Friday, November 30, 2018


Tongues Untied

What kind of prejudice does a black man who is gay have to deal with? This short documentary combines archival and news footage as well as the personal experiences of director Marlon Riggs. It is not always easy to look at...but then it's not suppose to be. It will make you think about how prejudice has many different levels and expresses itself in different manifestations. At least I think it should. A sidenote of this film is that 1992 Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan used this as an example of governmental sponsored pornographic art in one of his attack ads against George H. W. Bush.

Chalament and Hammer form a bond
in Call Me By Your Name

It's interesting that a romance between two gay men (though one is only 17) really isn't that unusual anymore on the big screen. In fact, the gay themed Moonlight even won Best Picture in 2017. Call Me By Your Name (2017) is the story of Elio, the precocious son of a professor living in Italy, and Oliver, his father's grad student. The two have a relationship that develops slowly, in fact so slowly I was beginning to wonder if anything was ever going to happen between them! The film is set in 1983, as we call tell by all the intellectuals reading books in public, pay phones and cassette players and we even get a slide show presentation within the film! (How I miss those). Also, in 1983, the two main characters recognize that a potential life together is not even a possibility to consider, despite the fact that Elio has very understanding parents. In fact, Oliver announces his engagement to a woman during the last of the movie. I suppose in the sequel, we can find out just how well Oliver's marriage worked out. Arnie Hammer and Timothee Chalament star. James Ivory (of Merchant/Ivory fame) won an Oscar for his screenplay .

Sunday, November 25, 2018


The women of The Decline of the American Empire

The Decline of the American Empire is a Canadian film about a group of intellectual academics that seem to talk an awful lot about sex. The first half of the film features the four women and four men separately and the second half of the film shows them all together at a weekend retreat. The dialogue is pretty good here and we do get some insight into the characters of our featured players. The down side is that a lot of these characters don't come off as very likable or easy to relate to. I say this as someone who tends to like movies about academics. There are some nice scenes here, including the scene where one of the characters falls in love with his masseuse and another where the one outsider character dresses down the academics for being all talk and no action. 

The Decline of the American Empire  reminds me a little of some of the Woody Allen movies from this era-at least as far as the interaction between the characters goes. Another film It reminded me of in tone and interactions was The Barbarian Invasions, which I only realized after I watched this had the same director (Denys Arcand).

The men of The Decline of the American Empire

Colm Feore as Glenn Gould in one of the 
Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

How does one make a film about an artist and capture the essence of the artist? The Color of Pomegranates and I'm Not There told their portraits of artists as young and old men in their own unique way. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould does this as well. It also is literally what the title says it is. Glenn Gould was a renowned Canadian classical pianist and interpreter of the music of Bach. His story is told in these thirty-two films through interviews, dramatizations (with Colm Feore portraying Gould), musical expressions and some sections that I'd just have to categorize under miscellaneous. I think it works for the most part and the order that these films are presented does give the viewer a sense of Gould's life, art and influence.
The artist in
Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

Tuesday, November 20, 2018



One of the stars of the lion tamer section of 
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is the second Errol Morris film to make the 1001 list, with The Thin Blue Line being the first Fast, Cheap and Out of Control has Morris intersecting the stories of four different people: a lion tamer, a robot designer, a topiary gardener an expert on the mole rat. It doesn't necessarily sound all that interesting on paper, but Morris is very skilled at putting a film together and is adept at blending in archival footage with the main story. It's worth giving anything with Morris's name on it a shot in my book, including his book, Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography.

The skilled work of the topiarist in Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

Tough guy detective in Hana-Bi

Hana-Bi (Fireworks) is Takeshi's Kitano creative detective story about a beleaguered cop who gets involved with loan sharks and the Yakuza and basically kicks their ass whenever they mess with him. Writer, director, star Takeshi Kitaon plays the detective and is a hard-line bad ass who seeks revenge on the bad guys and even breaks the law himself by robbing a bank!

The detective seemingly not caring about the risks he takes is in contrast to the other half of the film, where he is shown lovingly taking care of his wife, who is dying of leukemia. This contrast is juxtaposed well by director Kitano, who gained international recognition for this film.

Soft guy husband in Hana-Bi

Here are some other films released in 1997 that I have seen at some point that didn't quite have the right stuff to ever make the 1001 list

Absolute Power-Read David Baldacci's book first and then watch the movie with Clint Eastwood. Discuss the differences in a paper and make sure you use MLA format when you turn in your assignment.
Eastwood wields Absolute Power

Air Force One-There's a ruskie on my plane!
Harrison Ford about to use whoop-ass diplomacy
to get Gary Oldman off his plane

Alien Resurrection-Which one was this again?
Can't you two kids see you need each other?
Sigourney Weaver and friend in 
Alien: Resurrection

Amistad-You know, Matthew McConaughey is playing the same lawyer type he played in A Time to Kill. He just has 19th century sideburns here.
McConaughey for the defense in Amistad

The Apostle-Robert Duvall is pretty mesmerizing as The Apostle's charismatic preacher.
Preach brother, preach! 
Robert Duvall as The Apostle

As Good as it Gets-Jack Nicholson is fun to watch here, though I do find James L. Brooks's film a bit overrated.
Jack and friend in As Good  As It Gets

Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery-Who among us hasn't done an Austin Powers or Dr. Evil impersonation at one time or another since this movie came out?
Oh, behave!
Mike Myers is Austin Powers

Batman and Robin-A lot of people hate this one. I remember just not being wowed by it.
On, second thought...remembering the
bat credit card is bringing back some
bad Batman and Robin memories

Chasing Amy-One of Kevin Smith's funnier films. "Star Wars is Racist!"
I like Jason Lee, but the turned around
baseball cap always gets on my nerves...but I digress
Chasing Amy

Con Air-One of Michael Bay's better films...There, I said it!
John Malkovich taking a hostage in
Con Air

Conspiracy Theory-This movie does explain why Catcher in the Rye sold so many copies.
Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson discuss
American literature in Conspiracy Theory

Contact-I have read Carl Sagan's book and like what Robert Zemeckis did with it for the film for the most part.
Jodie Foster visits Not-Pensacola in Contact

Cop Land-A different kid of Stallone film. I wish he had made more like it.
An older De Niro talks to a heftier Stallone
in Cop Land

The Devil’s Advocate-Al Pacino hams it up to good effect.
Loud Pacino in The Devil's Advocate

Donnie Brasco-Al Pacino tones it down to good effect.
Soft Pacino in Donnie Brasco

Face/Off-It's fun to watch Nicholas Cage and John Travolta impersonate each other for awhile. Then it starts to wear thin.

Travolta and Cage try to remember which
one of them is the bad guy in Face/Off

The Fifth Element-Wasn't this kind of like Metropolis meets Brazil meets Run, Lola, Run? Maybe I'm not remembering this too accurately.
Pretty sure that isn't a bat credit card in
The Fifth Element

G. I. Jane-I wonder if this Demi Moore film would date well twenty years later?
Demi Moore is Seal tough
in G. I. Jane

The Game-It's just an elaborate game. Entertaining, but one you may find the game they are playing a little too far-fetched if you think about it too much.
I'm not sure if Michael Douglas finds
The Game that amusing

Good Will Hunting-We should really thank Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for writing Robin Williams one of his better roles.
Robin Williams counsels Matt Damon in
Good Will Hunting

Hercules-Went with my nieces to see this. Good memories from that. Go the Distance...That's the one from this, right?
Evil but drolly amusing Hades
in Hercules

Home Alone 3-Not really going to work so well without the original cast. I state again that I would like to see the original cast back for another Home Alone movie. Geriatric Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern try to get even with forty-something Maccauley Culkin! I'd go see that.
Scarlett Johansson and Alex Linz in
Home Alone 3

In and Out-Kevin Kline seems to be the only one who doesn't realize he's gay. It's a pretty funny film.
Tom Selleck teaches Kevin Kline about 
the birds and the bees in
In and Out

Insomnia-Swedish film starring Stellan SkarsgÄrd about a detective searching for a killer and looking for a good night's sleep at the same time. Remade in 2002 with Al Pacino in the detective role. Both films certainly have merit, though I like the slight alterations in plot made for the Christopher Nolan/Al Pacino/Robin Williams version.
 Insomnia: 1997
Insomnia: 2002

Jackie Brown-Not my favorite Tarantino. I do like Robert De Niro playing such a thick headed villain.
Pam Grier about to pop a cap 
in somebody's ass
in Jackie Brown

Kiss the Girls-I know I saw one of these James Patterson thrillers. This must have been the one.
Ashley Judd about to pop a cap 
in somebody's ass
in Kiss the Girls

Liar, Liar-Jim Carrey can't tell the truth. That's it...and sometimes that's all you need.
Jim Carrey can handle the truth
in Liar, Liar

Life is Beautiful-Roberto Begnini's moving and at times funny film about the Holocaust.
One of the light-hearted early scenes
in Life is Beautiful

Lolita-Jeremy Irons is a natural as Humbert Humbert.
Domique Swain and
Jeremy Irons in

The Lost World: Jurassic Park-I'm not as big on these Jurassic Park sequels as others seem to be.
Julianne Moore finds a friend in The Lost World

Men in Black-May not have been in the mood to see this alien hunting comedy when it first came out. Might be worth a revisit or watch the most recent one. That happens sometimes.
The cute pug and Will Smith
in Men in Black

My Best Friend's Wedding-One of the better 90's roles for Julia Roberts.
Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz talk about 
weddings and stuff
in My Best Friend's Wedding

Private Parts-Does have some funny and raunchy moments. Though I still prefer the 1972 Private Parts movie if I have to choose cult movies with this title.
Private Parts 1997

Private Parts 1972

The Rainmaker-I read or listened to a lot of John Grisham books around this time. This was one of the better ones.
 I could only picture Danny De Vito
in he role of Deck Shifflet when I
first read The Rainmaker.

Speed 2-Let's put it on a boat and even though Keanu Reeves doesn't want to do it, let's do it anyway.
Not wanting to see Willem Dafoe ever make this creepy
face is yet another reason not to watch Speed 2 again!

Tomorrow Never Dies-I went through the Pierce Brosnan Bonds a little after the fact. They do tend to run together after awhile.
That's it! Tomorrow Never Dies is
the one with Michelle Yeoh!

Wag the Dog-Comedic, political and one I can't say I loved at the time, to be honest.
De Niro and Hoffman in the prequel to
Meet the Fockers...No this is actually
Wag the Dog