My Week in Film: April 24 to April 30

This is a new feature on the blog. (And hopefully one I keep up with.) In an attempt to keep busy, focused, and actual records of what I watch, I’m going to write blurbs about the movies I see every week. I would say that I am doing this  to share with my many (hah) readers the vast number of films I watch but that’s a lie. I really just want to stop watching shows about the Kardashians and serial killers. I’m worried that this combination will have a detrimental impact on my psyche fairly soon.

So, it is on, Soderbergh!

4/24:  Killer of Sheep (dir. Charles Burnett, 1977)

Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, a neorealist style film set in a Los Angeles neighborhood, is my favorite movie. My understanding of American cinema completely changed when I first saw it almost two years ago. Killer of Sheep shows the immense value of independent filmmaking, simple yet complex storytelling, and the constant need for film preservation. Here is my reflection about Killer of Sheep from earlier this week.

4/24:  Show Me Love (dir.  Lukas Moodysson, 1998)

This Swedish film has a really unfortunate non-English title: Fucking Åmål. (Gee, I wonder why that didn’t fly stateside.) It is a coming-of-age story about two teenage girls: Agnes is incredibly shy and rumored to be a lesbian while Elin is a outgoing and popular. They develop an at first complicated but eventually sweet relationship and the possibility of a real romance is hinted by the movie’s conclusion.

4/25: Howard’s End (dir. James Ivory, 1992)

Thank god for periods films and Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter’s hair.

4/26: Nothing Sacred (dir. William A. Wellman, 1937)

This screwball comedy, starring Carole Lombard and Frederic March, is not particularly great. I found the plot to drag on and the humor to be mostly lacking. What saves it from being a complete mess is Carole Lombard. You can really enjoy this movie if you watch her and how she commands the screen. Here is my write up from earlier in the week.

4/27: Easy A (dir. Will Gluck, 2010)

Is Easy A best teen comedy since Mean Girls? It’s up there. What makes Easy A great is that it is simultaneously a throwback to 90s teen comedies (Clueless; 10 Things I Hate About You) and every John Hughes movie (Pretty in PinkFerris Bueller). Emma Stone is pretty good in it too.

4/28: Born of the Fourth of July (dir. Oliver Stone, 1989)

Watching this Oliver Stone movie more than 20 years after its release was… weird. I find that Oliver Stone is easy to mock and most Tom Cruise’s movies to be especially grating. I really don’t get the appeal of Tom Cruise as an actor, movie star, and public figure. Knowing what I know about him now makes it nearly impossible to take any of his movies seriously, even the good ones like this.

4/29: Gregory’s Girl (dir. Bill Forsyth, 1981)

Once the royal wedding ended, I guess I was still in the mood for something from across the pond, minus the hats. Gregory’s Girl, a coming-of-age film about awkward Scottish teenager who can’t take his eyes of the girl who joins his football team, did the trick. And, you’ll learn how to dance lying down!

4/30: Win Win (dir. Tom McCarthy, 2011)

Win Win, Tom McCarthy’s follow up to 2008’s The Visitor, stars  Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, and Bobby Cannavale. It is a family drama, a coming-of-age story, and a sports film that is simple yet heartfelt. Giamatti is a New Jersey lawyer and high school wrestling coach who becomes the guardian of an elderly man and, by accident, the man’s troubled teenage grandson. It is another really sharp and thoughtful film from McCarthy. I will post a full review later in the week.

An American in Paris (dir. Vincente Minelli, 1951)

I think the world stops whenever Gene Kelly dances and I always pause to watch it if I can. It is not my favorite Gene Kelly movie but few things top the 16 minute ballet dream sequence. And the best advice I received before graduating from college was inspired by An American in Paris. If you dance your way through life like Gene Kelly, then you’ll be just fine.

Girl Crazy (dir. Busby Berkeley and Norman Taurog, 1943)

“Say, you by any chance aren’t related to Harpo Marx?” Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Always.

And some extras…

If you have not seen photojournalist Tim Hetherington’s 10 minute short film, Diary, it is embedded below. Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Libya last week. Watching Diary and the Academy Award nominated documentary Restrepo, arguably the best documentary about the war in Afghanistan to date, you can’t help but think that Hetherington’s death has cheated us of some great work.

Luminarium Dance Company (I reviewed their debut performance last October) released their first company dance film – Everything But Blue. You must watch it. (No, really, I insist.) I absolutely love their work; it is some of the best you will see from emerging artists. This film adapts their stage performance of the number, is set to Miles Davis’ “Indigo,” and is about what happens when monotony consumes you. It should not be missed, especially if you are from the Boston-area.

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