Tuesday, November 6, 2007

i'm still alive

staying in newish release mode, i finally brought myself to see sean penn's into the wild. there was a lot of hype around this one, so i tried my darndest to level expectations. although not "life changing", it's a risky movie with a wring-your-damn-neck message (careers are for the weak! you are slaves to your money!) that manages not to fall flat on its face.

emile hirsch as the well-read wanderlust channels a young leo dicap in his hey. the likeness though is merely looks-wise. whenever hirsch opens his mouth his voice never sounds like you would expect it to. characters are entranced by his above-it-all worldview, almost instantly.
mr. penn makes his presence felt: characters break the 4th wall and love interests have zits.
but the star here is eddie vedder, who created original songs specifically for the film. low-fi and twangy, pearl jam's mastermind has created a work of music that encapsulates the one-with-nature feel penn has painted with his camera.

wait, scratch that, the real star is this old man towards the end of the film who will steal your heart and make you call your dad.

Monday, November 5, 2007

you can't handle the troof

Seeing as how awards season is just beyond the horizon, I deemed it necessary to take a break from The Criterion Collection and instead focus on some current films that have recently hit theaters with plenty of buzz (noooo, not Bee Movie).

First on the list, the Georgey Clooney driven vehicle, Michael Clayton, in which Clooney plays the "janitor" of a swanky corporate NYC law firm whose job it is to clean up the firm's messiest fiascos. This movie is hard-hitting from the first frame and is perfectly edited as the pacing is right on point and the movie runs just shy of 2 hours. Michael Clayton keeps the audience interested and entertained throughout as first-time director Tony Gilroy brings the same type of energy as seen in the bourne trilogy, of which he is the scribe. Clooney delivers a stellar performance, taking an otherwise generic legal thriller and raising it up a few notches. Tilda Swinton kills it despite her short time on the screen, and she effectively made me want to slap the sh*t out of her character, Karen Crowder, who is chief legal counsel for a corrupt agrichemical giant. Despite the obvious villains in the movie, the strong plot, with its share of twists and turns, is cemented by solid acting performances and a promising directorial debut.

***Bonus thought: Did the Michael Clayton poster bite from the Man Who Fell to Earth?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

nightmares of the rich and famous

in true TCP fashion, we are late to commemorate the passing of revered swedish director ingmar bergman. we have no one to blame but kapil. for some real insight, listen to woody allen's musings on the subject.

to do our part we watched bergman's wild strawberries. over an entire day in the twilight years of an accomplished doctor, Isak Borg (above, toasting), we get a glimpse of how scary impending death can be: nightmares in the daytime, a lifetime's worth of horrible memories that pop-up without asking, youngsters vocalizing how terrible getting old must be while you butter your croissant. being old and lonely doesn't get easier if your son is a prick, your daughter in-law openly dislikes you, and your maid of the past 40 years refuses to call you by anything but Professor.

notables: the ill use of lighting; witnessing the worst couple of all time; a trio of teens who are so damn stylish, despite the fact that this was made over 50 years ago; Isak's virtually immortal mother's swedish articulation; oh, and the final sequence.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

talkin bout my generation

it's cool when things all come together. not like having your birthday fall on christmas/hanukah/president's day, but more like when your 7th grade english teacher assigns a 5-paragraph essay on the same book your neighbor gave you as a birthday/hanukah present the year before.

now we at the TCP have been doing this criterion thing for about 9 months and this summer just so happens to be the 40th anniversary of the summer of love, '67, the same summer of the monterey pop festival in rice-a-roni, cali. performers include the mamas and the papas, janis joplin, simon and garfunkel, jimi, and otis redding. a doc had been made for the 3-day music festival by d.a. pennebaker that is, wait for it, in the criterion collection. as clarissa would say, "way cool".

the mont pop fest is easily one of our most enjoyable viewing experiences. before watching it is helpful to know a few things:

  • it was one of jimi hendix's first live performances in america, as well as the who's (who's'?)
  • clive "endive" davis was in attendance and signed a young janis joplin immediately after
  • the mamas and the papas were on their way out
  • otis redding killed it

while watching, please notice how there is absolutely no corporate/brand presence.

at around 80 minutes or so, it's short, but it's rare when you can see firsthand the origins of cliches, and this concert gave birth to a good handful (e.g. the who violently smashing their instruments, jimi lighting his guitar on fire). worth a looksie.

