Friends Don't Let Friends Watch Bad MUBIs, Or, At Least, I Hope They Don't - Part Two of Twelve
By: Kai White
The explanation of the genesis of this project, and it’s January iteration, can be found in Part One.
1 – 9 are selections recommended to me by other MUBI users. Enough thanks cannot possibly be heaped upon the following people for their time and good taste.
1 is courtesy of ScorpioRising
2 & 3 are courtesy of Jimmy Paradiso
4 is courtesy of Kenji
5, 6, 7 & 8 are courtesy of ApurSansar, although, to be fair, 5 was recommended to me by both he and Kenji
9 is courtesy of Dimitris Psahos
There are, of course, other recommendations that have been given to me, particularly by ApurSansar and Dimitris Psahos, but I’ve only got so much time in a month, so some will have to wait.
10 – 12 are here thanks to Simultaneous Watching & Analysis, which is a project I’m firmly behind as much as time will allow.
13 – 16 are in my house currently thanks to Netflix. Bonus points if anyone can guess which one of those four is not my choice, but my wife’s.
17 – 20 are in my DVD collection. These were all gifts, but, hey, somebody spent money on them, so I might as well watch the damn DVD.
Also, because one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more, this month’s film related book will be -
My Passage From India by Ismail Merchant
2-3-11 – Eros … The Bizarre – 8/10. Well, there’s some atmosphere for you. Creepy musical cues abound, and no action, no matter how minute seeming, is wasted. A really enjoyable and thoughtful watch. You can check out a more complete version of my thoughts here.
2-5-11 – The Queen – 3/10. Eek, that wasn’t very good. And what was the point? I wonder if anyone else thought that the constant videos of real life Diana were fetishistic. Maybe that was the point . . . ? If so, surely the whole thing could have been much better done. There was a very snide undercurrent to the whole thing, and about the only thing I enjoyed was Blair’s struggles with the royal family in the first half. Of course, that all changes with very little reasoning about twenty minutes later.
2-8-11 – Pakeezah – 7/10. Not that this doesn’t have it’s problems, but damn, it’s pretty entertaining. The sets are awesome, the song and dance numbers are charming, and the story itself is actually heady emotional stuff. The cons? The ending is rushed, there’s continuity issues, and some unintentional hilarity (elephant attack!) comes into play, but I have to say, I was still really engaged throughout. Thanks, Kenji.
2-8-11 – Prospero’s Books – 5/10. Well, you know, it would be very easy to dismiss this as style over substance, or production design run amok. I don’t think it is that, because some of the story elements are compelling, and Gielgud’s work here is substantial. However, it is really hard to shake the feeling that I just went through some sensory deprivation test.
2-11-11 – Once – 6/10. I very much so enjoyed the soundtrack, but if we look at this as a movie, what is it, really? Is there any way to separate the music from the “story”, what little story there is? And is the story itself even plausible? I don’t know, I was definitely left with a hollow feeling about the movie as it was. Bonus point for the music, though.
2-13-11 – Monty Python’s Life of Brian – 6/10. Alright, I’ll admit, I was laughing myself sick during the stoning scene and the whole “Biggus Dickus” exchange. The rest of it varied between making me grin and leaving me cold. It’s tough to evaluate comedy, because you never know what’s going to tickle your funny bone, but for me, this was very middle of the road, with the exception of those two hilarious sequences.
2-15-11 – Goodbye, South, Goodbye – 7/10. I enjoyed this, but I’m either not smart enough or not eloquent enough to define why. I liked the pace, and although the story left a little to be desired for me, it was a solid watch. Burning question, am I on drugs, or did Gao’s sleeve tattoo randomly swap arms in the middle of the movie, and then swap right back in the next scene? How does that detail fall through the cracks?
2-15-11 – The Lives of Others – 6/10. ARGH . . . the feeling I most dislike coming out of a movie is the one that says, "Man, that would have been so much better if they would have done . . . ". And that’s what I had. This was somehow interesting without ever being engaging, and although it could be based on a true story for all I know, it seems wholly unrealistic that somebody who is the “company man” like that would just piss it all away for somebody he thought he should investigate in the first place.
2-17-11 – Destry Rides Again – 6/10. If only Jimmy Stewart were in every frame of the movie. He was the star of the show, even if Marlene Dietrich (and her horribly dated, and quite possibly just plain horrible singing) got top billing. It was entertaining enough, but the ol’ brain has got to go on hold for this one. Destry hates guns, and wants to pacify the town, but he ends up shooting Kent in the end anyway . . . ?
2-18-11 – The Meaning of Life – 6/10. This is a prime example of how comedy can either tickle your funny bone or leave you ice cold. Most of this was very funny for me, and then we get to the obese guy vomiting in the restaurant . . . and that’s really the whole impression I have of the movie now. And that’s not a particularly good impression. It has it’s moments, but honestly, I can’t get past how unfunny, insipid, and ruthlessly dumb that one sequence was.
