#74 – A Serious Man, #75 – Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, #76 – Good Hair, #77 – Bright Star, #78 – Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

I don’t know what it says about me at that this point, I think these movies follow a pretty sensible trajectory.

With the possible exception of Good Hair which…I guess I’m counting as my pick-me-up from the overwhelming depression of Precious. Good Hair was fun. It had Ice-T giving his advice as to how to get a lady (“be flyer than her”) and Chris Rock being funny and seemingly the nicest guy ever.

Did anyone else who saw Precious find its relentlessness almost annoying? After a point I really just wanted to pull Lee Daniels aside and say “I GET it. Life is really terrible. Can I just go back to watching youtube videos of fainting goats for a while now?”

Also: some of the most unintentionally funny product placement I’ve seen since The Road. But weirder than The Road. Sunkist, why was being Mo’Nique’s beverage of choice in this movie a good idea to you? You know that she sexually abuses her daughter and then throws a a baby later, right? Right? People aren’t going to be interested in purchasing your soft drink because the insane amounts of caffeine in Sunkist gave her the energy to rip her TV out of the wall and chuck it at her daughter’s face.

That said I barely even feel like I have the energy to rip a Glade Plug-In out of the wall and chuck it at somebody’s face right now.

So, in relation to Precious we’ve got A Serious Man, which is sort of the White Whine version of “Life is really awful” but without the uplifting “you can overcome things!” message. Back to that movie in a second.

Then we’ve got Joan Rivers whose alienation from the normal world reminded VERY, VERY slightly of Mo’Nique’s character. Not that Joan Rivers is a rapist and abusive by any means. She’s just…no longer a functioning part of the world of normal people anymore.

But she IS weird and fascinating and kind of great. I don’t know if this leads to automatic shunning but: I don’t think she’s funny.

There’s something about the existential depression of a Coen Brothers movie that I consistently love. Or maybe I just liked that part where the young rabbi is shown to be obsessed with the parking lot.

I had to watch Bright Star really slowly and in chunks. But it was pretty good stuff. Stunning to look at. And man oh man, that Paul Schneider…

Fewer men look as good and appropriate in period attire.

I’m so damn far behind. Cripes.

Soon enough…:Hard Candy and Everybody’s Fine (a ROCKWELL FEST movie) have been watched and will be there for sure. Also soonish: Midnight Run, American Movie (rented and everything. I WILL watch this), Pretty Bird, and New York, I Love You (I know, I know). Possibly a bad romcom, too.

#69 – Mystery Team, #70 – The Time Traveler’s Wife, #71 – When Harry Met Sally, #72 – Micmacs, and #73 – Get Him to the Greek

Mystery Team is the first film from the sketch group Derrick Comedy. Derrick rose to internet fame with a sketch called “Bro Rape.” It’s pretty good, but this is easily my favorite thing they’ve done:

The issue with sketch groups doing movies is it’s REALLY easy and almost expected that the movie will basically just be a series of sketches. See every Monty Python movie ever. Brain Candy. MacGruber was sort of fighting this.

So it’s pretty impressive that this was never TOO bogged down by that. They’re character that you care about that you want to succeed (seriously, I got really, weirdly caught up in wanting them to succeed). There’s some great cartoonish images, too–the costumes the characters wear to go undercover, for example, are amazing.

Also Ellie Kemper aka Erin from The Office has a small but mind-blowingly hilarious role. At one point she says to the Mystery Team:

“There’s something fishy down at the old sardine factory! I think it’s fish!”

I don’t remember where I was going when I brought that up and I’m way behind on this entry so I’m pushing forward.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nonplussed by a movie before I saw The Time Traveler’s Wife.

I REALLY wanted to hate When Harry Met Sally. Its basic premise is mind-blowingly sexist and given that it’s a romantic comedy, it basically ends up reaffirming Harry’s whole “men and women can’t be just friends” thing.

