this still exists!

hi boys. hope this finds you all well, especially those of you i don’t get to see on fb! tell me something about you!

for about 10 years — gosh that’s a fuck of a long time — i haven’t been able to watch movies at the theater, and only sporadically at home (that’s one of the things extreme agoraphobia can do to you). a couple of days ago i managed to watch Jason Bourne, which was awesomely rewarding (it took two tries so i paid double; also, the movies have become so expensive, and there are no longer people to sell you tickets). my first time in the theater in a decade. strange strange strange.

i wanted to ask if you have movies that are not hugely depressing (like say the dardenne brothers, or lukas moodysson, or Fruitvale Station), that happened in the last ten years that you would recommend. mike started a best-ten-movies-of-the-last-10-years list on fb but i can’t find the thread. also some of you are not on facebook.

about Jason Bourne, well the sheer joy of the big screen was pretty overwhelming, in spite of also feeling a bit anxious. i don’t care for car chases and twisted metal in general, but all the chases (car and otherwise) were so balletic and so beautifully choreographed, i felt great pleasure in watching the film in spite of the thin thin plot and the fact that the head of a major division of the CIA is played by a 25 y.o. woman (the only female character), when all the male characters are played by potential or actual grandfathers.

finally, since this blog was last active, tv and web series have taken over our lives, so i am wondering if anyone feels like a resurrection?

hugs to all of you!

save the green planet!

another korean film. i was tempted to place it in the “recently watched genre films” thread but i am having a hard time coming up with a genre for this: science fiction? comedy? horror? police procedural? love story? all these and more are mashed up unpredictably in this film and the tone shifts as abruptly and yet organically. a young man, who seems increasingly deranged, is convinced that aliens from andromeda are among us and preparing to destroy the planet. he kidnaps a sleazy industrialist who he believes is one of the key players in this plan and begins a very specific program of torture/questioning to get him to divulge the details. or is something else going on? is he in fact taking revenge on the industrialist (and maybe others) for things done to him and his family in the past? this is what the industrialist claims as he begins to turn the tables on his captors (oh right, i forgot to mention that our protagonist is being helped by his lover, a not-all-there tight-rope walker from what seems like a very low-budget circus). meanwhile, the police circle–including the wonderfully loopy detective chu played by our own hungarian, mark mauer (see below).
Continue reading save the green planet!

rodrigo garcía

it is indeed a shame that a man with such lineage (he’s the son of gabriel garcía márquez) should be so distinctly untalented. i’ve seen two of his films, albert nobbs and things you can tell just by looking at her, and while i appreciate his attempts to present life from women’s point of view, i have to bemoan his utter failure.

a separation

has anyone reviewed this? i can’t see it. regardless.

this film starts with a couple talking to a judge. the camera is on the couple. the judge is invisible throughout but we can hear his questions. he sounds very reasonable. the couple discusses heatedly the question of their separation. the wife wants to leave the country; the husband says it’s impossible because he has to take care of his ill elderly father. they are both fetching (the wife is beautiful), articulate, passionate. they mostly look at the judge. neither gives an inch. the judge says that the only option is for them to separate. enter the problem of the 11-year-old daughter. the wife wants the daughter to go with her. the husband says the daughter doesn’t want to go. the judge (if memory serves) leaves it at that. the film starts as a family drama. Continue reading a separation

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is an uncompromising, rigorous and disciplined work of modernist cinema—a twisty, difficult film which undermines all expectations, keeping the spectator at a critical distance throughout yet continually holding our attention via mesmerizing visuals and knotty moral and ethical conundrums. Gorgeously shot and edited, The Master looks magnificent on the big screen, and the relationship between the film’s two central characters generates a lot of heat – the work on display is about as explosive and compelling as screen acting gets.

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Trashy Fun at the Movieplex

If it is not too hard to believe, Expendables 2 is even better than its predecessor. Sure, it essentially has no plot, and there is something painful about watching Stallone and Dolph Lungren stagger around the place pretending to be young again. But the action sequences are well-choreographed, and it is played for laughs with everyone pretty much winking their way through the scenes. Van Damme is slyly villainous; Chuck Norris has a couple of good turns. And Schwarzenegger has a blast. He and Bruce Willis trade references to each others’ movies. It’s silly, very silly, but it’s my kind of silly. Continue reading Trashy Fun at the Movieplex

Some rare Sam Peckinpah…

Here is a not-too-awful print of a rare short film by Sam Peckinpah: his adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter’s short story “Noon Wine.” It aired on ABC’s “Stage ’67” in 1966 and stars Jason Robards, Olivia de Havilland, Theodore Bikel, as well as a couple more Peckinpah stand-bys, Ben Johnson and L.Q. Jones. If you’re a Peckinpah fan, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the film, which Peckinpah made between the ill-fated Major Dundee and his triumph, The Wild Bunch. It so happens that Jerry Fielding (blacklisted in 1953 and did not return until 1961) did the music here, and there are some motifs in the score that will reappear in The Wild Bunch.

Robards is great–just the perfect role for him (he will play a similar character in The Ballad of Cable Hogue. Peckinpah manages to get a pretty good performance out of de Havilland (though I understand his methods were borderline sadistic). Bikel is just on the right side of not too over the top and, although only on screen for about a minute or so, L.Q. Jones is terrific. The swedish actor Per Oscarsson plays the escaped loony Olaf. An odd performance, perhaps not well-suited to a Peckinpah film.

I’ve never seen Peckinpah use so many dissolves and superimpositions. They’re there in The Wild Bunch, certainly, but nothing quite like this–but here he has to tell a long story (really a novella) in just under 50 minutes, so I guess they’re necessary.

Can’t seem to embed the video (Arnab?) so here’s a link.

4697645 from John Bruns on Vimeo.

Dark Knight Rises

It’s chilling to think that the same carnival atmosphere I experienced at the midnight showing here in Ohio turned into a bloodbath in Colorado. There is some more poignancy to a light-hearted exchange between Batman and Catwoman/Selina Kyle about the ethics of eschewing guns.

You know the plot from the reviews: Batman has been in self-imposed exile for eight years, paying the price for the canonization of Harvey Dent. Bane arrives in Gotham to complete the cleansing task begun by Ra’s Al Ghul in the first movie of the triology. Batman comes out of retirement, is beaten and humiliated by Bane who engages in assorted terrorism and mock class warfare until Bruce Wayne has recovered enough for the final showdown. This movie links back satisfyingly to Batman Begins in countless ways, large and small, so that we really do see the trilogy as part of a common arc. Continue reading Dark Knight Rises