Monday, January 04, 2010

What I Watched On My Winter Vacation

Before the break I posted about all the movies I needed to see in my time-off... well I was sorta a flop in that department, to be honest. A flop! I watched a bunch of crap on TV (amazing what you'll find yourself watching once you're put in front of HD television... as long as it's on an HD channel you'll find anything completely hypnotic. Hence me sitting through all of Glitter. Oh dear, all of Glitter...) and on DVD, but didn't make it to the theater nearly as much as I needed to. I caught second viewings of Tom Ford's A Single Man (liked it just as much a second time) and of Avatar (ditto), and of the six new films I wanted to see I caught exactly half. So... here are some brief thoughts on them. The movies I saw in the theater, that is.

Up in the Air - Meh? I don't really get the hype. Clooney's a charmer, sure, he's always a charmer, and I like being charmed by him, but I didn't feel as if he added anything to his charm here like he did in Michael Clayton, which I still sometimes consider his best performance. Charm plus extra there; here, notsomuch. I almost always like Vera Farmiga too, and she was fine, and the two of them definitely created some sparks... just, nothing ever ignited. I don't think the film really has anything that insightful to say about The World We Live In Now like it's being sold as. This is not the triumphant return of Preston Sturges as much as any of us sane people would like a triumphant return of Preston Sturges. I adore Melanie Lynskey but that whole story-thread was dull and obvious from a million frequent flyer miles away. Still, bonus points for the ending.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Oh, damn. I was hoping to battle the underwhelmed consensus with this one, but... nope. Special effects not that special, story spinning its wheels, point AWOL. It was a blessing to see Heath in action again but it never became anything that memorable, what he was doing. It was fun to see the three actors who took over the in-the-mirror scenes for Ledger after he died try their hand at aping Heath (advantage: Colin Farrell, whose impersonation was uncanny). But there was no there there, like a deflated balloon with Christopher Plummer's worn face on the side.

Broken Embraces - Here, on the other hand, is one of them makes-me-glad moments where I can refute the consensus and exclaim HELL YEAH to a film that's been unjustly shrugged at. And yet, like Rich at FourFour, I find myself unable to quite explain why the film worked for me so thoroughly. Says Rich:

"Pedro Almodóvar has flair for melodrama, but Broken Embraces is uncommonly subtle and still. That makes explaining why this movie haunted me for weeks after seeing it even more difficult. No wait, it's impossible. This movie reduces me to incoherence. Devastating."

I walked out of the theater on air, with that charge you only get from an uncommonly affecting cinematic experience. Alive, giddy, with a love for movies. I wanted to kiss Pedro on both cheeks and run through the streets shouting about it. It got under my skin, and stayed there. Just lovely, and sad, and rich, and beautiful. Completely fulfilling. Pedro's at the tippy top of his game and it's so effortless, so smooth, you don't even realize it at first.


DancerInDC said...

I totally agree on Broken Embraces - an excellent film!

Andrew K. said...

"I was sorta a flop in that department, to be honest. A flop!"

Are those traces of Martha from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" I here?

I have a feeling I'll be feeling the same about UITA...except I do NOT like George Clooney.