Monday, July 14, 2008

The Weekend Watcher: CTJ

The Weekend Watcher: CTJ

Eagle vs. Shark ****
See it?: Yep.

Consider it New Zealand's answer to Napoleon Dynamite. Despite the fact that Napoleon Dynamite wore itself out in America's collective consciousness, this still felt fresh to me.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer *****

See it?: You haven't yet?

My 3rd time to see this. One of the best stories ever told onscreen. You don't need Smellovision to pick up the various aromas that emanate from this masterpiece.

Persepolis ****1/2

See it?: Yep, but just because it's a car toon doesn't mean it's for kids.

A filmic adaptation of an autobiographical Iranian graphic novel, and the spiritual cousin of Craig Thompson's superb Blankets.

The Brood ****

See it?: Yes, if you like good horror (and you should.).

An instant entry into my Top 10 Horror Films ever, and proof that David Cronenberg can actually direct a film that I like. While I enjoyed Videodrome, A History of Violence, and Eastern Promises, The Brood is the best entry in his canon that I have seen.

Townes Van Zandt: Be Here to Love Me ****

See it?: Maybe. If you like sad films about sad lives, which I do. You can learn from them.

A compelling documentary about country music's iconic cult-figure who sacrificed family, happiness, and life itself for his music. A reminder that, no matter what your gifts are, they can become curses if you mistake them for your God. Sad and sobering, but cautionary tales are always welcome.

Alice ****

See it?: If you're chemically imbalanced, no. If you love creativity, yes.

While I prefer Little Otik because it's sheer nightmarish nature, Alice is a work of genius, the work of a stop-motion animator who has lived in Hades and Wonderland. Jan Svankmajer is a filmmaker whose gifts unwrap themselves and open up to reveal creations that are both charming and horrifying. My new favorite adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic tale.

300 ***1/2

See it?: Yes, but Mom and Dad might not like the graphic nature of the film.

Oh, the things that must be in Frank Miller's mind! Like Sin City, 300 is dark and heavyhanded, sparse but dense. The dialogue is clunky at times, and masculinity index is off the charts. The men in this film are the sort who would use swords at the dinner table instead of butter knives, and that is part of the gimmick without a doubt. A worthwhile spectacle.

Sorry, Haters ****

See it?: Read the review.

This film has lodged itself in my mind like a splinter, and I cannot get it out. It may be the best thing I watched all weekend for that reason alone. It is so unique primarily because it deals with the intersection of white America and Islam without being political, without being too stereotypical, and without depersonalizing any of the players involved. I was afraid this would be a topical film in the sense that it might deal with terrorism, xenophobia, or even worse, that it might be a companion piece to Crash. It was none of these things. It was fascinating and horrifying, unpredictable and ultimately jarring. Above all it was intensely personal and it was all about inversion. I can appreciate a film that doesn't tell you how to feel, but that makes you navigate unknown terrain on your own. Highly recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

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