Category Archives: Movies

SIFF 2006 Stats

I didn’t even finish compiling my SIFF Stats during 2006…

  • Total money spent on tickets:
  • Total money spent on SIFF membership (which is why I spent less money this year than last year):
    $100 (benefactor level)
  • Total time spent standing in line:
  • Total movies seen:

  • Languages:
    English, Icelandic, Afrikaans, Mandarin, Xhosa, French, Spanish
  • Documentaries:
  • Movies about movies:
  • Movies about music:
  • Times the director was in the audience:
  • Total voting points given:
  • Pirates of the Ship of Fools

    The ship of fools, depicted in a 1549 German woodcut
    I cannot help but think of the ship of fools (which I first learned about while reading Foucault‘s Madness and Civilization) while watching Pirates of the Caribbean — especially the second one, Dead Man’s Chest when they go to the Tortuga Port to find the “99 souls” to give to Davy Jones.

    I think Captain Jack Sparow is the perfect example of a fool on a ship without any idea what he’s doing or where he’s going. I’m surprised I didn’t make the connection earlier. The way Johnny Depp plays the character totally adds to the idea of it, too.

    Harry Potter and the Films of Enchantment

    Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger
    After seeing Children of Men the other month (a film which really deserves its own post and analysis…), I decided that I needed to see more movies by Alfonso Cuarón, which meant that I needed to break down and finally see the “darker” Harry Potter movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which I’ve actually sort of been wanting to see for a while, but felt silly for getting into the whole Harry Potter series.

    Yes, I know that I shouldn’t have felt silly for watching the Harry Potter movies, and I’m sure the books are engrossing and all that, but I just wanted to resist. As I’ve become increasingly more “mainstream” since college (see: Lost, Desperate Housewives, “getting together on certain nights to watch television shows with friends,” Project Runway, etc.), I just wanted to keep part of me not to predictable. Oh well.

    And, of course, if I were to watch Prisoner of Azkaban, it meant that I would have to start with The Sorcerer’s Stone and go from there.

    So last night I finished The Goblet of Fire and I must say that I’ve been extremely impressed with the Harry Potter movies. They are really quite fun to watch and the acting all-around (the children and adult actors) is really well-done.

    One thing that struck me, however, is the difficulty of filming a book series as it is being written. Let’s say, for example, that Sirius Black is mentioned but the filmmakers (and let’s also pretend that when they made the film the novel The Prisoner of Azkaban hadn’t been published) decided that they could toss out the references to his character and it wouldn’t matter… only to find out that he is in fact important and foreshadowing something about him in the first film would really have paid off in the third.

    For example, I keep noticing a motif of snakes throughout the films. Not reading the books, I’m not sure whether J.K. Rowling mentions snakes all the time, but I’m sure hoping (and assuming) that they foreshadow some major event that will come in one of the final books/films. If not, it just seems that the World of Harry Potter includes lots of snakes for no real reason.

    While I’m glad the I get to watch the films now, part of me wonders if it wouldn’t have been a better idea (from an artistic/storytelling perspective) to wait until Rowling finished all of her books, then film the series so that the movies could pick up and highlight nuances and themes. Plus, the films would’ve maintained consistency (much like the Lord of the Rings), a fact that every single Wiki article seems to note (“The Hogwarth castle has a different layout…”).

    That said, I’m definitely looking forward to summer 2007 to catch The Order of the Phoenix, and I am even contemplating reading the novels in the meantime. Scary, eh?

    The Boring Dahlia

    Lee, Kate, and Bucky at the movies
    I’m sad to report that I was pretty disappointed with Brian de Palma‘s The Black Dahlia. He’s one of my favorite directors (Femme Fatale is one of my all-time favorite movies and I also love Snake Eyes, Body Double [though I’m not sure it warrants a special edition], Scarface [which has an awesome special edition], and Sisters). People (including myself) say that he’s a Hitchcock rip-off, but that’s not always bad… I also decided to read the James Ellroy novel on which the film version of The Black Dahlia is based. The novel was so-so, but I really expected the movie to be better.

    For starters, the color palette for the movie seemed “off” to me. I really expected dark, bold, strong, sexy colors like those from Femme Fatale or David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Or even something more stylized and shadowy? Instead, the film felt very brown and drab.

    I was also disappointed that de Palma downplayed the psychosexual aspect of the film. Granted, Ellroy’s novel didn’t really tease out the strange threesome-relationship between the three main characters (Josh Hartnett as Bucky, Aaron Eckhart as Lee, and Scarlett Johansson as Kay), but I expected that the film, under the right director, might. The threesome relationship as well as the darker aspects of Bucky’s relationship with Madeline (Hilary Swank), the somewhat doppelganger of Elizabeth Short a.k.a. The Black Dahlia (Mia Kirshner). For some reason I’ve always considered de Palma to be somewhat of a dark and erotic director, but The Black Dahlia reminded me that I apparently confuse him with David Lynch or Adrian Lyne or Paul Verhoeven or something. De Palma is more like a creepy voyeur.

