RSS

Tag Archives: Jeff Bridges

Monthly Report: November 2012

Color me shocked that I almost tied last month’s movie tally this month. October felt very movie-heavy. November, by comparison, just kind of drifted by, but I apparently watched a lot of stuff regardless. Not that I’m complaining. I got some good watching done, knocking off a couple more from my 2011 Must-See list, as well as some classics that I should have watched a long time ago. Yeah, November was a good month indeed.

Neds (Peter Mullan, 2010)
Set in Glasgow in the 1970s, Neds follows a boy during his growing-up phase, from promising smart kid to trouble-making delinquent. The transition is presented in an engaging fashion and, for the most part, shows a believable trajectory. Some well-timed humor makes for a welcome addition in the early goings as well. The problem is that it all gets a repetitive, with the second half of the film treading water rather than breaking new ground. Some more time could have been spent fine-tuning it in the cutting room. It’s a slightly better film than Mullan’s previous effort The Magdalene Sisters, though.
3/5

Rampart (Oren Moverman, 2011)
Hard-hitting character study of one rotten L.A. cop, expertly portrayed by a rarely-better Woody Harrelson. He and Oren Moverman make for one hell of a team, judging by this and their previous collaboration The Messenger. Moverman does great work here, utilizing colors and camera angles in striking ways that really make the film come alive. And this is only his second film. I’m eagerly anticipating what he’ll come up with next.
4/5

TheronYoungAdult

Young Adult (Jason Reitman, 2011)
I’m a major fan of Jason Reitman. That Young Adult is probably his weakest film to date has more to do with the awesomeness of Thank You For Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air, than with any supposed lack of quality in this latest effort. Because Young Adult is really good. It’s a brisk and fun look at an interesting woman – Charlize Theron‘s Mavis – who’s possibly be the best-written character Diablo Cody has provided cinema with. The film might not tell a story we haven’t heard before, and it could have done with a bit more narrative muscle, but, in the end, this is Jason Reitman. And Jason Reitman makes damn fine films.
4/5

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements
 
13 Comments

Posted by on 1 December, 2012 in Monthly Report

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monthly Report: October 2012

Hot diggity damn, what a movie month October turned out to be! With 28 new movies seen, it’s handily the most densely packed month since I started this series of blog posts. Netflix launching in Sweden certainly helped a bit, but it’s also a simple case of film once again rising above other pastimes of mine, as it tends to do sooner or later. Summer was a down-period; now I’m back into the swing of things again.

But it’s not just quantity that makes October a great month for film. The vast majority of what I watched these last 31 days has been good. Only three films failed to make my passing grade of 3/5, which is pretty impressive. It got to the point where I started second-guessing myself: “Can I really give another movie a positive mark? Shouldn’t I give out a low score to show some kind of… I don’t know.” In the end, I feel like I’ve been fair to every movie I’ve seen. Except the Bergman one, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan, 2002)
Structurally, this is familiar prison/asylum/escape stuff. It’s competently made for sure, and certainly not boring. That said, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table plot-wise. It is notable, however, for bringing cruelties performed by certain members of the Catholic church to the public consciousness. Young women were sent off to asylums to become, in effect, slave laborers indefinitely. Why? Because they sinned. They flirted with boys, or had children out of wedlock, or were raped. While being based on a true story is never a free pass for a movie to be considered important or anything, it does lend this one a certain weight it might not otherwise have had.
3/5

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (Rodman Flender, 2011)
A bit repetitive at times, and not a very revelatory look at Conan O’Brien, but it – and its subject – has enough energy and drive to make for a fun watch. I haven’t seen any of O’Brien’s work other than the occassional clip here and there online, and I’m not sure I learned much about him here other than what the title reveals.
3/5

Faster (George Tillman Jr., 2010)
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who went into this one expecting a straight-forward frantic action flick. That’s not what Faster is. It’s a revenge thriller with only sporadic scenes of gunplay and driving antics. For what it is, it works quite well. I was particularly fond of the attempts at characterization of the main players, with all three getting some unexpected depth added to them. The ending kind of flies in the face of what led up to it though, which is a bit of a shame. Still, this is a decent movie, and I’m actually vaguely curious now to see what else the director has made.
3/5

Read the rest of this entry »

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 1 November, 2012 in Monthly Report

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 1998

You know the drill by now. These are my 10 favorite movies of 1998, going by release year listed on IMDB.

Honorable mentions: Dark City, The Interview, Rushmore, Run Lola Run, There’s Something About Mary

10 – FOLLOWING (Christopher Nolan)

“You take it away to show them what they had.”

Before there were the multi-million dollar blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Inception, there was Following. Nolan’s first film was made on a budget of $6000, shot in black & white and with no bells and whistles. The story thus becomes the focal point, and it’s a good one indeed. Telling the non-chronological tale of a writer (Jeremy Theobald) who after following people on the streets eventually finds himself led into a world of crime, this neo-noir is filled with twists, turns and intrigue. Not quite a masterpiece or anything, but definitely well worth checking out to see where the seeds for Memento were planted.

9 – THE CELEBRATION (FESTEN, Thomas Vinterberg)

“Here’s to the man who killed my sister. To a murderer.”

The Celebration is perhaps most significant for being the first (and, alongside Lars Von Trier‘s The Idiots, arguably the most well-known) movie of the Dogme 95 movement, a philosophy that emphasises realism throughout the whole film production and was started in reaction to big costly Hollywood fare. However, it’s also a captivating film in its own right, showing the dark secrets hidden away beneath the facades of a wealthy family. It’s a fitting subject matter for the style, which all leads to some chillingly stark scenes and moments. A powerful film.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
22 Comments

Posted by on 29 March, 2012 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review – The Fisher King (1991)

The Fisher King is an interesting case in some ways. It’s a good film, but one that could have been great if it had managed to be more focused on the parts that work. But said parts might not be the ones you’d expect from its director Terry Gilliam. In most of his other films, it’s his sense for either absurd humor (anything Monty Python-related), wild imagination (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) or the blurring between reality and delusion (Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) that stand out as something special. In The Fisher King, I find myself wishing he’d scale back on all those things and instead allow the relationships between the characters to take more room.

As the film opens, we’re acquainted with radio shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges), a sccuseful man ready to take the next step in his career and start pursuing acting. He’s at the top of his world when disaster strikes: after giving particularly insensitive advice to a caller on his show, said caller snaps and goes on a shooting spree in a restaurant. Many people die and Jack’s career comes to a screeching halt. Flash forward three years and Jack is now a suicidal depressive stuck working at a video rental store, plagued with guilt over his part in the shooting. A chance late-night encounter with the bum Parry (Robin Williams) offers what might be a chance at redemption. Parry is clearly crazy, conversing with imaginary little people and on a quest to find the holy grail somewhere in New York. At first Jack wants nothing to do with the nut-case, but when Jack realizes that Parry’s wife was one of the people killed in the restaurant, he begins feeling responsible. He needs to help Parry in any way he can. The quest for the grail is not the only thing Parry needs aid with, though. He has also fallen in love with an accountant named Lydia (Amanda Plummer), whom he observes from afar but never dares to approach. This too Jack needs to do something about.

The Parry character is what drags the film down. It’s not that he’s dull (because he isn’t) or that Robin Williams isn’t good in the part (because he is), but he takes upp too much space. He takes his clothes off and watches the stars in Central Park. He’s chased by a monstrous red knight of his delusions. He conducts fellow homeless in singing songs. Not to mention the ever-present search for the grail, supposedly to be found in a rich man’s home on Upper West Side. All these things feel like distractions, only indirectly connected to Jack’s problems and, worse yet, not even fun. Whenever the film indulges in them, it slows down and loses my interest. This makes in particular the first half of the film drag a bit.

But when the film takes a step away from these things and focuses on the relationships present, it really shines. The Lydia of Parry’s desires is in the film described as mousy, and that seems accurate. She has her own hang-ups and quirks and appears a better match for Parry than what he’s probably aware of himself. The best part of their courtship is a quite touching scene in which Parry, after an arranged double-date at a Chinese restaurant, professes his love for her (capped off by a really funny closing line by Williams). Very sweet. Even better is what’s going on between Jack and his boss/flatmate/girlfriend Anne (Mercedes Ruehl), the other half of said double-date. Their relationship is a complex one, based as much on need as on affection. The Fisher King is never better than when it pairs off these two characters alone to have them talk about what’s going on between them. It works because they have believable issues and we can sympathise with both of them fully. This kind of thing has never really been Gilliam’s forte, so it’s a pleasant surprise that these scenes are as good as they are. No, not good. Great. Credit to both Gilliam, the actors (Ruehl in particular) and writer Richard LaGravenese for making these scenes so special and heartfelt.

But for every scene of such greatness, there’s another sidetrack to Parry’s craziness and I find myself gritting my teeth and trying to invest myself in the going-ons of his delusions. At one part, right after Parry makes a breakthrough with Lydia and they part ways, the red knight shows up to haunt him again. Having for once broken out of his craziness and behaved mostly normal for some time, he now falls to his knees on the street and cries out “Please, let me have this!”. I share the same sentiment. Let him be normal!

Despite the missteps this film makes, I have to call it a satisfying experience overall, if also a frustrating one. The parts that work really work and are truly top-notch stuff, among the best Gilliam has ever directed. There is a sardonic humor running throughout the script that I quite enjoy, and not all of the crazy Parry episodes are bad (there’s one whimsical scene where people start dancing in Grand Central Station that is both out-of-place and quite beautiful in a way). The performances are also good/great, with Bridges and Ruehl carrying the dramatic load and a memorable Michael Jeter providing solid comic relief as a homeless drag queen. So yes, as I said in the opening paragraph: The Fisher King is a good movie. But it could have been great, and it’s a real shame that it isn’t.

Score: 3/5

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 10 October, 2011 in Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,