Five Best Films I Saw in July and August

Though it was off to a shakey start, Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival proved to be THE film event of the summer. Even the truly terrible films made for irreplaceable experiences due to the uniquely passionate Fantasia audience. The closing night… Scott Pilgrim and then, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Could it have been any better? Most of my home viewings were pretty radical too. It wasn’t easy narrowing down the list to just five!

August on the other hand was more subdued. Most of my viewings were slanted towards recent hollywood releases, for better or for worse. I am hoping to delve back into the work of foreign and older filmmakers in September. Let’s hope I can discover some new gems.

Five Best Films I Saw in July

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Eli Craig)

Fish Story (Yoshihiro Nakamura)

The Loved Ones (Sean Byrne)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright)

Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik)

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Five Best Films I saw in August

Closely Watched Trains (Jiri Menzel)

Gimme Shelter (Albert Maysles & David Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin)

Hot Fuzz (Edgard Wright)

Les Beaux Souvenirs (Francis Mankiewicz)

Missing (Costa-Gavras)

Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger, 1947)

Click Image for my Review

Black Narcissus. Several nuns get upset by the strange atmosphere of, and surrounding, their new convent, which was formely a Himalyan harem. (Quite an idea for a music, that. Take it away, Rita.) […] P.S. Barring perhaps one in any hundred who willingly practise it, I think celibacy is of itself faintly obscene; so I admire still less the dramatic exploitation of celebacy as an opportunity for titillation in the best of taste.

– James Agee, August 30th 1947. Various excerpts.

Five Best Movies I saw in June

I’ve been insanely busy and have only had time to watch movies in theatres, and suffice to say, they’re all pretty much crap. I think this is my lowest average of movies seen by month in years.

The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel)

Get Him to the Greek (Nicholas Stoller)

Holy Smoke (Jane Campion)

Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)

Yellow Sky (William A. Wellman)

Emoting about Things that are not The A-Team

I kinda hate Bradley Cooper...

Since summer started, it seems the only movies I’ve seen are blockbusters. It’s almost a given that once school is out, regardless if something interesting is playing or not, I am in that theatre at least once a week. I enjoy the experience, especially since I share it with my friends, but these past few weeks have been difficult… perhaps it’s because I’ve been so focused on catching up on True Blood and Mad Men and haven’t had the time to watch as many films on DVD as I’m used to. The saturation of bland and terrible cinema is starting to get to me and I feel as though I’m slowly losing my mind. I am not only struggling to find something nice to say about the films, but even trying to mute my elitism among my non-film fans is becoming more difficult.

Tonight I watched The A-Team, and though it’s the best of the three films I’ve seen in the past three weeks (the other two being Prince of Persia and Splice), it has pushed me past the breaking point. Though the film has some entertaining moments (mostly due to some charismatic performances) and isn’t particularly inept, I just could not enjoy it. Walking out, I couldn’t help overhearing people proclaiming how awesome the movie was. All I could think was what about this movie is great? I couldn’t think of a single reason why someone would think it was.

Generally, I don’t see why anyone would think most blockbusters are interesting, worthwhile or  even memorable. They are more akin to a good ride at an amusement park than a great “entertainment”. Even if I were to approach and look at them as simply being “rides”, most of them fall short and fail to deliver on a very basic level. Prince of Persia is a perfect example of this, not only presenting an incoherent video game storyline, but presenting uninspired conflict and character interactions that makes Pirates of the Carribean seem like a great Shakespearean comedy. Yet, people eat it up.

DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER

Even if I were to look at blockbuster films I enjoy and have watched on more than one occasion, I can’t say I’d be sad if I never had to watch them again. I can’t help feeling I come off as elitist and judgmental, but I just cannot fathom why someone would prefer a film like Aliens, The Dark Knight or Star Wars over The Red Shoes, L’Avventura or The Double Life of Veronique. I can see the entertainment value of the former films but their broad themes and archetypical characters and conclusions have never struck me as being moving or evocative. I am not suggesting that people who like those films are dumb, far from it, I don’t have any less respect for people who like those films, but I can’t help feeling they are also missing out on a world of experience and challenges.

