26 January 2010

35 Shots of Rum / Comedians of Comedy / In the Loop / The White Ribbon / Matador

I went to see 35 Shots of Rum the other night. I'd like to watch it again and I'd like to watch more of her films. I came pretty close to squealing a big gay squeal when Ingrid Caven's name came on the screen. She was fabulous in it but the sudden trip to Germany was one of those dramatic sections of the movie that didn't completely make sense to me. I feel ambivalent about the film. I liked the way the movie seemed to be alive. I mean, it had this magical quality to it. My feelings haven't come to rest on this movie. I don't know if I'll have a chance to see it again while it's still playing here at the Music Box though. A-

Also, in a mood to lighten up a little, I watched The Comedians of Comedy: The Movie on Netflix.com. It was all right but kind of dull. It was meandering and could have done with longer, more cohesive stand-up sets. They mentioned Sarah Silverman at the beginning and I couldn't help thinking how much better this would have been with her in it. I liked the lady with the voices. I liked some of the political humor, even though it was a lot of cheaps shots for the benefit of the choir. C-

I actually thought that In the Loop was pretty great. It was really funny but more than that it also came across as so brutally accurate. I know some people thought it was kind of blah and all I could think about that is that maybe they didn't know very much about the run-up to the Iraq war. For someone like me who started off as an NPR-fanboy before graduating to C-Span and ultimately shutting it all off to preserve my sanity, it was really great. Not only was this satire therapeutic, it was also pretty great because it seemed so honest and in this mendacious age a little bit of honesty feels like a sudden burst of oxygen to a slowly asphyxiating man. A

Then yesterday we went to see Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon. My first thought was that as a student of German it was beautiful to watch because of the language. It's crisp and somewhat poetic. I kept thinking it'd be a great film to show German students because most of the speech in the film is pretty much standard German the way you'd learn it in school. Based on the trailer and my past experience with the director I was expecting something less controlled. More dramatic, more deranged, more painful to watch. It almost seemed light and airy compared to my expectations. I think what I wrote on Facebook after seeing it was that it was like a Herzog movie where the audience and the characters could breathe. It's beautifully shot. Lovely and atmospheric. The performances are great. The writing is great. I found myself wanting something more dramatic but I think that's a result of all the hype. I guess I was desperate for this to be the one big powerhouse film this year but I'm starting to think there just wasn't one. I'll definitely be watching this one again. B+

I keep thinking about how last year I loved so many movies it was hard to think of what my favorite might have been. This year though it's more that I really liked a lot of movies but there aren't so many that I loved and the ones I did love are semi-obscure foreign movies. I didn't expect to be here scratching my head and wondering if Raging Sun, Raging Sky or Strella might really have been the best movie of the year.

EDIT: I almost forgot. I watched Pedro Almodovar's Matador last night. I had only seen it once, like ten years ago, and I don't even think I saw the whole thing. Now I've seen all of his films from start to finish at least once and I'm going back and rewatching them all, I think. I just watched the first three and now the fifth one. I have What Have I Done to Deserve This? on VHS so I'll be watching that in the next few days and then I'll move forward from there. As to the film, it seems like one of his weaker efforts. I liked it, I guess, but it seemed dated and I don't really relate to the ideas in the movie. As usual, the acting was good. In some ways it seems better than Dark Habits but it might also be less interesting. I guess he's doing some interesting things here reflecting back at cinema and playing with thriller genres but it didn't quite gel for me. B-


  1. Really? You thought there was breathing room in The White Ribbon? I think Craig and I just got into a heated conversation about the scene where the girl doesn't want to go into the forest w/ the schoolteacher. Craig thinks she's recalling some past trauma, but it seems obvious to me that she's hesitant to leave the path w/ her suitor because it seems like standard operating procedure for older men to take advantage of the young.

  2. I thought it was about appearances, that if anyone saw anything that looked untoward it would ruin her life. I thought it was just about holding on to propriety. I thought that scene was fabulous though.

  3. I really thought it was just about the innocence of the time. Like, the end of the VIctorian era or something.