Films Watched: June 2011

6/2 – Cave of Forgotten Dreams (dir. Werner Herzog, 2010)

This is the closest I will ever come to blindly following Werner Herzog, one of my favorite directors, into a cave. With his exploration of the Chauvet Cave, Herzog taps into the most puzzling part of the human experience: understanding ourselves. The payoff is brilliant and almost indescribable.

6/5: Arsenic and Old Lace (dir. Frank Capra, 1944)

Catching this movie on TCM was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It is one of my favorite Cary Grant movies. The supporting cast, especially Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, and John Alexander, bring the best out of their kooky characters. And then there is Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre (!) to round out the stellar cast.

Outsourced (dir. John Jeffcoat, 2006)

I must have been craving a cute, romantic comedy and some Bollywood flavor to watch Outsourced. The plot is probably exactly what you imagine it to be. When the call center Todd manages is outsourced to India, he moves to a small city to train his replacement There is humor made from Todd’s culture shock and from his budding relationship with his employee, Asha. When watching this movie, you kind of just have to go with the flow. Don’t question how the main relationship develops, why Asha seems so progressive yet really she isn’t. It will make your head hurt.

6/7: Whale Rider (dir. Niki Caro, 2002)

Girl power! Gender equality! Angry grandpas! Resentful dads! Cool, hippie uncles! Daddy issues! Mommy issues! Cultural sensitivity! Near-death by drowning! Whales! This movie has it all.

The Lady From Shanghai (dir. Orson Welles, 1947)

Of the many things that are awesome about this movie, the best is Rita Hayworth’s clothes. (Okay, yeah, that mirror scene is pretty cool too.)

Hello, Rita

6/8: Chasing Amy (dir Kevin Smith, 1997)

This is Kevin Smith’s best movie? I know I shouldn’t judge a movie by how well it does not stand up overtime. But the movie lost me with its base and moronioc discussions about relationships and sex. Alyssa, from her voice right down to her defense of her sexual past, is one obnoxious female character. Maybe that opinion is just mine. Someone explain to me if I missed the point and why I should give Chasing Amy a second shot.

6/10: Super 8 (dir. J.J. Abrams, 2011)

I realized 14 things while watching Super 8, including the fact Coach Taylor should always go rogue.

6/11: Strictly Ballroom (dir. Baz Luhrmann, 1992)

I do love early 90s rom-coms and the more Australian accents the better.  Especially ones that slightly rip off Dirty Dancing and add an ugly duckling who turns into a Paso Doble-ing swan storyline. Plus, it is involves the always entertaining high theatrics of Baz Luhrmann, ballroom style. What’s not to love?

6/14 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (dir. Peter Jackson, 2001)

For some reason I did not see The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers in theaters. This is probably because I have convinced myself that I am not a fan of fantasy movies, which isn’t really true. I just tell myself that so I don’t hate myself for not seeing them in the first place. So thank you Fathom Events and AMC Theaters for helping me right a wrong. I will write a longer blog post once I have seen all three extended editions, but my verdict so far is that The Lord of the Rings is totally awesome, then and now. I don’t see these movies ever coming across as outdated any time soon.

6/16 – Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (dir. John Landis, 2007)

Don Rickles is a comedy legend and one of the true professionals left in the business. His appearances on any late night show shouldn’t be missed. I also recommend you watch any of his appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or at any Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts or just paying tribute to Martin Scorsese. This documentary, which brings together many of comedy’s current big names and Clint Eastwood, gives you a finer appreciation of his contribution to the entertainment industry.

6/17 – Green Lantern (dir. Martin Campbell, 2011)

Why is Angela Bassett wearing those high heels with her lab coat? Why can Blake Lively only play Serena Van Der Woodsen or a drug addict? Why is Geoffrey Rush’s disembodied voice so soothing? Did I just take a nap? Why am I here? These are some of the things I thought to myself during Green Lantern.

