movies seen lately

Have seen an unexpectedly large number of films in the past couple of weeks. Here be reviews.

Probable spoiler warning.

AMER

A festival freebie courtesy of the knifeman. Incredibly stylised giallo as abstract art movie. First third was brilliant, and creepy as all hell. Second third was like a perfume commercial. Final third was fetishised murder. Unique, sort of fascinating in a non-narrative way, but without a certain exposure to Italian horror would just be batshit weird.

UNCLE BOONME WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES

Thai movie that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year.

Slow, gentle, odd. A woman in her 60’s goes to visit her brother who is dying of kidney failure on his farm in the country. One night at dinner his dead wife appears, then his son, who has become a monster. They roll with this, sit down and chat about their lives and what happens after death.

This is interspersed with seemingly unrelated scenes, which may have been Boonme’s past lives, although there is nothing to suggest this, and includes the what will doubtless become somewhat infamous {SPOILER} catfish going down on a princess scene.

What I liked the most was the treatment of the paranormal as a part of normality. Thailand is a place with spirit-boxes on most corners of the cities, and the dead are with us always, and it was refreshing to see a film told from within that belief system. That and how it took its time.

Unique. Glad I saw it. But there is substantially more WTF than I have alluded to above. ::)

INCEPTION

Enjoyed it; multiple time lines, cleverly put together. Escapist nonsense, fairly hollow. Nothing whatsoever going on with it beyond the obvious. I sort of feel like I did about the first Bourne film (the only one of them I saw) – this is about how good a vast budget thriller should be. This should be normal, not exceptional.

Since the only thing to comment on is the ending {SPOILER} I  think he was dreaming, but that it didn’t matter since in order to have that dream, he had achieved catharsis and reached closure.

NEW MOON

Twilight was pretty much one of the worst films I have ever seen. (Thanks, Brad :P) To the point where it was lucky there were only two of us in the cinema since I was laughing at it so much.

So the choice to see New Moon was a strange one. But while in many hotels I had seen a promo for it that looked, well, demented.

Now, it is pretty shit. But I enjoyed a surprising amount of it.

Basically the weakest thing is the Edward-Bella relationship. Maybe it makes sense in the books, which I strongly doubt I will ever read, but it doesn’t work on screen at all for me. Dude is seriously weird looking at least half of the time. Girl has nothing in particular going on. What prompted this Eternal Epic Love thing? Was not sold on it. This total absence of chemistry was probably what was most fatal in the first movie. But maybe the audience already is since they have probably read the books?

But luckily, Edward isn’t in most of the movie. We get this other film about Bella getting over him by hanging out with this wildly buff Indian dude.

And the film turns out to be about people basically not dealing with their emotions, and doing stupid shit. It actually captured teenage-ness kinda well – actually, it fluctuates between cringeworthy and well. Bella basically going into a quasi-suicidal depression and acting out plays pretty well, and AFAI can tell is not the usual kind of thing you get in movies. (Boyfriend dumped you but you can only hallucinate him when in danger? Jump off a cliff! Awesome role model.)

It also consistently does lots of batshit stupid things. Not just stupid things. Batshit stupid things. This made it kind of interesting.

Also interesting is that it is not a movie. It is totally an installment in a soap opera series, so it doesn’t have to be a film and hit the usual structural conventions. This makes it more interesting as a film.

THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

Massive let down. I dug Jon Ronson’s book THEM, and had heard good stuff about his book Men who stare at goats. This film “inspired by” it was kind of fun but basically lame and stupid and badly put together.

4 Responses to “movies seen lately”

  1.   billy
    August 15th, 2010 | 11:14 pm

    After chatting with Brad, I am now willing to concede that something *may* have been going on in Inception.

  2.   Pearce
    August 16th, 2010 | 2:37 pm

    Re: Inception – personally I think that if the text fails, it cannot be rescued by subtext. For me, the text failed.

    I liked Uncle Boonme a lot, but I completely understand why some people fell asleep in it.

    I have been told by more than one person that The Men Who Stare At Goats is what a Coen Brothers movie would be like if the Coen Brothers were not very good at making movies. Does that compute?

    As for Amer, I have to agree.

  3.   billy
    August 16th, 2010 | 2:56 pm

    re: inception.

    Yeah, to me the art – of well, art, be it book or film or whatever – is to make the meaning arise naturally in the experiencer of the art. (Some engagement may be required by the experiencer, but the artwork should facilitate that engagement.) If the meaning fails to arise, or needs to be extracted through archaelogical means, it has failed in a fundamental way.

    With Inception, even with a new frame to consider it within, I still don’t feel any motivation to actually make the effort. (This is also incidentally more or less why I didn’t care about Inland Empire – nothing inspired me to make the effort it would seem to require to get at the point of the experience, assuming there was one.) However, this could be an artifact of training – for those trained in academic study of the arts, maybe that sort of analysis becomes a natural part of the experiencing.

    Re: Goats
    Yeah, sort of.

  4.   Vince
    August 16th, 2010 | 5:18 pm

    Watched TMWSAG last night on DVD and *also* thought it was pretty bad. I wondered why and came to the conclusion that it just didn’t seem THAT far fetched an idea to me.

    I mean, Hitler used to ask “psychics” to “spy” on the Royal Navy and there’s always talk of someone or other teaching marines or special forces units to meditate and what-not. Sure, the film is exaggerated for the sake of entertainment but the premise was still vaguely plausible. In the end, it depends too much on George Clooney and he can’t do everything himself.