Friday, February 29, 2008

The Invisible Circus

3.5 out of 5 Stars
A book adaptation that works surprisingly well as a film. I was surprised at just how good of an adaptation from Jennifer Egan's book it was. Well crafted and well acted. A very solid and enjoyable movie.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rest Stop

2 out of 5 Stars
The entire time I was watching this film I kept thinking I had seen it before. It's another one of those 'I'm on a road trip and a creepy dude wants to kill me in brutal ways' flick. This one had an element of supernatural to it, which made it worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Nanny Diaries

2 out of 5 Stars
The synopsis says 'a 21 year old New York University student becomes a nanny'. Not in the film. In the film her name is 'Annie' and she is a recent college grad with an anthropology major. The film does not rightfully convey the biting, sharp and often accurate writing from the novel. It has its moments but the film fluctuates from farce to satire to brutal and heartbreaking honesty. It's very uneven but Scarlett Johannsen and Laura Linney do their best. I would have given this film 3 stars if it weren't for the TERRIBLE Hollywood ending which made me scream.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Michael Clayton

2 out of 5 Stars
Huh? this film was nominated for best picture? I don`t get it. I mean, I don`t get the film. Too many red herrings. Like the alcoholic brother in westchester? what was that about. I appreciate that this was a `good film`but I was incredibly bored. environmental law just aint my thang.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Moulin Rouge

4 out of 5 Stars
This movie makes me want to lie in bed and pretend I have consumption or some other dramatic illness. In a good way that involves absinthe and bollywood and ewan macgregor.

Friday, February 15, 2008


2.5 out of 5 Stars
Very well acted -- less crude and more thoughtful than the second and last American Pie films. I liked the first 25 minutes and the last 30 minutes (once the boys got to the party) but I did not at all care for the ultra lengthy middle section involving the cops, the homeless dude, the liquor store, et al. Not my style of humor. But I respect the writing and can still appreciate why critics deemed this a success. Overall, though, not my type of comedy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


4.5 out of 5 Stars (which says a lot coming from me)
I fell in love with the character of Juno. Ellen Page was endearing and natural. It's about time educated audiences can be entertained by an extremely well written script, amazing supporting characters (J.K Simmons, Allison Janney, Michael Cera, et al) And Jennifer Garner was unexpectedly brilliant. Her character was supporting but due to the brilliance of the script she was given so much to work with. This film made me laugh, smile, (I confess) tear up a little bit, and I left the theater feeling as though good filmmaking and good writing still exist. Also, check out the soundtrack. Good stuff.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


3.5 out of 5 Stars
I think I have a crush on Sienna Miller. This is the first film I have seen her in and she really impressed me. Great script, very riveting and dynamic and Steve Buscemi always keeps me wanting more.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When Strangers Appear

3 out of 5 stars.
This movie is extremely addicting. Ive seen it twice now -- both times while in a hotel room and I can't tear myself away.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunset Boulevard

5 out of 5 Stars
Norma Desmond breaks my heart. Such a sad, sad story of a woman living in the past and unwilling to change with the times. Norma and Edie Beale are similar in so many ways -- stories about powerful women (possibly before their time) who have difficulty adapting with change both move me and upset me. "I am big. It's the pictures that got small".
It's probably scary that I identify with Swanson in this role.

(cross posted from finishing-the-hat)
I recently re watched 'Sunset Boulevard' and was reminded of why this movie had such an impact on me at an impressionable age. Watching a powerful woman, way ahead of her time (though she didn't know that), living in the past and unable to move ahead and change with the times is both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Sure, she was a bit senile, but aren't all actors to some degree?

A very wise woman 32 years my senior once told me that the key to staying young was being able to be adaptable, go with the flow and stay current. Not in a physical sense (ie. plastic surgery, botox, or obsessive gym and beauty regimes..."I need three more weeks to get these thighs in shape, no more carbohydrates don't be naughty, we'll soon have you skipping like an ingenue, you won't look a day over 40. We have dry heat we have steam and moisturizing creme, we have mud packs we have blood sacks, it's a rigorous regime, not a wrinkle when you twinkle or a wobble when you walk, of course there's bound to be a little suffering, eternal youth is worth a little suffering") but in a mental sense. Reading the newspaper without immediately harking back to the 'good old innocent days', listening and learning to the younger generation and being supportive without being judgemental. I'm sure this easier said than done. It's very probable that when I'm an octogenarian I'll be hitting the young-uns with my cane and reminiscing about the days when television shows had scripts and there were no commuter flights to outer space.

But I hope not. I hope that I, too, will be adaptable and willing to go with the flow.

But Norma Desmond. Oh, Norma. Joan of Arc. Showing them all that 'nothing has changed' and how she contributed to giving the world 'new ways to dream'. Striking, intimidating and reclusive. Obsessed with the zodiac. Living in a gothic and decrepid old Hollywood mansion. Living in her 'silver heaven'. She didn't need dialogue. She had her face.

And she loved her gentleman callers. She was unafraid to be herself and she made no apologies. Did she use men to make her feel more powerful? Or simply because she was used to the attention and thrived for it? She and Edie Beale are similar in so many ways. They both live in the glory days of their famous pasts of fame, culture and parties. They both love the company of men, but more so for their own egos and less for the physical intimacy. And interestingly, they both were obsessed by the zodiac. Both were in touch with their emotions that they had difficulties understanding subtlety and self censoring, They said what was on their minds whether or not people wanted to hear it. They were fierce and powerful yet so vulnerable and unaware.

