saavedra77: Watson drinks tea (Sherlock Watson)
I find that my head is crowded with images of Mumbai, today, culled not so much from the past few days' news footage of gunmen and burning luxury hotels as from Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, which I finally got around to seeing last night:

Boyle's camera drinks in Mumbai's cityscape, panning across sprawling shantytowns and up the scaffolds of burgeoning skyscrapers, racing down crowded streets and alleyways after subjects who are constantly on the run, scrambling to survive. As the film's title suggests, scenes of unimaginable deprivation are juxtaposed with sudden boomtown wealth, horrific brutality with unexpected triumphs. Throughout, Boyle's storyline is animated by a Dickensian redemptive morality, and an exuberance that nods ever so slightly in the direction of Bollywood--the city's native cinematic style.

Slumdog Millionaire has to be the most exhilerating experience I've had at the movies in a long, long while. There are elements especially early in the film that require a strong stomach, but the film's emotional payoff is more than worth it.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (romeo juliet sabre_dance)
from [livejournal.com profile] verbicide

Bold the ones you've seen stage productions of, italicize the ones you've seen movies of, and underline the ones you've read or listened to:
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me ... )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (abberline candle)
In between bouts of sick and overtime, I did manage to see a two excellent movies during the latter half of January: The Orphanage and Persepolis.

Watching The Orphanage definitely quickened my pulse--it's shocking and scary in much the same way that executive producer Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone is. (One gets the impression that del Toro has decided to take first-time director Juan Antonio Bayona under his now-famous wing.) The film's chilly style and themes of family trauma also owe something to another recent supernatural thriller, Alejandro Amenábar's 2001 The Others. But The Orphanage stands out among films of this genre because of the imaginative use it makes of familiar horror-movie images and themes: disfigurement, the loss of innocence, the uncanny. Powerful, cathartic ending, too.

I went to see Persepolis with more preconceptions, having previously read and admired Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel of the same name. For those unfamiliar with the latter, it's an autobiographical coming-of-age story set (primarily) in post-revolutionary Iran. Satrapi recounts her life from a childhood spent during the last days of the Shah through early adulthood in the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War, narrating the hypocrisies and cruelties she witnessed during those years. The film impressively translates her incredulity, sarcasm, impatience, energy, and sadness to the screen, along with the graphic novel's simple, expressive visual style. (Satrapi appears to have maintained a high degree of creative control over the adaptation, sharing the writing and directing credits.) Bottom line: If you've read and enjoyed Satrapi's graphic novels, I think that you'll appreciate seeing them retold in this way. And, to judge by the friend I saw the movie with, the other weekend, it works equally well for those who are new to the story.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (existentialism)
On the night of Christmas day, April, her boyfriend Jim, and I went over to her mom's house again to more fully experience the custom theater that my brother-in-law Gil had built in their basement. The place actually bore a passing resemblance to Seattle's underground Big Picture--albeit much smaller and minus the bar, alas.

My brothers Victor and Abe showed up, as well, which was a pleasant surprise, as I hadn't seen them in a long while.

Victor in fact supplied the picture, a bootle--er, studio copy of No Country for Old Men. I'd seen the film at a Seattle premiere with [livejournal.com profile] marginalia several weeks earlier, but was definitely up for seeing it once more (even if it made rather dubious holiday fare ...). My brothers and brother-in-law were really into it, too. But I was a little worried about how the ending would sit with everyone, and not surprisingly, they hated that part. Bleak and nihilistic isn't for everyone.

But I felt bad for Gil didn't get to show off his new theater with a film that everyone enjoyed more.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (existentialism)
As a rule, I kind of like depressing movies. But even I have my limits.

[livejournal.com profile] marginalia has been my partner in crime through a week-and-a-half-long marathon of some of this fall's darkest (and, in at least a couple of instances, most promising) films.

