2004 log (5)

(2 May) Jules et Jim (1962, François Truffaut) 33
[ I don’t get this, just as I didn’t get “Les 400 coups”. Whereas I can see the attraction in early Godard, this melodramatic Nouvelle Vague slice of life left me indifferent. Jules’ a bore, Jim’s a bore and Jeanne Moreau does little more for me. The B&W cinematography is nice to look at and the score is great, but I still didn’t care much for this ménage-à-trois story. ]

(2 May) Frankenstein (1931, James Whale) 65
[ Part of the AFI list (#87) ]

(3 May) Le bonheur c’est une chanson triste (2004, François Delisle) [ review ] 36

(5 May) Shrek (2001, Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson) [ review ] 77

(5 May) New York Minute (2004, Dennie Gordon) [ review ] 51

(7 May) Van Helsing (2004, Stephen Sommers) [ review ] 38

(8 May) Medea (1988, Lars von Trier) 90
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(10 May) The Simple Life (2003) 46
[ Hotel heiress (and sex video star) Paris Hilton and Commodore daughter Nicole Ritchie star in this reverse Beverly Hillbillies “reality” show, in which these spoiled party girls go spend a month on a farm in the middle of nowhere without any of their L.A. perks. Out of touch and out of control, Nicole and Paris clearly can’t work 9 to 5 jobs and fit in a small redneck town, but that’s the fun of the endeavour, I guess. And, oddly enough, these shallow little teases are sort of sweet, in a bitchy kinda way. ]

(11 May) The Element of Crime (1984, Lars von Trier) 68
(11 May) Europa (1991, Lars von Trier) 87
(11 May) The Idiots (1998, Lars von Trier) 53
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(12 May) A Walk to Remember (2001, Adam Shankman) 60
[ My ex-girlfriend looooved this, and so did most gay dudes I know, but I never got around to watching it until now. I’m a big softie fond of teen pop stars, after all, so I might looove this too, right? Well, more or less. Shane West plays a “bad boy” who’s redeemed by a preacher’s daughter played by Mandy Moore. She’s like a von Trier “Heart of Gold”, a perfect selfless saint who takes all the abuse thrown her way (by schoolmates and by God) and only comes out more caring and compassionate. It’s all predictable and trite and ridiculously naïve, and West and Moore’s acting is serviceable at best, but damn it if it didn’t yank a few tears out of me. ]

(15 May) Troy (2004, Wolfgang Petersen) [ review ] 85

(15 May) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001, Chris Colombus) [ review ] 62

(17 May) Nos enfants chéris (2003, Benoit Cohen) 54
[ A cellist, his wife and their baby go to the countryside for a quiet vacation but when his ex-girlfriend, her new beau and their own kids drop by, quiet goes out the window! This is a very, very French comedy in which the characters do nothing but eat, have sex and, of course, talk each other’s ears raw. It’s nothing we haven’t seen a million times and the film offers no great insights into relationships or parenthood, but the cast members make the most of broad characters and their interaction is lively and amusing. ]

(19 May) Shrek 2 (2004, Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon) [ review ] 61

(19 May) One-Eyed Jacks (1961, Marlon Brando) [ review ] 79

(20 May) The Office – Season 1 (2001, Ricky Gervais) [ review ] 90

(21 May) Walt Disney – On the Front Lines (2004, Leonard Maltin) 88
[ Say what you will about Disney (they screwed Michael Moore, stupidly drove Pixar away, nearly ruined their legacy with sub par cartoons, etc.), but they played a huge part in the history of pop culture, as this wonderful “Treasures” DVD series proves over and over. Most of those are anthologies of Mickey, Goofy or Donald shorts, but this is something else. You see, in 1941, the Disney Studios were taken over by the US Army and spent the rest of WW2 producing propaganda and training films. One would understand Disney for downplaying this not-so-magical era, so more kudos to them for releasing these telling historical documents. “Donald Gets Drafted”, Pluto becomes “The Army Mascot”, Goofy learns “How to Be a Sailor” and destroy Japan’s navy fleet, the Three Little Pigs encourage audience members to buy war bonds to protect themselves from the Big Bad NAZI Wolf (!), a tomato is thrown in “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, a German boy gets an “Education for Death”… It’s all as fun and creative as you’d expect from golden age Disney animators, but there’s that whole military agenda running throughout that’s really fascinating. Also included in the 2-disc set is the feature-length “Victory Through Air Power”, a combination of stunning animation and lecture segments by Major Seversky that allegedly convinced President Roosevelt to invest in the long-range bomber planes that won the war. This collection is truly a must-see. ]

(21 May) 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle (1967, Jean-Luc Godard) 2 or 3
[ Obtuse socio-political discourse in whispered voice-over, loud industrial machinery, inexpressive actresses spouting pseudo-profundities directly at the camera, long scenes that go nowhere… I love Godard’s irreverent early films (“À bout de soufflé”, “Bande à part”), but before long he started believing that every of his brain-farts was genius, hence masturbatory pretentious hogwash like this that makes you want to fly to France and punch old Jean-Luc in the gut. ]

(22 May) Nighthawks (1981, Bruce Malmuth) 47
[ Sly Stallone (with a beard and a perm) and Billy Dee Williams (with a mustache and a mini-mullet) are badass New York cops who must stop a Eurotrash terrorist played by Rutger Hauer. It’s easy to mock the synth-heavy soundtrack, the ridiculously macho posturing, the cheesy ‘80s fashion or Stallone’s cross-dressing scenes (!), but the movie’s “There is no security” climate of terror feels more actual than ever. ]

(23 May) The Office – Season 2 (2002, Ricky Gervais) [ review ] 93

(24 May) 100 Girls (2000, Michael Davis) 46
[ Yeah, I’m running behind on my chefs d’oeuvre and my AFI 100 and I haven’t done a Directors Series in a while but what the hell, let’s watch another stupid teen comedy. “100 Girls” is sort of a cross between “American Pie”, “Mallrats” and “Cinderella” – i.e. a gawky young guy who lost his virginity to a stranger during a black out trying to find her with a pair of panties she left behind as his only clue. So he has to go through the underwear drawers of every girl in the dorm, 100 of them (hence the title). Nipple-twisting combat, strip foosball, cross-dressing and endless raunchy dialogue ensue. Michael Davis’s screenplay is alternately insightful and uninspired, sensitive and misogynistic, and his direction is mostly generic, but “100 Girls” is still pretty damn watchable. ]

(26 May) The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003, Peter Jackson)
The Fellowship of the Ring [ review ] 93
The Two Towers [ review ] 94
The Return of the King [ review ] 95

(28 May) The Day After Tomorrow (2004, Roland Emmerich) [ review ] 60

(30 May) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season One (2000, Robert B. Weide) 81
[ Larry David’s a genius. An angry, bitter, neurotic genius. This mostly improvised HBO series is another show “about nothing”, with Larry David more or less playing himself and a blend of real and fictional friends surrounding him. But unlike “Seinfeld” (which David co-created), this isn’t network TV so there are no limits to Larry’s sense of humor anymore. Joking about dead relatives, the disabled, race, incest survivors or Ted Danson shouldn’t be funny, but damn it if it isn’t! ]

April / June