The main difference is that Norma used her money to buy people. She lured Joe with money whereas Edie was busy having a love/hate (but mostly loving) relationship with her mother.

I am very drawn to both of these characters. Someday I just may write a play where these two women meet (in a fictional sense, obviously), not unlike Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy in Nora Ephron's 'Imaginary Friends'.

"They took the idols and smashed them, the Fairbankses, the Gilberts, the Valentinos! And who've we got now? Some nobodies!"

Haloscan Comments
How very wise and deep, your soul must be.
You are at least a thousand years older than I.
Dorian Gray | Homepage | 02.04.08 - 8:24 pm | #

I think you're skipping over the fact that Norma Desmond murdered her gentleman caller at the end of the show. I always considered her story more tragic than liberating.
T.A.B. | Homepage | 02.05.08 - 11:05 am | #

Wasn't the murder a metaphor?
Bear | 02.05.08 - 12:33 pm | #

I think because Joe narrates the film posthumously (in an amusing and cynical way) the murder is less literal and more of a use of plot device to bring to mind film noir. The audience knows Joe is dead from the very first scene and that Norma killed him -- it is Joe who tells the story and it is through his point of view that we get to know Norma. I always thought that 'killing' Joe represented killing the changing times in order to stay in the past. Joe represents 'talkies' and by shooting him she is talking out her rage on everyone who exploited her during and after her hollywood career.

I also love that throughout the film, Joe is 'ghostwriting' his own story...heh.
sarah | Homepage | 02.05.08 - 4:25 pm | #

Sarah, out of curiosity, did you see and/or like the Andrew Lloyd Webber staged version of the movie?
T.A.B. | 02.05.08 - 5:23 pm | #

Being even a petty celebrity can come with a heavy price, once you achieve that creature of myth. When out in the public, or even with friends, every day is showtime. When I felt like I could do it no more, I tried to live my life in obscurity. Like it or not, there is no going back to being a regular guy.
Walter | Homepage | 02.07.08 - 8:04 pm | #

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Henry Fool

5 out of 5 stars
I rewatched this film for the first time in four years in preperation for Fay Grim (which is in my netflix queue). And still, I think this film is incredible. Hal Hartley embodies the indie film rise -- meaning that he found a team of actors who work together so, so well and who work from his (very lengthy and wordy) script and take the roles seriously. It would have been an easy to play these roles ironically or to make a farce out of them, but Hartley and his cast have found the perfect balance of humor and honesty which is what makes this film so powerful and heartbreaking. The general theme is something that has been covered numerous times in other films (ie. what is art? who is to argue about taste, one man's trash is another man's treasure, etc) but Hartley finds the time (2 hours and 17 minutes, exactly) to really explore his ideas and he allows the actors to take their time with the difficult dialogue (which is something that almost never fully satisfies me in shorter, mainstream films). This film is liking watching a great and unknown off broadway play -- it's very 'stagey' (in a good way) not only the literal staging but Hartley's use of sound and dialogue as sound. This is a film that always stays with me and I haven't seen anything recently (possibly since American Beauty) that has had that effect.

Friday, February 8, 2008


2 out of 5 Stars
I saw this for free. And I was fully entertained throughout. Like a prolonged episode of Law and Order Criminal Intent -- no secret that I love this stuff. Still, it only gets two stars from me because I'd probably not be inclined to tune in when this film comes to cable -- it's enjoyable but very easily forgettable.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Diving Bell and Butterfly

(aka Le Scaphandre et le Papillon)
3 out of 5 stars
enjoyed this film more than most things I've seen this year, but I don't think it's necessarily the best picture I've seen. I thought it worked up to a point. It's a touching story, though the 'diving bell'/'butterfly' metaphor felt a tad overused. The actors in the film are so beautiful to look at, the performances are subtle yet powerful, but I don't think Schnabel's 'fantasy' scenes quite hit the level of Gael Garcia Bernal's work, nor did a story about appreciating the beauty in the world live up to Sam Mendes' American Beauty. Still, definitely worth seeing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Saw IV

2 out of 5 Stars.
I waited a LONG time to see this one. Not by choice -- I fully intended to make a night of it with M. back when the film was in theaters but we could never seem to get our schedules synchronized (and also we were overly eager about the LES Haunted House). And now that I've seen this one on netflix? Eh, I'm glad I waited. This one was way too confusing for lil old me. Ex wives and lawyers? Detectives who all look the same? Were we trying for a law and order episode?

However, Jigsaw (you know, the freaky doll on the tricycle) is scary. Even in a brief 2 second shot -- scary, scary, scary. Though I admit he looks kinda silly in the image below.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

La Vie En Rose

4 out of 5 Stars
I normally strongly dislike biopics (Ray and Walk the Line were almost tedious for me to sit through...dude, it's already 1973 and we still have another two hours to go?!?) but the non linear structure plus the brilliance of Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf made me love this one. She's beyond incredible -- she never plays it campy or over the top, but she shows us a heart breakingly honest portrait of Piaf. It was the structure of the film that held my interest -- I thought the director never underestimated the intelligence of his audience and therefore allowed us to jump through time with Piaf and watch her success and her pain.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ordinary People

4 out of 5 Stars.
I love family dramas. Really amazing acting performances, a great script and very well directed!