Friday, July 26, 2013

The Last Few Films I've Seen, July edition

Nothing like a week long internet outage to make one feel so insecure and disconnected from the world....

The last few films I've seen.....

1. The Way Way Back (2013)- More indie blandness from the writers of the ultimate indie blandness "Little Miss Sunshine", this one hits the same notes of family dysfunction and summery climates. The saving grace is Sam Rockwell in a largely Sam-Rockwell-like role yet he manages to impart some genuine warmth.

2. The Red Tent (1969)- Not only does this feature an amazing, highly evocative score from Ennio Morricone (and probably one of his most underrated), but it's one of those lightning bolt revelations of a film.... what is this thing and why have I never heard of it before?? A survivalist drama, it stars Peter Finch as the commander of the real life doomed 1928 dirigible exploration trip to the North Pole and his crew's fight for life on the ice. Also starring Sean Connery as Road Amundsen, who joins the search for his arctic explorer friend and Claudia Cardinale as the love interest of one of the men on board the flight, "The Red Tent" is certainly a mainstream film in casting but a completely international effort. Directed by Mikhail Kalatazov, it follows suit in the Russian vein of filmmaking and feels very arthouse, including the USSR's love of fish eye lenses, frenetic handheld camerawork and that inherent "madness" that seems to infuse the films of Zulawski and others from this time. And technical merits aside, "The Red Tent" is just a brutal, harsh and enveloping experience. Rent it now!

3. Fruitvale Station (2013)- I sort of wish the opening images of Ryan Coogler's debut film didn't happen since they seem to lessen the blow a bit later, but "Fruitvale Station" is still a compelling piece of individual agitprop. Michael B. Jordan (fans of "The Wire" rejoice) is Oscar and the film patiently observes his day in Oakland on New Yers Eve 2009 before the unthinkable happens. This will probably be the indie breakout of the year, but nothing is more resonant in this film than the final image of real-life innocence.

4. The Burglars (1971)- Terrific, lost 70's Jean Paul Belmondo/Omar Shariff heist film. The opening robbery is amazing and it just gets better from there, featuring elongated car chases and a fist fight on the hillside.

5. X (2009)- Australia softcore... there's really nothing more than that. High class hooker picks up younger streetgirl and they become involved in drugs and murder. Not sure where I heard about it, but it fails to titillate or thrill. It's not even Donald Cammell "Wild Side" erotica.

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