Saturday, June 27, 2009

Departures (Okuribito)

a very moving film

daigo kobayashi is a cellist who has recently lost his gig and needs to find a new job. he applies and gets offered a job he knows nothing about, and it turns out it's for a business that prepares dead bodies for their departure. he keeps this a secret from his wife and friends because they look down on such things. daigo eventually gets good at it, and sees what he does as beautiful and necessary (which it is). we all die, and we all deserve some peace and respect in the end. daigo is still coming to grips with the death of his mother (for which he was absent for her funeral), and his father's disappearance when he was young. there is plenty of beautiful cello music to move the story along, especially the flashbacks of daigo as a child.
the film is very well made, and the story is very moving, and each character is well developed. i'm not sure if this was the best foreign film of 2008, but i can see why it won the academy award. it's very good.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

another stylish con movie

the brothers bloom is similar to any other con artist movie ever made. plenty of cons, people conning eachother, hard to tell who's really conning and who they're conning, etc. to me it gets old fast. this film is rather enjoyable, but overall it's a tired story and i felt like i've seen it many times before. adrian brody (bloom) is in love with rachel weisz (penelope), the woman they're scamming. the story gets repetetive fast, as brody wants the same thing from his brother mark ruffalo (stephen), the mastermind. there are some funny parts, lots of enjoyable moments, but as i said it's been done before. see matchstick men, house of cards, dirty rotten scoundrels, etc.

Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

disturbing, funny, sad.

i found out about bob flanagan very recently and wanted to see this movie immediately. bob flanagan was born with cystic fibrosis and a hankering for masochism/bondage/torture. most people with cf die very young, but bob lived into his 40's. this documentary shows some of bob's final days and documents his career as a performance artist and comedian. he often incorperated his sexual fetishes into his performances. his wife collaborated with him to bring his fetish and art to life, and overall bob flanagan is an interesting person. he lived his entire life in pain and sickness, and his passion was masochism, pain he had control over.
the documentary is very well made, and shows plenty of very intense and extreme examples of his masochistic ways. including: his wife shoving a large ball up his ass, nailing his dick to a block of wood, piercings being performed, cutting, etc. in some ways bob flanagan is similar to gg allin, they both were masochists, ate shit, died young, and performed on stage. bob however is a likeable person, he is funny and had a sick sense of humor about everything. he had control over his obsession. gg however was unlikeable and had no control over his habits and addiction. sick is a very difficult film to watch. i often paused the movie to get over some of the disturbing imagery. bob died during the filming of the documentary, and we see plenty of footage of the death/burial. his wife seemingly exploited him in the end, and that was upsetting, but all part of the story i guess.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hated: G.G. Allin and the Murder Junkies

anarchism personified

after seeing the hangover and looking up director todd phillips' filmography, i stumbled upon this early documentary he made about the infamous punk rocker g.g. allin. the film was very well made, and informational.
i've heard some of allin's stuff, and it never impressed me much, but his stage presence and overall appearance always interested me. he was basically the most extreme punk rocker in history. he'd often shit on stage, hit fans in teh face, pull women by the hair, shove things up his asshole, cut himself, etc. all while performing. this documentary does a great job displaying g.g. and his life, and that makes it worth seeing. note that we see plenty of amazing spectacles that i mentioned. unfortunately, g.g. died during the post production of this film, so the final scene after the credits is of his death/funeral. in the end he died a loser, nothing heroic or punk rock about it. he overdosed on heroin.
i came away from this doc understanding g.g. allin a bit more, but still not giving much of a fuck about him. he was a rebel, anarchist, and a complete loser who had some fame and notoriety. i appreciate people like him however, and wish more people would try to be different, but alas punk is dead.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Treeless Mountain

slow paced sadness

treeless mountain is a film about 2 little korean girls, Jin and Bin. They are forced to live with their aunt while their mother searches for her husband who went AWOL. the film is basically all from jin and bin's perspective, and hardly anything happens, but the girls are amazing. they run through all human emotions in this 90 minute film. they show human emotion at it's rawest (a word?). they wait for their mother every day, and try desperately to bring her back by filling a piggy bank full of coins, and waiting for her each day at the bus stop. very sad and depressing stuff.
this film reminds me a lot of the previously reviewed 'wendy & lucy'. hardly anything happens, there's no music, and it is shot like real life. very impressive, but overall this film is unsatisfying.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Hangover