Monday, July 16, 2007

and the shape of a question mark on his forehead

this week (as if we're really weekly) we decided the TCP needed an estrogen boost, so we went with jane campion's first feature film, sweetie. which is fitting, since it's also my first campion experience. aside from knowing of its australian origins and 1989 production date, going in my expectations = zero.

what is sweetie? who is sweetie? unfortuntately, these questions are answered at the midway point, when one of the most contemptible and repulsive characters ever put on film tazmanian devils herself into the plot. sweetie, you see, is the once-institutionalized sister to kay, our main character. everything sweetie touches turns to unbearable. you see that precious toy horse up there? it ends up getting coughed out of sweetie's mouth with gobs of blood and bile.

sweetie aside, sweetie is a beautiful movie. if you want to see how colors should go together and you enjoy well-framed shots, see this. however, considering everything else, such as story, sweetie's a tough one to sit through. despite a modest 97 minute runtime, the plot trudges like those huge guys that pull 18-wheelers with a harness strapped to their necks.

we each hit a breaking point. for me, it was the horse eating. for jim, it was the treehouse. i dare you to find out what i mean by this. well, you already know about the horse eating, but still...the treehouse...

Monday, June 25, 2007

thief's theme

Been a minute since my last post. Late Spring has not proved fruitful for the TCP. Speaking of fruit, one of my favorites is green apples. Thieves' Highway (not to be confused with Lost Highway) shares my produce preference.

Had to see this one dolo, cuz Kapil is allergic to black and white and I admittedly bailed on Jim.

TH is a simple crowd-pleaser with a simple demand: accept the lazy eyes of both leads.
The script is smart and the acting goes down easy. Like all movies set before 1985, much of your attention will be spent laughing to yourself (unless you're watching with other people, for some reason) how different things were then. The rest of your attention will be paid to how much maintenance driving a truck back in 1949 required.

Also, TH has what must be the origin of the ol' embarrassed-male-reluctant-to-say-'I love you'-on-the-phone-in-front-of-the-guys scenario.
And, Jack Oakie, on the right, was deaf during the entire shoot. Though he looks a bit off up there in the pic, his performance gives off no indication of his impairment.

go for the apples. stay for the acting.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

(Instru)mentally Ill

Going into Marco Bellochio's I Pugni in Tasca (Fists in the Pocket), we knew little more than that the DVD cover art was ill. Right off the bat, we were drawn by the score, by Ennio Morricone, who Kiki acutely pointed out was an ill dude (and recipient of a 2007 Honorary Academy Award for Acheivement in music). He then promptly fell asleep.

He missed an old Italian masterpiece about a mentally ill dude (above) who believes that he'd be doing a great service to the world and his eldest brother, the only well adjusted member of a dysfunctional family, by killing his mother and younger siblings. In the meantime, he crushes on his own sister (dimepiece Paola Pitagora), takes a driving test, and hatches a plan to invest money in a chinchilla farm. Complicating things are his own conscience, a nondescript cranial malady, and the fact that chinchilla farms cost a guap.

Almost sounds kind of like a dark comedy right? It's not. It's definitely not.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Juan Apagado Spends a Lot of Time Wandering Around Town

We inadvertently kept it real Texas on Memorial Day by hitting up the local Tex-Mex spot and then hitting up the surprisingly thorough DVD section at Barnes and Noble where we decided on copping "Slacker," Richard Linklater's chronicle of a day in Austin.