    Granted, there were some cool tracking shots (such as right after a woman finds the body of The Black Dahlia) and split-diopter (two objects in focus at the same time) shots, but the film just didn’t feel as viscerally rewarding as some of his other work.

    The sad thing is, The Black Dahlia is perfect source material for de Palma. It’s got blonde (Kay) vs. brunette (Elizabeth, Madeline) women, potential doppelgangers (Elizabeth/Madeline, Bucky/Lee), suspense (“Who killed the Black Dahlia??”), allusions to film (The Man Who Laughs and the Hollywood setting), etc.

    I’m not sure whether de Palma really has become “a director for hire” or what. I hope that Femme Fatale wasn’t his apogee and now he’s all downhill.

    Fall 2006 Here I Come

    Every few months I end up posting a sort of “calendar” of events/things that I am looking forward too (it seems that last fall was good, too). Eventually I do intend to write or find some sort of WordPress plugin that makes this easier and less table/post-ish, but there are just so many things on the horizon that I cannot wait… As always, let me know if you wanna join for concerts or want information on any of this stuff. (Note: I get CD release dates from Metacritic’s Upcoming Releases, I get DVD release dates from Joblo’s DVD Release Dates Schedule and Cover Art, and I get movie release dates from Entertainment Weekly‘s Coming Soon.)

    Month Day Exciting Thing
    August 22 Paris Hilton by Paris Hilton (I’m already preparing to be thoroughly embarassed when I buy this), Kelis Was Here by Kelis, Idlewild by OutKast, Classics by Ratatat
    August 29 Arrested Development season 3, Desperate Housewives season 2, Nip/Tuck season 3
    September 5 B-Day by Beyonce (CD), Dreams by Whitest Boy Alive (Erlend Oye’s [Kings of Convienience] new band), Lost season 2
    September 8 Dandy Warhols at the Showbox (buy tickets)
    September 12 Crazy Itch Radio by Basement Jaxx, The Outsider by DJ Shadow, So This Is Goodbye by the Junior Boys, Pieces of People We Love by the Rapture, FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake, Return to Cookie Mountain by TV On The Radio
    September 15 The Black Dhalia opens in theatres (new film by Brian De Palma; I am about to start reading the book)
    September 19 Battlestar Galactica season 2, part 2
    September 24 Season 3 of Desperate Housewives begins
    September 26 Ta-Dah! by the Scissor Sisters, Lady Vengence (part of the triology that includes Old Boy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengence), The Presets at Chop Suey (buy tickets)
    October 3 The Information by Beck, Sam’s Town by the Killers, Scissor Sisters at the Showbox (buy tickets)
    October 4 Season 3 of Lost begins, Shortbus opens in theatres
    October 6 Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica begins, The Departed opens in theatres (Martin Scorsesse’s remake Infernal Affairs)
    October 13 Ladytron at the Showbox (buy tickets)
    October 20 Fast Food Nation opens in theatres, Marie Antionette opens in theatres
    October 24 The L-Word season 3
    October 26 Placebo at the Showbox (buy tickets)
    October 27 Babel opens in theatres
    November 3 Volver opens in theatres
    November 14 Hot Chip at Neumos

    Looks like there is a lot to look forward to! If you have any additional recommendations, please let me know.

    The Devil Wears a Superman Costume

    For the first time ever in my life (I’m 90 percent sure, at least), I saw the top two weekend movies. I saw Superman Returns on Wednesday night and The Devil Wears Prada on Saturday afternoon. Am I falling deeper and deeper into the sell-out/becoming mainstream pit?

    20 Centimeters

    20 Centimeters
    From the description on the SIFF web site, I was very excited to see 20 Centimeters:

    Reminiscent of the Almodovar style and grounded by an amazing performance by Mónica Cervera, this bittersweet musical comedy is about a narcoleptic transvestite prostitute who longs to rid herself of the 20 centimeters hanging between her legs. She finds a refuge in her dreams where she is transformed into a seductive song-and-dance sensation.

    Almodovar! Narcoleptic! Transvestite! Sounded great to me!

    … Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The film didn’t have the smartness that an Almodovar movie has, and I felt like the narcolepsy and transvestitism (and for that matter, the “dwarf” best friend) were there for “freak factor” more than anything else. (Not to say that transvestitism wasn’t a main theme of the movie, but still…)

    The only thing this film had going for it, as far as I’m concerned, was the musical numbers. And of those, the only one that really sticks in my mind is the dream sequence involving Madonna’s song “True Blue.” It envisioned what married life would be like — babies, horny/cheating husbands, funerals, etc. The sequence was great, and I almost recommend seeing the movie just for that.

    Otherwise, the film follows Marieta, a woman who has a 20 centimeter (i.e. 7.8 inch) dick, which she wants to get rid of. She works as a prostitute but eventually gets a job as a man (since that was on her identification card) doing janitorial work. Along the way she meets a hunk of a guy who loves her for her penis and loves to bottom out for her even more. Things don’t work out with him, however, since he is too passive for her.

    Like I said, this movie really didn’t impress me and I gave it only two stars. I would’ve given it one, but the “True Blue” part was so entertaining that I felt that aspect of the film needed to be rewarded.