it's old school, but in vegas

the hangover is a very funny movie, and it's obvious that it's by the director of 'old school'. 4 buddies go away to vegas for a weekend bachelor party, and all hell breaks loose. they wake up and can't remember anything that happened, and the groom to be is missing. this leads them on an adventure of epic proportion. there are many lulz and some great gags. the film overall isn't original or anything like that though, but that's ok. the film is a lot like very bad things, but less black comedy and more raunch. speaking of raunch, there's plenty of cussing, male nudity, some violence, etc. awesome! oh, and we see heather graham's boob, while she starts to breast feed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Limits of Control

jim jarmusch's control

the limits of control is a very slow/brooding film that seems to go nowhere. a nameless man (Isaach De Bankolé) is on a mission in spain, and everything is very mysterious. he encounters multiple strange and quirky people who deliver coded messages inside matchboxes. we as the audience learn almost nothing about the 'mission' and wait for a payoff in the end. we don't ever really learn what the nameless lone man is up to, and that's ok. the style of the film is great, and issaach does a great job as a calm, controlled gangster type. the film lasts almost 2 hours, and there is almost no real action, plenty of repetition, and as i said no real payoff. overall i enjoyed it well enough, but i don't think it's for everyone by any means.

Drugstore Cowboy

good drug addict crime film

matt dillon stars as bobby in this early gus van sant film. bobby and his wife are leaders of a group of thieves who rob drug stores for pharmaceutical drugs. they seem to have a good thing going for them, until cops get too close, one of the crew members (heather graham) croaks, and everyone starts believing in crazy superstitions. not to mention that they're all addicts constatntly looking for the next score. the film is really well done, and i really liked matt dillon's performance. plenty of win in this 80's crime drama.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

spinal tap, but for realz

the story of anvil is quite a sad and hilarious one. anvil is a big hair 80's metal band that is still together after all these years. their story has ups and downs, but mostly downs, and we get to see it all with plenty of humanity/hilarity. lips (lead singer/guitar) and robb (drums) are the 2 remaining members of the group, and they have been rocking since they were 14. in the 80's they saw some fame, but didn't really go anywhere... even though they were respected by their peers, and had plenty of die hard fans. now, almost 30 years later they are still performing and searching for another big break. they often perform in front of less than 100 people, don't get paid much, and work shit jobs to make ends meet. this film will make you laugh, possibly cry, and certainly cheer. great stuff in this rock documentary.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Midnight Express

a classic, maybe a bit dated

i have wanted to see midnight express for years now. there are many memorable quotes and scenes from it that have appeared in numerous current films. the film is based on the true story of billy hayes, an american who gets caught smuggling hash out of turkey. his experience in the turkish legal system and prison is brutal. the film exaggerates a lot, but it makes the film pretty gripping. some of the acting was just shit in my opinion. billy was good for the most part, but some parts he was trying too hard. also, the guy who plays his father sucked, bad. randy quaid has a part as a nutty inmate trying to escape. i've heard over the years how brutal the film is, and how badly they were tortured, etc. but in this day and age, it's not that shocking at all. i've seen much worse in film, and even on the news... whatever.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.

interesting documentary

errol morris does some great documentaries. mr. death is the story of fred leuchter, an engineer who designs and improves machines for capital punishment. very unique and nutty guy he is. then for some reason he gets mixed up in neo-nazi propaganda and denies the holocaust, because of his "expert" opinions on gas chambers. he goes from 'having it all' to having nothing in a matter of weeks. once he publicly denies the holocaust he gets new friends, nazis, and normal people shun him. maybe it's not totally fair, but that's how things work. fred leuchter is disturbing in many ways. his seeming obsession with death and denial of facts is fucked up. but it makes for a very good documentary. i do wonder where he is now, as the only people who want to be near him are nazis and holocaust deniers!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues

flash animation with repetative jazz songs

this movie got on my nerves at times. sure the animation is good, the singing is good, and the story is good... but it's very repetative, and mostly forgettable. the story is based on an ancient indian tale of sita and rama... sita loved rama unconditionally, she gets kidnapped and can't wait for him to save her. when he does he shuns her thinking she's a slut, even though she was loyal to him. til one day she has mother earth swallow her in her womb. cool. but the singing! god did it get annoying over time. it didn't even fit in at all, even though (in true musical fashion) it kept the story going along. meanwhile in the film we see a modern american couple who's going through a similar problem. there are 4-5 different animation styles in the film, and there are 3 narrators who speak like normal gossiping people about what they think really happened, etc. decent setup, but i just don't think this was my kind of movie.