But man, is it ever surprisingly funny. AND: it’s nice to have a romantic comedy out there that focuses more on friendship and a solid relationship between two people and the manner in which they fall in love as opposed to…what most romantic comedies are, which are essentially movies about seduction.

MicMacs was incredibly charming. I saw it in a four story movie theater with 25 screens, which blew my tiny mind.

Also: Dany Boon! Oh my goodness! If he would sort of clown around in all movies, I wouldn’t complain. If all movies just had…a cutaway to him doing the robot or walking in a kind of funny shuffling way. That would be great.

Get Him to the Greek actually confused me. It’s VERY tonally unstable. One minute you’re sympathizing with Russell Brand in his desperate attempts to forge a meaningful relationship with his estranged father and the next scene Jonah Hill is stroking a furry wall to calm himself because he has taken a comical amount of drugs and he’s seeing P Diddy’s giant head floating in front of him and eating smaller versions of his own head.

That is an actual thing that happens in the movie, but that’s not what’s so weird to me–there is no middle ground in the movie. It’s extremely sentimental and heartfelt or madcap and insane. The two don’t stitch well together so well. It’s jarring.

That said, my opinion MAY be influenced by the undeniable fact that the man next to me at the very least couldn’t stop fidgeting but more probably was getting a certain hand-centric sort of job from his girlfriend.

Jeez I’m behind in entries and in movies.

Next Batch: A Serious Man, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Good Hair, and an exciting return to ROCKWELL FEST with Everybody’s Fine.

#66 – Sleepless in Seattle, #67 – Never Been Kissed, #68 – Splice

I wanted to have finished An Affair to Remember so that I could a) have a side-by-side discussion of that and Sleepless in Seattle, which namechecks An Affair to Remember kind of a lot and b) so I could have an all-romcoms entry.

But then I got tired like a half hour into it and later I decided to see Splice so now we have a real mixed bag.

Don’t watch any of these movies together. It’s a dumb idea.

Man did I ever want to hate Sleepless in Seattle. It’s easy to feel “above” a romantic comedy, especially a 90s romantic comedy (they’re often ridiculous) and ESPECIALLY when it’s a little bit sexist.

And yes, I’m talking about the whole “all women love and cry during An Affair to Remember and men totally just don’t get it” thing. Not because of the portrayal of women as blubbering crybabies. I’m used to that. But while I rarely cry during movies, my friend Shane is the most sensitive…world’s cryiest baby when it comes to fiction. He cried during Simpsons episode about Lisa becoming a vegetarian and that episode isn’t even sad. Portraying dudes like my friend Shane as strong men who don’t get crying during movies is just plain wrong–he’s a giant baby! I want him represented!

Anyway, Sleepless in Seattle ended up being basically pretty funny and inoffensive. I liked it fine and I don’t have much to say about it. Nora Ephron is generally sort of innocuous.

The same sort of went for Never Been Kissed. Granted, I would have fired Drew Barrymoore because her final published story for that newspaper was moronic but I honestly just thought the movie was mostly cute and fun.

I also unflinchingly love Molly Shannon and I think Year of the Dog is a secret gem.

Cute and fun shockingly also basically describes Splice.

So…Splice isn’t amazing. When I went to see it, the choice was between this and Get Him to the Greek. I decided I should go with my heart and not my gut (which told me I’d get more basic enjoyment out of Get Him to the Greek) and decided I should support independent sci-fi (last year indie sci-fi gave the world Moon, which I think is basically a masterpiece).

Splice is far from bad–if you care about special effects, it has some amazing ones (it’s clear that most of the budget went to those…there are really only three locations total in the whole movie). The gross genetically engineered monsters that we AREN’T meant to identify with are very gross, the one that we ARE meant to identify with is adorable and amazingly acted without any words.

It’s corny, though. Or the dialogue is corny. And there are some unintentionally hilarious moments (which the AV Club labels as “dark humor”–frankly, I can’t tell if they’re right or not. Those moments MAY be intentionally funny).

But it IS smart(ish) independent sci-fi. Which we really need more of. So…hooray to you, Splice!