Don't get it twisted. "Slacker" isn't "Dazed and Confused," despite the fact that both document generations of disaffected youth. It's also not to be confused with "Slackers," the Devon Sawa star-making vehicle. For better or worse, the film that put Linklater on the map (sort of) is still regarded as the OG "indie" flick. But for me, it's cool because it's like a time capsule to the early 90's. One of the dudes was sporting a dope Batman T-shirt that I used to rock ca. '89. Dunkin' Donuts cereal makes a brief cameo. And then there's the drummer from the Butthole Surfers showing off her newly acquired (and above pictured) Madonna Pap Smear. But it's probably not for everybody. Linklater's intent here was to structure the plot around loosely connected ideas interwoven by creative transitions. In short, it's something of an experiment and you'll probably get more out of it if you view it as such. If you like plot, don't come around here. But if you like stories, Linklater's got a chair and a beer coozie with your name on it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tatis F@%k!

After a long layover, the TCP train finally got back on track and made a stop in 50's France for auteur Jacques Tatis' "Mon Oncle" and with all due respect to whoever, all parties involved unanimously decided that we probably don't like you if you like this movie. Although the movie is a comedy and is therefore not as joyless or over earnest as some past TCP stuff dealing with essentially the same content (satire on postmodern alienation/ consumerism), it was still the most difficult TCP viewing thus far because the jokes just don't hold up anymore. The fact that Tatis' opening sequence, overall visual aesthetic, and oddball overall feel (killin' it with the wide angle-dope set pieces) were so ill helps me understand why people think this is a masterpiece, but it did little to make the movie more palatable.

Conversely, if you like Mr. Bean, you might enjoy this. Incidentally, Tatis is the progenitor of Mr. Bean as per Rowan Atkinson's own admission. IMO, the verdict is out on whether or not that helps or hurts his case.

In closing, I want to start a flame war on imdb about this movie.

Monday, April 9, 2007

baby sham

since my netflix account was backed up this week, jim and i were forced to scour blockbuster colonia for a criterion movie. we quickly passed on armageddon, which we're saving for a later date. i had my pick and jim understandably had issues with it. for some reason the check-out line spanned the entire sci-fi section, which bought jim more than enough time to find a plan b. thank the lord the cashiers are poorly trained.

here's the taglines of the harder they come:
dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail in shanty town;
With a Piece in His Hand He Takes on the Man!; and the clearly babel-fished,
He Makes Women and the Charts and is on top with both.

the harder they come was lying in the drama section, but this jamaican tale should have been placed with the foreign films. subtitles are a must unless you are rastafari. speaking of the subtitles, they have a mind of their own here. some scenes have them, some don't. it's their chill way of trying to teach you the language, or something.

you could say the harder they come is like the OG get rich or die trying, without the speech impediment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

[title removed]

brazil, i mean, brazil...where to start? the most visual of romps, brazil is a cinematic manifestation of nervous laughter and leaves you wondering when the nightmares will start.

it's important to lay out some context here: brazil is set in the future ("sometime in the 20th [not a typo] century") and was completed in 1985. being that it's now 2007, there's no way this movie can not be a mindblow. oh and it's from the man behind monty python.

mini roll call of who's lurking in this bad boy: the surly grandma from who's the boss (her scenes freaked the ish out of jim), the dad from garden state (criterion alum), and mario from super mario bros. (as an electrician--presumably auditioning for the part).

can't leave out how huge de niro's cameo is. with one of the best entrances evs, he's like an old friend, a life preserver to save you from an ocean of oddness. also, i'd really like to know how he went about doing his research for this part.
(thanks lex for the rec)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Oh herrrroooo. I'm not sure if you have heard of 300, so I figured I'd let you in on my little secret. This flick tells the tall tale of the Battle of Thermopylae, in which the King of Sparta leads 300 of Sparta's best soldiers versus a Persian army numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

Visually, this movie is stunning and you will undoubtedly agree (unless of course you're one of the many haters who seemed to whine about Frank Miller's other comic book adapted for the big screen, Sin City). Also, expect lots o' dramatic speeches and gore & blood.

Downsides include subpar acting although Gerard Butler convinces as King Leonidas, predictable plot line, and it is evident the filmmakers watched Gladiator about 300 too many times (oh snap!).

If you want to be entertained and can appreciate this movie for what it is, definitely peep this. Just don't smudge the dude's puma who is sitting next to you once the movie is over, you ain't built like them 300 boys.

