The films I've watched since I watched Body Double, except The Blind Side, which I've already posted about: A Serious Man, The Secret of Kells, Bedrooms and Hallways, Not Quite Hollywood, Penelope, Bright Young Things, Rory O'Shea Was Here, Gitane Demone: Life After Death, Sandra After Dark, Kansas City, and California Split.
I had already seen A Serious Man in the theater. I made my boyfriend watch it because I felt like it was the only movie nominated for Best Picture for this year's Academy Awards that might deserve to win, except for Avatar. I was sick and I was tired when he was watching it and I wasn't paying close enough attention. It definitely had more magic in the theater than it even did coming across my roommate's projector. I like the way all the parts of the film fit in with its themes, like the way we don't get the answers to our mysteries in life and how the old ways of explaining the world were no longer adequate or relevant. I like the way it ends because it seems like the tornado mirrors the oncoming personal calamaties and augurs what's about to happen in American culture generally. B+/A-
The next morning I watched Oscar-nominated animated film The Secret of Kells. It's hand-drawn animation, which is nice. It's about a little boy in Kells abbey who becomes a sort of apprentice in the making of the book. The Vikings or somebody are stirring up trouble in the region and the abbot is scared and obsessed with his big gate. The boy meets a fabulous girl in the woods who seems to be a fairy. It's kind of enchanting but not really groundbreaking or surprising or breathtaking though some of the visuals are lovely. B
Bedrooms and Hallways was a movie I'd seen some years ago and mostly forgotten. It's your typical millennial British relationship comedy with alternative lifestyles and a mens' group and so forth. It's all right but I liked Love and Other Disasters better because Brittany Murphy was in that one. C
Not Quite Hollywood is a documentary about Ozsploitation films, which were basically Australian B-films from the 70s and 80s, mostly sex comedies and thrillers. It started off pretty fun and interesting but as it went on it seemed kind of tiresome and relentless. C-
Penelope is that movie where Christina Ricci has a pig nose. I thought it would be an inane Twilight Zone retread but it was actually more entertaining than that. I enjoyed it. C+
Bright Young Things is a somewhat entertaining film about sort of celebutante types in pre-War Britain. The actors are affable and the film is engaging but it's kind of so-so and doesn't have very much interesting to say. I certainly wasn't thrilled with the ending. C
Rory O'Shea Was Here is a British movie starring James McAvoy as Rory O'Shea, a Billy Idol type with muscular dystrophy who gets put into a residential hospital at the beginning of the film. It becomes a sort of buddy film as he makes friends with a guy with cerebral palsy, I think, and they move into their own apartment. I mostly appreciate this movie for even existing. I knew someone with MD when I was a child but I have to say I haven't thought about it much since then. It made me think about a reality I hadn't thought enough about before and that's great. B
Gitane Demone: Life After Death is a collection of various interviews with and performances by Gitane Demone in the 1990s. It's a 2-DVD set and clocks in around three and a half hours. As such a big fan as myself might anticipate, the best parts are when she's not trying to be all hardcore. There are some semi-successful experimental jazz performances that seem like a sluttier, less ambitious Diamanda Galas. The interviews are, at best, a mixed bag, but seem like a goldmine for aged gothboys like myself. There's a pretty good performance at a rock festival in Germany at the end of the first disc and a number of great performances on the second half of the second disc, although the sound quality is kind of bad and the guitars are pretty much uniformly too loud by half. Rozz Williams has a heavy presence in those performances on the second disc and I kept thinking how great it would have been if Rozz Williams would have had a side project with Eva O AND Gitane Demone. (With Paris on keyboards?) If you weren't a fan in the 90s, i doubt this video will change your mind. Strangely, some of the best performances are from her fetish phase and I love that album she made then but I found the performances a little tiresome, personally. Oh well. Somewhere between an A- and a D+.
The only thing they had at the merchandise table of the Sandra Bernhard show I went to over the weekend that I didn't already own was a DVD of this HBO special she did in 1996. An episode of this show called Sandra After Dark. It was a sad waste of $25, unlike the show, which was a fabulous use of $47. I only wish I had saved the money on the DVD and gone to see the show again the next night. The show is like this late night chat show except it's supposed to feel less like a chat show and more like a party. It hasn't aged well and I'm not sure why they'd be selling it at the show. Why not a DVD of Confessions of a Pretty Lady or some of the CD's she sells through her website? Oh well. Love you, Sandra! D
That brings us up to last night. I watched Robert Altman's Kansas City because my boyfriend put it on Netflix streaming and, as expected, promptly fell asleep. I like the cast but it's really not one of Altman's best. It's entertaining but just sort of okay. I mainly liked the way it plays against the genre and the audience's expectations thereof. Plus, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, and the pretty eyes of Dermot Mulroney. C
Then I put on California Split, the only movie I hadn't seen by Robert Altman that's available now for instant viewing on Netflix. It pretty much takes two actors I don't like very much, Elliot Gould and George Segal, and emphasizes what I don't like about them. I made it through 45 or 50 minutes before deciding I'd rather be asleep than watching this movie. D- EDIT: I went back and watched the second half of this last night. I found most of it relentlessly annoying but I liked the very ending enough to boost my rating to a C-