Movie-a-Day: May 2008

An odd lineup this month. I was on the road a fair amount of the time, which in movie-watching terms means you take what you can get; I had to rely on Ann Arbor’s video rental stores rather than the lofty reserves of Swarthmore and its partners in the TriCo system, Haverford and Bryn Mawr. So along with some classic texts like Godard’s La Chinoise (too didactic for my tastes) and Mankiewicz’s Suddenly Last Summer (overcooked), there’s a grab bag of recent titles, some of them genuinely painful to watch (White Noise, Speed Racer, Untraceable) and others a most pleasant surprise (Next, Iron Man). My wife was responsible for at least two of the movies, Lars and the Real Girl and Baby Mama; the two of us thought we’d enjoy I Want Someone to Eat Cheese with a lot more than we ultimately did. Meanwhile, my admiration for Bergman’s work continues unabated — the stars, as always, mean the movie got to me on a deep level — while I feel asleep during the famous car chase in Bullitt. (No fault of Steve McQueen’s; I’ve been dosing daily on Benadryl.)

Movie-a-Day: May 2008

Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008)
White Noise (Geoffrey Sax, 2005)
Next (Lee Tamahori, 2007)*
Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007)
La Chinoise (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)*
Speed Racer (Larry and Andy Wachowski, 2008)
The Simpsons Movie (David Silverman, 2007)
Untraceable (Gregory Hoblit, 2008)
If … (Lindsay Anderson, 1969)
L’Eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962)
Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (George Pal, 1964)
Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (Hiroaki Goda, 2000)*
Shame (Ingmar Bergman, 1968)*
Performance (Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, 1970)
Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)*
Baby Mama (Michael McCullers, 2008)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008)
The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007)
Suddenly Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959)
Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)*
The Last Laugh (F. W. Murnau, 1924)*
Bullitt (Peter Yates, 1968)
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese with (Jeff Garlin, 2006)

6 thoughts on “Movie-a-Day: May 2008

  1. Wow, “Next” hit the “deep level” for you? I might have to actually check it out. I followed the pretty much dreadful word of mouth right past the box office…(though I must say that did enjoy one random clip I saw of Nic Cage in a diner).

    “If…” is great, isn’t it? Saw a restored print of it a few years back in a theater in Nottingham.

    And if I were writing this list, a star would go next to “The Orphanage,” which I caught in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in its denouement, really moved me. Thought the score was great. Would expect no less from a protege of del Toro…

    Haven’t seen most of the other stuff…been too busy trying to find my “…” :-)

  2. Next is actually a nifty little thriller. It doesn’t have many moving parts — everything revolves around one gimmick — but as so often with adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s work, that gimmick is worked out with keen, almost fanatical intelligence. I could have done with different casting than Nicolas Cage, but the movie itself is sneaky, surprising, even charming. In terms of FX, its few virtuoso visuals are timed and delivered deftly — toward the end of the film in particular.

  3. Anime . . . ugh. But if I were willing to be open-minded and sit through one anime movie in the hopes of figuring out why people take this genre so seriously, which one would you recommend?

    I wasn’t aware that _Next_ was a PKD adaptation. Maybe I’ll take a look at it.

    So Ann Arbor’s film and video resources are a step down for you now? I fear you’re getting spoiled, mon vieux.

  4. Your antipathy toward anime surprises me, Mike. Not because it’s universally good stuff; I just would have thought your “taste trajectory” would have already exposed you to at least the key works. Didn’t you see Akira when it played at the Michigan Theater back in the late 80s? I know I caught a screening with Dan, which marked the start of my own interest in the genre (or metagenre, I guess).

    Recommendations: I’d say Akira and both Ghost in the Shell movies at a minimum. On the softer side, I enjoy most Miyazaki — Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away in particular (avoid Howl’s Moving Castle, though!). If you’re really into the smooshy romantic stuff, try the movie version of Ah! My Goddess, source of the image that accompanies this post. For nasty demon sex battles, try Wicked City or Ninja Scroll. For more cerebral stimulation, Perfect Blue and Paprika. If you’re looking for TV series, the seminal work is Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    Re: Next, I don’t want to oversell the flick — it’s a minor pleasure — but yes, if you like PKD, you might dig this one.

    Finally, yes, I did come off as a snob with my A2 comment, didn’t I? All I meant was that I’m getting used to watching movies for free through the TriCo system, especially more obscure titles (arty European stuff, silents). In Ann Arbor I was limited to what they had at Hollywood Video on Stadium and Liberty Video on, well, Liberty. Decent selection at both places. I just hated paying for my rentals!

  5. Bob, if you can be accused of being “snobbish,” well I must be the “King of Snobbitude.” :-) Have I told you that I honestly can’t rent movies at home any more? Haven’t done so in many years! I also prefer not to buy any used (unless it’s something obscure or long out-of-print). I decided that I wanted to treat my DVD player with the same amount of respect that I would treat myself — I didn’t want a disc with dust, dirt and germs from 800 different local residents coming being run through my player. You can probably understand a correct analogy for what I’m speaking of, I’m just too polite to say it here.

    While I can understand some people’s skepticism towards Anime, I would think Mike R., and possibly you, after reading what I wrote, would probably give *me* the prize for “most snobbish” now…

    :-)

  6. Ah! My Goddess! My English editing mistake in re-writing what I wrote above has rather embarrassingly revealed more of my metaphor by possibly becoming a Freudian slip…!

    I feel like Zizek!!

    Enjoy your symptom!

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