Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Movie-Viewing

Knock 'Em Dead, Kid

This is a film I was sent to review.It won the festival prize in the Twin Rivers Film Festival. It's kind of a coming of age flick...but with Indie flavor and it has a lot of indie cred. Made for $3000 bucks and definitely straight and honest from an indie heart. It has the typical guy flick stuff. Raunchy sex jokes, fat women jokes, cheating on girlfriends, stupid violence. But it takes all that stuff seriously and shows what happens to folks like this in real life.

The film begins when Bret drinks out of the milk carton in the take-out joint he works in. He gets fired then he and his three pals go about being slackers. They're working class white guys who find out pretty soon that the this is real life not "reel" life. It’s definitely a film that one can see with one’s mom because in the end it’s all about Mom saying “I told you so, Son. The world is a serious place.” Not a bad lesson to learn before stepping out into adult life.

Rang de Basanti
This one won a BAFTA (equivalent of the Oscars) It's Bollywood but not so much and it stars my great Indian Muslim fave: Amir Khan. (Yep. Fell in love with him when I first saw him in Lagaan, arguably one of the best bollywood flicks about the English Raj.) So...an English woman decides to make a docudrama based on the diaries of her grandfather who had gone to India to do the White Man's Burden thing. She meets a bounce of partying student and grad types and they become her actors. They're pretty shallow and hedonistic types (with good hearts) but through making the film about the sacrifice for the struggle for India's Independence they learn to become revolutionaries. The first 2 hours is kinda blah. We see the guys partying and Amir's character falling in love with the directress (<-- love that word) and the scenes from the film. All the while we're hearing kinda in the background about greed and the MIG fighters crashing. Then the modern day story rolls in with a fury when someone dies and our movie-revolutionaries decide to sacrifice themselves for the good of India. I gotta say I hate revolutionary flicks. I probably hate revolutionaries. Cause I'm jealous of their youth, and cause they think they feel so much. But dang, I liked these guys...and when they do the unthinkable all I could do is say "Children, children! Let's rethink this." But I gotta say I was touched. Yep, almost cried. Maybe did.

Great lines: If people are asleep, you need a blast to wake them up.
There were a couple other great lines but I can't remember them now.

The Minus Man

An oldie -- 1990's--but it never really grabs me. A bit like Elephant but not as plaintive or beautiful. Why don't these meditations on murderers simply arrive at a conclusion as to why these guys murder? The story is told from the POV of the bad guy, Vince, and we're always hearing his voiceover self-analysis of himself. Not really self-analysis. More like meditations. And..like Elephant...we don't really have a backstory. Whereas Elephant gave us tons of possibilities for blame -- video games? homosexuality? sociopaths in a wicked attraction or what all else?-- The Minus Man gives us nada. We don't even get a glimpse of his childhood. I'm not too sure of the reason he kills. Perhaps he's jealous of happy people. But then he killed the drug addict girl. Perhaps it's a dislike of emotion. But then he killed the guy in the restaurant who had no real emotion except annoyance. The only time there was an inkling of some kind of background issue was when he almost raped a girl who liked him. He's pretty affectless before that. Also, the only time he seemed to have any kind of power to turn himself from killing was when he ran away from an older artist lady he met. But that still left me thinking WTF?

BTW, a great pick-up line occurs in this movie:
Vince to artist: "Okay, I will."
Artist: "You will, what?"
Vince: "Anything you want."
But in the long run, the director's decision to not show any backstory..well, it kinda messed it up for me. One gets the feeling, though, that he will get caught. The two non-corporeal in-the-brain-and-in-the-room-but-not-really-there-FBI-guys left telling him "some one else is handling your case now."

Alexandra
An old Russian grandma makes her way to her grandson's army camp in Chechen territory. Her grandson thinks she's a pest but the other soldiers don't mind her walking around being grandmotherly. It's an anti-war film and she's a real curmudgeon but isn't every grandma? Her presence is healing...to the soldiers in the barracks and to the "enemy" women in town. All that motherly loving feminine older energy we all need when we're away from home. Just a really good flick. Slow for some but I liked the groove. And know what? It made me miss my mother. (Yeah, I know...am looking back at my mother as a grandmother.) And it made me want to be a grandmother with such a healing presence to young folks. Maybe that's my destiny when I get older -- Yes, I think I'd like to grow old-- and to bring earthly mother love to folks who never had it. That would heal me of the love I never really got when I was growing up. Yes, I think I'd like to get a lot of love here on earth before I go to heaven. Just thinking. Yeah, it was a good flick. I didn't like the ending though. Old people living solitary lives...that bothers me. I can't help it. Loneliness has got to be one of the worst emotions ever...especially when one fears dying alone far from family.

Tribes
This is an oldie from the early seventies. Jan-Michael Vincent is a draftee who simply will not conform. Okay, it's a bit dated and some of it is a bit unwatchable with that sixties hipster nihilistic cool but I loved it as a kid. I think when it comes to nonconformist soldiers I like Cadence with Martin and Charlie Sheen. But if you want to go retro and lounge in blonde gorgeousness, Jan-Michael ain't so bad. I think I liked him best in Defiance though. Anyway, I think I disagree with the ending. When one's a kid one romanticizes that kind of death but when one's my age, it's major bull*hit. I wanted to slap the kid and tell him to just chill and learn to die to self a bit. For all his deep meditation and spirituality, he definitely holds on to self a lot. I guess it's easier to die to the world than to die to self. Most beautiful scene: grandson braiding his grandma's hair. You would NEVER see that in the typical American film. Hey, it probably happens in American houses once in a while. But American films don't mine the typical.

And Elephant was on again. Hubby had never seen it...so I pretty much forced him to. Can't help it. I love that movie. Lord knows why. -C
-C
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