I've been kind of under the weather the past few weeks and while I've watched a fair amount of movies, I haven't been very good at keeping up with this film journal. I think I'm going to try to crank out a couple of quick updates instead of trying to come up with longer entries for all of these.
First up was Goodbye Solo, an indie drama about a Senegalese cab driver in North Carolina who gets hired by a guy to drive him around town for a couple of weeks and then drive him out to some mountain and leave him there, presumably to kill himself. The cabbie insinuates himself into the man's life. There are ups and downs. It's less serious than I had expected. I had put off watching it because it seemed so dark but it wasn't really. I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit and liked the characters but something about it didn't quite seem on the level to me. B-
Jack Goes Boating was next up. I saw it at the Sundance USA event here in Chicago. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz was there for a Q&A. Roger Ebert wrote an uncharacteristically good column about the event. I was really surprised by how much I liked this movie. The couple reviews I had seen beforehand, on the Sundance website, were sour little things about PS Hoffman playing yet another sad fat guy and I braced myself for a long night. To my surprise there was something really alive about the film and it even had a little insight into the old human condition. B+
Next up came four more films in my revisiting Almodovar festival. I think I've seen his entire body of work in the past two months except I still need to revisit Bad Education and Volver, which I haven't seen since their theatrical releases. It's really been a pleasure going back over these and watching them in order like that. I get the impression that the director might not be a nice man in some respects but his films are pretty much all good and they seem kind of synergistic, where they mean more as a body of work than the sum of the constituent parts. I thought Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown had held up remarkably well and I gave it an A.
I have Law of Desire somewhere on VHS and it was a real eyeopener to see it on DVD. The colors are such a big part of his films. I liked it but there might be a hint of ambivalence which I don't know what to attribute to at the moment. B+
I seem to be in the minority as far as Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down goes. I actually really like it. I've seen it three or four times and I really enjoyed it each time. spoilers People don't understand why she falls for her kidnapper. Well, first of all, she's a recovering junkie so she's probably no stranger to self-destructive impulses. Secondly, I think it's really important to understand how important it is to her character to be taken care of like the way he wants to take care of her. And it starts to make more sense when you realize they've already met./spoilers I don't know. My boyfriend didn't get it so much, I don't think, but I really identified this one. And it's also fabulous. A-
Live Flesh was next up, as I had already visited Kika, High Heels, and Flower of My Secret. People always want to dismiss these films that he made between Women on the Verge and All About My Mother but I kind of feel like that's my favorite period for him. I think Live Flesh is satisfying on a literal level but it's also great because it shows this urge to break free from Spain's history. I mean, the happy ending only comes when the two younger characters are able to free themselves from the older characters, who all end up dead or crippled by their own faults. I'm tempted to say it's stronger than Talk to Her or even All About My Mother. A-