Monday, December 29, 2008

Review: "In Bruges" Grade: A-

"In Bruges" (2008)

Grade: A-

“In Bruges” is such a surprise. When I saw the trailer I thought it looked like the sort of film in the vain of “Smokin Aces”. In other words, the kind of film I do not like despite the awesome Pixies usage in the trailer. It looked like a film that depended on fast cutting to exist.
The film ended up getting fantastic reviews, ended up on some top 10 lists including Richard Roeper’s and garnered 3 Golden Globe nominations. It is the director’s first film; his main work is in playwriting for which he has very much made a name for himself, writing “The Pillowman” which was nominated for Best Play at the Tony’s. His 2006 Short Film Six Shooter won him an Oscar.

“In Bruges” is a film that does not follow a conventional narrative. You do not really know where the pot is going much of the time. The 2 hit men are ordered by their boss to stay in Bruges after a hit goes wrong and Colin Farrell playing Ray accidently kills a child. Bruges represents Purgatory for these two as they meander about the place with Ken (Brendon Gleeson) enjoying himself and Ray being bored out of his mind while still trying to deal with the murder he committed. The film is not quickly cut at all in fact. In has a very average shot length, one actually below average to display the meandering about that the 2 characters do in the film. It is unpredictable; the humor in it is very dark and works very interestingly with the rest of the plot. Its humor weaves in and out without really caring whether or not is fits in with the rest of the film but it actually does very much. There are 3 strong characters by Colin Farrell, Brendon Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes as the antagonist Harry. Each of their relationships with each other is very interesting and again unconventional. There are many standout scenes. There is a beauty to Bruges, a place that I would love to now go. Its unabashedly un-PC dialogue was refreshing not because it was not offensive but because its purpose was to be matter of fact in the way some people talk and not to be unknowingly offensive like so many other movies do. Clemence Poesy looks fantastic and has such a seductive quality about her. She really serves no other purpose other than to just be “the girl” but so many countless other films do this that pointing it out in this one would hardly make it a unique flaw.

Colin Farrell is not someone I am typically a fan of but he gives his best performance out of what I have seen (Phone Booth, Alexander, Minority Report, Intermission) proving that he is an actor for a reason. I am very happy he is nominated for a Globe as is Brendon Gleeson who is fantastic as Ken. Ralph Fiennes is equally great here as Harry. Honesty these are three standout performances as three standout characters that have depth and individuality.

All in all this is a film that took me by surprise. I have it at number 7 for my greatest of the year only behind Man on Wire, Kung Fu Panda, Frost/Nixon, Snow Angels, Milk and Wall-E (I am actually more enthusiastic about In Bruges than Man on Wire on a subjective level though. It stands at number 9 whereas Man on Wire is at number 14). If I saw this again I think it would go higher on my favorite. It seems low but believe me it is very high. I actually have it above many other fills that are Oscar contenders simply because there are so few flaws, it is not driven by its screenplay mechanics, it has different and interesting characters, a weird blend of humor, beautifully photographed in Bruges and was a film that had its own unique feeling to it as it is a film that was simple a different experience than I am used to when I watch movies. It is refreshingly original. And these days that is about the best compliment you can give to a movie.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: "Man on Wire": B+

Man on Wire (2008) (Documentary)

Grade: B+

Man on Wire is only the first documentary I have seen this year and it should be the winner of the Best Documentary Oscar of the precursors is any indication. This is a documentary whose primary objective is to essentially recreate August 7th 1974, during which Phillip Petit and his crew of people plan a heist like mission of illegally getting to the top of the Twin Towers and Phillip walking on a tightrope between the two buildings for a total of 45 minutes. Phillip’s result is beautiful and remarkable, creating a stunning moment in time.

The story of how this all came about is reconstructed for us using archive footage, home movies, interviews, reenactments. Reenactments can go horribly wrong but here it is an ingenious move, filling in the gaps of the story in which no footage is available and using it in a way that does not seem distracting and does not detract from the film but actually adds to it. I do not really know what to say about it. I really enjoyed it very much. There are other documentaries I personally enjoy more but this is a very creative and lively effort from James Marsh. Petit is a hypnotic storyteller his enthusiasm infectious. These are very interesting people and a frighteningly good recreation of an event that retains the urgency that most likely had taken place when it actually happened.

"Yes Man" Grade: C-

"Yes Man" (2008)
Grade: C-
“Yes Man” is basically a poor person’s rehash of “Liar, Liar”, Jim Carrey’s very similar in concept 1997 film which is much better by the way. There is little to admire here. The script seems rushed, like something that was shoved into production without it being really flushed out. This is not an actively bad film; it is just forgettable and pointless which is just as bad. One of the major problems with the film is that while in “Liar, Liar”, Carrey cannot help but tell the truth and he is a lawyer so this places him in some very troublesome situations; a situation he cannot help. In “Yes Man” Carrey decided to follow the program of the yes man. He decides it. First of all it is ridiculous to think that someone can fundamentally change their ways by deciding to say yes to everything in a second. Second of all the things he says yes to are things he pretty much wants to do anyways. So there is no real conflict for the entire film except at the end when he gets stopped at an airport because his saying yes to everything leads to him being a suspected terrorist! I am not joking. And of course, Zooey Deschanel then finds out he just says yes to everything and has to consider whether or not he really wanted to do anything with her. Seriously, this is the movie. He says yes automatically even during times when he should not at all and yet it is not compulsive; it is a choice. This makes no sense at all. Also when he says no, bad things happen to him. So he actually does have to take that old woman on her offer to give him a blow job. Again, seriously, this is a scene in the movie. Zooey Deschanel plays the oh so free spirited love interest who teaches jogging photography lessons and has an experimental sort of rock band. Oooh how clever. She does the best she can with it and she looks great.