P.S. Director Zack Snyder also directed Michael Jordan's Playground.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

a history of insanity

you see this guy? yea, it's an alien smoking a cig and sipping on a cocktail. and you know what? he's in naked lunch like it's the most normal thing in the world. and you don't even want to know who he's talking to...

actually it's peter weller, who plays the most badass exterminator ever captured on screen. he's almost as badass as the dapper police chief from jaws. and he's in this too.

there's also an enthralling monologue about a man with a talking butt and the haunting use of a parrot cage.

did i like this movie? not especially, it's completely nonsensical. however it does make me want to visit tangier.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

(i can't hear y'all)

saw zodiac last night. was expecting a lot. got a lot. of movie. almost 3 hours.

it's no secret that the zodiac killer was never caught and i wish that wasn't the case.

go for robert downz (criterion alum), stay for mark ruffalo.

not sure what it is (anyone?), but the song during the first murder and again at the end credits completely owns. UPDATE: It's Hurdy Gurdy Man by Donovan

if it wasn't for imdb, i could never be sure if that dude from grounded for life was in this (he is).

also of note is fincher's what-must-be-record-breaking use of date/time subtitles.

zodiac is not a friday night movie. see it on a sunday.

related: what's your zodiac sign?

***UPDATE: the director, David Fincher, uses tons of unnoticeable CGI to make this film

Thursday, March 1, 2007

oscar buzzed part 2

having now seen "notes on a scandal," which i saw this morning, i've verified that i'll probably never care about the best actress categories. there's a reason they announce the best female jump off like an hour before the best male awards are given out. that said, cate blanchett and judi dench both killed it in this movie. i give their performances an 8 and 8.5 out of 10 respectively. but does that mean that they deserve an award for it? neither of them were playin idi amin, man. and you know what? neither of them could pull that off any damn way.

p.s.: noas was adapted for screen by patrick marber, who wrote "closer."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Buzzed

oscar monday, new york


gosling didn't win and i didn't win $500.
guillermo del toro does not react positively to flattery.
contemporary dance is hyphy.
clint eastwood knows italian.
forest whitaker
the dude who wrote "little miss sunshine" was matthew broderick's personal assistant.
john mayer can HEAR colors.

for those of you who missed it, you didn't really miss too much, but you won't understand this recap.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

and mama feld couldn't get through the book

all was in place for this one--president's day vaca, benihana in our belly, kapil's even present. now showing: the unbearable lightness of being. ok, gotta watch the trailer first. oh snap! a young daniel day lewis! lots of fly honeys! this is looking good. kaps's gettin comfy, promises he won't fall asleep. bags of reese's p-cups and g-worms holding us down. jim's got his 3 cans of coke at the ready.

cut to:
20 mins in and i'm being asked to put on Oprah.
80 mins in and jim admits he's never had more trouble following the story of a movie.
85 mins and kapil's passed out with a tummy ache.

i watched the second disc (!) on my own. the movie gods rewarded me with an appearance by the MIT prof from good will hunting but then later gave me a wet-willy in the form of one of the most ludicrous endings evz.

+: the colors, i guess
-: smugness, lack of coherent chronology, overdose of "tush and bush"

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

memph bleak

saw mike leigh's naked last weekend. don't feel like writing about it. actually, i don't feel like doing much these days. why bother? some kind of apocalypse is headed our way. don't you read nostradmus? you have a very sad looking face. you live near here?--within walking distance? mind if i take a bath in your flat and talk about your dead dog?

naked leaves you feeling just that--with only your dvd remote and the stop button to console you. we follow a 6 foot 7 misanthropic erudite rapist with nothing to lose (pictured) in 1993 london as he encounters situations that ultimately gravitate towards rape. somehow, some way, mr. leigh created an even more menacing character (not pictured) who WILL remind you of someone you grew up with.

jim and i agreed that this movie is best viewed alone. and on the real, the 6'7" vagabond absolutely kills it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

East Side Walkabout

Walkabout doesn't go out of its way to explain anything really, which is weirdly refereshing. Like the protagonists, we're kept in the dark and left to take in the imagery, which is raw. Even so we were naturally inclined to put a backstory on it.