No Country for Old Men )

Michael Clayton )

American Gangster )

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead )

I'd been OK with the previous three films, but the last one's uncompromising bleakness left me running for comfort cinema:

So I sought refuge in re-watching Trevor Knight's version of Twelfth Night. As I'd hoped, Ben Kingsley's Feste singing "The rain it raineth every day" and Helena Bonham Carter's Olivia mooning over Imogen Stubbs' Viola restored my spirits.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (bestdayever)
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I agree with the Stranger reviewers about anything, but I thought Danny Boyle's Sunshine really does accomplish for the "space missions gone wrong" what 28 Days Later did for zombie flicks. At least as visually compelling as Solaris or 2001: A Space Odyssey, it has the added benefit of being much less sleep-inducing.

And, being in a generous mood, I'll forgive that final-reel nod to Ridley Scott's Alien.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (I am Jack's ...)
Comparing Humphrey Bogart's cool, predatory interpretation of Philip Marlowe in Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep to Elliott Gould's lonely, mumbling, dislocated version of the same character in Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye, my thought is that the earlier movie takes Marlowe's first-person narration in the novels at face value and presents the character as he sees himself, while the later film treats Marlowe as an unreliable narrator and provides a better idea of how he might seem to others.

(Then again, maybe it's just that Chandler's hero just seems preposterously anachronistic re-situated in 1973 ...)
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (rightwrong)
My experience of the festival rounded out with three exceedingly dark features, including one that I'd argue is an out-and-out masterpiece:

Pushover )

Nightmare Alley )

Scarlet Street )

Next (or soon, at any rate): Inevitably, something about Robert Altman and Raymond Chandler.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (highway)

99 River Street and I Love Trouble didn't strike me as particularly deep, but they were both vastly entertaining:

99 River Street )


I Love Trouble )

Pig Noir )

More tomorrow.

saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (goin' to hell)
The idea of technicolor film noir strikes a lot of people as a contradiction in terms, and, yet, how else to classify these two ...?

Desert Fury )

Leave Her To Heaven )

Next: Something really lightweight.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (existentialism)
I'm pleased to say that I ended up seeing even more of the Noir City festival than I'd initially planned, last week: ten films noir from the '40s and '50s, some of them exceedingly rare, as well as Robert Altman's 1973 The Long Goodbye. I'd meant to post notes as I went, but better late than never, right? These were my impressions of the first three pictures I saw during the festival:

Thieves' Highway )

Woman on the Run )

The Pitfall )

More Later.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (dry heat)
As Veronica would put it, SIFF's upcoming Noir City series has me jacked up like some hillbilly kid who just stumbled into daddy's meth lab. 'Cuz, you know, I'm all about vinegary repartée and the Seven Deadlies.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Although all of the movies in this series are new to me, the descriptions in my noir reference book suggest that there's some promisingly lurid stuff, there.

My must-sees for this series would include: Pitfall, Woman on the Run, Desert Fury, Leave Her To Heaven, I Love Trouble, Scarlet Street, and--maybe above all--Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (smirk)
Last week, [livejournal.com profile] attam talked me into going to a cabaret sendup of James Cameron's Aliens at ReBar--a movie which, you have to admit, was always really asking for it:

GAME OVER, MAN! )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (hagia sofia)
On Sunday, I finally had the opportunity to see Lawrence of Arabia the way it’s really meant to be seen, in its full 70mm glory, at Seattle’s Cinerama. I already knew the film well enough to recite many lines from memory (“A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.” “With Major Lawrence, mercy is a passion. With me, it is merely good manners. You may judge which motive is the more reliable.” etc.) And I’d always been impressed by the film’s look. But, my God, I just had no idea how how immersive the film’s desert setting is until seeing it up there on that gigantic screen: I felt as small as the figures onscreen looked against that immense landscape, felt the baking heat of “the Sun’s Anvil” during the ride to Aqaba, the dust whirling around Lawrence and his followers as they trudge across Sinai.

I was also struck by how multifaceted the film’s sense of history is: When Prince Feisal confronts Allenby and Dryden about the Sykes-Picot agreement, one can sense the whole sad history of the British and French Mandates about to unfold. When Dryden comments ruefully about “riding the whirlwind”, the film reminds us of what that project would come to. Bentley’s frank desire to draw the U.S. into the war (and his interest in Lawrence as a propaganda tool) forshadows both Washington’s eventual eclipse of London as global superpower, and the burgeoning role of the media in twentieth-century geopolitics. The scene in which Ali announces his desire to take up politics and Auda warns him that “Being an Arab will be thornier than you suppose, Harith!”, seems to anticipate the whole torturous course of Pan-Arabism. And of course the contrast between Lawrence’s national liberation rhetoric and his superiors’ imperial intentions provides the film's most glaringly obvious parallel to contemporary events.

Above all, the movie is blessed by Peter O’Toole’s eccentric, mercurial, tortured T.E. Lawrence. Even if it weren’t for everything else that’s amazing about this picture, even if it were a one-man show on an otherwise empty stage, O’Toole’s performance would be mesmerizing. It’s a staggering crime that the Academy has still never awarded this man a Best Actor Oscar--he richly deserved it, even here in his first major film role, and several times since.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (drinkie)
Alehouses, Grindhouses )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (glasses)
Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] jmargethe, among others:

Meme Rules: Go to www.imdb.com & look up ten twelve of your favorite movies. Post three IMDB plot keywords for each movie, and have your friends guess the movie titles!

1. Nostalgia / Buxom / Crazy Uncle ([livejournal.com profile] dlasky fondly remembers Amarcord)

2. Family / Genius / Lesbian (Not The Royal Tanenbaums, although I gather that it could be, but Antonia's Line)

3. Army Life / Nuclear / Nymphomania (Not Dr. Strangelove, but Blue Sky)

4. Penis / Frog / Hairdresser ([livejournal.com profile] jmargethe knows all there is to know about The Crying Game)

5. Post-Apocalyptic / Snail / Musical Saw ([livejournal.com profile] uniquecrash5 wrapped up Delicatessen)

6. Father Daughter Relationship / Cooking / Baptism (Eat Drink Man Woman)

7. Dysfunctional family / Political Intrigue / Christmas (Nope, sorry, not Die Hard, but The Lion in Winter)

8. Satire / Widower / Ranting (Network)

9. Ashes / Road / Teacher (The Opposite of Sex)

10. Home Movie / Amnesia / Two Way Mirror ([livejournal.com profile] jmargethe knew these two people from Paris, Texas)

11. Mute / Caress / Mutilation ([livejournal.com profile] jmargethe correctly keyed The Piano)

12. Wedding Party / Fork / Flying Woman (seriously, if I had to choose one favorite film of all time, it would be this: Time of the Gypsies)

Clues: Movies are listed alpha, by title. And, much as I love my gangster and noir pictures, there's really none belonging to those genres, up there.

Buena suerte. :)
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (hadrian)
Y'know, someday, someone should make a movie about the Battle of Thermopylae that doesn't confuse ancient Hellas with Middle Earth. Or the Persian Emperor Xerxes I with Jaye Davidson in Stargate.

Also, those familiar with ancient Spartan and Athenian sexual morés might pick up on the irony of a Spartan king calling Athenians "boy-lovers" ...
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (tyrant)
Although I've definitely seen films with more violence per square inch than Kevin MacDonald's The Last King of Scotland, the latter includes a couple of scenes more indelibly horrifying than anything I've seen since, say, Titus. (These are of course merely tokens of the staggering body count Idi Amin was actually responsible for, so one can hardly complain that they're inappropriate.)

Forest Whittaker is, of course, brilliant and terrifying, and James McAvoy is my new ideal type of the Callow Youth.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (fits)
As [livejournal.com profile] marginalia has posted elsewhere, a few of us went out to see Pan's Labyrinth on Friday. We had to trek out into the wilds of unincorporated King County to find a late showing that wasn't sold out, but it was well worth the drive: Hey, kids! Literary references inside! )

On Saturday, I ventured out into the uncharacteristically Arctic night air we're experieicing in Seattle again to see Casino Royale a second time. You Know My Name )

Sunday night, [livejournal.com profile] ryuusama hosted the premier episode of HBO's Rome, which shall we say paralleled events in Act III, Scene II of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Not To Praise Him )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (wirewear)
You know, when critics start talking about Guillermo del Toro's new movie as a "morbidly bewitching fantasy," and the director nods significantly to Garcia Marquez and Borges, I am so there.

I know that [livejournal.com profile] marginalia's with me, but who else is ready to camp out in front of the theater?

Not convinced? Check out the goddamned preview ...

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saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Default)
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