Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Summer Movies 2013 Pt. II

Posted by Gerald on June 12, 2013

Summer Movie #11 – On the Edge (Herman Yau, 2006): This was not the action film I expected, but was much more of a drama. No big action sequences or stylistic camera work, this is more about realism. A Hong Kong cop who had been undercover in the Triads for eight years finishes his operation and then leaves the life he had built behind and comes back to a police force where he isn’t known or trusted. Most of the film is about his trying to find his way. This isn’t a flawless movie, but it deals with issues of the confusion of personal identity – both to ourselves and to others and with the weight of our past decisions. It was really good.

Summer Live Movie #2 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975): What is there to say but “Ni”? Had a good time with Julie, Jo, and Philippe. I think maybe the pre-movie meal for shows at the Carolina needs to be moved to McCouls. It is just so much more conveniently placed.

Summer Live Movie #3 – No (Pablo Larrain, 2012): An excellent film that deals with a 1988 plebiscite in Chile over the continued rule of the dictator Pinochet; focusing on the shaping of the television campaign to get out the “no” vote by a young ad executive played by Gael Garcia Bernal. It is filmed in a very documentary style that fits well with some archival footage integrated into the whole. It moves between a personal story and the story of the campaign quite seamlessly. It also raises the question of what it means to present political ideas as advertising and just how much difference there really is – or can be – between the two.

Summer Movie #12 – Election (Johnnie To, 2005): Another excellent Hong Kong crime drama. Quentin Tarantino christened this “the best film of the year” and it was quite good. It deals with a power struggle over leadership of one of the Hong Kong Triads, but also delves into the place the Triads have in that community. It also addresses their own sense of their role and how true that may be. Frankly, I was constantly thinking about The Godfather, although the story is very different. This was much more slick and action oriented than the last Hong Kong film I watched but still had some real human moments in it. I’ve really been surprised by the quality of these films. They aren’t the cheap “chop-socky” films many might be imagining.

Summer Movie #13 – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005): Another movie I’ve been meaning to watch for years and could now kick myself for not having watched earlier. This was the first film directed by Shane Black (director of Iron Man 3) who wrote several 80s action films like Lethal Weapon (he was the screenwriter for this film as well). The movie is a sort of film noir comedy and managed to mash together several genres (action film, detective film, buddy film, etc…) into a fun movie with a few really affecting moments of drama. Robert Downy Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan all turn in fine performances. This movie deserved a lot more attention than it received.

Summer Movie #14 – Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944): I continued my current run of films with a heavy noir influence by going right to the source. I really can’t add anything to the heaps of praise this movie has gotten ever since its release. It goes with movies like Citizen Kane (with which it shares a visual similarity) in being every bit as good as it is cracked up to be. Also, like all of Wilder’s classic films, it is just fun to watch. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are both great, but this is another movie where you see just how much of an actor Edward G. Robinson was and how his being remembered only for his gangster roles is a real mistake.

Summer Movie #15- Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959): Today has turned into a Dana approved film festival thus far. He has given me two copies of this movie (both thoroughly legal, to which I am prepared to swear on the Bible) so it was about time I watched it. A great courtroom drama with fine performances by too many great actors to name and frank examination of the complexities of sex, marriage, human relationships, and the truth. I also couldn’t help but compare the characters and the marriage of Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick with those of Kirk Douglas and Barbara Bouchet in my favorite Otto Preminger film, In Harm’s Way – both booze-soaked and dysfunctional marriages with a young and rather wild beautiful wife and an intense and jealous husband in the military; and both with unfortunate outcomes.

Summer Movie #16 – The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1973): Today’s third Dana Hatcher approved film is an unsentimental look at a small-time crook surrounded by other small-time crooks and moving in a world of larger crooks and cops who share a similar ruthlessness. In other words, it is a 1970s crime drama. The photography is all bare-bones and realistic. Robert Mitchum is great as an okay guy who is at the end of his rope. Anyone looking for a big fake emotional payoff, happy ending, or a moral to the story should look elsewhere. This is a story of bigger fish eating littler fish. Peter Yates is interesting. This guy seemed to resist being pigeon-holed. He went on to make Mother, Juggs, and Speed, Breaking Away, and Krull – among many other films. Before making this he had already made Bullitt.

Summer Movie #17 – L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997): Modern noir for breakfast – this is not a new one for me, but one of my favorite movies ever. Several A-list stars give some of their best (in my opinion, anyway) performances ever here – Spacey, Crowe, and Cromwell, for example – so I think the excellent performance by Ron Rifkin as the D.A. is easy to overlook but shouldn’t be. He mixes being charming, menacing, repellant, and weak in equal measures.

Summer Movie #18 – Tales from the Script (Peter Hanson, 2009): This is a well-constructed documentary made up of interviews with screenwriters. It has some excellent moments, especially in the second half. My favorite bit comes from Guinevere Turner, who wrote the screenplays for American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page (among many others), when she tells the story about writing the screenplay for Bloodrayne. That vignette says a lot about how good writers can be part of bad movies.

Summer Movie #19 – The Eye of Vichy (Claude Chabrol, 1993): This documentary examines the World War II era Vichy Regime in France through its own propaganda. The majority of the film is simply excerpts from Vichy newsreels with only a minimum of narration. This is fascinating both as a document of its time and also for the insight it provides into the modern ultra-right in France.

Summer Movie #20 – The Bourne Legacy (Tony Gilroy, 2012): I really liked the first three Bourne films. I enjoy this style of adventure thriller. I also liked that all three are complete movies – they tell a whole story and have a definite ending. In each case, there was room for more story, but none was required. This movie doesn’t do that. It has franchise disease in that it is obviously just an opening chapter, not a complete story. Still, this movie was fun. I think that the story arc finished in The Bourne Ultimatum called for a new character and Jeremy Renner was a solid choice to be that guy. I liked the story and the way they carried on with what they’ve done since The Bourne Supremacy by weaving the opening part of this story into the earlier films. Solid action and a very cool chase scene of the sort we’ve seen in the earlier film are also pluses. Finally, this movie also allowed me to look at Rachel Weisz for a couple hours and that is always a good thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: