Summer Movies 2013
Posted by Gerald on June 12, 2013
I thought I’d transfer my movie posts from Facebook here, for various reasons. I’ll post several at once.
Summer Netflix Queue movie #1 – The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson, 2008): I really enjoyed this movie, it made me happy – especially Rachel Weisz. I know the critics were lukewarm about it, and maybe it is a bit twee. Still, if you’re not happy at the end of this movie, well, to quote Weisz’s character, Penelope: “I think you’re constipated, in your fucking soul… I think you might have a really big load of grumpy petrified poop up your soul’s ass.”
Summer Netflix queue movie #2 – Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967): I’ve been meaning to watch this for years, ever since I heard of it as an inspiration for John Woo’s The Killer. It is a minimalist film noir – all long silences and deliberately unresolved plot elements. Bleak realism without a hint of sentimentality – the stuff I love in some 70s American films, and which got there from French New Wave, was inspired, at least in part by Melville. Very good – and very different from the hyper-stylized The Brothers Bloom which I watched, and enjoyed, earlier tonight.
Summer Netflix queue movie #3 – Red Cliff (John Woo, 2008): I saw the “International Version” which is a two and a half hour long single film rather than the original four hours in two parts, but I do want to see the whole thing. Epic, lavish, and sentimental, I loved it.
Summer Netflix queue movie #4 – Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1994): Another film I’ve meant to watch for years, which has sort of been the theme across the last two days. Visually great and morally blank, this movie doesn’t try to create a false narrative of either forgiveness or redemption, but instead embraces the idea that some experiences can only make sense from within. Excellent.
Summer Netflix queue movie #5 – Le Professionnel (Georges Lautner, 1981): A French action thriller starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and featuring a score by Ennio Moriconne. It is all rather bleak with odd moments of humor. Add in the score and it feels a lot like a spaghetti western set in 1981 Paris. I give it a solid “meh”.
Summer Netflix queue movie #6 – Flash Point (Wilson Yip. 2007): This was a straight-up Hong Kong action flick, and I loved it. Donnie Yen, who also produced, stars as the-cop-who-can’t-be-bound-by-the-rules as he and his partner (played by Louis Koo) go after three Vietnamese immigrants Triad types. If you’ve ever seen a Hong Kong crime film, you’ve seen all of this before and if you’ve ever seen any cop film you’ve seen most of it before – but it was a well-executed trip over familiar territory and loads of fun.
I’m thinking Chinese cinema might be my “sub-theme” for this summer’s movies.
Summer Netflix movie #7 – Last Train Home (Lixin Fan, 2009): This is a documentary following the annual trips home of Chinese migrant workers during the New Year period over several years. It is also about family, generational changes and struggles, and the costs of China’s rapid social and economic change. It is beautifully filmed and fascinating.
Summer Netflix queue movie #8 – Dredd (Pete Travis, 2012): A much superior adaptation of the comics to the 1995 Stallone POS, this film features the under-appreciated Karl Urban in the lead role and a good take on the “trapped with the bad guys” story (see Assault on Precinct 13 – original, not re-make). Also good here is Lena Headey as the head of the evil block-gang – demented but not scenery chewing. There were some definite “let’s film it this way for 3D” moments and it was a bit excessively bloody, but still fun. A “B” movie – but a good solid “B”.
Summer movie #9 – Exiled (Johnnie To, 2006): Another Hong Kong action film that successfully integrates elements of spaghetti westerns to tell a story about the endurance of friendship against the backdrop of the Triads. If you can appreciate the genre conventions of those two types of films, this is very good. If you go in looking for an American style action film, you’ll hate it. Visually, the film is lovely – all beautiful use of color and lighting and varying camera angles. The story is fairly cliche, but that is the point.
Summer Movie Live #1 – Iron Man (Shane Black, 2013): Lots of fun, especially with the company. I think this one was better than the second. I loved Ben Kingsley, even though the Marvel purists are unhappy about what the film did with the Mandarin. Stray thought during the closing credits: Back as CGI was becoming more common I heard many film folks grumbling about how “they won’t even need people to make movies anymore.” Look at the number of names in those credits. More people are being employed on these films than ever were before – its just that most of them work during post-production rather than on the actual shoot.
Summer Movie #10 – The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012): Great acting, beautifully shot, and unwilling to give any easy answers to the difficult questions it raises; this was a great movie. There is a lot here about American culture, cult behavior, the whole run of human relationships, and more, but the thing that stood out to me was one of my good friend Steven Kapica‘s favorite questions – what does it mean to be human? Like another excellent piece of art that asked that question, this movie doesn’t give you the viewer an answer, but does provide another way to frame the question.