6/18 – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (dir. Robert Ellis Miller, 1968)

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is one of my favorite novels but its adaptation didn’t carry the same weight as the novel because some elements were changed and updated.  But it is Alan Arkin as the deaf-mute Singer, who carries this movie without speaking a single word.

6/18 – Bringing Up Baby (dir. Howard Hawks, 1938)

Despite what you may think, I do not seek out Bringing Up Baby every time it is on television. It just so happens that it was on TCM and once I realized this, I couldn’t just turn away. This is one of the few movies that gets better after every time I see it.

6/19 – Midnight in Paris (dir. Woody Allen, 2011)

I loved Woody Allen’s latest movie. It tapped right into what Americans tend to romanticize about the French city: the culture, history, and the artists who lived there. Owen Wilson is the film’s protagonist who enters into a fantasy world of 1920s Paris and discovers how to appreciate his own life with the help of Ernest Hemingway, Gertude Stein and woman named Adriana (Marion Cotillard). My review of Midnight in Paris can be found here.

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6/20 – Bringing Up Baby (dir. Howard Hawks, 1938)

When I found out that a 35mm print of Bringing Up Baby was being screened at Film Forum, I had to go. My friend Diana joined me for a mini-Mount Holyoke film major reunion. This is my favorite movie and I love any opportunity I get to see it with an audience. I find myself only appreciating it more.

6/21 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (dir. Peter Jackson, 2002)

My quest to see The Lord of the Rings trilogy extended editions in theaters continued. The Two Towers is my favorite of the three movies, if only, because the Battle of Helms Deeps sequence is epically jaw-dropping. I’m stoked to see The Return of the King tonight and I should have a write-up about seeing the trilogy these past three weeks up sometime next week.

6/23 – Maurice (dir. James Ivory, 1987)

Maurice, based on the E.M. Forester novel, is a powerful story about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality in pre-World War I England. Maurice, played by James Wilby, has two serious romances, first with Clive (Hugh Grant) and second with Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves). His relationships tackle the issue of homosexuality in a society that condemns it as well as the class differences that seemingly divide these men. Here is my write-up on Maurice for Garbo Laughs’ Queer Cinema Blogathon.

6/28 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (dir. Peter Jackson, 2003)

Every Tuesday for the last three weeks, my friends and I have been going to the special screenings of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  After rewatching the extended editions of these three movies, I don’t think I will ever be able to watch them on a small screen again. Pretty incredible stuff. What is most impressive is how the special effects – and Viggo Mortensen’s insane attractiveness (though less true in The Return of the King) have really held up. I should have a longer post up – maybe some of the inane thoughts that went through my head – about going to see the trilogy in the next few days.

6/30 – Biutiful (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010)

The one thing I most often heard about Biutiful is that Javier Bardem’s perfomance as a father struggling to put affairs in order after he diagnosed with terminal cancer is something marvelous. That is true. Bardem’s performance is devastatingly beautiful and poignant. It is so good it almost distracts from the overall flaws of the movie that I have come to expect from an Iñárritu movie. The story Iñárritu is trying to tell is often too big and feels messily thrown together. I lost interest in Biutiful when the film shifted focus from Uxbal to his acquaintances. These characters and their stories reveal the dangerous, unglamorous side of Barcelona, making the underbelly of the city a secondary character. But it only distracted from an otherwise great movie.

Bonus!

I finally watched “A Letter to Elia,” Martin Scorsese’s Peabody Award winning documentary on Elia Kazan. I could listen to Scorsese talk about film history all day. It is available for streaming online.

I also spent Pride Weekend celebrating the legalization of same sex marriage in NY.

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4 thoughts on “Films Watched: June 2011”

    1. I was studying Blake’s extensive filmmography the other day and realized that Pippa Lee was the one movie I hadn’t seen. I do like Rebecca Miller and few of the other actors so I’ll probably give it a look.

      1. I really loved it – a lovely exploration of female subjectivity and the notion of inner life and self. The cast – yes, including Keanu – is uniformly excellent. Definitely give it a look!

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