Movies/TV I saw last month...
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)—Wow, a ton of good energy, lots of surprises, completely engaging beginning to end. I think I liked this a lot.
Beautiful Boy (2010)—A couple (Michael Sheen, Maria Bello) about to separate find out that their son and only child, a freshman in college, has killed 16 people at his college and then himself. It tries very hard, but still, dry eyes in the house.
A Better Tomorrow (1986)
Boy Meets Girl (1984)—Extremely annoying.
Brazil (1985)—Second time. Still do not like. Just checking.
Come and See (1985)—Really good WWII story about Nazi atrocities in Byelorussia. It sounds tediously familiar/obvious but it is anything but. One of my favorites this month.
Consuming Spirits (2012)—Years-in-the-making animated feature, complicated and weird, sometimes makes you work too hard, but a pretty good payoff.
Crime Story (s1, 1986-1987)—Got to the end of the first season of this interminable, weirdly baked early Michael Mann production finally, with Dennis Farina deplorably bad as a tough-guy Chicago cop bent on taking down a gangster. So much is bad about it but every episode also had something you just wouldn't expect—a shot, a scene, a set piece, a plot detail, a surprising face. Lots of familiar faces here—David Caruso, Deborah Harry, Pam Grier, Ving Rhames, Julia Roberts, Michael Rooker, Christian Slater, Lili Taylor, even Miles Davis. YMMV but I'm not rushing into the second season any time soon.
Darkman (1990)—Second time through, but not for a long time, over 15 years. Interesting to see Liam Neeson so young and in such an odd role for him. Danny Elfman's music makes this a lot bigger than it is. Raimi's having a good time where he can but hemmed in by a script that makes no sense. But it entertains (maybe that should be and it entertains).
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Enter the Void (2009)—Second time through and liked it even more this time. Heady, trippy, beyond the pale, infinitely sad, it really works for me.
Far and Away (1992)—Truly ridiculous Ron Howard Irish Western with Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise playing it like Popeye, and the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. Don't ask.
Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)—Too-serious and not that insightful story of the Irish "troubles" and aftermath. Liam Neeson wants you to know he takes this seriously.
A History of Violence (2005)
I Heart Huckabees (2004)—Did not like.
Ink (2009)—A fantasy with a complicated story that almost works.
The Interpreter (2005)—I had the impression everyone was phoning this one in.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Jack Goes Boating (2010)—Philip Seymour Hoffman's first shot at directing is, not surprisingly, full of acting showcases. Amy Ryan is excellent, John Ortiz very good too, and Hoffman is Hoffman. Based on a stage play, it's got its share of really good moments but I'm not sure it adds up to much.
The Killing of John Lennon (2006)—Too pleased with its studied-cool mythmaking.
Kurt Cobain: About a Son (2006)—I guess I can see how people might not like this, but I thought it had appealing points, especially hearing Cobain's voice and what he has to say. That's most of it. And the music is really good (no Nirvana, that I noticed, which might mean a rights question, too lazy to look it up, but they made it work). Still, an art film set to audio tape interviews has a pretty high bar to get over. It's testament to something that it works as much as it does.
Lost (s6, 2010)—Finally finishing this one off. I have no hopes—zero—and yet the first episodes have fully snagged me. I deserve whatever I get.
Night Gallery (s2, 1971-1972)—Rod Serling's follow-up to The Twilight Zone is better in some ways, more lurid and extreme. The second season has a particular piece I've been looking for ever since I saw it broadcast. I remember seeing part of the first season on VHS tapes. I'm expecting something uneven but with moments of greatness, which is what I've seen so far. Great music too (especially the theme by Gil Melle), and interesting players.
Page Eight (2011)—Cheeky spy vehicle for Bill Nighy with nice support from Rachel Weisz and a truly day-brightening jazzy soundtrack.
Paris, Texas (1984)—First time. Thought it was good. It goes a lot of weird places, and it's slow, but it's always interesting, always looks and sounds good. Harry Dean Stanton is great and so is Dean Stockwell.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Russia House (1990)—Slick and complicated. I'm afraid it bored me.
Six Feet Under (s2, 2002)—Making my way through this again. I don't think I ever saw all the episodes and certainly not in order. So much about the characters, each and every one, is hard to like, yet they are all living lives that I recognize one way or another, and there's something comforting about that. And when it gets good, it's great.
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)—Second time through. Frothy comedy Bergman style, with a light touch and a complicated tale told economically. Good stuff.
Spy Game (2001)—Pre-9/11 (and showing it) Tony Scott spy picture matching Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. It was better than I'd hoped.
The State Within (2006)—BBC knockoff of 24. Tepid. Stalled after two episodes.
Sun Don't Shine (2012)—Mumblecore noir with a Bonnie & Clyde vibe, and expects you to keep up. It's got a couple of pretty good performances at its center, although I'm not sure if it works overall.
Super (2010)—Second time through. This is a good one. Rainn Wilson is fine. Ellen Page is amazing. Watch for her.
Year of the Dragon (1985)—I can see why Cimino champions claim this as underrated. It goes big the way Cimino likes to do but there a lot of fundamentals missing too, such as a place to connect beyond the gangster histrionics.
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)