Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Year at the Theater



I Love You Phillip Morris (2010)
The King’s Speech (2010)
Somewhere (2010)
Vanishing Point (1971)
Magadheera (2009) [left early]
Blue Valentine (2010)
Another Year (2010)


The Illusionist (2010)
All About Eve (1950)


Cedar Rapids
Kuroneko (1968)
The Pink Panther (1963)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Certified Copy


The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Mildred Pierce [episodes 1 & 2]
Source Code
Vertigo (1958)
Meek’s Cutoff
Taxi Driver (1976)


Jane Eyre
Pale Flower (1964)
The Face of Another (1966)
Empire of Passion (1978)
Everything Must Go


Kung Fu Panda 2
The Tree Of Life
The Crimson Pirate (1952)
Midnight In Paris
Super 8
Tampopo (1985)
Cars 2
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives


Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
The Trip
Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
Buffalo Bill & The Indians (1976)
Trauma (1993) [in a parking garage]
Suspiria (1977)
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
The Tree Of Life
Safety Last (1923) with Never Weaken (1921)
On The Bowery (1957) with Skid Row (1950s)
The Apartment (1960)


Sabrina (1954)
World on a Wire (1973)
Bill Cunningham New York
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The Future
Our Idiot Brother


Project Nim
The Guard


Point Blank
The Ides Of March
In Time


Take Shelter
The Skin I Live In
Martha Marcy May Marlene
J. Edgar
Arthur Christmas


The Descendants
The Muppets
A Christmas Story (1983)
Young Adult
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
The Adventures Of Tintin
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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From those, and home viewing, this top ten, “I am 60 years old” edition, in rough order of preference: Poetry, Mysteries Of Lisbon, Melancholia, Hugo, The Tree Of Life, Meek’s Cutoff, The Skin I Live In, J. Edgar, Midnight In Paris, Certified Copy.

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For no other reason than that I saw them a day apart, my thoughts about the great Scorsese’s Hugo are inextricably tied up with my viewing of the great Hirokazu’s After Life:
1. Choosing a memory is the latter film’s equivalent of finding a purpose in life.
2. The one who can’t choose/find becomes the storyteller, a young girl in both cases.
3. Movies recreate dreams.

The moment I fell in love: The first glimpse inside Melies’s studio, as he films some strange underwater tapestry of a startlingly vivid blue that his camera of course won’t capture, that will have to be hand-painted onto the film later. It takes so much learning or unlearning before we can know exactly what we’re watching when we watch very old movies; the way Hugo instantly telegraphs a semblance of this knowledge, with eye-popping detail, is heartbreaking.

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Melancholia shook me to my core, as they say, which leads me to believe that it’s a great work of cinema (maybe the only one that dares propose the cosmic irrelevance of cinema), but also to worry that such declarations about its artistry amount to a refusal to acknowledge what the movie depicts, i.e. how easy the end of the world will be. Much as I wanted to think of Melancholia as a huge metaphor for mental illness (like Take Shelter) or as being primarily concerned with internal cosmos (like The Tree Of Life, or an inverse Tree Of Life—I’m having trouble today choosing between things and their opposites), in the end there’s nowhere to hide (unlike 2012’s Great Plateau of Africa). It’s about the dread we share on winter days when the sun doesn’t rise very high above the horizon.

1. Would the knowledge that the world is about to end render our era classical? I look at the tableaus from the movie’s overture (nothing has captured the movement of bodies better since the opening credits of Tarsem’s The Fall, Muybridge writ large) and the old paintings seen throughout, and what I see is an endangered species, their way of life nearly over (the depicter as well as the depicted). Is that what Justine means when she switches all the abstract art for representational art on Claire’s shelves?
2. I doubt Lars Von Trier cares much about the Kiefer Sutherland persona, but no director has ever made better use of it, or even realized it exists/what it is.
3. Charlotte Gainsbourg is great, especially considering she is tasked with performing the last action on Earth, a little rabbit jump of terror. It’s an indelible (i.e. delible) moment.

That last shot haunts me. I finally understand astronomy. I haven’t looked at the moon the same way since. I even sketched the shot during a moment of Close Encounters-type obsession (spoiler?):

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Let it also be known that I just saw War Horse, and being vulnerable to intensely sentimental movies like I am, got all sorts of emotionally caught up and can’t really offer a sensible reaction. Funny, I groaned at the preview for Disney’s Chimpanzee, which turns the title chimp into an ordinary orphan child looking for a sense of belonging, totally ignoring the impenetrable mystery in an animal’s eyes even though it’s right there in the images, and then, moments later, I’m ready to hail War Horse as a great work of well-earned anthropomorphism. But its motives and methods struck me as pure, and I cried, a lot.

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“I can think and move ice at the same time.”
--ice factory worker in Cold Weather

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