Honestly there were a few terrible scenes. One was when he gets into a drunken fight with the boyfriend of a girl who he randomly kissed without her permission. Am I supposed to be on his side because honestly it was a dumb thing to do. Guess what the boyfriend looks like? He’s tall and bulky and bald; he looks like he is from a motorcycle gang of sorts. How has this become the stereotype of the boyfriend who starts fights with people in bars? Then there is the old woman scene. Then there is the scene when he talks down a man who is about to kill himself by singing “Jumper” to him on a guitar which would have been fine because it was amusing and it is a song I nostalgically love and just plain love as well but then everyone else starts singing and soon the scene becomes retarded.

That being said I do like a few things about the film. Rhys Darby, the manager from “Flight of the Conchords” steals every scene he is in, genuinely being funny. Carrey, while never creating a distinct character for the film, does do the best he can with the jokes and there are several moments when I actually laughed out loud whether it be from his delivery or from something else he did. Terrence Stamp is very good as well in 2 scenes, his first being the best in the film. This was probably the only outright good scene in the entire thing. The “Harry Potter” party scene was very funny and there were definitely other moments and even scenes that I did not mind. I think the film seemed even worse to me because of the fresh new comedies coming out today that have just completely upped the game of the genre and what it can do. But still, this is a film that just is, and it is nothing more than funny during moments at best and utterly forgettable and bad at its worst.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Grade: B+

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008)

Grade: B

Yes I cheat with my own grading system. Whatever. I do not feel right giving this a B based on my emotional reaction but a solid B+ feels a little too generous. I feel like it would be leaning toward a B+ more than a B but I am choosing the slash.

I'd like to see this again because I really feel like I need a second viewing to know what I think more definitely.

So I saw “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” on Christmas day and I do not really know my thoughts on it still. I know that I liked it very much. That I cried during about an hour of it altogether. I also know that this does not make it a masterpiece just because I was extremely moved by it. There are some concepts and images in the film that stay with you and disturb you and move you because they simplify life’s ideas through the concept. I think that is why I was so moved by it. It simplified life and death and amplified the meaning of what it is to live through its fantastical concept.

I was not blown away by the film though. It has stuck with me and since because of the uniqueness of the lack of conflict and antagonist, the concept and the performances. Brad Pitt is extremely impressive in this. He gives a performance of immense subtlety. You always believe what age he is. By the end you really feel like you know his character even though the script never really allows you to get inside of his head. I do not know if the digitalized parts of the performance will hurt him in the awards season. While it is him, technically I do not know how the Academy looks upon that sort of element. The CGI that is done with him is simultaneously amazing and distracting. What has been accomplished is quite remarkable, however we are simply not advanced enough in what can be accomplished through film for a feat like that to go by without the audience (or at least me) always understanding that I was watching CGI even during his younger scene. This does not mean though that it should not be a strong consideration for the Visual Effects award for the Oscar. Even though it is distracting, it is at the same time a visual feat.

Back to Brad Pitt’s performance; there is no yelling or crying or over the top scenes that he is to portray. This is all extremely subtle. He creates a character that is primarily observant, idealistic, innocent despite a few selfish (even though it is easy to understand where he is coming from) decisions. He spends much of the film really just watching others and experiencing life simply to experience it; to take every single opportunity presented to him. Again though, the script keeps him at arm’s length. Pitt’s performance brings depth to the character, but I do not believe the written words alone have done that. The entire cast is fantastic. Cate Blanchett is as usual fantastic here. There is a reason she is my favorite actress of all time (next to Louise Brooks). Her performance became stronger the more I think about it. Daisy is completely believable at every age. You really do believe every age that you see her at and can really see the evolution of a human being through her. Even though a lot of makeup and some digitalization I am sure was done to make her look younger, I felt like I was watching a 20 year old. I like that the script was not afraid to make Daisy unlikable. I never thought her unlikeable; I just saw her as an immature horny young woman who could not see anyone else’s feelings but her own. This may sound unlikable and it is annoying but it is also flawed in a very real way. Most of us men and women are like this at this age in some way. The screenwriter was simply not afraid to make her flawed in a way that might not be appealing to audiences. Blanchett’s scenes in the present or rather 2004 are incredibly effective as well. Taraji P. Henson may have been my favorite character in the movie. Yes she represents the African American stereotype of the wisdom filled black woman. However she really rises above this and her early scenes when she is young are stunning. This woman is stunning. I have been a fan of hers since I saw her in “Hustle and Flow” for which she really deserves a nomination. So I always love seeing her and her presence and radiance are a joy to watch. Jason Flemying is great as always. As is Tilda Swinton, Jarod Harris and Julia Ormond. I also thought Elle Fanning did a great job as young Daisy.

Some people have a problem with the framing device of using Katrina in New Orleans. I actually like it despite understanding the problems people had with it. I think it grounds the film in reality and makes it feel like something that actually happened as opposed to it being disconnected to the real world. It carried more resonance for me because of this.

My favorite part of the film is actually a part that I thought that I would be bored with. The scenes between Tilda Swinton and Brad Pitt are my favorites. I wanted their relationship to keep going. While it has no real long term consequences in the story, none of it really does. It happens to be the story of a life and you go through things that are important at the time and important to you even if they do not mean anything substantial in terms of where you are now. This is sort like the movie. If a fictional character’s life wanted to be depicted on film using no real antagonist or conflict, you need a special hook to make the film have an element that makes it worth being a story to tell if you are going to tell it in this fashion. So this film uses its concept to make its hook. It works. Nevertheless the Tilda Swinton section of the story who plays Elizabeth Abbott grabbed me the most in terms of being interested in everything that was going on. I also was very intrigued with the scenes between Benjamin and his father.

While the relationship between Benjamin and Daisy interested me a lot specifically at the beginning and the end, I felt like when they actually got together, it became underwhelming. I mean there are fantastic moments and I cared deeply for them. It just felt like the story and the narration had built up these two to be the end all be all of a couple, an eventual representative of a great couple in film history and really they just felt like any other couple. Their relationship did not carry the substance for me that I feel the film meant for it to carry. I am not undermining how happy the characters actually were within the story with each other, that is obviously all very sincere and I believed it. It just felt…underwhelming. I cannot describe it. When they finally get together it feels like it just happens because the story deemed it so at that point. Their montage though when they move into their house was the most drawn to them as a couple at that period in their life.

