Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

2015 Spring Movies #1

Posted by Gerald on May 23, 2015

Spring 2015 Movie #1 – Selma (Ava DuVernay, 2014): I’m not sure it is possible to make a movie about King that doesn’t smack of hagiography, but this film doesn’t allow that aspect to take over. You see a remarkable man with some flaws depicted in a film that is well-paced and nicely constructed. It also has a short scene that explains how the actual process of denying the vote to people worked that is frustrating and wonderful. Very good.

Spring 2015 Movie #2 – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (Nathan Zellner, 2014): Imagine a Coen Brothers film (this whole movie is a sort of homage to “Fargo”) that is less about what people will do under extreme circumstances than it is about the interior experience of going mad. Throw in metaphors for consumer culture, colonialism, and then stir in the oddness of America as experienced by an outsider. Finally add just a pinch of Terence Malik’s cinematography. What do you get? I’m still not sure, but I’m fairly glad I saw it.

Spring 2015 Movie #3 – Knights of Badassdom (Joe Lynch, 2013): This is a comedy with some horror elements about LARPers (Live-Action Role-Players). It has some real humor, especially if you have known these people, or, possibly been one of them. The film-making is competent and the cast is adequate to good. Peter Dinklage is fairly wonderful when he is on-screen. Steve Zahn is predictably good as an underachieving but basically good sort – the role that is kind of his wheelhouse, really. The biggest failing of the movie is that it unfolds with a clock-like predictability. If you have watched either rom-coms or horror films, you pretty much know how the movie will end within the first fifteen minutes and it does not fail to hit ever box on the checklist of genre expectations. Worth it if you are looking for a comedy and are a nerd of my level – but only if you don’t have to pay anything extra.

Spring 2015 Movie #4 – Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (Wei Te-Sheng, 2011): This is a Taiwanese historical epic that chronicles the resistance of Taiwan’s aboriginal people to Japanese occupation. I saw the edited international edition that clocked in at 2 ½ hours rather than the 4 ½ hour original two-part version. Thank goodness. The movie featured some rather stilted speeches and rather poor anthropology surrounding an endless and gruesome set of battle scenes featuring a LOT of be-headings with traditional weapons. I can’t recommend it unless you are just really into Taiwanese aboriginal weaponry and what it can do to a human body.

Spring 2015 Movie #5 – The Knives of the Avenger (Mario Bava, 1966): This plays less like a “sword-and-sandal” epic than it does a spaghetti western. Cameron Mitchell stars as a Viking prince who is seeking vengeance and usually kills people by throwing knives at them. I liked it, but then I seek movies like this out in certain moods. Still, you’re reading my reviews, so what does that say about you?

Spring Movie #6 – Bhutto (Duane Baughman, 2010): This documentary about Benazir Bhutto was made not long after her assassination. It is assembled from many interviews and news broadcasts. It manages to put together a coherent narrative of Pakistan’s history after 1953 and how complex the political situation is there. The film also very capably ties that narrative into the stories of Afghnaistan, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda. This is REALLY good. If it has a flaw it is that it is fairly partisan. While Bhutto’s detractors are given some time on-screen, it isn’t much compared to that given to her friends and supporters. Despite that, though, this gives a lot of useful context to this story while also giving us some sense of the humanity of this woman and of her story. Very good.

Spring Movie #7 – The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (Roel Reine, 2012): Outside of the pleasure of watching Billy Zane chew scenery, this movie has nothing.  I watch these things so you won’t have to… so don’t.

Spring Movie #8 – The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy, 2003): If you are a fan of Peter Dinklage and you’ve only seen him on “Game of Thrones” or his limited runs on some TV shows, you haven’t seen half of the acting he can do.  Watch this.  It is a quiet film about damaged people who aren’t just their damage and how friendship makes life worth living – but doesn’t fix every problem.  McCarthy shows a willingness to let awkward moments be awkward without fake resolutions.  This is a comedy that is very sad at times and has a happy ending that isn’t fake.  Great movie – you will feel better for having seen it.


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