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Movie Roundup #1

I don't think this will be a "weekly" thing as my movie watching habits are extremely erratic because of motivational and school reasons. I have nothing to do today really so I may watch another couple of films tonight, but after that it might be two days or two weeks before I see another one. I'm also trying to get into the habit of making screens for DVD's I have/rent, because I usually don't like movie posters. These will be exactly like those things I write for the "Last Movie You Watched" thread. Yeah, who cares.

 

Cache (Michael Haneke, 2005)

After a few days delving into Michael Haneke's work, this is the movie I'm looking for. I'm strangely excited for The Piano Teacher showing up in my mailbox. I went into this film knowing nothing about the plot and being taken back at how well it was executed, so I won't mention much of it here.

A lot of the credit must go to the sharp editing, fine-tuned to keep the audience interested and guessing through a powerful 2-hour mystery. It's very clean and quaint, with zero musical accompaniment that I think adds to the dark tension of the film and the feeling of emptiness that comes with what the characters are dealing with in the film.

This is my favorite Haneke so far probably because it's the least conceptual that I have seen. Both Benny's Video and Funny Games dealt with a similar theme and tackled it in such different, highly specialized and idiosyncratic ways that it ran the risk of seeming too gimmicky and condescending to the viewer. Haneke always films with an almost objective eye, observing and absorbing all the details with long takes and surveillance-like cinematography. But also, Cache adheres to the conventions of both an artsy fartsy film and the classic whodunnit with non-hokey twists and turns that deal with issues of guilt, paranoia, and trust. There's also apparently some political allegory in here, but the non-Euro in me missed that entire thing. If you're in the mood for something disturbing, something different, something with the lovely Juliet Binoche, something great, definitely see it.

I've read some pretty interesting discussions regarding the (ambiguous) ending, and while I'm totally all for dissecting a film within an inch of its life, I side with the "it really doesn't matter" camp in Cache's ending. I didn't notice anything going on in that final shot, myself. What do you think? 8.8

Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989)

"...the single finest American film" --Mike Nelson

Well, I wouldn't go that far, but Road House is a stupidly fun time that out-roundhouses and transcends other movies of its ilk. It's last call....for action!

The key here is that the delusion never ends. The worst thing a movie can ever do to its viewer is make them lose interest, and unlike similar movies that have long, rough patches of nothing, Road House just keeps the gratuitous insanity coming from all directions. Explosions and monster trucks? Check. One of the most unintentionally hilarious screenplays ever writ? Check. Numerous bar fights with a seemingly unconcerned house band? Check. The absurdly tanned Kelly Lynch in the nude? Check. You can say all you want about Road House, except that it's not entertaining.

Oh, and Patrick Swayze. Patrick Effing Swayze. He's terrific playing the the cooler/martial artist/NYU graduate Dalton. He plays the cool, tough guy role extremely well, charisma, confidence, and just a hint of sensitivity dripping out of his numerous stab wounds. Manly movie deserves manly lead, and Swayze fits the bill.

So yeah, this movie rules. I haven't even mentioned the fact that greatest-wrestler-ever Terry Funk is in it, in addition to Sam Elliott's tremendous performance, and thank Christ I haven't started quoting the movie yet. Definitely see it. 8.1

Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic (Liam Lynch, 2005)

I can't think of another movie I've seen in recent memory where I tried really, really hard to like more than this one. And most of it lies behind the fact that I know what Sarah Silverman is capable of and I enjoy her brand of comedy. But between you and me, this movie sucked.

I went through all five stages of grief from denial (no, that unfunny musical number did not just happen) to acceptance (yup, this blows) in a matter of 70 minutes. The musical numbers themselves bring this movie down not only in terms of its quality but it ruins the flow of her stand-up routine, and the material itself is very good. The numbers just feel long, awkward, and inappropriately prissy, and the way it's structured it feels like the stand-up is a short respite for the big musical payoff, which stinks. A stand-up special on HBO or something would have been much better.

The highlights for me were the two scenes that bookend the movie (featuring her sister Laura and \m/ Brian Posehn \m/) , mostly because it reminds me of Silverman's TV program, which is a brilliant show, and not even by comparison. Avoid it. 4.1

Lollilove (Jenna Fischer, 2004)

Imagine my shock when I found out a few years ago that Jenna Fischer directed and starred (!) in a mockumentary (!!) for Troma (!!!) about a wealthy couple (played by Fischer and her husband at the time James Gunn) who plans to provide aid for the homeless by giving them lollipops wrapped with motivational artwork (OMG). Great premise, pretty decent movie.

The mockumentary aesthetic works really well, and constantly blurs the line between fantasy and reality in a shockingly effective way (such as adding actual footage from their wedding) along with improvised dialogue, adding to the no-frills realism. It's much less tasteless than expected, but the absurdity you have come to expect from Troma is intact. During a scene where Fischer and Gunn present their ridiculous plan to a potential sponsor, they start out with an equally ridiculous, cheesy, almost-cleverly so skit that it reminded me a lot of Steve Carrell and Amy Ryan in The Office.

But is Lollilove funny? Kind of. Even for a movie that runs a little bit over an hour the concept begins to wear thin. But it's tightly wound (creating their desired effect of watching a news special) and the humor stays fairly consistent, though much like a lot of mockumentaries the comedy is unobtrusive. Plus, you get the feeling that you're watching people having fun with the material, which never hurts for a movie like this. As long as you're not expecting some sort of obscure Independent gem, you should probably find a copy of this. Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo playing some marriage counselor/priest dude, and also Linda Cardellini and Jason Segel are in a pretty funny scene. 5.6

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