My favorite moment in the film is when Benjamin leaves Daisy and she wakes up when he is putting the letter on the dresser for her. Oh Lord was I sobbing. Best moment in the film.
I should also mention the look of the film. It is gorgeous. But not in the way some other films are for me. There is a lot of artistry going on and it is remarkable to look at. The way Pitt and Blanchett are shot are the highlights. They are treated like a god and goddess at their best moments.

I guess a problem I had was that I felt that Fincher was struggling against the sentimentality of the script; they seemed at odds at times. Sometimes he would win and sometimes he would lose. I did not like the segment in which Benjamin narrates how so many things needed to happen for this one event to happen and if any of them did not happen exactly as it did then the event he is describing would not have happened. It takes like 6 minutes for this segment to be narrated to us and this is not a new concept. The problem is that it feels like scriptwriter Eric Roth felt that this was very clever and would point out something to the audience that we never truly realized. It came off as forced and contrived. The end with its epilogue about how everyone has their own special niche with everyone saying what theirs was was awful. I felt like I was watching a commercial for living life or something. Truly a misstep. These are small complaints but I just feel that the film showed a lot more potential with certain scenes and themes and moments and was trumped a bit by an overall sentimentality that could have been toned down a bit while still keeping its presence. Even though it sticks with you and makes you think, it still felt like it could have been more substantial if I think about what Fincher could have done with it. It could have felt less like it was coasting. The film felt like it just coasted its way through. I understand that this is the way that life is but I still felt like it could have been much more consistently dense instead of coasting through the way it did at times.

It is strange because of how moved I was throughout and the great moments in the film and overall the story is very moving however for all of this it still felt a bit empty in a weird way and I cannot decipher it. It did not feel as solid as I would have liked. But I do not know. Maybe it is supposed to float and coast and not feel solid. I cannot tell. My emotions were governed by a musical score and a story that seemed dead set on getting people to cry as much as they could. It worked for me. I wish I could form more solid opinions on the film. I cannot tell really what I think about it and if the hesitancies I get from it are a good thing or a bad thing. But yes it did move me very much, it serves its purpose. I cried during much of it. It is worth seeing because it is a different kind of film that does not function within the same narrative constrictions that most Hollywood films do even though it does in its own slightly different ways. It is a lovely fantasy with an intriguing concept that makes us see things differently and address life and death in a far too disturbingly simple way (this is a compliment). Its performances by Pitt in particular, but everyone really elevate the film as well as the effects and the cinematography and many moments and/or scenes. I felt every minute of this 2 hour and 45 minute film. This is not really a complaint; it should not be shorter, but I did feel the length. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is definitely worth seeing as it is unique in some ways and remarkable in others even though I cannot figure out why I am not blown away by it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: Seven Pounds (2008) - Grade: B-

Review: Seven Pounds (2008)
Grade: B-
“Seven Pounds” is a film tha is being marketed the wrong way. By marketing is around the fact that the film is about a secret which does not get revealed until the end of the film, it makes whatever the secret is underwhelming and ultimately not very hard to figure out because you go in ready to decipher the film. I understand that there needs to be some sort of marketing scheme to this film because they do have to keep the secret a secret and they have to get people to see the film using a technique other than the fact that Will Smith is in it. It is not a mainstream movie though. It makes no sense until the end if you do not know what is going on. Ben Thomas is not a relatable character because his actions and emotions are hard to understand without a context. You do not even really know what you are watching until the end.

People seem to hate this movie. I do not hate it. I am interested by the bad reviews. People are upset because they are manipulated but honestly I like being manipulated when it is this sort. Yes the film is built around the gimmick of seeing how cryptic the film can be throughout the film without giving it away. However Ebert ended his review by saying something to the effect of “Some people like to be emotionally manipulated. I do, when it’s done well.” I subscribe to this too at least with fiction films, not with documentaries. I cannot deny the fact that I was completely intrigued throughout the film even though I had pretty much figured out the basics by about an hour into it. It still made the reveal no less impactful to me. I do not know how well the film worked. Again it is built around a gimmick, not being able to really function as a film without it. The direction feels decent but nothing noteworthy; it lacked much of a distinct voice for a film that could have used one. The song choices that are in the film feel very out of place like a misguided attempt to make the film more mainstream than it is.

However there were some good things about it. For one Will Smith gives his best performance. He was incredible. He looks exactly the same but I was watching a different person. That was not Will Smith; he completely slips into his character and does not try to make the Ben more accessible. He plays each scene as his character would, not thinking about making the audience understand him. He is incredible to watch perform in this and I am still thinking about his performance. Rosario Dawson, also one of my favorite actresses, gives her best performance here as well. There scenes together make this movie completely worth watching in my opinion. Their chemistry and story is extremely moving and depressing. This is a huge part of the film and it works.

While the film has serious issues and it ultimately a failed attempt at an Oscar film, being nearly universally panned, I cannot stop thinking about the movie and was ultimately moved by the performances and the story even if it is a gimmick and a MAJOR downer. The fact is Will Smith is incredible in this. Yes it is very flawed but it stuck with me despite all of that by the performances and yes by the story. I am deciding to recognize the gimmick of it but to still like the film despite of all that.