COMING WHEN I GET AROUND TO IT: An Affair to Remember, Get Him to the Greek, Fired!, maybe MicMacs, anything else I can shove in.

#62 – Exit Through the Gift Shop, #63 – MacGruber, #64 – Matchstick Men, and #65 – Strait-Jacket

So the listing in the header is the order in which I saw these movies.

I’m going to talk about them out of order, though because I have some exciting developments re: ROCKWELL FEST and I don’t want to get swept up in discussion of that and end up not giving Strait-Jacket its due.

So Exit Through the Gift Shop is a street art documentary, most easily described as “the Banksy movie” although it’s not really ABOUT Banksy so much as it is involving him.

If you’re not familiar with street art or Banksy, my super-short crash course:

Street art has its roots in graffiti and as a result is really controversial given that it is technically illegal. It’s typically produced under cover of night. And obviously on public property.

Some of the more famous pieces of street art:

Shepard Fairey, the guy responsible for this work, also did the famous Obama “HOPE” image.

Because I am an Austinite I must include Daniel Johnston’s work:

Banksy is a primarily London-based street artist (arguably the most famous street artist in the world). He’s the guy that put his graffiti-ed over version of famous paintings in galleries next to the originals. Banksy’s identity has been kept a secret and this movie is no exception. I mean…basically we can gather from it that he is male and white and possibly from the North in England but I have a pretty bad ear for accents (especially when they have been altered) so I might be off.

Anyway, Exit Through the Gift Shop is about this guy Thierry Guetta aka Mr. Brainwash who starts as a weirdo with a beautiful beard who obsessively films everything constantly, becomes interested in street art, begins filming that, and then decides he wants to be a street artist himself–except he’s a ridiculous parody of a street artist who basically renders everything he creates completely meaningless.

The interesting thing here is the very real possibility that the Mr. Brainwash persona presented by Thierry Guetta is actually itself a carefully constructed sort of piece of performance art (a lot of internet people are crediting the creation of this persona to Banksy but it seems just as probable to me that Guetta created the persona on his own and happens to know Banksy).

Mostly, though, I feel like if I was a Londoner my life would be consumed with trying to guess whether or not people I knew in my everyday life were Banksy. It would certainly make things more interesting in a day-to-day sense.

I loved MacGruber and I don’t care what anyone else says. It was really dumb but it was fun. I laughed a lot.

I love Will Forte.

Strait-Jacket is officially the first movie I saw in New York. It was introduced by moderately famous drag queen Hedda Lettuce who was very charming and funny and did a sort of MST3K thing throughout the movie.

What an absurd and wonderful movie. I’m consumed with ideas for a remake. Something that would be a) actually frightening while still being b) aware of and paying tribute to its hokey roots (Sam Raimi excels at this sort of thing). I can’t exactly place who could take on the Joan Crawford role, though. Big shoes to fill.

I watched Matchstick Men before I left and it was okay.

Guys I watched a movie in when Sam Rockwell, an alcoholic deadbeat dad, murder/suicides his own wife who he’s been trying to win back through the whole movie because he blames her for their daughter’s death.

And I was STILL less devastated by that character turn–for a character I really loved and cared about–than I was by Frank’s turn in Matchstick Men. I honestly didn’t know how to feel about it. Sad. Very, very sad. I’ve had friends lie to me about incredibly minor things that don’t involve…my being a mother or large amounts of money or anything and that devastated me. So maybe it’s the friend thing.

Anyway, the important note and the reason that I switched the order in these is when I came up to New York I saw this play A Behanding in Spokane which featured an impressive ensemble cast with Anthony Mackie, Zoe Kazan, Christopher Walken, and none other than the star of ROCKWELL FEST himself, Mr. Sam Rockwell.

It was a real treat. I can’t wait to see another Rockwell movie, if only so that I have a more immediate comparison of his film acting with his stage acting–there are key differences here that, especially when talking about the same actor, are very interesting to me.

