mother and father) grow over the course of the time supplements the narrative instead of overpowers it.  I liked this one enough that it would have been my choice for Best Picture for 2014-not that the Academy asked me.

Friday, March 25, 2016

CITIZENFOUR (2014)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 49 of 50)

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


Whether or not you think NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a hero or a traitor should not interfere with what an interesting documentary Citizenfour is. We the viewer see behind the scenes before the Snowden NSA documents are released thanks to the cabal of director Laura Poitras, journalist Glenn Greenwall and Snowden. And we therefore become privy to all this before the fact and make us feel somewhat complicit just for watching. Seeing Snowden's motivations before they happen does push one toward having more sympathy to him whether or not it really should. The Academy Award winner for Best Documentary.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

3-IRON (2004, SOUTH KOREA)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 48 of 50)

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


"Seen anything good you want to recommend?"

I get that question at the library a lot. I'm not sure I'd give 3-Iron as an answer to this question simply because I'd have to try to answer the next question as to what it was about. But there was one time I did try to promote this offbeat film when I got the "have you seen anything good you want to recommend" question...

"Well, I just saw this movie. It's called 3-Iron. It's Korean. It's about this young guy on a motorbike that goes from house to house to just to sort of hang out and just be. He doesn't steal or cause much damage usually, and he doesn't say anything...In fact, he doesn't say anything for the entire movie! He has a girl that hangs out with him eventually after he beats up her boyfriend by hitting him with a bunch of golf balls. Oh, they do break into one guy's house and it turns out he is dead and they give him a nice burial. The young guy eventually goes to jail for his golf ball assault but escapes and sort of reunites with the girl...at least I think that's what happens, I'm not really sure."

At this point the library patron nodded politely and asked me if we had a copy of the newest Fast and Furious movie. I gave him the video he asked for at knowing that I at least tried.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

MOOLAADE (2004, SENEGAL)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 47 of 50)

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


One of the things I like that movies can do is take you somewhere you've never been before. Though I must admit that a film with the subject of female genital mutilation in Senegal was a topic that I intentionally saved for the back part of this list.

Worth seeing-important topic-unique setting-and one i never would have watched if it weren't for adherence to the 1001 list.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

OSAMA (2003, AFGHANISTAN)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 46 of 50)

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


The last movie I saw (Live and Become) was a large story of youth on a grand storytelling scale. Osama is the opposite. It is a simple tale (and only 83 minutes) of a young girl in Afghanistan that is forced to pose as a boy in order to find work. Her inevitable being discovered under a harsh regime will not lead to a happy ending, but this is the Taliban we're talking about here. I liked that this film took me dramatically to a place and in a way I haven't been to before. That's what good movies do...even if the reality isn't a pleasant one.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

LIVE AND BECOME (2005, FRANCE)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 45 of 50)

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


Live and Become reminds me a little of the film Boyhood, except this one isn't shot over many years and has different actors playing the boy growing into a young man. The religious element of the Ethiopian refugees posing as Jews is different, too. You know, never mind The Boyhood comparison. I'm not sure where I was going with that. But Live and Become is an epic tale of growing up in a often hostile environment and is a movie well worth seeing with many heart wrenching and moving moments.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

SHAME (2011)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 44 of 50)

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


Shame is a character study about a New York executive played by Michael Fassbinder who also happens to be a sex addict. And not just someone with a strong sex drive, someone who is addicted to the sexual high. Despite this, he still has to function at his job, as well as his deal with his tenuous relationship with his flighty sister, played by Carey Mulligan. It's a fascinating story, with strong performances by its two leads. Roger Ebert had an interesting take on this film when he called it "a great act of filmmaking and acting. I don't believe I would be able to see it twice." I concur.

What's in a Name: This is the second film from the 1001 list to have Shame for a title. The 1967 Ingmar Bergman film being the other. It's too bad the 1962 American International Roger Corman cult film about racism that also shared this title didn't ever make the book to complete the Shame trilogy.

Sing me a song: Is it in Carey Mulligan's contract that she has to do a song in every movie she's in? Inside Llewyn Davis, Far from the Madding Crowd and Shame-all from movies I've seen recently. I'm not complaining, she has a nice voice.

Monday, March 7, 2016

UNDER THE SKIN (2014)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 43 of 50)

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

Scarlett Johansson as the mysterious alien in Under the Skin

Last year, I attended the Dragoncon convention in Atlanta where I sat in on a panel with Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Someone asked them if they thought there were any recent Science Fiction films that could compare with 2001. Lockwood flat out said no. Dullea agreed with him for the most part, but did express to really liking Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin.

Under the Skin is the story of an alien that comes to Scotland and seduces men for nefarious purposes. But what are those purposes? What is her motivation? What the hell is going on here? This slow moving film reminds me of another film that takes it time and asks more questions than it answers. And that would be...2001: A Space Odyssey! No wonder Keir Dullea liked it! And I liked it to. Despite a few moments when I scratched my head, the points to ponder in this movie really stuck with me. Not that I came up with as many answers as I would have liked, but sometimes just having the questions is enough.

Lockwood and Dullea in 2001: A Space Odyssey


Friday, March 4, 2016

CACHE (2004, FRANCE)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 42 of 50)

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



I've seen enough Michael Haneke movies to know that a Michael Hankeke thriller is not going to be a typical by the number suspense thriller. The above shot is how the movie starts. It is camera surveillance tape that the husband and wife characters in this movie keep getting copies of. What is it all about? We find out slowly and we are given clues and the movie goes off in all sorts of directions that you might not expect it to go. Some parts made me say "wow," while others made me ask "what?" I had to watch the final scene a couple of times for it to register. I''m still not sure I got it completely, but Haneke films aren't supposed to be easy. It is my favorite of his films on the 1001 list. (The others being Funny Games and The White Ribbon).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

LEVIATHAN (2014, RUSSIA)

FILMS FROM THE 21st CENTURY
(Post 41 of 50)

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


When I was choosing films to show for our foreign film series at the library last year, I chose Leviathan strictly because of the favorable reviews it had gotten. Of course, this film about the difficulties a Russian mechanic experiences with his small home town and local politicians isn't exactly a "feel good" film. After the crowd left our theater, I did get a few people tell me that I might want to choose something a little more upbeat next time. I guess that's probably a microcosm of what movie studios in general go through. People don't always (or even usually) want to see a downer.

I missed a little bit of the middle portion of the film when I showed it, but took it home and watched the whole thing again. It really is a well done procedural of this man's life and the Joblike downward spiral that is largely out of his control.

Downer or not, this one is in my book.