Review: "Frost/Nixon" Grade: A-

Frost/Nixon, the 2008 film based on the play by Peter Morgan, adapted by Morgan himself and directed by Ron Howard gets better the more I think about it. The film and play is an interpretation by Morgan of how the Frost interviews came about and of all the people involved. Nixon just wants to make some money and thinks that Frost is an easy interview to get around since his niche is being an entertainer and not a serious interviewer. Frost is simply looking for a way to boost his career and this seems to be the way to do it. He spends all of his money paying for the interview and Frost and his team (Sam Rockwell, Matthew MacFadyen and Oliver Platt) are helping him research and come up with interview questions and strategies. Frost brushes all of this off though as he is not taking the interviews as seriously as he should.
I am trying to write better reviews by doing them the way they are normally done but I am finding it so much harder than I thought it was so please cut me some slack over the awfulness and inaccuracies of that horribly misleading summary.

Basically a lot of this is standard stuff; a character not being very involved in something but in one moment begins to care and steps up to the plate just in time. The character who thinks he has everything under control but in the end is defeated. The fictionalization of an event giving more weight to a relationship than there probably was. It is all there. However it is done with such precision, such refreshing effect and with such great talent and source material involved that right now it is near the top of my films of 2008 and as I see many many more I do not expect it to change its position all that much. While not the masterpiece that “The Queen” is (also written by Peter Morgan), this is an extremely effective look into a time and into two individuals that crossed paths and changed each other’s lives.

Ron Howard needed a win. I like Ron Howard’s work or at least much of it. “Parenthood” is one of my favorite movies; it strikes the perfect balance of sentimentality and relevance. The best of his work does that. After “The Grinch” and “The DaVinci Code” and also resentment over the ridiculous over praise of “A Beautiful Mind” it was time that he made a strong return to form in the way of “Apollo 13”. Here he makes several key decisions that retain the power of the play. One is that he uses no score throughout the actual interviews which is so important to the impact of the film. He keeps the focus on the actors and the dialogue. He also racks the focus during many shots to the point where it becomes the stylistic motif of the film along with some very nice and subtle handheld work. The decision to keep both Michael Sheen and Frank Langella is essential to this film working. Otherwise it simply would have become a showcase for two actors who are not as well suited for the roles. I know that this is a film that was being geared towards the Oscars the moment is hit pre-production and it is primed to garner some resentment from those who think it is underrated but for me this truly was one of the best films I have seen in a while.

Frank Langella knocks it out of the park in the role that won him a Tony. He commands his scenes and brings a humanistic side to Nixon that does not by any means excuse his actions but simply develops him as a character, not necessarily as the real person. By the end he brought tears to my eyes. Michael Sheen however is just as good and really is the one in the end that the movie rests on because he has the most screen time even though for some strange reason he is in Best Supporting Actor. Sheen has the less showy role but brings just as much impact and relevance to David Frost as Frank Langella does to Richard Nixon. Seeing these two act together on screen is an absolute treat and worth seeing it for this reason alone. I have a crush on Michael Sheen by the way. I think he’s a dreamboat.

The rest of the cast is fantastic. I always love seeing Sam Rockwell since he is one of my favorite actors. Even though the importance of Reston is cut down considerably I still feel he was given a decent amount to do here. All of the scenes with him playing Reston, Oliver Platt and Matthew McFayden are so entertaining. Kevin Bacon does some great understated work and Rebecca Hall as I have said since “The Prestige” is one of my favorite actresses even if she has little to do here outside of being the girl.

My complaint about the film is how they adapted the narration that broke the fourth wall in the play. I feel like the easy way out was taken by making it mockumentary footage. It becomes distracting at parts and feels out of place. There were more effective ways to do this I feel. Instead of making me more involve with the movie it did the opposite and made me very much aware I was watching fiction instead of pulling me in. However it did not distract me as much as I thought it would in places and was not in a ton of the film. It was good that only the supporting characters contributed to this footage and there were a couple of moments when I was actually very glad we had the footage because it actually enhanced the moment. Overall though I felt it was a detrimental decision.

Overall though this is one of the strongest films I have seen in a long time. Filled with suspense and in the edge of your seat moments coming from an interview and not action scenes and two enriched character studies about two very interesting individuals and really really standout performances with assured direction from Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon” is one of the best films of the year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Favorite to Least Favorite Documentary!!

Favorite to Least Favorite Documentary!! (Concert films count)

Hey I'm sorry that there are no pictures yet. I hate this site when it comes to uploading pics. And Microsoft Word will not let me upload pics either. I wish there were pics but alas no. Sorry. I will update this list as I continue to see documentaries. Enjoy!!

1. “7-Up” (1964)
I still have a long way to go with this documentary series but I can already tell you that this series will be the best thing I will ever watch in documentary form. When I finish I will simply place it as one documentary labeling it “The Up Series” the name it is widely known as. Seeing these children, the start of it all knowing you will get to see them grow up in front of you and getting to see how their lives develop adds a layer that impacts what the film experience is like. Right away there is an extreme noticing of the difference between American kids and British ones, mainly that these children are better spoken than I have been in my entire life. You can see the personalities in each and most of them are absolutely adorable. This is the beginning of a fascinating experiment that makes the audience question themselves and how we have developed as people, how much of our self was evident at this age. Since this is the start of it, there is no growth yet, I put it because I found it to be the most interesting 40 minutes I have seen in a documentary.

2. “Stop Making Sense” (1984)
Few shots so we can observe the musicians actually playing. Experimental lighting to make the show visually artistic. Sparse set design to put emphasis on the music. No audience shots to let the audience decide what they think. Toned down audience cheering so that the people watching the film can decide for themselves what to think. Oh and amazing music. Stop Making Sense is at the top pillar of great music films. Universally considered one of the best, some consider it the best concert film of all time. Completely taking what concert films were and reinventing what one could be, this film is wonderfully creative with a special emphasis on watching the musicians perform their music and a de-emphasis on anything that would distract someone from watching and hearing the music. David Byrne is endlessly fascinating to watch perform; a genius performer. Talking Heads and Jonathan Demme do not rely on tricks; they rely on the music.

