Mineshaft Gap

It's a screening log, no more no less. Maybe I'll have something interesting to say one of these days...

Not aging well.

The classic Frankenstein is a classic example of a film that clearly had an impact in its time, but has dulled with age. Of all the classic films I have watched, it is amongst the most poorly aged. There are perhaps two moments in the film that still work, the Monster killing the doctor and most vividly, the father taking his daughter's body into the town. That beat is still as effective today as then, but the rest of the film has been surpassed as a horror film, though perhaps it still works as a tract on mob violence and humanity gone mad.

Weirdest Grab Bag Ever.

Two weeks of the festival meant no watching movies, ironically. But this weekend I came back with a vengeance, and somehow decided to have the strangest triple feature ever.

Good Night, and Good Luck.- A film that totally suceeds in what it wants to do, but fails on the level of drama. Clooney set out to make the best educational film ever, and he achieves that perfectly. But as a drama, as a film about people and emotions, there is little to go on except a beautiful turn by Ray Wise, he of Twin Peaks fame. It is a film that I recommend whole heartedly, but never really connects with me on an emotional level.

The Adventures of Robin Hood- I'd always wanted to see the Flynn version, if just to cleanse m mind of Costner. About halfway through, I was terribly disappointed by a a lack of adventure in the classic adventure film, but it really picks up around Robin's capture of Marian and earns its high place in spades.

Silent Night, Bloody Night- This was so much better than it had any right to be. While the dialog isn't great, the acting is fairly strong and visuals work quite well for the most part. The story is genuinly shocking and surprising, with some great third act turns. At Tarantino's sixth festival here in Austin, he and Rodriguez acted out the opening sequence. if I had known how good the movie would turn out to be, I'd have been there in the front row.

Current 2005 Top 10:
1. A History of Violence
2. Broken Flowers
3. The Constant Gardener
4. Last Days
5. Hustle & Flow
6. Kung Fu Hustle
Grizzly Man
8. The 40 Year Old Virgin
Batman Begins
10. Good Night, and Good Luck.

Absurdities in life and war.

It always feels good to scratch another film off the old must see list. It feels even better, though, when the film is breathtakingly good.

In Paths of Glory, Kubrick made the greatest dramatic anti-war film I have seen. He also made the best comedic anti-war film in Dr. Strangelove, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.

The story of three men wrongly accused of cowardice to hide a general's incompetence, Paths of Glory is haunting, disturbing and obviously Kubrick.

What is truly brilliant about the film isn't so much it's blistering attack on war but how it, in the end, it manages to affirm humanity. Throughout what turns out to be an incredibly difficult film to watch, you start to hate not just the condition but the people involved in the horrors. But then comes a last scene that begins as another horror but ends with such simple shots of faces in pain that it breaks through all the bravado, all the machismo of war and reveals the people underneath.

A last word on Kirk Douglas. I think this is the first of his films I have seen, and what a performance he delivers. Managing to exude power without any overt strength, he works so well in establishing the film's essential liberal argument, and should serve as a blueprint for anyone else trying this sort of agitprop.

An amazing film.

Carpenter used to be good.

Shockingly, I'd never seen Halloween till a couple days ago. It was pretty good, and definitly the jewel of the genre.

I wish JC still made movies at this level.

A Quick Weekend Wrap-Up

Saw two other flicks on Sunday, neither blew me away.

Serenity: Good but not great scifi action flick. I really expected Joss to bring the funny more, but it fail that bad in the humor department. I'd never seen the series, and this is definitely good enough for me to check it out.

Oliver Twist: This was bitingly average, I left with a nothing ventured nothing gained feeling. Ben Kingsley, however, is always fun to watch and is the sole bright spot above all the drab here.

Violence leads only to violence.

I have no particular allegiance to David Cronenberg. I've seen several of his films, and I have a perverse love of Existenz, but nothing I've seen has ever pulled me in and compelled me. Last night, though, I saw A History of Violence.

I think audiences are going to have a very interesting reaction to this film. The one I saw it with absolutely hated it. To quote the woman sitting behind me, "We was ripped." This of course after an ending that ranks with the most note perfect endings of all time. This after a film that asks you to examine our own attraction to violence.

Viggo Mortenson delivers his very best performance here, one upping Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers by playing two characters simultaneously. His decent, caring Tom Stall always masks the Joey Cusak lying inside himself, but just barely. Tom Stall is a man that knew what horrors he was capable of and decided to run away into himself.

A History of Violence wants us to look at violence not as a transitory state, but more from the view of Thomas Hobbes, who thought that humans were inherently selfish and brutal. Utter devistation comes from Tom's act of violence, even the initial act that was in self defense. Cronenberg doesn't seem to be arguing for pacifism, but is definitely showing the violence only begets violence.

With a strong script, amazing performances(especially Viggo and Maria Bello), and the sure hand of David Cronenberg guiding the ship A History of Violence hits every note it wants to with devastating effect. Many people, lured in by Aragorn in a new action movie, will not want to ask the film's questions. Those who do will see its greatness.

Current 2005 Top 10:
1. A History of Violence
2. Broken Flowers
3. The Constant Gardener
4. Last Days
5. Hustle & Flow
6. Kung Fu Hustle
7. Batman Begins
The 40 Year Old Virgin
9. Grizzly Man
10. Junebug