2012 log (11)

(2 Nov) Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012, Benh Zeitlin) 91
[ Some movies grab you right away. Here’s a film that had me before the title even had time to flash on screen. Something to do with the luminous, expressive cinematography, with the glorious score by Dan Romer and director Benh Zeitlin, with the little world that’s depicted, with the central character of course, a little black girl whose naive yet wise inner monologue acts as narration… It reminded me quite a bit of David Gordon Green’s debut, “George Washington”, for the way it makes the ordinary feels extraordinary, with magic and lyricism and emotion pouring out of every frame… I just fell in love with the Bathtub, a microcosm in the bayou that has to deal with poverty and illness and the constant threat of flooding, but that can also be warm and festive, with people and animals running all over the place, and water everywhere, for better or worse. This is a fairy tale of sorts, full of harshness and wonder, things that little Hushpuppy often doesn’t fully understand – her father’s erratic behavior, for one. That visions of giant pigs roaming the land punctuate the story is no more strange than that, really. It just gets to you. It’s been a while since a movie made me cry this much, in ways I can’t quite put into words. What a fantastic picture. ]

(2 Nov)  The Man with the Golden Gun (1974, Guy Hamilton) 52 
[ I’m not the biggest James Bond fan, but I find most entries in the franchise somewhat enjoyable nonetheless. There’s something soothing about how predictable these flicks are: there are all these little things that invariably are included, from the cold open to the title sequence to the Bond girls, the catchphrases and so on. Then you have all these little twists on the formula, which can be quite colorful, silly even in this case. Much of “The Man with the Golden Gun” is set in Asia (Macau, Hong Kong, Thailand…) so you’ve got a bit with sumo wrestlers and another scene at a martial arts school. There’s also the fact that the villain, a hitman played by Christopher Lee, is notorious for having a third nipple (!), plus he’s got a midget sidekick, who must have inspired Mini-Me from the “Austin Powers” movies. Finally there’s the Roger Moore of it all, a certain cheesiness that inhabits the whole thing. It hardly adds up to one of the best episodes in the series, but it’s still a rather fun watch.  ] 

(3 Nov)  Rhinestone (1984, Bob Clark) 63 
[ In this movie, charming Dolly Parton accepts a bet to transform a New York cabbie into a country singer. This leads to a lot of fun, thanks in no small part to the unlikely fact that the wannabe country singer is played by Sylvester Stallone! Parton and him make an entertaining pair, whether they’re flirting, bickering or singing. ]

(7 Nov)  The End of Time (2012, Peter Mettler)  
[ In this quasi-experimental documentary, Peter Mettler explores the nature of time, taking us on a generally captivating audiovisual journey that takes on scientific, philosophical and spiritual aspects, among other things. There are plenty of fascinating ideas thrown around, and the film itself, with its unconventional, unpredictable narrative and its deliberate, hypnotic pacing, shows that our notion of time is at best relative. ]

(8 Nov)  Lincoln (2012, Steven Spielberg) [ review ] 70  

(10 Nov) On the Town (1949, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly) 61
[ Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin are three sailors on leave for 24 hours in New York City. During that day, they’ll do some sightseeing and partying but mostly, they’ll each hook up with a pretty girl. This leads to a lot of silliness as well as a surprising amount of horniness for a 1949 film, plus of course tons of song and dance numbers. Good times. ]

(11 Nov)  Skyfall  (2012, Sam Mendes) [ review ] 73 

(13 Nov)  The Sessions  (2012, Ben Lewin) 78 
[ “Sex and the disabled.” A subject we don’t often stop to think about, but it’s quite a doozy. Everyone has sexual impulses, but what if you’re physically unable to do anything about them? Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), whose real-life story inspired this film, was wondering about that. Almost completely paralyzed because of polio, he was still as virgin as a grown man, having never even been able to masturbate. The film shows how he comes to use the service of a sex surrogate, played by Helen Hunt. You really feel for him, and it’s somewhat humorous, sensual, and inspiring, too…  Even though unlike in most films about disabled people, the thing Mark is trying to achieve is not a conventionally noble one, he’s just horny! Which is a perfectly normal and healthy thing, of course. It’s a great, rather original subject for a movie and it’s treated with warmth, wit and sensibility by writer-director Ben Lewin. It’s also wonderfully acted by Hawkes, Hunt and the rest of the cast, notably William H. Macy as a priest O’Brien confides to. “The Sessions” should reap a bunch of Oscar nominations, which it will fully deserve. ]

(16 Nov)  Take This Waltz  (2012, Sarah Polley) 55 
[ For quite a while, it’s not really clear where this film is heading. You’ve got Michelle Williams as a young woman married to Seth Rogen, who meets a guy (Luke Kirby) during a trip, and it turns out that they live on the same street… You can sorta guess that this is going to be a story about adultery, but it sure takes its time getting going. Not to the point of being dull though, because throughout there’s enjoyment to be had from the warmth and colorfulness of the cinematography, the moody score, Michelle Williams’ presence…  So I grooved along with it until the end, which didn’t satisfy me, but that may be a personal thing. It just felt empty and pointless to me… Maybe that’s the point? In any case, I can still appreciate Sarah Polley’s talent as a filmmaker, but I wasn’t amazed like I was when I saw “Away from Her”.  ]

(23 Nov)  The Seven Year Itch  (1955, Billy Wilder) 69 
[ Often when you watch older films like this, you’re simultaneously struck by how old-fashioned they are, say in the storytelling or in the way the protagonist keeps talking to himself (which may come from the play it’s adapted from), and by the risqué little things they still got away with. Every bit of sexiness, however subtle, seems a bit wilder (Wilder!) considering that this is a 1955 movie.  “When it’s hot like this, you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox.” Aww, Marilyn Monroe… There’s really only one like her, so bodacious and naive and flirty… No wonder Tom Ewell’s character feels tempted to go at it with her, even though he’s happily married. Well, he’s being an idiot even letting her into his apartment while the wife’s away, of course. If he really wanted to stay faithful, he’d know better and would avoid things like that. But it makes for amusing movie situations, with a whole lotta Marilyn. ]

(29 Nov)  The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas  (1982, Colin Higgins) 67 
[ What a priceless idea: a musical revolving around a bordello in the Lone Star state. This is a great opportunity for a bunch of naughtiness and country songs, plus a very enjoyable relationship between the all-too-womanly Dolly Parton and man’s man Burt Reynolds.  ]

October / December