By the way, in a weird turn of events I ran into some friends from Texas at the play and didn’t get to stay after to hound the fantastic actors/claim the hug that I feel I so richly deserve from Mr. Rockwell. I have more than considered stalking the stage door after a different show. But really, what do you say in that situation? You have to talk about the play, anything else is asshole-y to mention (“I know I just saw you in this play but I thought Lawn Dogs was a top-notch movie” does not fly at all). The only acceptable circumstance would be something insane…like having a fake festival in your head to put a name on “I am trying to watch my way through every movie you have a substantial role in”–and THAT is incredibly creepy.

On a vaguely related note: some actors get popular catchphrases or really quotable lines from characters they played shouted at them on the street. I tried to think of what the Sam Rockwell version of this would be and I decided that this moment from Moon is the ideal thing:

“Hey, GERTY says you’re Sam Bell. I’m Sam Bell too. So…we’ve got that going for us.”

Anyway, Sam Rockwell, king of actor, actor of kings, shared a really big room and the same recycle air with me recently and I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised to find myself in that situation.

#58 – Apocalypse Now, #59 – The September Issue, #60 – Flirting with Disaster, and #61 Iron Man 2

I’ve got four movies. Normally this would be considered BLAST PROCESSING but I am probably going to ramble about Iron Man 2 for much longer than anything being…blasted.

The other three may count a BLAST PROCESSING. I might have a few more words about Flirting with Disaster and enjoyable romantic comedies vs. infuriating ones.

But I don’t have anything new to say about Apocalypse Now. It was good? It was really orange? Dennis Hopper is a weirdly good crazy person.

Anyway The September Issue is a documentary about Vogue and Anna Wintour. It spends a lot of the movie trying to depict Wintour as this respectable, powerful woman–which she is, but y’know…I still think she’s possibly a little evil.

My line in the sand re: Anna Wintour, by the way: a lot of people claim that her being a woman is what makes everyone refer to her as a “bitch” and think negatively of her. While I do think that happens to SOME women, Wintour’s closest male equivalent is Donald Trump…Donald Trump who I’m pretty sure the world agrees is basically a giant asshole. Wintour IS probably a bitch. It’s even hard not to read this in her interactions with her FRIENDS at Vogue.

Anyway Flirting with Disaster.

I think the line in the sand, for me, with romantic comedies is emotional realism.

And I hesitate to even strictly call this a romantic comedy. The romance is specifically between a married couple which…isn’t unheard of I guess, but isn’t the thrill of the romantic comedy two random people finding each other and falling in love? Not being in love and then taking each other for granted and then realizing how much you really love each other?

Anyway, if there were more romantic comedies about established couples taking each other for granted and then learning more about themselves/their relationships I’d probably like romantic comedies more in general. As ridiculous as this movie got (very), it was at least grounded in a semblance of emotional realism instead of some crazy fairytale notion of romantic love. It was realistic and still sort of romantic and sweet.

Also I like Patricia Arquette.

Full disclosure, it’s been almost a week since I typed that last sentence. And there was a least a week in between the September Issue portion and that.┬áThat is how lazy I’ve been about finishing this entry. In my own defense, most of my friends graduated from college recently and I moved to New York for the summer. I’ve still been watching movies, though! I have plenty to report after this entry!

So Iron Man 2 will likely be a shorter entry than assumed. But let’s push forward!:

THE BAD:

1) The lovely miss @JenWSmith of Twitter made what I feel is the most accurate observation about Scarlett Johanssen possible: she is a robot made of cardboard, acting-wise. Which works in, say, Girl with a Pearl Earring or Lost in Translation. And obviously I liked Ghost World. But not so much here.

2) Also who choreographed that fight scene? I should not be more interested in Jon Favreau getting beaten up by some random security dude than I am in Black Widow beating the crap out of like eight dudes at once.

THE WHATEVER:

Guys I know I’m alone here but I could totally take or leave Robert Downey, Jr. At least as Iron Man.

