Friday, June 29, 2007


Just saw this with the whole family. And loved it. Here it is, I'm gonna come out and say it... I think Brad Bird is the next Hayao Miyazaki. Hold on, let me clarify. Of course they have very different styles and interests. But they also both have remarkable storytelling genius, wonderful attention to their otherworldly details, and all combined with genuine affection and benevolence. And every single thing that either one of them has done is a blasted masterpiece. Granted, this is only Bird's third film, but is there any other director that is 3 for 3 like he is? Lassetter, Stanton, Docter, and the others at pixar are great too, but I personally think Mr. Bird is The Shiz, as in the Army of, whom no one could stand against.

With this film, though, I'm not sure how interested kids are in it, at least the younger ones. It is about rats which is cool to them, but it's also mostly about cooking and relationships and intrigue, which is less interesting. At least my kids were wanting it to be over after an hour. But what a treat for the older folks. Intelligent, hilarious, great music... see it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Est que tu est mon frere?

So I've been really diving into French cinema lately. I discussed Malle a bit in the last post. Definitely check out Au Revoirs Les Enfants if you haven't seen it. It was made in the mid 80's, and is about some of Malle's own experiences during WWII when France was occupied by Germans, and it takes place in a Catholic boarding school. Engrossing and moving, and also fits in the tradition of The 400 Blows of films that don't romanticize childhood.

But what we really need to talk about here are two overlooked titans of French Cinema: Jacques Becker and Jean-Pierre Melville. I've only seen two of Becker's films and three of Melville's, but I'm convinced I need to see everything that either of them has ever done. Remember what I said about all those highly respected yet boring french films. Well, these are two guys who know how to deliver the goods.

Touchez pas au Grisbi by Jacques Becker: take everything you love about The Godfather, and set it in France in the 50's in black and white with a jazz score. The thing that's so great about this film is he doesn't focus so much on the action, the typical things that are a big deal in movies. You never even see the robbery. Instead, he focuses on the little details. The guy brushing his teeth, sharing bread and pate with his friend. One of the few pre-60's films that I totally got wrapped up in.

Le Trou by Jacques Becker: Wow. I'm already a fan of prison escape movies in general. Tunnels, disguises, secret passageways, makeshift tools, these are all things that get my little heart racing. But this one is right up there with A Man Escaped and The Shawshank Redemption. There's one shot where they are pounding a hole in the concrete floor of the cell, and the guards could show up for inspection at anytime, in fact they're making their way down the hallway, and the shot goes on for five or six minutes uncut, so you see them breakint this real hole in the floor and it's so intense I love it.

Bob le Flambeur by Melville. This was the first one I saw, largely on the strength of the graphic design on the dvd cover. Not his best, but also one of his earlier ones. But still a lot of interesting stuff going on. Kind of an Ocean's Eleven style plot.

Le Samourai by Melville: This one, on the other hand, is top notch entertainment. It's about an assassin who has to go into hiding both from the police and those who hired him. This is everything I was hoping for but didn't receive when I misguidedly rented The Transporter.

Army of Shadows by Melville: Just watched this one last night (Orem Library bought it just for me). Yes. Yes. Yes. This one about a small group of French Resistance fighters and their various jobs: punishing traitors, rescuing captives, delivering contraband goods, parachuting, etc. Rent it as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Recent Viewings

Hey Kids,

It's been a while since I've posted anything here. I've been watching a whole lotta sweet stuff, though. Here we go:

Lacombe, Lucien by Louis Malle. I'd never heard of this film when I saw it at the Orem library, but it's on Criterion and M. Malle is pretty highly regarded, and I loved his Au Revoir Les Enfants. This one is very bizarre. There's something about great French directors. Their films are so fascinating and brilliant and yet so boring at the same time. Truffaut, Godard, Renoir, Bresson. I love all these guys and their films are fascinating, but they just don't give a crap about telling a compelling story. That's how this one was. It's about this teenage kid named Lucien, who is kind of a troublemaker and wants to join the French Resistance. But they don't want him, cuz they've got enough punk troublemakers, so what does he do? He joins the Gestapo instead. Really interesting material. But Lucien is such a creep. Reminiscent of Kit in Badlands, I guess, but without the humor.

The House on Haunted Hill by... who cares, but it stars Vincent Price. Ultimately unsatisfying, but some pretty sweet stuff going on in the beginning with Vincent Price's face superimposed above a shot of the mansion while he talks to us. And some interesting things with ghosts and stuff. Kind of like a live action scooby-doo movie.

Danielson: A Family Movie by... don't know, but it features cameo's from both Sufjan Stevens and Daniel Johnson. This is about Daniel Smith and the band he started with his siblings and how they dress up in doctor and nurse uniforms to symbolize the healing power of Christ. My favorite quote, from a long haired audience member: "They freaked me out. I'm in a metal band myself, so I'm not easily freaked out, but they f---in' freaked me out." It's a great film, with some fun animated sequences, and interesting interviews with each band member.

Riding Giants by Stacy Peralta. Really fun, with some amazing surfing footage. The interviewees are all really interesting guys, and the structure and music are tight.

That's all I've got time for now, maybe we'll backtrack later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


So I have a weakness for movies that I know are going to be really lame, but I have to see them most the time. This did not let me down, it was a better film than the first one but still wasn't very good. There were only a couple of OOHHH MY GOD DID THEY REALLY JUST DO THAT ON FILM moments, not nearly as many as the first one. And unfortunately there was more male nudity than female scenes that sucked for someone expecting torture porn. I would say its far from it. This is still not a film I would recommend to people of normal standard but if you like jacked up stuff its worth seeing just expect a bad film with mild amusement (Turistas was far better) anyway at least 1408 looks promising in 10 days.