Saturday, February 5, 2011

Community Standards

A mixed batch of movie reviews for you. No common theme, except that everyone's a misfit in some way or another.

Another Year (2010) 
Hey, I don't mind a strong drink and a little depression, so this was a good time for me. Looked from the trailers to be boring as hell, but after reading so many rave reviews for it, I decided to give it a look. During this recent film from British director Mike Leigh, we spend time in an idyllic London suburb in which a perfect middle-aged couple have dinner parties throughout the year with their less-than-ideal friends. 

The key to the allegory of the film is that Tom & Jerri are depicted as being without flaws, whereas their single friends are all lost, lonely, nut-cases. The final meaning of it all seems to be that luck, love, and good choices one makes during life are almost random, but that dwelling over mistakes will seal ones' fate to living a miserable life. 

I've been that "lucky one" who gives solace to unhappy friends in times of trouble, and other times been the needy friend who asks too much of their companions, never realizing the solution to happiness lies within oneself. Brilliant movie, with it's central characters, the grounded nurturing gardeners, being a never-ending reservoir of sympathy and support. We should all be so lucky to be their dinner companions. Lesley Manville gives an outstanding performance as the "manic pixie dream girl" who is long past her prime.

Broadcast News (1987) 
I wrote about this in my SFSF recaps, but to sum up: This is a great movie, both funny and prophetic, worthy of a re-watch. Just out from Criterion on DVD/BD, read this essay to refresh your memory. 

Having repeatedly heard this was a classic, I decided to catch a screening at the Castro after learning they were showing it in it's original Italian with English subtitles. Magnificent. One of the finest uses of architecture in film I've ever seen. (Gilliam's Brazil came to mind a few times). Always "ensmallening" the humans, the effect is mainly one of dominance. Highly political, debating the "virtues" of fascism in 1930's Europe, it depicts a man in crisis, wanting to conform to society's standards, but always feeling slightly apart from normalcy. It gets erotic at times, and also violent, but throughout it is impeccably well-shot and imaginatively framed (by DAP Vittario Storaro), and with a lovely score by Georges Delerue. A fine candidate for eventual Criterion release. 

A nice review here with some fine screenshots, and another.

(Also, R.I.P. Maria Schneider, star of another Bertolucci classic Last Tango In Paris. A lovely, troubled lady who was never able to deal with her new-found film infamy.)

Lemmy (2010)
Great subject, good documentary, but my screening of this displayed the worst of faux-fandom/poseur tendencies the man has unknowingly inspired. 

Lemmy Kilmister is the genuine article, but beyond sincere tributes from rockers Dave Grohl, and members of Metallica and The Damned, few of the testimonials in this film inspire the feeling that anyone from today's rock scene could hope to continue his legacy. A true pack-rat, he shows the filmmakers his rooms full of World War I & II memorabilia and displays of gold records and handmade gifts from fans. A lot of great music is heard, but the development of Motörhead's sound is largely misrepresented, with no other members of the NWOBHM ever chiming in. Instead we are shown too many tattooed L.A. douchebags (does anyone take Dave Navarro as a serious musician anymore?) claiming that Lemmy was their inspiration. 

Actually, perhaps too much of the film details his role as a fashion icon, showing the detailed leather-working that goes into making his custom boots and fans getting tattoos of his autograph or of the band's admittedly iconic graphics. Some time is spent with his son and there is also discussion of drugs, drinking, groupies, etc. 

A good film, but I must bitch about how while I watched this in a small room (the Little Roxie) there were a few folks who insisted on repeating lines or naming stars when they appeared on screen as if to say, "I'm cool, I get it." These very same people left the movie once the end-credits started, missing out on the entire performance of "Overkill" and the final scenes of Lemmy repeatedly telling the camera crew to shut it. Poseurs. The man deserves better fans that this. 

Note: I did appreciate Peter Hook, bassist from Joy Division/New Order, talking about Motörhead's influence on their early sound. I never would have made that connection.

Lemmy loves the Beatles…
but hates the Nazis.

1 comment:

  1. Good shit FJ-- I got some films to watch-