3. “Planet Earth” (2007)
Watching this on Blu-Ray could be put on a list of the greatest experiences of my life. I am not joking. I cannot even watch it on regular TV because it is such a mindblow. Oh well, I guess I will have to wait in the years to come for a Blu-Ray player so I can watch it again. I honestly have nothing to say about this except that every 5 minutes you are flabbergasted by some image that defies what you thought could be real.

4. “High School” (1968)
This cinema-verite film drops us into a high school in 1968 as we watch and observe various classes and goings on. There are no people we are introduced to as characters. Nobody ever talks to the camera. It is meant to capture what high school is like accurately as if nobody intruded. There is never an acknowledgment of the camera. A few teachers appear in 2 scenes but other than that there is nobody to attach ourselves to; just a bunch of faces. It seems random at first but soon one realizes that Wiseman is suggesting ideas and sending message using only the camera. Mainly a critique on the stamping out of individualism in high school with some existentialist issues thrown into the mix. It works as a time capsule as well as we see an assembly on the birth control pill, condoms, we see a class being taught about proper female posture and fashion focusing on a woman’s duties it looks like, an English teacher who is young and idealistic teaching Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Dangling Conversation” in a poetry class. All of these seemingly random little scenes make up an addicting faceless portrait of high school in 1968.

5. “7 Plus Seven” (1970)
Ok so even though 7-Up is the start of it all and thus number 1, 7 Plus 7 proves the start of what will be the most fascinating documentary experience of my life. Seeing these kids at 14. It was incredible seeing that their once adorable traits have become not so adorable when they stick around to 14. Seeing the footage of them as 7 year olds in the film to give us reminders is essential. It blows my mind to see the traits of them as 7 still being evident in very subtle and not so subtle ways. These films are getting to the heart of how we develop as people. How much stays with us, how much we are changed by our experiences. Nothing like this has ever ever ever ever been done before. It is completely unique and says more about us as humans than anything I can think of.

6. “Don’t Look Back” (1967)
Bob Dylan is a douche. We know this. At least in the 1960’s he was. Oh boy he was. Some scenes are hard to get through as he berates poor people by answering people’s questions with another question. He rips one man apart in front of everyone for 10 excruciating minutes. More so what we get to see is what Bob Dylan’s life on tour was like. Seeing things from his perspective gives a completely different understanding to what it must be like to be famous and to be on tour. The unobtrusiveness of the camera helps this greatly. There are no interviews with him; it is a documentary that simply observes the going on of Bob Dylan’s life on tour. I wanted it to go on forever.

7. “Streetwise” (1984)
I have nothing to say about this that is new. It needs to be releases on DVD. It is an important film. One of kids living on the streets of Seattle in 1983. It ends with the funeral of one of the 2 main boys; he killed himself the day before his 17th birthday. Several of the people in the film have died; none are truly well off. Erin is my favorite. She is the main girl that is focused on. She is a 14 year old prostitute whose mother just insists that she is going through “a phase”; she isn’t worried. A look into a completely different world one that is unrelenting and again, endlessly fascinating.

8. “Salesman” (1969)
The fact that this is this low on the list just signifies how freaking incredible these other films are because I did not think it could get any better than this. I am sure when I see it again it will move up a little. All I can say about these films is the word fascinating. That is why these descriptions get to easily boring. Because I find the great documentaries to be fascinating. It is the only way to describe them and thus I am not giving each of them their own little special thing.

9. “Crumb” (1994)
Portraits about strange individuals are always a treat especially when it done right. Crumb is an engrossing and disturbing portrait of Robert Crumb and his family, particularly his siblings who are all more troubles than he is if that is possible. It is interesting on the levl in which his important artwork is explored, how his personality and life are inquired about and how his siblings, mother and dead father interact and/or how it gives a fuller portrait of Crumb the man. It is directed by Terry Zwigoff who later went on to direct “Ghost World” and “Art School Confidential”.

10. “Spellbound” (2002)
Kids who are unique and really into their habits and way of life including their activities and rigorous schedule are well fascinating! Oh Lord I need to stop using this word. Do not fret, as we go down the list things stop being fascinating. These kids are so different and fun to watch as they study and are excited and stressed (some more excited, some more stressed) about the spelling competition. We are not given a specific person to root for, each gets equal amounts of screen time it seems and we simply see the competition unravel before our eyes not knowing who will make a mistake at any given moment. I never knew a spelling competition could be this suspenseful but when you know a few of the kids at least a little bit it is impossible not to get sucked into this story.

11. “Capturing the Friedmans” (2003)
What makes this documentary and another one I will talk about in a minute different is that there is footage from years back that the documentary maker did not get but one of the sons got. One of the Friedman sons taped everything at home and so we have secret audio recordings and video sources of happenings that would not have been available to us otherwise. And yet we get no closer to having our questions answered. The more and more accounts we hear of whether or not brother Jesse and father Arnold molested young boys the more confused we become. It is certain that Arnold molested boys but we have no idea how many the witness reports and other accounts are all over the place. We have no idea by the end where Jesse stands in any of this. It becomes a mind jarring story of a family and their troubles and how many layers of information are involved in any sort of scandal. It does not exploit though or take a stance as Andrew Jarecki the filmmaker himself did not know whether he thought Jesse was innocent or not. Another interesting aspect of the film is the knowledge that Jarecki had simply been planning to make a documentary about David Friedman the brother who was a popular clown in New York at the time. When he learned about the connections to child sexual abuse in their family he switched subjects.

12. “Man with a Movie Camera” (1929)
This associational documentary film from the Soviet Montage period in Russia directed by Dziga Vertov somehow manages to keep me enthralled for a feature length film time while just showing fast cuts of various aspects of Soviet life and suggesting much with the sequence of events shown. Although there are a few staged events (as in virtually every documentary) such as the women getting out of bed and such and the fact that cameras could not go unhidden at that time, this still makes for essential viewing for any serious film buff. It is a testament to films that can get a meaning across by artfully editing an enormous series of images together. It is one of those films that show the true potential of the art form.

13. “Grizzly Man” (2005)
Once I see this again it will probably go higher. I started out really liking Timothy Treadwell and by the end of the film you are more and more aware of how disturbed he Is without ever getting a real full portrait of his mental issues which makes this all the more creepy honestly. His love for bears is unrelenting and touching especially the footage of him hanging out with the baby fox. Herzog does a masterful job of injecting his own voice into the story, telling us what he thinks at times when we seem to need an outsiders opinion on the matter without forcing us to think what he does. This has prompted me to see more documentaries that Herzog has done. “Encounters at the End of the World” is something I am really looking forward to.

14. “The King of Kong” (2007)
This film unfolds like a narrative. I felt like I was watching a mockumentary at times and not a documentary. This was really great in some ways and also a little detractive. I felt that Billy and Steve were pigeonholed into being the good guy and the bad guy in a conventional narrative manner. Once the filmmaker made the decision to make the good guy bad guy dichotomy, the film does everything it can to emphasize that giving Billy no neutral moments at all and everything is done to get us to hate him. It is easy to tell which events are very planned out such as the phone call with Billy and is cronie. We see both sides of that. While the conversation is real, it is planned so that we are able to see both sides of the conversation; it is in no way a caught moment. That is not a complaint though; just an observation since that does need to planned out to get that effect. But I honestly love love love love this movie. I love Steve Weibe. I love the Leonard Cohen usage. I’ve seen it twice and if this were a documentaries I most outright enjoy list, this would be higher. You get so involved in it. Watch yourself as you scream at the TV.

15. “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” (2006)
This is what got me into Daniel Johnston. He is the perfect subject for a documentary; unique, notable within the music world, deeply troubled and it does not hurt that he also recorded thoughts and videos throughout his life so that we get footage that is otherwise impossible to get. This is someone who is very troubled who just wants to express himself regardless of what his talents may or may not be. And he has the right to. And guess what? A lot of his music is extremely touching, moving and downright brilliant. “Hate Song”, “Sad Sac and Tarzan” and “True Love will Find You in the End” are three personal favorites. I honestly cannot think of a more interesting subject for a documentary and I wish it were higher on this list. It looks low but it is one of my absolute favorites.

16. “Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance” (1982)
Another associational film. The first of the trilogy by Godfrey Reggio. The famous score by Philip Glass does not disappoint at all. The first 45 minutes are brilliant with the last half delving into an unfortunate redundancy that does not switch it up or offer anything new outside of the last 5 minutes which returns the film to its former brilliance. I think a part of this redundancy stems from the fact that time lapse photography was extremely innovative at the time and now seeing as it has become a convention it does not hold the fascination for that long of a period of time as it must have 26 years ago. Necessary viewing regardless.

17. “The Celluloid Closet” (1995)
This is a really nice comprehensive look at homosexual depiction in film. It goes into the depiction of stereotypes (still a huge problem), what could go over the PCA’s heads, innovations in homosexual depiction in film; all of it is addressed. I only wish it was a newer film since so much has changed in 14 years it would be interesting to see the past 14 years chronicled in the film. Oh well.

18. “Thin” (2006)
HBO Documentary about 4 various women with eating disorders at the Renfrew Center in Flordia. I do not remember much about it but I remember being very interested and I remember just overall really enjoying it (maybe enjoying is not the right word). It was not easy to get through at times but it was a moving and informative experience that one day maybe I can see again for a refresher.

19. “Jesus Camp” (2006)
What I like about this film is that for the better part it just observes. It has come out in a time when the religious people are crazy stereotype is in full swing so it sort of lends itself to that which is a little iffy for me. Unfortunately I subscribe to believing this stereotype more than I would like and I think it is unfortunate that no level headed religious people seem to be portrayed in the media at all; it is a problem because there are so many of them out there that are not like that in the slightest and it is quite unfair. However this film really does just take a very disturbing hyper-religious Evangelical camp and shows it to us without really trying to sway us one way or the other. The funny thing about that is there is no question about which way to swing because the filmmaker knows his footage is disturbing enough to not actually need a ton of manipulation. This is frightening. This is disturbing and a great watch as long as the people watching it are just going to use it as another piece of evidence that all religious people are crazy and recognize it as an extreme (but growing) faction of the Christian faith. Yes these people are indeed crazy but it should not be used as a blanket assumption. People just watching it to scoff and feel superior are watching it for the wrong reasons; it is fascinating as a disturbing, unfortunate and haunting brainwashing of the minds of children.

20. “Bowling for Columbine” (2002)
Oh Michael Moore. You make some great points, create interesting and disturbing moments and have a niche for exposing something that we already knew but in a way that we had not seen before. But I just do not like you. This is a good film and the better of the two that I have seen from him but it is so in your face Michael Moore that it is hard to not look at it as a simultaneous showcase for himself.

21. “March of the Penguins” (2006)
“Planet Earth” sort of made this look like child’s play for me. But Morgan Freeman narrating the English version is inspired. Also the way a narrative and struggle is shown and created in the way the story is shaped is so appealing and again inspiring.

22. “The Battle over Citizen Kane” (1996) – Very informative documentary about the making of Citizen Kane and a parallel biography about William Randolph Hearst. Very interesting and informative but a little dull and slow moving.

23. “A Decade Under the Influence”
3 Hour Documentary by IFC Films about the 1970’s in film. While it is really interesting and they talk to some good people, I feel like this was too broad of a topic for 3 hours. The 70’s changed everything in film so hours felt like we barely scratched the surface of anything.

24. “This Film is Not Yet Rated” (2006)
I am split on this film. I have seen it twice because I really love all of the commentary from the filmmakers about their experiences with the MPAA and their thoughts about the hypocrisy of it. But I do not like the subplot that takes up almost half the film about director Kirby Dick and the investigator he hires to find out who the members of the MPAA are. There is an air of “look how clever we are” about the whole thing. And worst of all in the last 20 minutes Dick uses really shallow and childish tactics in order to make a point that is completely manipulative and condescending to the people involved and to the audience. So it is a mixed bag.

