2009 log (6)

(3 Jun) Spring Breakdown (2009, Ryan Shiraki) 34
[ This direct-to-DVD flick stars Saturday Night Live vets Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch as well as (former?) indie queen Parker Posey as three long-time friends who, 15 years after graduating from college, are still socially awkward dorks. When an opportunity arises for these thirtysomething women to go to spring break as the chaperones of the daughter (Amber Tamblyn) of Posey’s boss, they figure this is their chance to finally party it up with the cool kids like they never got to back in the day. Hilarity ensues? Well, not so much. This is a rather generic, not particularly witty or daring comedy, the kind where you grin a lot while you’re watching it, maybe chuckle a couple of times, but never really laugh out loud. Still, the three leads are charmingly ditzy, and you can’t completely hate a flick that begins with the characters singing Cindy Lauper’s True Colors and that climaxes with them doing Wilson Phillips’ Hold On! ]

(5 Jun) Up (2009, Pete Docter) 72
[ Part of the “Directors” Series ]

(6 Jun) Kill Bill (2003-4, Quentin Tarantino) [ review ] 95

(8 Jun) Outlander (2009, Howard McCain) [ review ] 79

(10 Jun) The Last Waltz (1978, Martin Scorsese) 70
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(12 Jun) J’ai tué ma mère (2009, Xavier Dolan) [ review ] 58

(12 Jun) American Prince (2009, Tommy Pallotta)
[ This unofficial sequel to “American Boy”, Marty Scorsese’s little-seen documentary about his friend Steven Prince, is basically just one-long sit-down interview with Prince, 30 years down the line, with only some of excerpts from “American Boy” and some other Scorsese flicks to fill it out… And it’s fascinating! You see, Steven Prince just happens to be a formidable storyteller and boy, does he have stories to tell! Like, you know that scene in “Pulp Fiction” with the adrenaline needle to the heart? That’s all Steven Prince. Dude was even the road manager for Neil Diamond, for chrissakes! ]

(16 Jun) Killshot (2009, John Madden) [ review ] 68

(17 Jun) Ce qu’il faut pour vivre (2008, Benoit Pilon) 63
[ The dialogue-free first few minutes showing Natar Ungalaaq’s Tiivii wandering the Terre de Baffin are positively stunning, almost metaphysical. But almost right away, Tivii is shipped out to Québec to be treated for tuberculosis, and this becomes a dour, preachy, liberal guilt-driven piece opposing the noble Inuit to white folks who are all indifferent, condescending or just plain jerks, save for an angelic nurse played by Éveline Gélinas. This remains an elegant production, with admirable cinematography, and we feel for Ungalaaq’s character, even though I wouldn’t call his perpetual deer-in-headlights expression great acting. And the ending recaptures some of the majesty of the opening. But you really have to want to watch people coughing for an hour and a half to get there… ]

(19 Jun) Valkyrie (2008, Bryan Singer) 72
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(24 Jun) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009, Michael Bay) [ review ] 37

(25 Jun) Downfall (2004, Oliver Hirschbiegel) 89
[ I’m not sure why I’m suddenly so interested in World War II, the Nazis and all that stuff… Because beside finally watching this Hitler flick, I’ve also recently viewed “Valkyrie” and a TV special about Jews hunting down Nazis, and I’ve spent hours reading up about those things on Wikipedia. Maybe it’s just part of my eagerness to see “Inglourious Basterds”? In any case, this is a truly striking film, thanks in no small part to Bruno Ganz’s towering, incendiary performance as the Führer. After an oddly upbeat opening scene introducing the girl who would become his secretary (the ridiculously cute Alexandra Maria Lara), the narrative smartly jumps forward to April 1945, as Berlin is pummelled by the the fire and thunder of the Russian artillery. So what we’re seeing is a Hitler at the end of his rope, more delusional, angry, stubborn, megalomaniac and paranoid than ever. I don’t know if this is intentional, but you know what this made me think of the most? Of Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove”, what with all these officers and politicians who keep on scheming and plotting like idiots even though death and destruction is staring them in the face. Of course, the fall of the Third Reich is not funny in any conventional sense, but neither was the Cold War, right? ]

May / July