2-20-11 – Tales From The Golden Age – 7/10. 8/10 for the first three stories, which were HILARIOUS. 6/10 for the last two, with their strange tone shift into something different. The credits say the stories were directed by different people, but I don’t know that one could even distinguish anything majorly different in between the segments. 10/10, by the way, for the pig bomb.
2-21-11 – King Kong – 2/10. This movie seems to mainly exist for the expansion of the idea of the island Kong comes from, so the fact that that is horrendously filled with cliches and problems with its own fiction doesn’t seem like a good selling point. The narrative, for what it is, is so badly handled that I actively wondered while watching the film if they were just making a series of trailers. I also wished the camera would just hold still for one second so I could see all the CGI, even though that was suspect at best. Just what did all the money buy here?
2-22-11 – Historias Extraordinarias – 9/10. Ah, beautiful! The only mark against it is the Lola Gallo story, which felt like an unnecessary diversion. The rest of it, however, is wonderful filmmaking. Interesting stories, interesting characters, all tied together with themes of the road being their home and adventure. Seriously, it was 4+ hours, and it could have been 10 or 20. I wanted more!
2-22-11 – Forest of the Hanged – 7/10. I thought this was very well made, but it feels very incomplete. At points, the story seems to lose focus (actually, this happens a lot), almost like there are parts of it missing. The central Bologa character is fine, but he also goes all over the place. In a way, this is frustrating, because what I liked of the movie, I liked a lot.
2-25-11 – This Transient Life – 10/10. Ridiculously great. Although the subject matter (who doesn’t love incest?) might put some people off, I really didn’t have a problem with any of it. Instead, what I saw was a well put together story, some extremely creative camerawork, tons of atmosphere, and a ballistic social agenda wrapped together in what is essentially a character driven piece. I knew from frame number one that I’d love it, and it only got better as it went. Perfection.
2-26-11 – The Fountain – 6/10. I actually liked some parts of this a lot, but there are more than enough instances where this trips over itself trying to cram all of its ideas in. It is gorgeous to look at, but that doesn’t really make a movie anything more or less special. It’s major flaw is that it thinks it is a Very Important Movie, and it wants you to think that it is a Very Important Movie, also. It features some Very Important Crying, Very Important Yelling, and Very Important Ideas. It’s also intentionally obtuse, or at least I think it was intentional, because I’m pretty sure that the end result is that future Hugh Jackman does yoga poses while past Hugh Jackman turns into a tree and current Hugh Jackman tries to cure brain tumors while Rachel Weisz is the Queen of Spain. All that said, you could find worse ways to spend an hour and a half.
2-27-11 – Mirror of Illusion – 8/10. I’ve never in my whole life wished more for a character to get to change her circumstances than I did for Taran, who really just needed to get out of that house. And how wonderfully minimalist is a movie that changes so much when one person smiles? SMILES, for goddakes. There’s a good dose of culture examination going on, too, and how those concerns impact the characters. The pace is ridiculously slow, not that it matters, but it kept me at a distance while I was watching it. I really liked it, just didn’t love it.
3-1-11 – The Name of a River – 9/10. How does one even describe this film? All I can really say about it is that I felt it in my knees. That’s not a reaction you get every day. The only knock I have on it is that I’m familiar with some of Ritwik Ghatak’s works (counting two of them in my top 100), and I was still having a tough time wrapping my brain around what was happening. I can just imagine what one would be thinking if they didn’t know who he was. Magnificent otherwise, though, as some sort of roving meditation on Indian history, Ghatak’s movies, life, and probably twenty other things I didn’t grasp. Doesn’t matter, however, because I felt this movie completely. On a personal note, the actress playing Anusua is gorgeous :).
3-1-11 – Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf – 6/10. Here’s to hoping Jimmy will still want to recommend me films, because I’ll still watch ‘em :). And I don’t know that I think the film itself was bad, far from it. Carax had some very interesting visuals going on, and he knows how to move a narrative along at a nice pace. It was the story I had a huge problem with. In a story like this, I need my characters to act with some reason, and drug addicts have a tendency to not do so. Alas, if this film were my girlfriend, right now I’d be giving it one of those "It wasn’t you, it was me . . . " speeches.
3-1-11 – Sao Paulo S/A – 8/10. Speaking of if a film were some part of my life, I finally found myself on film, at least somebody who talks like I do. It was interesting watching Carlos go – I don’t know if this was the intended reaction, but I was laughing the whole time because there were moments he had the same conversations I’ve had, almost word for word. The only difference was the intent. When I tell people I got married because I got too lazy to look for something better, I don’t really mean it. Carlos did. In any event, this is a really solid movie. While it didn’t bowl me over as an all-time great, I really enjoyed myself.
08Luís Sérgio Person
10Walter Hugo Khouri
16Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck