Friday, April 21, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks - A Disappearance

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them - we won't disappear on you!

Fear not, my friends! I haven't disappeared, I'm just CRAZY busy and tried to do this on my lunch break at work but that didn't work because I haven't really had a lunch break all week. Anyway, this week's theme is disappearances, which can be traumatic - for the disappeared as well as the ones they left behind.

The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2016) A Puritan family is exiled from their village after their views are deemed too extreme (which, since we're talking about Puritans, must have been pretty damn extreme!). They settle on the edge of a wood and before long, when teenage Thomasin (a star-is-born performance from Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing peek-a-boo with her baby brother, the baby disappears. As it turns out, he was stolen by a witch who lives in the wood, and the young twins insist that the family goat, Black Phillip, is talking to them. One of the best films of last year, The Witch (or, if you prefer, The VVitch) is supremely chilly, a tense, beautifully shot freakout that never feels anything less than completely authentic, and features outstanding performances from Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson as the heads of the household.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975) On Valentine's Day in the year 1900, three schoolgirls and their teacher disappeared during an outing at Hanging Rock in Victoria, Australia. This didn't actually happen, but after watching Peter Weir's gorgeous masterpiece, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was based on a true story. The film knows that not knowing what happened is scarier than giving a definitive answer, and it accumulates a lot of power in its depiction of the disappearance and its aftermath.

L'Avventura (Michaelangelo Antonioni, 1960) A woman disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip, and her fiancée and best friend become attracted to each other during the course of the investigation into her disappearance. Because of the ennui of the Italian socialite set. Or the landscape. Or something. I don't know. I just don't like this movie. No one is likable and the pace is too slow. I'm sure it all MEANS SOMETHING, but I could care less about these poor sad beautiful rich people.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks - Rivalry

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

Another Thursday, another round of movies to pick! The theme this week is rivalry. Rivalry can take many forms, be it between siblings, friends, colleagues, or even natural enemies. I didn't mean to focus on male rivalries this week, but it's what ended up happening. I generally find rivalry between men not nearly as interesting as rivalry between women (you are all watching Feud, right?!? So rich and complex... GOD I LOVE IT), but in these movies, they are entertaining to watch.

The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006) I know I've picked this before not too long ago, but I had to again because it is the single best movie I've ever seen about male rivalry. Robert Angier and Alfred Borden were friends and apprentices to a great magician but became estranged after an accident ended up killing Angier's wife. Ever since, they became great rivals, each trying to outdo and outsmart each other, to the point of obsession. Boasting outstanding performances from Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, fun support from Michael Caine and David Bowie (ingenious casting as Nikola Tesla), gorgeous cinematography, and a smart, dark-and-twisty script that is even better than the novel on which it's based, this may just be Nolan's best film. It's certainly his most underrated. (And also: THAT TRAILER. One of the all-time greats, no?)

Grumpy Old Men (Donald Petrie, 1993) John Gustafson and Max Goldman were once friends, but became rivals after John married Max's high school sweetheart. Ever since, they've spent their days fighting and pulling pranks on each other. When a vivacious college professor moves in across the street, their rivalry intensifies. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau's chemistry is still great, even if the movie isn't. But the two of them and Ann-Margaret (as the love interest) are nothing if not troopers, and they know just how to elevate the stock material.

This Means War (McG, 2012) GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT!! I know this spy vs spy romcom isn't any good. I know that Reese Witherspoon has never been stiffer, that Tom Hardy has never been blander, that Chris Pine has never been more forgettable. But goddammit, this movie makes me laugh at all these assholes SO. MUCH. Plus, you know, Tom Hardy's lips. They are delectable pillows of goodness and I just want to sink into them. They make it possible to deal with a LOT.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks - Cars/Racing

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Come along for the ride by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

If there's one thing I really miss now that I've been living in New York City for the past two and a half years, it's driving. I miss getting into my car, revving up the engine, putting my foot on the gas, and just GOING. There's such a feeling of power and freedom that comes from being behind the wheel, and I love it and miss it.

But thankfully, I have these movies to watch whenever I miss driving too much.

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Stanley Kramer, 1963) One of the greatest, funniest, and largest casts ever assembled drives their way through this madcap comedy on their way to find buried treasure. Yes, it's schticky, but so what? Schtick is what you watch these greats for, and they are GREAT at it. As a bonus, the car chases are GREAT, and super funny to boot.

The Love Bug (Robert Stevenson, 1968) I mean... if you didn't love this as a kid, I'm not sure there's anything I can do for you. Yes, it's all formula and it's all very easy comedy, but... it works, dammit, because everyone on screen really believes in the ridiculousness they're selling, and commits like it was an adaptation of classic literature destined for Oscar glory. It's all just perfectly right, not over- or underdone. (Okay, fine, maybe a little overdone. But it still works!) That's Disney magic for you!

Trafic (Jacques Tati, 1971) After satirizing vacationers in Les vacances de M. Hulot, modern technology in Mon Oncle, and popular culture in Playtime, French clown extraordinaire Jacques Tati turned his infallible eye (and obliviously accident-prone character, M. Hulot) to the modern automobile in Trafic, and the result is a sublime, gag-after-gag treat of a film. It's not as strong overall as his previous films, but it's still damn funny, and it's centerpiece car accident is one for the ages.