Posted by: kfugrip | April 11, 2007

Another long weekend of movie viewing

The Lives of Others, by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was a revelation. This film was recommended to Kelly and me by her boss (and mine actually) Richard. He went to see it and raved about it to us. I was aware that it won the academy award for best foreign film, but I hold little stock in the oscars (ask me that if I am ever nominated myself… my answer may change).

I went into this film the perfect way, knowing very little about it and being open to whatever I was about to see. It was a moving and interesting portrait of a life I couldn’t lead, a life in which you self-censor your every move for fear of being imprisoned or endangering your family/friends. The film is about a member of the secret police in East Germany (the DDR, Duetchland Democratic Republic) and how his assignment, to spy on a playwright and his actress girlfriend, affects his life. It was a masterful film, expertly executed, by von Donnersmarck in his feature debut. I look forward to seeing more from him.

My only knock, and the reason the film is 4 stars, was the use of music, particularly during the final 20 minutes of the film. It was devolving into melodrama of the worst kind and it wasn’t helped by a stumble in the aforementioned expert execution. Said stumble was an uneven and almost “tacked on” feeling to the final minutes of the film. Redemption is tough and this film succeeds in pulling it off in spite of the disjointed feel of the conclusion.

I highly recommend this movie both for it’s emotional resonance and it’s relevance to today’s atmosphere of paranoia.

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The Black Dahlia, by Brian DePalma is the type of film that traps me. I want to support a director that many of my favorite directors look up to in DePalma, and having watched Sisters recently I was fooled into thinking that my favorite directors were infallible and that their opinion of DePalma was correct. It’s not. This film proves it.

Take a mismatch of noir imagery, noir dialogue, wooden performances, and characters I don’t give a damn about. Pasted those onto a series of needless plot points and stupid character relationships, and you have one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. At one point I looked at Kelly and said “who cares?”. I know I didn’t. Perhaps the novel is interesting and you may be able to get inside the mind of… someone, because you can’t do it in this movie. You only follow around attractive people, smoking and squinting in the California sun, searching for killers, and lovers, and see that you don’t care who lives or dies or cries, you only want it to be over.

Not even good cinematography can save this trainwreck.

1 star.

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Idiocracy, by Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead fame (or Office Space fame… if you are everyone but me) writes and directs another comedy with interesting, and sometimes hilarious, jokes about America and modern social problems, but strings it together with a plot that can’t hold the audiences (in this case my) interest. This wasn’t a bad movie. I understand that they didn’t even open it theatrically in New York, which is weird, but maybe I’ve got my facts wrong.

Basically the movie is about an average Joe, and a hooker, who wake up 500 years in the future and find that due to the current trend in dumbing down and glorifying stupidity (aka. keeping it real) everyone is really dumb and they are the smartest people in America, if not the world. Hijinks ensue. It’s a pretty funny conceit, and it does play for a lot of laughs but the joke gets old fast and the special effects later in the film, are distracting.

I’m glad Mike Judge is doing more than King of the Hill, which I don’t like, and logging his entry into the world of social-commentary-as-comedy.

2 stars

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