In a perfect world, there would be room for both kinds of movies. I like both kinds, or else I wouldn’t bother to watch movies like the ones that I do. On a good day I can even enjoy a mediocre or bad film from a more anthropological level, looking at the ideals, values and queues the film takes that it presents and how that reflects my understanding of society. I know so many people I know would claim I overthink or overanalyze very simple works, but I find it enjoyable. If anything, these are the kinds of movies that deserve this kind of close scrutiny because they are consumed by such a high number of people.

I feel like I am contradicting myself in a certain sense. Though I wish people watched better movies, I am fascinated by the fact that certain movies draw millions of viewers. To a certain extent in our day and age, it is largely about marketing and advertising, but even films that get the full treatment are not guaranteed success. Some films with barely any press are able to rise to the top. Audiences are still fickle.

Thoughtful contemplation

Thinking is a crime, and most people seem completely averse to having their ideas and perceptions challenged. Shutting off your brain now and then isn’t the worst thing, but some people see working towards learning and experiencing new things as being relevant only for work and school. This makes me sad. Even if you were to just put more consideration into movies like Prince of Persia or The A-Team, try to think a bit more critically about why you do or do not like a film, would result in valuable self-knoweldge. Why are people so afraid to open their selves up and peek inside, are they afraid of what they might see or feel? Why do we relate so positively to violence and hate? Learning about yourself and the people around you seems to ultimately the point of our existence, or at least the most rewarding aspect of it, so why are so so quick and willing to shut ourselves off completely from that aspect of our life?

Do I think or even want people to flock to the newest Alain Resnais film? No, I don’t even know where I am getting with this. I just wish I could expose people to new ideas and emotions that great film has opened to me. It is one thing I like to share with people I love and care about, because I think it’s so important and beautiful. My frustration over the mediocrity of these films stems from the fact that most people are not even aware of what they’re missing. Does that make me an elitist or a snob? Yes it does, but my intentions are good, it’s about love man.

I blame this post entirely on Von Samuel. What an ass.

Loving the Dead

No information – historical, experimental, or otherwise – has surfaced regarding the results of sexual relations with the undead specimen, but as previously noted, the nature of Solanum suggests a high danger of infection. Warning against such an act would be useless, as the only people deranged enough to try would be unconcerned with their own safety. Many have argued that, given the congealed nature of undead bodily fluids, the chances of infection from a non-bite contact should be low. However, it must be remembered that even one organism is enough to begin the cycle.

P.4 The Zombie Survival Guide (Max Brooks)

Pamela Franklin has a horrifying encounter in The Legend of Hell House

What are some memorable instances of people loving the dead? A few spring to mind, Wuthering Heights, A Rose for Emily, Laura and The Legend of Hell House. I’m sure I am missing some significant ones. I can’t think of any movies that involve human/zombie love though.

Iconic Film Styles: Shampoo (1975)

Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert

Such outrageous style, somehow most of this could never fly in 2010, even as part of some retro-vintage throw-back. I wish I could pull off Julie Christie’s hair, especially before Beatty takes the shears to it, though either way… I feel so much more in tune with Goldie Hawn’s style though, more feminine, more hippie, more delicate. Unfortunately, I don’t have the figure to pull them off so wonderfully waif-ishly as she does. For me Shampoo is a film that reflects so completely the style of an era. The film plays out like a strange period piece, especially as the characters seem so incredibly self-aware of their physicality and sexuality. Warren Beatty’s character in particular is perceived by most men as being a “poof”, despite the fact that he is balls deep in most of the women he meets. In many ways, Beatty’s style and persona is more revolutionary and exciting than that of the women because he redefines masculinity in a chic and ironic way. Even beyond fashion, Shampoo is one of the most underrated films of the 1970s, I heartily recommend it.