Sunday, 20 July 2008

My Week in Film

Hellboy display at Silver Snail in Toronto

Amazing how quickly the time flies. It's just a few days later than I normally post My Week in Film and already reviews for Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Wackness feel behind the times. Click through links for full reviews, overall I was mildly disappointed with both. Next up for current releases was The 4th Life (dir: François Miron) which was a hard to judge by the trailer if it would be a fun scary film or not. Although I felt The 4th Life used many interesting and stylish techniques bringing a colourful and sometimes hypnotic feel to the film, the storytelling style overcomplicated the relatively thin plot. I also felt that they made each and every character have something a little strange which seemed a bit much. The last new release I got out to see was the most hyped film of the year so far: The Dark Knight. I have to say that being in pretty full IMAX theatre at 8:30 on a Friday morning was quite the surreal experience. Overall, I didn't love the film but I didn't hate it, I did find it really long and that so much was pack in there. In fact, at times it was so fast you couldn't tell visually what was happening. If the audience was given some reaction time we would have no doubt collectively cheered or shivered durin gthe film. On thing for certain, the buzz on Heath Ledgers performance is spot on, he does a remarkable job.

Catching up with some older films, I watched The French Connection which I'm surprized I'd not seen before. Certain scenes were very familiar either from montages or knock offs, and it had some great chase scenes but it did feel like one whole chase scene. Add to that the surprizing strong, harsh language and terms that were a sign of the times and no longer (or ever) appropriate, there wasn't enough going on there in terms of enjoyment factor.

I've recently been toying with the idea of exploring romance films to see which ones I enjoy and which ones I don't as I tend to have a strong reaction either way. I picked up a few to try this out, they were: Fanny & Alexander, Sense & Sensibility and The Wedding Banquet. Now Fanny & Alexander isn't a straight up romance but more of a period drama but due to the large number of relationships going on I think it's fair to include it here. It is quite a striking film with brilliant art direction spanning numerous years and lifestyles, it also weaves the relationships of a complex community with impressive clarity. Overall, it was enjoyable although a little draining as it neared the 3 hr mark. Next up was an Ang Lee double bill of Sense & Sensibility and The Wedding Banquet. The cards were stacked against Sense & Sensibility from the get go, I'm not terribly fond of period pieces, the cover of the version I had showed one of the last frames of the films and after just watching Fanny & Alexander which I found oddly much more accessible this film just wasn't working for me. I did find it great to see Kate Winslet and it seems to be that the role she plays, the young woman in a period piece is like a rite of passage for women actors as they launch their careers. Last up in the romance department was The Wedding Banquet which was a lot more fun than either of it's competition. This Ang Lee film was a delightful and touching exploration in identity and family relationships. The most enjoyable of the bunch!

After being disappointed in a few films this week I needed some guaranteed winners, and boy did I get them. First was City of the Lost Children, directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen) and starring Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and an extremely strong performance by Judith Vittet as the young Miette. As I was sitting in the theatre watching this, I wondered to myself by I even go to widely released films. This film is art, from every physical artistic creation on set to the extraordinary surreal performance to the plot that holds it altogether. Some of the visuals and ideas were very creepy and at times frightening but they were also very fascinating. A gem of a film, I'm glad I finally got the chance to see it which can also be said for the next film: Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru. I can not say enough good about Kurosawa's work, every new film I see is like opening a present. This is one of the few films I've seen of his that isn't a samuri film but rather a drama about a civil servant and explores the importance of living life. A true masterpiece.

The last film I saw was Heroes of the East, which is a great kung fu film and the experience of seeing it was a joy as star Gordon Liu was in attendance at the screening and did a Q&A and autograph session. It was such a great experience I'm going to write about seperately.

Trailer watch: Happy surprize trailer of the week award goes to Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I'm a huge Star Wars fan but not the biggest animation fan so I was thrilled at how much I enjoyed seeing this trailer. Also, trailers have arrived for two films I mentioned last week, both Penélope Cruz and Patricia Clarkson: Elegy and Vicki Cristina Barcelona.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Trailer - pretty spoiler free, if very sensitive may want to stop watched 2/3rds of the way in.
Elegy - Trailer - trailer shows a lot of the film, you get the gist of the film by the 1/2 way point.
Vicki Cristina Barcelona - Trailer - trailer shows a lot of the film, you get the gist of the film by the 1/2 way point.

Up next week: Tokyo Drifter, Zigeunerweisen, Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

What did you watch this week?



Anonymous said...

Just got back from watching Hellboy II, which I was also disappointed in. This is what happens when you give a 'visionary director' money and artistic license. :)

As far as S&S is concerned, Alan Rickman was great in it. As always.

And I'm glad that you really liked Ikiru, which was my first criterion purchase. Immediately after watching it via NetFlix I went online and ordered it. Great great film.

Anonymous said...

Hello Shannon,

I Adored every minute of Hellboy2. I understand why people might of had some problems with the film, but I just lost myself in the film. When the film ended, it was like snapping out of a really good day dream..O where did the time go.

You picture of the notebook for city of lost children rocks. Something about the color tones and lighting that appeals to me.

Love the site

Suzie Ridler said...

I'm not sure if the Sense and Sensibility one you saw was the one with Emma Thompson, I think so because you mentioned Kate Winslet. Too bad you didn't like it too much but if you don't like period stories I guess it's just not going to be your cup of tea.

How did this Batman movie compare to the first? You liked that one right? I'm glad you agreed about Heath's performance, I really adore him and look forward to seeing his dark performance.

I saw Secret Life of Words this week, tough in some places but overall I adored it. Thought Tim Robbins was amazing! Thank you public library.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Ah, yes Cinexcellence Alan Rickman was great in Sense & Sensibility - I wish he had been in it more.

I'm glad you like the pic haiku girl! I was happy that one turned out in the theatre, sometimes that cna be the challenge. I hope I learn to love Hellboy II over time :)

Suzie, Batman in comparison to Batman Begins or the original Batman? I liked Batman Begins much better than The Dark Knight, I felt it had a clearer vision and more interesting and accessible story. As for the original it's been so long it's hard to say!

The Secret Life of Words? I've not heard anything about that - sounds like an interesting one!

Jana B said...

I watched the Dark Knight too, and found it to be almost like 2 movies combined into one. It was really really long to sit through... i would have liked it better as two seperate movies with more details on each plot.

It was kinda dark, too... I don't think it needed to be quite THAT dark, ya know? The Joker was such a dark dark role, it was almost like I was watching a horror flick instead of an action film. Wierd.

But Christian Bale was HAWT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hehe I did like the movie overall but not nearly as much as Batman Begins (because Scarecrow from that movie is SERIOUSLY DEEPLY HAWT!!!)

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