not worried about it

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killing five birds with one stone

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) – The first Almodóvar film that really hooked me.  While I admire the technique of the other two Almodóvars I’ve seen (Talk to Her and Volver), I also find them more cerebrally “interesting” than actually lovable.  But it helps that this one is funny, truly funny, language barrier and all.  The humor aids the digestion of Almodóvar’s remarkable and idiosyncratic use of color and costume.  I really need to see more of his stuff.

In the Loop (2009) – My favorite film of the year so far, and an ideal companion for the summer’s other treasure, The Hurt Locker.  Both films say a lot about Iraq by purposefully not saying a lot about Iraq: The Hurt Locker takes place in the trenches of Baghdad, but the war is treated as a given, not as a heated issue, while the Middle Eastern enemy at the center of In the Loop is never even identified.  The resulting clear-eyed approach, whether gritty and realistic or dry and satirical, sidesteps the editorializing bullshit of other Iraq-set movies and instead goes straight for the gut.  And don’t let the lopsided critical praise fool you, In the Loop‘s belly laughs are just as vital and important as The Hurt Locker‘s gut-wrenching scenes of suspense.  It’s a viciously funny movie about an emphatically un-funny modern crisis, but it doesn’t absolve anyone of anything.  In one of the film’s best moments, James Gandolfini’s general character crunches some numbers (hilariously) on an oversized Hello Kitty calculator and deduces that the United States only has 12,000 troops ready to ship off to war.  “That’s how many are going to die,” he intones, and the words hang painfully in the air for a moment before being washed away by the next punchline.  In terms of pure devastating effectiveness, It’s not quite on the level of Dr. Strangelove, but it’s closer than I ever expected.

The Graduate (1967) – There’s something enormously satisfying about seeing a great movie for the first time and realizing all the praise was deserved.  So I’m not going to ramble on about this one, but I will note how visually distinctive and and striking the whole thing is.  It’s good to remember, in the era of Garden State, that the best movies can capture the aimlessness of youth without featuring comparatively aimless cinematography.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – Not much to say about this one.  Phenomenal acting, serviceable direction, interesting story.  It still feels too much like an adaptation of a play for me to call it a classic on its own filmic terms, but it’s one of those typically excellent old Hollywood products that senior citizens trot out to prove “they don’t make ’em like they used to” anymore.

Mad Money (2008) – Plays for its first 45 minutes like Ocean’s Eleven for idiots.  And it’s fine—stupid and fine.  But then it takes a misguided, soggy turn towards melodrama, tries to graft a message onto its irrelevancy, and overstays its welcome by a solid half-an-hour.  It’s so awful that pointing out how contradictory its own feelings about consumerism are seems mean, like berating a toddler for not understanding calculus.  You’re killing me, Diane Keaton.

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Written by Tim

August 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Movies

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