I’m bored and haven’t done an update in a while. I figure since this blog has basically become a documentary of the media I consume, I might as well do some short write-ups on my newest time-waster: Netflix.
Overview: I signed up for the service about a month an a half ago. Since then I’ve watched 15 films. The service is about 19 bucks a month (wtftax), so that comes out to about $2.50 per rental. Certainly better than the local Blockbuster.
Jarhead. Donnie Darko does Full Metal Jacket – same skeleton as Kubrick’s masterpiece, cept they’re bored in the desert instead of zombiefied in the jungle. This film is a perfect explanation of the Haditha massacre (killing machines are made to kill, not jackoff in the desert).
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. A modern greek tragedy – hubris being sin numero uno. I still can’t believe the energy traders could call up California power stations and tell them to shut down, causing much of those debilitating blackouts (and catalyzing the recall election enabling GOVERNATOR).
Lost in Translation. One of my favs a few years ago. Highlights include Scarlett J’s pink pantied behind, Bill Murray’s jetlagged stare, and a superb soundtrack.
Le Samourai. A well made 60s French noir with somewhat of a deflated twist. Well dressed killer hermit with pet bird visits femme fatale lounge singer and gets double-double crossed. See, standard. And who knew the froggies lacked a Fourth Amendment-equivalent?
Before Sunrise. I felt some sort of kinship with this little film – evoked some nostalgia of conversations/evenings in Europe. The concept could easily devolve into 20-something angsty rantfests, but the writing was solid enough to keep the two characters interesting upwards of 90 minutes.
Munich. My top film of 05, I’m still impressed by the maturity and insight of this film – violence, revenge, family, sovereignty – it’s all covered. And of course some brilliantly filmed action sequences – brutal, quick and final (the anti-Michael Bay).
The Passion of Joan of Arc. Quite the oldie, an excavated relic from the dawn of film. Most impressive were the stark faces of the Inquisitors, and Joan’s fear-filled eyes.
Nashville. I’ll grant it classic status, but its still bloated. Ensemble pictures (think Oceans Eleven) are usually an amalgam of character-centered vignettes whereby some overriding theme emerges. Pop music is money is power is politics. Also: on-stage assassinations lead to heartfelt sing-alongs.
Before Sunset. A “sequel” in title – mirror image is more apt. This time the deep convos contain a preachy-edge, without the exuberance of youth in the earlier film. It’s been a tough nine years on Ethan Hawke, though.
The Pianist. Adrian “The Nose” Brody just has that look of a brooding eastern-European genius. In this case, he plays cat and mouse with Nazis while his physical appearance mimics Warsaw around him: first pained and persecuted, then subjugated and sickly, finally decimated and desolate.
The Godfather Part II. Many say it surpasses the first. While a good film, I say no. Splitting the film into two narratives brings a bit of symmetry, but weakens any sense of drama/tension. The Pacino story is overly obtuse without enough classic mobster elements. On the other hand, aside from a few smiles at his newborn, Deniro spends his days making murderous offers that can’t be refused – he’s pretty proficient with a carving knife.
Patton. George C. Scott is a real man’s man, an American Badass who lives up to every revered stereotype of WWII nostalgia. Unlike recent biopics that paint men as human, Patton becomes a god of war, standing in the footsteps of his heroes (Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Hannibal). Romanticism of horrible times allows men like Patton to become legend, and perhaps catalyzes further conflict, but also does a swell job of beating back thugs like the Nazis.
Dr. Strangelove. The quintessential Cold War black comedy. General Turlington is Patton 15 years after WWII, increasingly paranoid and bloodthirsty. Peter Sellers plays three roles, including the iconic Dr. Strangelove (complete with auto-“Seig Heil!” arm). I couldn’t help but see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield sitting at that roundtable (replace reds with jihadists)- with them, the farce of the film becomes downright documentary.
Sopranos: Season One. Serialized dramas are a pretty interesting format, now that HBO has mastered the craft. Longer story arcs allow for deeper characterization and nuanced themes often lacking in films. Tony is the perfect case study; putting him in therapy brings his issues to the forefront and frames the staples of mob mythos in ubiquitous terminology. Like Melfi herself, we are drawn to the binary of a family man who murders, a business owner who robs, and a patriarch hurt by his aging mother. Some of the episodes were admittedly weak (understandable for first season), but overall, certainly the best mob “film” since Goodfellas.