I've seen a lot of films lately while staying home with Joanna and the new baby. Here are some of them:
Tess- Roman Polanski's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel. Dark and tragic and epic and beautifully shot. Reminded me of Barry Lindon in many ways. Natassia Kinsky is great in the title roll. 3.5 out of 4 stars, clams, dollars, horseshoes or whatever.
Dear Frankie- Genuinely touching but not contrived. This Scottish production is worth watching. It's a movie about relationships but to classify it as a 'chick flick' would be misleading. 3.5 out of 4
Maltese Falcon- Jon Huston wrote and directed. There's some cool moments but overall I was a little underwhelmed by this 'classic.' 2.5 out of 4
Rafifi- Early heist film by French director. Pretty raw and innovative for it's time. The heist scene is long and silent and great.
Chronicles of Narnia- Loved it for it's sentimental impact. My dad used to read us the books so it was great to see the characters come life. i do think that it's probably easier to read about fawns and minotaurs and such than see them on screen. in fact if not for reading the book before hand i'd probably be laughing throughout the film. and what was with Mr. Tumnus' sick chest, arm, and facial hair - it was creepy in a pedaphile sort of way. 3 out of 4
Howl's Moving Castle- saw it at International Cinema. Like his other films I loved the imagination, the creatures, the world. this movie was quite bizarre but good. 3.5 out of 4
Junebug- minimalist, indie, sundance, comedy/drama. set in the south (Carolina), phil morrison's first film plays out pretty slowly. there's some great scenes and great characters. doesn't really have a strong and compelling story to follow but rather pieces of people's lives and relationships that create a mosaic. if you like 'lost in translation,' 'in between days,' 'station agent' etc. you'll probably like this film. 3 out of 4
Chumscrubber- How could you go so wrong with a cast so good. Cast: Jamie Bell, Glen Close, Ralph Fiennes, Carrie Ann Moss, William Fichtner, John Heard, Rita Wilson, Allison Janney, Camilla Belle, Rory Culkin, Lou Pucci, etc. It's a film about suburban teen angst. The actors were trying but their characters were all scattered all over the place by a script that was trying to force theme and mood over character development. the result is characters that just don't make sense. the film had a lot of possibility. maybe i saw this potential because i'm interested in these played out drama/comedies about suburban teen angst but I found myself watching it and being bored, confused, and even angry that someone would get a chance to make a film with this cast and with a pretty moderate budge and fail so badly. Also, I watched it and recognized that I tend to do the same thing with my writing. I'll often sacrifice character for theme. Which I now know, after watching Chumscrubber, is not good. 1.5 out of 4
Skeleton Key- Above average horror/thriller. The setting is great - the bayou. I wasn't expecting much and so I was pleasently surprised. I'm not a huge fan of the genre and this film isn't a must see but I'll give it a high 2.75 out of 4 (yes that's right, two and three quarters)
Exercism of Emily Rose- Again, this film was better than I thought it'd be. I wasn't planning on watching this one but a friend told me that I might be surprised. And I was. It's not great but it's good and it's different. Tom Wilkinson and Laura Linney are both very good. The film isn't just a movie to try to make you feel evil. It's a movie about the legal battle over the preacher who oversaw the health/spiritual care of emily rose and her exercism. The film's crux is the question of whether or not spiritual/super natural influences were the cause of Emily's infermity and subsequent death or physical/chemical/psychological influences. 2.75 out of 4 (for some reason i can't seem to give a horror film three stars. i'm sure i'll get over it one day.)