9.06.2008

Movies of the Week 8/31- 9/6

Movies of the Week 8/31- 9/6

It's movie mania here in the 'ville! I think every Saturday will be movie recap day. It's just easiest to list all the movies I've seen all week at the end of the week. This week may not include all the movies since I'm writing this a bit early and Rashan and I have plans to watch at least 3 more movies. Okay let's make that a MAXIMUM of 3 more movies. I considered not even checking out additional movies because it's just too much!

I do feel weird, though, when I don't have a new movie to watch. I've also added in more than just documentaries because I need to be well-rounded about films in general. There were so many movies my mom wouldn't let us watch because of the mature subject material that there are many I haven't seen. For the record, I will never list here the movies I have seen already if I manage to squeeze some of that in among the 16-25 hours of film-watching per week. This week I'm probably already closer to 25 because of the first film I watched. I don't normally like to do scathing indictments on the internet because it's just so permanent I'll try to keep the recaps to a reasonalbe level.

1) "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" (Spike Lee): devastatingly beautiful. The 3rd act felt disjointed, but overall a moving piece. I would recommend it to anyone.

2) "Always A Bridesmaid" (Nina Davenport): The cinematography needed work but for once, the narration wasn't distracting. I have this huge thing with narration. It drives me bananas to hear bad narration! It's my number one documentary pet peeve at this point. It's distracting a la "Street Fight" (Marshall Curry). The narration was horrid. The characters in that story were so vivid it didn't need narration.

Back to AWAB. Great beginning. It was painful to watch mostly because almost everyone knows or knows of someone like that-- someone who wants so badly to get married. And at 30, she was pressuring her 25-year-old boyfriend immensely to make a permanent commitment to be met with ambivalence. She wouldn't make a clean break despite people imploring her from all angles to do just that. The ending meandered and didn't seem to make a lot of sense but an interesting personal profile and at times humorous. It was a bit too long, too. I probably wouldn't watch it again. If I did, I would certainly not watch the entire thing.

3) "Do the Right Thing" (Spike Lee): I watched it because everyone was so appalled when I told them I'd never seen it before. So now everyone can breathe calmer now. Let's all calm down. I was very detached from it. Not particularly moved toward dislike or like. It was too long, though.

4) "Mo Betta Blues" (Spike Lee): I know I know! 1) How can you call yourself a Spike fan and never have seen either of those movies and 2) In general, HOW HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN THOSE MOVIES???? But now I have so stop judging me! I really liked this one. He did seem to wander toward too long in this one as well, though, but a really well-done story and Denzel was marvelous.

5) "Sunset Story" (Laura Gabbert/Caroline Libresco): About a retirement home for radicals. It was billed at a humorous look at a retirement home that also didn't shy away from the obstacles of being elderly or something like that. Yes, there were some humorous moments, but for the most part I was sad to see the decline of these former art directors, teachers, social workers and activists. I loved that they were still active and attending rallies. That was fantastic. But it was hard to watch. I didn't understand some of the shot selection. I didn't see the point in some of the more extraneous neighborhood shots. They didn't seem to tie in with the rest of the movie well enough. If you're trying to portray the community involvement, these shots don't seem to tell that story enough. I believe every shot needs to have a reason for inclusion. Toward the end the story line began to drag a bit.

6) "Give Em Belle": Student film from my school. Very interesting character and the flow of the plot had you rooting for this former UF student running for office in Gainesville despite the obstacles and that the guy seemed a bit annoying. He was still funny.

7) "J.esus Camp": Very difficult to watch because of the subject matter. It's about fu.ndamentalist Ch.ristian children and how they're indoctrinated from a very young age. The opening and closing shots seemed out of place for me with random Missouri scenery, but a compelling story. The plot seemed to get away from the filmmakers at times, though.

8) "The Boys of Baraka": AWESOME. It's by the same filmmakers of the previous movie. They followed a group of 20 "at-risk" boys from Baltimore to a boarding school in Kenya. The only thing that bothered me is that you were introduced to 5 kids but only got an educational conclusion for 3 of them. I knew from the outset that I was going to be impacted by this movie and likely unable to critique it from the normal criteria. The injustice made me emotional as did the triumphs. I felt particularly connected because one of my friends used to teach in Baltimore and talked about some of the things I saw. It was an excellent movie and in the morning I was able to flesh out technical issues more than I was immediately after watching it. A must see.

9) "Spellbound": Follows 8 competitors in the National Spelling Bee. I liked it for the first hour and 20 minutes. Then it began to drag and you still had about 14 minutes left, which seemed like an eternity. It started to feel like you were watching the spelling bee in real time when all you really care about are the stories and the winner. I don't need to see 150 words spelled correctly or incorrectly. It got to be a bit much toward the end.

10) "Encounters at the End of the Earth" (Werner Herzog): Bizarre. The filmmaker takes a crew to Antartica/the South Pole to interview the characters (and I do mean characters) who live there. It bounced between being about the encounters and being a nature film. It was almost like watching a home movie of someone's trip to Alaska. Hint, hint Uncle Richard. Lol!! My uncle did that to everyone who walked in his house for like a year!!! The point is, no matter how beautiful the scenery, you can't make someone feel like they were there, too from a video. Sorry. So yes I was bored despite the sometimes amusing narration. BUT there was free sushi afterwards for some reason and it was GOOD. I went to this one with a couple of my classmates at a local theater then out for "coffee" except I had a root beer float since I don't do coffee but YUM!!

11) "The Philadelphia Story": Cute. It's one of those classics you have to see from a time gone by. Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant. I liked it.

12) "My Architect: A Son's Story" (Nathaniel Kahn): Stilted narration. A son goes on a hunt for his architect father's identity 25 years after his death. He was in one of 3 families his father kept. The best shots were interviews inside the father's buildings and some of the outdoor pictures of the buildings. It was also interesting to hear his father's mistresses-- including his mother-- who never married and still seem very attached to his memory. I guess flabbergasting is the more appropriate word. Oddly enough I thought the last 10 minutes of the nearly 2 hour movie were the best-- particularly the part in Bangladesh. It seemed to best encapsulate what his father meant. The part in California did that pretty well, too.

Yes, I overachieved this week. Other films I've seen in the last 2 weeks but not discussed: "Sister Helen" about this potty-mouthed nun who takes in men with substance abuse problems and "Crazy Love" about this woman who married the man who blinded her in an acid attack. Both had such extraordinarily compelling characters that it made up for any production shortcomings. The first week most of the films I watched were made by students. Some were better than others, of course. After all this I better have that award-winning documentary, huh? Lol.

5 comments:

shani-o said...

Love, love, love Philadelphia Story. And pretty much any film with Kate Hepburn. There's something about the snap to the dialogue that I dig.

the joy said...

You never saw do the right thing? Wha? We saw that in 12th grade English, lol. That's a lot of movies. Spellbound was somewhat unententionally funny, lol. Gotta love smart kids.

Rashan Jamal said...

Levees was great although I can't watch it straight. I need a break when watching that one.

Mo Betta is one of my favorites, Do the right thing was good, especially in the context of when it came out.

Jesus Camp irritated me. Baraka was good but predictable. Spellbound I agree was too long.

Philadelphia Story, I m like Shani, I love the dialogue. The snappy repartee...

jameil1922 said...

shani... it's so cute!

joy... hursh. spellbound had those odd little kids! they were so bizarre! the winner tho was actually kinda normal and had friends! i liked it.

rj... no one should watch a four-hour emotion-filled doc straight. it's bad for biz! mo betta is delightful! jesus camp bothered me a lot. yeah we know you are all for snappy dialogue.

CNEL said...

The Boys of Baraka one of my faves.

Spike is great, I have to see the Levees.

I haven't seen many of the others, reminds me of my plans to use the library card, and visit the nearby artsy video store.