25. “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” (1997)
I did not get the experience from this as I wanted because I was in a horrible mood, depressed and not in the mood to watch anything when I saw this but I wanted to get it back to Netflix so I watched it and I regret it because it was my first Errol Morris experience and I need to see it again because I was so depressed when I watched this, I do not remember anything from it.

26. “Battle of San Pietro” (1944)
This documentary by John Huston shot during WWII was something we watched in class looking at war documentaries of the 40’s used by newsreels commissioned by the government and done by really important directors. The chapter in Huston’s autobiography on the making of this movie has prompted me to read An Open Book at some point in the next month. The film itself is interesting obviously and very important and disturbing but it is not something I connect to very much.

27. “Fury of the Pacific” (1945)
Another WWII newsreel documentary. Another one that is interesting and important. Incredibly intriguing as an artifact and within the construct of film but not really my thing in terms of my personal interests.

28. “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2004)
Oh God where do I start? It was easy in 2004 to get caught up in the craze about this movie. Again Michael Moore has some good and valid points here and does create disturbing moments. However the way in which he goes about convincing his audience of his opinions is so in your face, so full of gimmicks, so filled with things taken out of context, so filled with Michael Moore loving to listen to himself narrate and be clever and oh so enlightened that I cannot respect it. I do not appreciate being blatantly fucked with. His valid points are overshadowed by another gimmick that soon emerges. If you are trying to get someone to see your point of view a point of view I might add that is not hard to convince anyone of, do not feel the need to uselessly force the issue upon us in ineffective ways. It is a piece of propaganda that could have been much more effective and subtle is Moore had just toned down the manipulations and gimmicks and shoving his own personality in our face than this could have been a lot more respectable and effective. Still some good moments here and there is effective stuff to be had but there is a lot wrong with this.

29. “Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation” (1988)
Again great Philip Glass store, much of the music was later used in “The Truman Show”. Some effective stuff but mostly it just felt redundant and overlong. Not enough material to sustain a feature length film. Not really my thing.

30. “The Aristocrats”
This is for people who like bad jokes and want to lose some respect by all of the important comedians who for some reason unknown to humans find the concept of this joke to be funny. Bob Saget’s telling is extremely effective even though it’s so disturbing and not even funny at all but he does manage to accomplish what all of the other comedians are attempting to throughout the film. Sarah Silverman gives the best joke though; its inspired it is so damn good. Other than that though just a bore; an unfunny bore.

31. “Super Size Me” (2004)
Hey did you know that eating nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days is bad for you? I know it is shocking right? And did you know that MickeyD’s is horrible and evil? Yeah I know. Shocking! Morgan Spurlock’s pointless documentary teaches us that lots of people eat fast food and that it is gross and that eating nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days is bad. I just do not like this movie. Again this is all information we know. People that can handle that eat there and people who are rightfully disgusted by it to the point where they do not eat there won’t. Just read Fast Food Nation for something that explains that horrors of the fast food industry. Also, Spurlock is soooo annoying.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trailer Post #1

Trailer Post 1
Sorry everyone. It has been finals time and I have been doing nothing but work. I am almost done, I just have to write up my Final for Existentialism which I will do tomorrow. So I will be back to posting reviews soon. I saw Frost/Nixon which I will write a review of as soon as I have time. But to get back into the swing of things I am going to post my thoughts on the new trailers that have come out in the past couple of weeks. I plan on doing this every 2 weeks so keep a lookout for them.

“The Ugly Truth” starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler – Yeah these are the types of films I typically do not care about so it’s not that it looks actively horrible but it just looks forgettable and uninteresting. D+

“Dance Flick” from the Wayans Brothers – I have no words for this. F

“Wendy and Lucy” starring Michelle Williams – This is something I am interested in because of Michelle Williams. She looks great in this. I also thought a lot of the shots in the trailer were remarkable and the choice to not have any music during the trailer was also inspired. I am usually not very motivated to see a film with a plot this simple even though I want to be but this looks like a good start for watching films with simple plots. B

“Race to Witch Mountain” starring Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb and Carla Gugino – I’ve always really liked AnnaSophia Robb but probably not enough to watch this. Although if it is on HBO one day I’ll watch it. C

“Adventureland” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds – This looks funny but the reason I am excited about this is that the older son from The Squid and the Whale stars and he is just such a good actor and I am excited to see him getting high profile work like this. I am not big on Ryan Reynolds in comedies but maybe he will be good in this. Good case though and anything with Bill Hader earns points. B

“Delgo” with the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt and Chris Kattan – So this was the biggest flop of the year and I can see why. I cannot believe this exists. F

“Nothing But the Truth” starring Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon and Vera Farmiga – Good trailer with what looks like I really nice ensemble. It is nice to see Beckinsale showcasing the talent she has that has been squandered on not good work. She’s had a great year and she looks like she is really good in this. B+

“Knowing” starring Nicolas Cage – Ok here is why I am interested in this. It is directed by Alex Proyas who did The Crow and Dark City. He has an eye for cinema. He is not a guarantee hit but he is still a good sign. Also Rose Byrne: I really like her. Third it just looks interesting. Yes it very well could be standard but even if it is it is still the type of film I like even if it is not good so either way I win. But it’s still nice to have an ambitious director behind this. Nic Cage needs a hit desperately. B+

“Terminator: Salvation” starring Christian Bale – I find it strange that Bale is in this because Batman is so big budget it is very odd that he is playing another character as famous as John Connor. Honestly he looks bland in this. He sounds like he is coasting and that he is doing a half assed version of his Batman voice. Honestly I have never been that connected to the Terminator stories and even though I need to revisit the first two films this trailer does not make me have any interest in seeing how the story continues. C-