THE GOOD:

Don Cheadle was so funny! And Mickey Rourke! And it was mostly very fun. Sam Rockwell factor was in full swing.

I found it a little difficult to not root for Vanko here. I actually convinced myself that within the universe of this movie, Anton Vanko was misrepresented by the media and was less evil than presented.

It’s hard not to sort of want Randy “The Ram” Robinson from The Wrestler and Sam Bell from Moon want to win in the end. Even if they are fighting Sherlock Holmes.

COMING SOON: Exit Through the Gift Shop, MacGruber, Strait-Jacket, and the exciting return to ROCKWELL FEST with Matchstick Men.

#56 – Easier with Practice, #57 – Passion Aggression, Life is a Lemon, and The Library (short films)

Easier with Practice is movie #2 in the “so I guess Netflix is getting a lot more liberal with what they’re willing to put on Instawatch” series. The first being Antichrist.

This was a lot tamer, obviously. We’re going from a movie with explicit and apparently real sex, horrifying close-ups of genital mutilation, a deer stuck in a perpetual state of miscarriage, and of course a self-devouring fox with a message about what exactly it is that reigns (answer: chaos), to a comparatively tame movie featuring the entirety of a pretty explicit phone sex conversation and a lot of scenes where a dude is in the middle of or is just finishing masturbating (though by contrast he is in the midst of a caring, emotionally-based relationship instead of just sort of hanging out/running around screaming and beating the crap out of your spouse in nature, which as it turns out is Satan’s church).

Anyway, Easier with Practice.

As a singleton who is very, very uncomfortable around basically everyone who’s never really been in a relationship and loves the music of Canadian folk-based band Rock Plaza Central, this movie seems only annoyingly directed towards me.

But I somehow managed to resist its charms. This movie really fell flat for me. It had some nice moments but I guess I never really understood why Davy felt so disconnected from everyone. He REALLY didn’t seem to have that much trouble relating to people to me.

I guess the two keys to all his life problems are that he owns the world’s oldest cellphone and also he is an adult who chooses to continue to call himself Davy.

The other things I watched were student productions. I’m counting them all as one but damn it, I’m counting them.

I’m very proud of my peers for their accomplishments and I hope to link to their projects soon.

SOON I HOPE: Iron Man 2 and the return of Rockwell Fest.

#52 – You Can Count on Me, #53 – Dark Days, #54 -Trust Us This is All Made Up and #55 – Antichrist

Bad blogger! Lazy blogger! Uh…time for some more BLAST PROCESSING.

I have an older sister. Allow me to be a bit candid: I have what could be best described as a “strained at best” relationship with basically everyone in my family.

I live in envy of people like the brother and sister in You Can Count on Me. They’re not a perfect pair by any means but they definitely do things and discuss things that my sister and I would never even touch.

I watched this movie a while ago and stupidly didn’t write about it when it was fresh.

I love Laura Linney. I like Mark Ruffalo.

Dark Days features music by DJ Shadow which is great. It’s very heartbreaking at times which is less-than-great. At one point one the crack addicted homeless men discusses all of the pets he owned, including his bird:

“You wanna talk about an airplane? This is Miss Bleaks. She was the best in the world. Well, okay not the best but close to it.”

Trust Us, This is All Made Up blew my tiny mind. I started doing improv earlier this year. I haven’t worked as much with pure long form and I certainly couldn’t do anything near what TJ and Dave do in here. It is really, really astounding. And important, if you ask me–if people were aware of what improv was capable of and took it more seriously as a form of theater…well, basically it has the potential to be (to me at least) more honest, artistic, and relatable than most modern theater.

That’s a bold statement that I shouldn’t make because I don’t know shit about theater. I certainly think improv is changing film–or at least film comedy and independent film–in a pretty big way, slowly but surely.

I didn’t love Antichrist and I’m not sure why. It was a hard watch in parts, obviously, and stunningly beautiful in many parts. I was a little bored by it, to be honest.

But I really love that Chaos Reigns fox:

So did everyone at least year’s Fantastic Fest: