New flicks I've seen lately (well, they're new to me):
"Capote." Highbrow, indie cinema a la "Syriana." Loved it. As good as I thought it would be. Phillip Seymour Hoffman deserved his Oscar. Great screenplay, great storytelling, great supporting cast (Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener). I love period films, they make you wish that you actually lived back then. There's actually another Truman Capote movie coming out before the end of the year, but this one's a tough act to follow.
"Memoirs of a Geisha." More mature cinema. Quiet, really understated filmmaking. Even the director's commentary was in whispers. Top notch thru and thru. Loved the ending, a little tear-jerker. Hard to believe the book was written by a man, it's so feminine. The Asian actresses were beautiful in this film (Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li). I wonder why those Chinese actresses were chosen to play Japanese women. I guess maybe Japan doesn't have any actresses who are big enough to headline an American film.
"Munich." I love Steven Spielberg movies 'cause they're totally immersive. No expense is spared for a Spielberg flick. If a story takes place in London, Paris, Morocco, Tel Aviv, New York, etc., then that's where he shoots, period. No stand-in locations. His cinematography is always pretty, too. Always this haze and sheen over the production. If it's the future, then it's THE FUTURE, like "Minority Report." And if it's a period piece, it's period right down to the last detail. I've liked almost every Spielberg flick since "Saving Private Ryan" (Except "A.I." and "The Terminal," and hated the ending to "War of the Worlds").
"Munich" was a great flick, though. Although it chronicles the Israelis' revenge over the 1972 murder of their Olympic team by Islamic terrorists, it also explores the moral costs such revenge extracts, and the fact that you can't get away from such killing scot-free. And although the production was helmed by Jews, it doesn't gloss over the Palestinian side of the conflict. I liked that even-handedness.
The flick was almost three hours long, though, and the ending, while satisfying, was ambivalent. At least it wasn't a happy, cop-out ending that Spielberg is somewhat known for.
"Running Scared," a.k.a. White Man on Fire. One day I was out jogging and wondered to myself how Paul Walker would play in a Tony Scott film. "Running Scared" is my answer. Super-stylish crime thriller, great experimental filmmaking by Wayne Kramer, the same director who did "The Cooler," with William H. Macy. It's like Tarantino meets Scott (in "Man on Fire"/"Domino" mode). Lots of visual style and attitude, my kind of flick. Three-quarters of the way in, the flick takes a very disturbing departure, but comes back to the main narrative fluidly.
The DVD also shows the director's storyboards, and in the commentary he admits to ripping off "Man on Fire." He gets my respect for that. Some people rip shit off and then act like they invented it.
(Speaking of "Man on Fire," they REALLY want you to see that movie. Not only is there the first DVD release of it which I have, there's also a special edition with deleted scenes and a different box, and it's also part of the three disc "Denzel Washington Collection.")
"Hostel." I'm not really a horror guy, but this was cool. It's like every American's worst nightmare about traveling to Europe come to life. When I tell people I go back and forth to Europe, this is what they think's going on over there. Nice third act and resolution, and wait'll you see the hanging eyeball scene. Commentary was hilarious, Tarantino's on there.
"The Neighbor Number Thirteen." Another freaky, post-Takeshi Miike Japanese splatter flick. It was pretty cool, worth a rental if you're into this current Asian horror/"extreme" wave, but I hated the ending. Too ambiguous. I was told "you just like those Hollywood endings." No, I like endings that justify me having just given up two hours of my life.
"Bloodrayne." Avoid. Bad casting (American accents in 17th Century Europe?), bad acting that ranges between non-existant (Kristianna Loken from "T3," where she was better 'cause she didnt have to talk) and hammy (Billy Zane and Sir Ben Kingsley paying for his summer house). Awful fight scenes. We've seen stuff like this before in the "Blade" and "Underworld" movies; bad-ass vamp only out to kill other vamps. Full disclosure: I didn't even watch the whole movie. Next.
"Nightwatch." Same as above really, more vamp shit. The Goth kids will be into it, though. Good, modern filmmaking for a Russian import, nice use of CGI and good scene transitions, but everybody and everything in the movie is so sick/sweaty/slimy/grungy/dirty/bloody/nasty. They don't have showers or washing machines or Pepto Bismol in Moscow? Again, stick to the "Blade" or "Underworld" flicks for this sort of thing done much better and with more style (I like the super-sleek, high-fashion vamps like in the "Blade" flicks). "Blade: Trinity," which I thought was kinda bunk when it first came out, is looking better and better.
Speaking of which, I saw the latest straight-to-DVD Wesley Snipes flick ("The Detonator") at the video store, I'm gonna have to rent it. I still believe in Wes and think he's bad-ass even though he's straight-to-vid these days. He made some ill-advised comments about sistas in an interview, now look at him. Gotta stick with my boy through tough times, though. Always bet on black!
-AO :: 6:29 PM ::
By radiance, on
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 7:06:00 PM
Adding a comment to your "Random Musings" post didn't work for some reason, so I'm posting here. My girlfriend and I are back from Berlin, I wanted to attend the LoveParade. You have no idea how much I miss Tresor afterparties... I went to see the former location, remembering all the great parties I experienced there broke my heart man. We met there during LoveParade 2002, gosh, that's already 4years ago...I can't believe how fast time flies.
It looks like things have changed a bit since my last visit to Berlin in 2004, there seems to be a "selection" now when you want to enter a club. I couldn't get into Berghain for some reason (the bouncer is an utter asshole if you ask me), that really pissed me off, I really wanted to see that place. Have you been there Alan?
On the other hand, Club WeekEnd was great, and Mixworks Detroit had organized a great LP afterparty in Kreuzberg. The festsaal was almost empty though, I counted 50 people. So in the end it was more like a 'private' party, with friends playing for friends: Eddie Fowlkes, Buzz Goree, Elbee Bad (I didn't know this cat, but what a DJ!), Pacou... We had an excellent time there, that's for sure. And of course no fuckin bouncer BS at the door.
We visited Hamburger Bahnhof museum, I thought they had some Basquiat paintings there but didn't see any (we had to leave early, maybe that's why).
Well, that's all for now...going South this week end, they have a big festival on the Riviera, 'Electromind'.
I really have to get some music done too...I keep on postponing shit and end up not doing anything.
Greetings from France!