Monday, November 28, 2005

Tech Solutions

Over the weekend I splurged and bought a copy of Nero 7 Ultra Edition. Not only does it solve all the screen capture issues, it offers a handy tool for resizing images along with a bundle of media management features I've yet to explore, thus making it far more attractive than the one-dimensional WinDVD program partially installed on all HP desktops. Now I just have to wait for Best Buy to mail that $50 dollar rebate to me to make it reasonable.

The Life Aquatic with Noah Baumbach

Interiors was rented, so I chose Manhattan instead. While I await the arrival of my eagerly anticipated, 20% off impulse purchases of The Man Who Fell to Earth, L'Avventura and Solaris, I'm on a bender to get into Baumbach's very sensible influences. Unfortunately I lack the psychological imagination to grasp Baumbach's fascination with underwater imagery. Am I willing this to favorite film of the year status, or is it just that intriguing?

If there are any other obvious film references that I'm missing, drop a line in the comments box.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Squid and The Whale

There's no easy way to talk about this movie. The easiest comparisons are Allen's Interiors and Bergman's relationship films, but Baumbach skirts both influences carefully, although even in a charitable frame of mind the decision to name the family the Berkmans seems a more than just a little precocious. A tiny movie about minor histories, plagiarisms, charlatans and philistines, The Squid and The Whale deals with the matter of divorce, set in late '80's Park Slope, Brooklyn.

A literary family, the Berkmans have the sort of hangups most overwraught intellectuals just aspire to. Bernard Berkman's fascination with perfection verges on Grand's insistence on a "hats off" salute in The Plague. Jeff Daniels captures the role of the overweening father figure perfectly, never flinching from a cruel, unsubstantiated judgement or hiding his preening vulnerability. Laura Linney's emotional range as his wife is stunning. Both children manage their pubescent and post angst in ways that I found intriguing and open-ended. Baumbach has succeeded in making a film that celebrates and derides the coming-of-age story without devolving into Solondz' suburbanite drivel or some triumphal Ridley Scott "masterpiece"; the realism is real and the whimsy is not, at least not in the tangible sense of which the characters are aware.

Unlike writing partner/producer Wes Anderson, Baumbach doesn't get caught up in denotative dream time - there's no difficult Christmas or a forgotten birthday to speak of. It's a strangely realistic venture of parent-teacher conferences, tennis lessons and bad dates. It'll have you singing songs of innocence and experience before you know it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Passenger

More on this later, as well as more notes on Walk the Line and The Squid & The Whale.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Walk The Line

What they said. Briefly? Everyone loves a Christ story at Christmastime. Also, when folks tell you that you that you can't take your eyes off of Reese Witherspoon, it's not simply because she's breathtakingly beautiful or inordinately talented: the tight focus on her face leaves no alternative. If you've seen one biopic then you know too well the strict adherence to Great Man thesis which wouldn't be complete without messianic hagiography. To their credit, both leads are believable as Cash and June Carter, but that isn't enough to cover for a gauzy gloss on The Man in Black.

But a film like this begs the question: has a celebrity ever lived an irredeemable life?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Thanks to some nice people where I work, this ended up in my hands. I'll be catching up on Mr. Fukasaku shortly, but Mr. Vengeance comes first. I'm sure Filmbrain will be pleased. Well, Filmbrain won't be pleased that I haven't seen Oldboy yet (and yes, I know the company I work for is partnered with the company released it!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fukasaku Days

Apologies for the hiatus. Ramping up at PopMatters and Decibel Magazine and contributing reviews for both presently has me distracted and practically unable to sit down in front of the television for movies, much less get out to see them. As busy as it is for film, it's busier for music - October/November are touring months, year end reminders all their own.

In light of this, I'll be catching up with Kinji Fukasaku's Street Mobster and Graveyard of Honor very shortly. I still need to sit down and watch The Yakuza Papers boxset I got almost a year ago as a reward for outstanding service as video store clerk.After that I may finally get after Suzuki's reissued catalogue in earnest.