some recent netflix rentals

demme’s remake of the manchurian candidate. why was this necessary? too much fussy, techy stuff; old-fashioned hypnotism with a deck of cards much better.

we don’t live here anymore–good performances, especially from mark ruffalo (mike, what do you make of this character/film vis a vis your irresponsibility thesis?), but the film itself seems less and less interesting the further i get from it. overly obvious use of music. naomi watts excellent; laura dern does her woman on the verge thing, and does it well.

king arthur–no black knight, no constitutional peasant, no killer rabbits, no taunting frenchmen, no knights who say “ni”! instead, a very gloomy arthur, i mean arturius, who seems to see no conflict between his belief that all men (and presumably women) are born free and should remain so and his becoming king at the end. and lancelot lances not at all. some pleasure can be taken, however, from the following: stellan skarsgaard’s performance as a dour saxon; ray winstone chewing what little scenery is visible through the mist and smoke; and some danish star named mads mikkelsen (i think he used to play bass for motley crue) as a particularly fey sir tristram. high unintentional comedy in the dvd extras where jerry bruckheimer leads the stars, director and the screenwriter through a very self-important round-table discussion of the film.

dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge–an industry re-defining bollywood extravaganza from the mid 90s. quite accessible to non-indians/non-hindi speakers. 3 hours and 10 minutes long and it never lags for a minute (though this may depend on how charming/annoying you find megastar shahrukh khan). among other things this film is interesting for its location in a non-resident indian (nri) universe–the film both announces the globalization of the indian film market and negotiates an identity for diasporic indians between the old home country and the new home country. lots of problematic stuff–is anyone surprised that the negotiation is between men and involves the body of a woman?–but also powerful, evocative cinema that speaks very strongly to the migrant’s longing for the land left behind.

bhumika–a great film by a great indian film director, shyam benegal. benegal was one of the leading lights of what came to be known as “middle cinema” in india in the 70s and 80s and he made a string of movies in the 70s and early 80s that are just amazing: ankur, nishant, bhumika, manthan, mandi etc. (netflix has them all except manthan and mandi. ) bhumika may be the best of them all: a fictionalized take on the autobiography of real-life marathi actress hansa wadkar, that examines the choices available to a strong, independent female artist in a society negotiatioing (in different ways at different levels) a transition from “tradition” to “modernity”, and the price she has to pay for the ones she makes.

collateral–what is the story with michael mann? why is he so highly regarded? i liked the insider, but his movies in general leave me completely cold. they are perfectly put together, they’re technically sound, they’re beautiful to look at, but they do almost nothing for me. poor tom cruise tries to ACT but has the rug pulled out from under his feet by a wonderful jamie foxx–who also steals will smith’s thunder in another over-rated mann film, ali (which i like to refer to as “black forrest gump”–aren’t i clever?)

more later. by the way, i am intrigued by netflix’s new “friends” feature–even if it unkindly says “you have no friends” when i click the tab now. anyone interested in linking to each other’s rental queues?

3 thoughts on “some recent netflix rentals”

  1. I agree with you about “Collateral,” and about Mann generally. I wanted to love this, and “Heat,” but both felt like a cool series of beautiful stills. I loved “The Insider,” but mostly because of Russell Crowe.

    I wanted to love Demme’s new “Candidate,” too, but the best thing about it (Jeffrey Wright) disappeared very quickly. Check out Wright in the under-appreciated “Ride with the Devil,” Ang Lee’s very fine Civil War flick.

    I’m going to ask for other netflix suggestions in a post.

    I’d do the Netflix friends thing. (I’ve already started stealing ideas from this blog.) And then the netflix people wouldn’t laugh at my friendless queue. Or is it queueue?

  2. I love Heat. I would marry it if I could. It is in the genre of Bad Men Doing Bad Things with Style and Grace (if only the LAPD would let them). The greatest examples of these kinds of films are made by Jean-Pierre Melville, French variations on American noir-gangster themes. Le Samourai is stunning. Also very good are Un Flic and The Red Circle. A great black-woman variation on this kind of movie is Set it Off. It’s not really about the job but the grace of one single perfectly-executed gesture. Then death, of course.

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