Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Too Many Movies Too Little Time

I have so very much writing to get done for the New York Film Festival this week (and next week, and the week after that) but I have managed to see a few movies that have nothing to do with NYFF (I'm determined to make use of my new MoviePass card so I keep forcing myself off of the floor and out the door) in between that I don't want to say nothing about, so here's just a little something. And bonus this little writing practice here will help me get my juices flowing getting to work on my proper reviews today too. Win win! For me, mainly.

Stronger - Huzzah, I was right to have faith in David Gordon Green. Even though the trailers make this look like inspirational schmaltz Stronger is, well, stronger than that - it's rough and tumble, avoiding the cliches and letting these characters live and breathe and be shitty to one another, and in ways that never get entirely wrapped up in a bow - people keep disliking each other after the credits roll, and things don't get apologized for or swept under the rug. It feels achingly honest, and Jake gives another achingly honest performance too. And I know y'all love Tatiana Maslany already but I don't watch Orphan Black so this was my introduction and y'all are right to love - she's lovely. 

Sidenote: I don't ever want to turn this site into a "Mr. Skin" type check-list of "Who's Naked Where"... well at least not entirely... but there's way more Jake Nudity in this movie than's been advertised and I feel as if it might be my duty, in this instance, to alert the world. I mean there is yet another instance of Jake Crying In The Bathroom, a phenomenon that we have documented previously. This is absolutely A Thing now and must be treated and analyzed as such.

Brad's Status - Another instance of having faith in the creative force behind a film against the piled-up odds of an obnoxious trailer, I knew Mike White wouldn't let me down and sure enough I found Brad's Status deeply affecting.

Having just turned 40 this year I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have found myself being, at times, a stereotype (in so many ways) and panicking about What I Am Doing With My Life and What I Have Accomplished and looking around at my contemporaries and feeling inadequate and good god does this movie dig it's fingers deep and primal-like into the meat of that feeling. Ben Stiller is very good and holds the whole thing together with one of his always-appreciated lower-register performances, and White's script is never content to let any moment sit un-examined - he makes you feel one way and then flips the rock over and examines the squirming things underneath it.

Ronin - The always great Arrow Films just released a killer 4K restored blu-ray of this 1998 car-chase classic so I figured it was as good a time to catch up with this as any - man this was a fun movie. People drive through fruit carts! I love people driving through fruit carts. Nobody's giving the performance of their lives here but everybody's loose and the cast has super chemistry - if Robert De Niro had just made ten movies like this in his spare time before Scorsese remembered to work with him again nobody would've though he'd sold out. And man we didn't do right by Natasha McElhone McElhone - she should've had a much better career.

Also there is an absolutely terrific extra on the blu-ray that's just Quentin Tarantino talking about De Niro and his entire career (well up through 1995 when the interview was shot - it's right before they worked together on Jackie Brown!) and it's Movie Geek Heaven. QT gets really critical at times, and he made me realize I really have got to see Once Upon a Time in America already.

Paris, Texas - I don't even know where to begin with this one! Thanks to The Quad for having a Harry Dean Stanton series and allowing me to finally catch this movie that I have long wanted to see the best way possible, on a big screen with an audience of rapt movie-lovers. I'd somehow managed to have absolutely no idea what Paris Texas was about before sitting down to watch it this weekend - I mean I knew it was a Wim Wenders film and I've seen enough of his work to have an inkling of what I'd experience, tonally speaking, and I knew it was the triumphant moment when HDS was finally given a leading role. But I wasn't at all prepared for the strange and lyrical and deeply heartfelt film I ended up watching. Watching those final scenes in Houston with Nastassja Kinski was one of those moments when you understand, in the core of your belly, what Cinema is there for.

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