Walkabout begins with anthropologist who decides to do a case study in the Outback, but for reasons unbeknownst to us, takes his children with him. Obvz, he gets lost with no gas and only as much food as can fit in a picnic basket. You can guess what happens next. Or can you?

Here's a hint, it's not as scary as you might think. Which technically means it could be much scarier. Which is it? Easily both.

Monday, January 22, 2007

every last homey

in my freshman year of college, i had a roommate who really liked tom waits. said roommate also enjoyed using lysol as a shower substitute and from time to time incorporating items found on the street (like the cane of an old man) into his wardrobe. i'm pretty sure he hated me.
i'd also imagine that he's seen down by law (cuz waits is in it, doye).

although made in '86, jim believes DBL ushered in the 90s. while watching, we felt compelled to point out what was "90's" about it although i can't think of any examples right now. at times, it looks like mtv back when it played music videos and nwa had taken over america. o yea, and part of it takes place in the Orleans Parish Prison...OPP...IS YOUR MIND BLOWN!?!?!

this is the first movie i've seen with roberto benigni and i now wish he was a pocket-sized commodity that you could give to your friends when they're feeling down. and if i was balding, i'd want to bald like him.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jason Graduates

it took me a good sec to find an image for kicking and screaming cuz will ferrell's mug was all up in my google search. this movie does not involve the misadventures of an incompetent dad who decides to coach his son's youth soccer team in a misguided attempt to win the respect of both his son and his own father.

k and s is about some dudes from vassar, reluctantly nicknamed the cougars, who try to cope with post-grad life in 1995, a time when going to prague was a unique idea, only 12 (creepy-ass link warning) jason movies had been released, and the knicks were perennial playoff hopefuls.

like a lot of criterion movies we've seen so far, we were quick to dismiss the movie. but while we were pointing out negatives (eg cheesy acting, actors' resemblences to hs classmates), before we knew it we were mad enthralled.

added bonus(es): knowing another movie the guy from outside providence has been in. AND where the the older sister from the wonder years has been. o yea, and parker posey kills it here.

Monday, January 8, 2007

A Full Minute of Silence

In Jean-Luc Godard's "Band of Outsiders," the protagonists attempt to engage in a full minute of silence (in reality, 36 seconds). It made me think about sound and hearing and deafness, which prompted me to wikipedia all kinds of crazy sound related stuff. Here are my findings:

Singer-songwriter/guitarist, John Mayer, suffers from music-color synesthesia, which occurs when someone experiences sort of a problem in neurological wiring wherein they mix-up senses. In this case, the result is the ability to hear colors. John Mayer can HEAR colors.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Rated RPG

***In lieu of whatever and pretty much because we feel like it coupled with the re-emergence of our Mormon friend Beef, we decided to post about current movies too. We realize that this moment represents a Sea Change in the way we present and you read this blog, but you probably don't even read this yet anyway. But you will... ***

Watching Children of Men is like a videogame except without the interactivity. Criterion favorite Julianne Moore makes a good cameo. Michael Caine's character is kind of cheesy, but maybe it's because I can't see him as a hippie. The action sequences are impressive. It's pretty crazy that this comes from the same guy who did "Y tu Mama Tambien." I think it would probably be cool to make a dolly track out of magnets like that bullet train in Shanghai. Children of Men reminded Feld of GTA. I thought it was more like Metal Gear Solid. Kiki wanted to know who ripped tush. It's not Blade Runner and the book is probably better (I haven't read it though), but it's definitely worth watching.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

BOO Radley

band of outsiders is one of those movies that by calling it cool, it makes you sound cool as well. so yea, this movie is mad cool...

..and french. cigarettes are constantly afire, the wardrobes are 10 years ahead of new york, and kapil was bored.

but to kapil's delight, BOO features a dime brizzle to match any dime brizzle. she can dance, sorta sing, and hates the boulevards.

watching this movie will show you how you should be dressing and how not to talk to women. it also hints at the recent emergence of NASCAR.

the clip above, which features an absurdly ill dance sequence, best demonstrates the film's overall poppin-ness. enjoy.

and happy 2k7.