31 January 2009

Towelhead: Nothing Is Private (Alan Ball, 2007, USA)

A friend and I watched Towelhead tonight.
I'd give it a C but in a good way, if that makes sense.
It's engaging but it's kind of lurid.
Sometimes it feels like a quirky indie film but it often feels like a soap opera or a reality show.
I like the questions it prompted in me.
I'm intrigued by the way it made me feel awkward. I suppose child sex abuse should make me uncomfortable; it's not like it's supposed to be a romantic comedy.

12 January 2009

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008, USA)

I thought the acting was good and the story was compelling but the direction was glaringly off-key. I don't think it's about untethering oneself, I think it's about how some people can make the best of the life decisions they make and others just feel like they're trapped in a killing jar. The film has a few pitch problems, so to speak, but Kate Winslet's performance is exquisite and her character is compelling. I think Michael Shannon's performance is a little overrated, but I'm happy for the man.


11/9/12: It's funny looking back at this entry because of what I'm not talking about here, which is how much I sometimes identify with these characters. I feel like I should watch this again some time.

07 January 2009

Harriet Craig (Vincent Sherman, 1950)

Joan Crawford movie about a woman from humble beginnings, abandoned by her father as a child. Her mother ended up in a nuthatch. Starting out as a laundress she's worked her way up to being a successful career woman and given it up for marriage to a successful man, a big house, and, she hopes, security. The only thing is she's so gun-shy that she runs her household like a tyrant.
Crawford's character is so monstrous that it's hard to watch sometimes. Kind of like in Queen Bee but this movie isn't quite as good as that. It's campy but there's something sort of offensive about it so you can't really enjoy it. You almost feel like the filmmakers are being unfair to her character. It seems like it should have been handled as a tragedy but it comes across more as a tract against women who fail to toe the line as expected by American men in the 1950s, come hell or high water. I don't see why they even bothered to give her a backstory. Maybe they meant well but floundered in the execution. The movie seems mean. I mean, she's so terrible you want to see her get her comeuppance in the end and the comeuppance isn't even so bad but there was just this sour note in there. She's cold and she's conniving but there is no credible alternative on offer. Only sexism, classism, and moralizing. A bourgeois invective against damaged persons everywhere. ;-)

05 January 2009

Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)

I'm watching this thing again because the first time I saw it I thought it it seemed like everyone in it was irritating, melodramatic, and a little stupid. Also, these people filmed all of this practice and preparation but nobody thought to film the actual event. I was not surprised when one of the guys started talking about how much pot he used to smoke. They all talk like people that have spent a little too much time hitting the weed. Lunatics are often compelling and I wanted to find beauty here but in an effort to overinflate all of this the filmmakers only served to obscure whatever value may be inherent in the story. I like that they don't mention the WTC attack though. The one thing I found effective was the silent ghost of September 11th which sort of suggests something that was probably lost before 2001 but that the events of 2001 probably rendered irretrievable. C-