Sunday, February 13, 2011

199 Movies, 315 Days

I watched 232 movies in the 365 Days of 2010. Here's some more:


Me and You and Everyone We Know
2005. 91 minutes. USA. Directed by Miranda July. Watchdate: 11/11/2010
I had seen this several times, but some of my friends hadn't and it has been a couple years at least since I last viewed it. I noticed some rather obvious things in the movie that I hadn't before, which I think speaks to the fact that the movie throws a lot at you without you entirely realizing it. I'm also quite in love with this deathless line: "Email wouldn't even exist if it weren't for AIDS." John Hawkes is great and I also enjoy Hector Elias but Brandon Ratcliff still walks away with the movie in his back pocket. I hope Miranda July gets around to making another feature one of these days. Actually I'm looking at IMDB's page for the movie right now and on the Related News sidebar there's a headline that says she's bringing a new movie to Sundance this winter. So, good on that.

Waste Land 
2010. 90 minutes. Directed by Walker. Watchdate: 11/10/2010
I saw an early screening of this movie with very little prior knowledge of what it was. On the poster, there is a critic's quote that reads "The Slumdog Millionaire of documentaries" and certainly it shares a measure of that movies crowd pleasing rags-to-riches poverty tourism Oprahesque touchy feely Vanilla bullshit latte populist appeal. But it's really far more complex than that and certainly a great deal more inventive and unique. There's really no proper prior motion picture analogue to a movie that explores the culture of Brazilian trash pickers (or recycled materials seekers) - both working and getting organized in the world's largest landfill, the Gramacho Jardim in Rio de Janeiro - through the eyes of Brazil's most renowned visual artist Vik Muniz who first came to America because a rich man shot him in the leg and yes this sentence is getting long but wait there's more - Muniz and these catadores, as they're known, build giant self-portraits out of the refuse they work in every day and then become famous in art galleries around the world for their efforts. I highly recommend it even though I don't precisely know how I really feel about it. Maybe I recommend it precisely because the movie let me work through my own thoughts and ambiguous emotional responses, instead of trying to force me to feel good like Americans should. Seriously, just go see it. I want to talk to someone else about it.

The Seventh Seal
1957. 96 minutes. Sweden. Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Watchdate: 11/10/2010
My first direct exposure to Bergman (must thank Woody for my healthy background of allusion and homage to the Great Swede), I was surprised at how straightforward and digestible the whole movie was. It's very well done and quite funny with a shockingly warm embrace of the importance of family. I particularly enjoyed the sequence in the Tavern and its aftermath. Nice to see Max Von Sydow so young and cool.

The Thin Blue Line
1988. 103 minutes. USA. Directed by Errol Morris. Watchdate: 11/9/2010
Fantastic from start to finish. Errol Morris is a goddamn genius. The crime reenactment scenes are masterful examples of a deft use of light and shadow. Crime reenactment scenes are like the elevator music of moving image thanks to Unsolved Mysteries but Morris basically invented them so it was cool to get what they were before they were hackneyed. It reminded me of when I started listening to Speaking in Tongues by Talking Heads because I realized what an excellent template all that terrible 80s music was trying to imitate. Of course, The Thin Blue Line is also a searing indictment of the justice system in addition to being master class documentary filmmaking. This is my third Morris doc after The Fog of War and Mr. Death and I will need to watch many more to satisfy my thirst.

PS - An ambiguity emerges in my counting method for this project. I counted Me and You and Everyone  towards my total despite having seen it before. I believe earlier in the year I was not counting movies I had seen before towards my total. Ah, the vicissitudes of nerdom. 

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