Thursday, May 20, 2010

Humpday

A movie that begins with a couple not having sex, and ends with another couple not having sex, so what's in between? People who learn to talk to each other by talking to themselves, that's what. And a brief bit of sex, which is cut short when they start talking about it and realize they misunderstand each other.

Good to see Island Video getting some cameo love, but really...was it just too obvious to casually mention the greatest video store in the world?

Downfall

You've seen the parodies ... or ... have you? If not, time to do some catching up. One of my favorites is when Hitler finds out his so-called "friends" aren't going to Burning Man after all.

But have you seen ... the movie? There are about 150 other minutes of film you could catch up on.

I saw the DVD on the rack as I scoped out the one-last-dying-breath Hollywood Video, and yes, I found it hard to watch the fateful scene of hubris personified without cracking up and thinking of poor Hitler being banned from XBox Live.

You probably read about it in the papers already, so I'm not spoiling anything (and hopefully prepping you and the kids) by pointing out that nearly everyone in the Third Reich's inner circle ends up being shot, killed and murdered onscreen ... except for Hitler. He is given respectful privacy when he reaches the end. Kinda ironic, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vibrator

This one is a Japanese-language inappropriate workplace behavior tale (cf. Secretary), but this time the workplace is a semitruck out on the road. Whoa.

She has issues: Check. She's afraid: Double check. He's ... uh... WTF is his story again?? Triple check!!!

Unlike Secretary, there is no safe haven for her trust, so no intimacy develops.

Sometimes that happens in real life. Sometimes it gets translated to film in a way that isn't quite gentle or endearing, but the soft edges of self-discovery are what we remember most.

Sometimes we find those films at the library for free.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Night At The Opera

Some elaborate set pieces from the slapstick kings:

A stateroom the size of a coat closet is stuffed with a shipful of stowaways, and staff, and all their accoutrements.



"Is it my imagination, or is it getting crowded in here?"

The backstage ropes of an opera house become a jungle gym.

For a change-up, a musical interlude features Harpo playing (guess what) harp and piano.

The opera? Oh yeah, that. It's Il Trovatore. What, you thought this movie was about an opera?!?!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When You're Strange

The PBS "Independent Lens" series brought to my living room this first-ever Doors documentary, with all the bad words bleeped and naughty bits blocked out. I could tell, despite Congress' best efforts, that those were the best parts.

It's a straight-up, here's-what-happened-next story, without any current "no-here's-what-I-remember" statements to compare/contrast. The wealth of concert and studio footage is what makes it worthwhile. Robbie Krieger shoots a perturbed look while he's trying to work; Ray Manzarek takes a deep drag and gives it a try; John Densmore is a friggin' hero; Jim sure looks cute and deranged. Then someone takes some still photos that end up in a courtroom, and they didn't even show the best parts, and PBS couldn't show them if they wanted to.

One good thing about this uneven but revelatory film: It will reset your Doors queue, so you can restart with the familiar or check back with something you've taken for granted. Like "Spanish Caravan," or "Crystal Ship," ... or "Light My Fire"...

There were some pseudo-Jim scenes created with backstory in mind -- really, when's the last time you saw someone dressed like that, in a car like that, pulling up to a gas pump that looked like that, and handing cash to someone dressed like that? I give that a big ten-four, good buddy.

But those scenes were a sideshow, not the main attraction.

Big up to the producers for getting Jim Ladd on board as the voice of Jim Ladd on the radio. I remember during Roger Waters' "Radio KAOS" tour, going up to the DJ booth on the floor to see Jim Ladd in action. Great voice to guide you through, like always.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In The Bedroom

What I like about the DVDs I've seen of films directed by Todd Field (other than the direction, pacing, acting, story, etc) is that there are no commentaries. No "Making Of" documentaries, no interviews ... nada. I'm a big fan of all the extras, but those still lead back to seeing a film.

When you go to a movie theater, you don't get any of those extras. You get a movie, and you figure it out for yourself after the lights go up and you leave the room. If seeing the DVD and figuring it out for yourself isn't enough, he's not going to spend the better part of an hour jabbering about it. That's what bars and caf├ęs next to movie theaters are for.

Field is a disciple of Stanley Kubrick (and was cast as the overly gabby piano player in Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut"), and Kubrick made some of the most enigmatic blockbuster films that you couldn't explain if you tried, which makes you want to watch it again.

So check out a Todd Field film next chance you get, and if the studio made someone sit for an interview or record a commentary, do yourself - an honest hard-working film nut - a favor and skip it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Gigi

"Thank Heaven For Little Girls" is a tune I remember (for some reason) from my childhood, and seeing this movie for the first time made me realize Maurice Chevalier certainly was a dirty old man, wasn't he? In a charming, French sort of 1950's way.

Words and music by Lerner and Loewe, directed by Vincente Minnelli, no wonder it won 9 Oscars:

Best Picture
Director
Adapted Screenplay
Art Direction
Cinematography
Costume Design
Film Editing
Scoring of a Musical Picture
Original Song (no, not "Thank Heaven..." Not even for "I Remember It Well." It was for (doy) "Gigi." I don't remember that one from my childhood at all.

Hmmm, no acting awards ... not even for Maurice Chevalier! Guess he wasn't all that.