Spider-Man 2. I took a break from superhero films for a while but couldn’t have found a better way to return. I was just so impressed with this movie. Even more so because I never liked Spider-Man comics. The pace, the stakes, some great slapstick and sight gags. Just firing on all cylinders.
Streets of Fire. It’s such a good mash-up. Combine a western-style rescue movie with hardboiled dialogue (Michael Pare has a good John Wayne-ish drawl to his delivery sometimes), and set it in a rockabilly + ’80s glam alternate universe, and take some musical breaks. It stays pretty high-energy and moves along quickly. Early work from Diane Lane, Willem Dafoe, Bill Paxton, Rick Moranis. It’s just plain fun.
The Florida Project. Kids are deeply weird. I like how this movie holds to their perspective with a lower, child-height camera angles. And the colors! It’s largely episodic, but eventually adds up. The choices in the very very last scene didn’t work for me, but I forgive it easily. I liked Sean Baker’s earlier Tangerine, too.
American Psycho. Great example of how a movie can depict the absolute worst human being and make it enjoyable. A tale of hyper-masculine narcissism and sociopathy. Status envy. The recitations of facts, routines, brands and such, all that cataloging reminded me of… Walt Whitman? Bale’s character develops in only one direction, but he gives it his all.
The Loveless. Gotta admit I got really restless watching this one. Funny to see old fashion from yesteryear that’s still around today, but the cultural associations are so different. I love Willem Dafoe. Another willfully slow-paced and stylish movie with a hero on the fringe: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Easy Rider is a better movie focused on bikers. Can I count The Place Beyond the Pines, too? And yeah, Sherlock Jr. has one of the best motorcycle scenes you’ll ever see.
John Wick. This movie was much better than it needed to be. Oddly inventive, and I love the world they built, with the secret clubs, clean-up contractors, doubloons (!), industry hotel, etc. It’s been a while since a movie had so many judo slams. Also love the way Wick would disable a nearby opponent, turn his attention to more distant ones for a moment, then turn back to neutralize the close one. His fighting had a sense of style, a personality. I need to watch Point Break again.
Inside Man. I like that you can hear the basic summary (detective vs. bank robber/hostage-taker)… but what you see is a little bit smarter and not as interested in basic genre trappings. On the other hand, it wanders when you might want a little more spark and plausibility. Ebert says it well: “It’s not that the movie is hiding something, but that when it’s revealed, it’s been left sitting too long at room temperature.”
A Most Wanted Man. No one I saw it with agreed with me, but I thought it was really good. Has a similar feel to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: cold, deliberate. This isn’t the sexy/sneaky side of spying. This is conversation, paperwork, negotiation, management. Every now and then you get to use a hidden camera. The only other Anton Corbijn film I’ve seen is The American, and it’s great.
The Grand Budapest Hotel. I dig it. It’s got the usual fussy-awesome art direction and some technically interesting camera stuff, but what I really liked here: a good heart. Didn’t have much of the rooted dysfunction or cynicism or weariness that made some of his previous movies kind of a drag for me at times. I think I’ll call this my favorite of the Wes Anderson movies I’ve seen.
The Hunter. Dang, I love this movie. (Previously.)
The Hunter. Great movie! Dafoe is awesome per usual. I was also pleasantly surprised to not just tolerate, but really enjoy the child actors. It’s nice to watch Dafoe doing the day-to-day tasks of setting traps, navigating, recording the day’s work. I don’t love the opening and closing plot elements, but you have to have something to get the rest rolling. I love the environmental sounds in this one: water drips, crickets, bird calls and such. And there’s a wonderful Springsteen moment that you shouldn’t watch unless you’re sure you want it spoiled. El Aura is another great, gently-paced work of suspense that takes place during a hunting trip. The Naked Prey is much more frantic.
Antichrist. This and The Tree of Life in one weekend? I could use a good slapstick comedy now. It wasn’t as dark or graphic as I expected, but Jeeeeeeesus. Not for the timid. This is a movie that I’ll enjoy a lot more after reading some good criticism. Plenty of (not-so-subtle) archetypal/mythological/symbolic/etc./etc. fodder here.
Incidentally, this one was dedicated to Tarkovsky. One obvious reference to Solaris:
If I didn’t dedicate the film to Tarkovsky, then everyone would say I was stealing from him. If you are stealing, then dedicate.