“Fired Up!” Starring people I could not give a shit about – Oh my Lord this is nauseating. I recognized the main guy half way in as Wes on Heroes who I found to be the most horribly obnoxious loser ever. And the guy who plays his friend is horribly obnoxious as well. And guess what? It’s about them trying to get women by going to cheerleader camp. Why anyone would ever want to watch a movie about these people is so far beyond my comprehension that it would make me lose basically all respect to anyone who would think about wasting their time on this shit. F

“New in Town” starring Renee Zellweger – The movie is called New in Town. And has Harry Connick Jr as the male lead. Uuuuuggggh. D+

“I Love You, Man” – starring Jason Segel, Paul Rudd and Rashida Jones. First of all Jason Segel looks fantastic in this. H is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Second of all it’s Paul Rudd. It’s also Rashida Jones. Third of all it looks really funny. Fourth of all they use “Here Comes Your Man” in the trailer. I am excited for this. B+

“Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian” starring Ben Stiller, Amy Adams and a ton of other people. So I am not going to lie; I enjoyed Night at the Museum. Anna and I saw it right after Children of Men and it was such a pick me up after the brilliant depress fest that was that movie (I still think it’s the best film of 2006). So naturally I want to see this. Judge if you will. B

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gun Crazy (1950): Grade: A-

Review:(Really short)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Grade: A-
Gun Crazy:
Grade: A-


Sorry these reviews suck. The films are not as fresh in my head. It is finals time. I hope to have reviews that are at least a bit longer.

Coolest movie ever? One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen with its innovative and creative use of the camera through the cinematography. John Dall and Peggy Cummings are sizzling with chemistry and the perfect combination of old style film acting and a layer of refreshing quality and naturalism. It gets a little lost I felt in the middle and became a little less interesting but it’s a minor complaint compared to the fucking awesomeness on display here. These are horrible terms to be using especially since I overuse them in the first place but man this was so damn good. I thought I would like this but this is something I want to own, rewatch, analyze and spend significant amounts of time dissecting.

Gentlemen's Agreement (1947): B-


Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947):
Grade: B-

Again this won’t be long. I was interested in this film; however I just was not crazy about it. I felt that the romance between Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire felt like it was going in circles. It felt odd to me that Peck’s character was so amazed by the prejudices happening it was as if he had not noticed before. The film also seems to put an emphasis on the Jews being the same as the Catholics and Protestants; as in you cannot tell the difference unless you are told and that is why it is wrong. But what about people who do look different; is it okay to discriminate them? The film felt like it was not emphasizing that aspect enough. Peck was great but I felt that the most interesting aspects of the film were the characters played by Celeste Holm, John Garfield and Ann Revere. Celeste Holm is one of my favorite classic actresses and she won an Oscar here. John Garfield played Peck’s buddy and Ann Revere played Peck’s mother. Each of them was fantastic and their scenes and characters I actually found more interesting than the main conflicts. Overall an interesting film, definitely effective on several levels but it just feels like it does not carry the punch that it must have when the film came out.

7-Up and 7 Plus 7: Grade: A+

7-Up (1964) and 7 Plus Seven (1970)
Grade: A+

This is not going to be a long review because I honestly have nothing to say about it. It started out as a sociological experiment to explore the class differences and how a group of children are effected throughout their lives by it but it ended up becoming much more important than that and had gone beyond this idea. Michael Apted realized this eventually and saw that this experiment became a series of documents about how people develop, how we change, who we are. It does not get any bigger than that. I find it fascinating how doomed the three lower class girls seem to be in terms of just resigning themselves over to an early marriage and not really doing anything with their lives because it looks as if they have been brought up to understand that there are few options for lower class women. I have seen some of 21 so I am being a little biased towards my knowledge of that one. John is fascinating; I don’t like him at all but I find him to be absolutely fascinating. Neil is my favorite. Although I very much like Bruce as well. Suzie is my favorite of the girls because she is just the most interesting to me. Again I don’t know what to say about it except fascinating. It is not something you can speak during. Absolute attention must be paid to these films in order to get the true experience of marveling at the growth and subtleties in character. Another thing is the attitude the children have towards the series. There are just so many aspects to marvel at here.

Golden Globe Reactions

Wow. Some really unexpected things happened this morning. First this was
apparently an article written to openly rip the Golden Globes apart and
expose them for what they are.

Wow. This is insane. I feel sick supporting stuff like this. And just goes
along to prove my point that all of this is a lot of nonsense. Fun
nonsense but nonsense nonetheless. So my reactions?

Well the biggest news to talk about is the snubbing of Milk and The Dark
Knight outside of Sean Penn and Heath Ledger. I am not really too upset
about The Dark Knight because honestly, it's great, it has some excellent
scenes, incredible acting and an important and unique blending of genres that remarkable, but I think people are overlooking the flaws of the film, of which there
are several. While I think it is a fantastic film and easily the best superhero
film I have ever seen(not the best comic book film, that goes to A History
of Violence, Ghost World, Persepolis and Oldboy) I still think it falls a
bit short of being Best Picture material despite all that it accomplishes. It’s hard because I do think it’s great but between the absolute overhype of the film being the best thing since sliced bread and then add to it the problems I did have with it upon first viewing, it is hard to completely get behind the film despite it greatness. I won’t be upset obviously if it gets a Best Picture nod. Honestly if it does not get nominated we are never going to hear the end of it so it might as well be. By the way, the Blu-Ray of it is a fucking mind blow. Coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I’d like to watch it again sometime soon. I hate that there is no time.

Milk on the other hand is a very strange omission, not a deserving one by
any means. It seems like it would have been a Globes film but apparently
not. It is sort of annoying because now I have no idea where the film
stands for the Oscars. I think it will still get in because based on the
article above these people are morons but for all of their moronic traits,
they did recognize a few people that makes me very happy and that I hope
get a boost for the Oscars because of it.

My big joy of the morning was Ralph Fiennes being nominated for "The
Duchess". The fact that they nominated The Reader for so many awards and
that he was up for that as well and they decided to go with his
performance from "The Duchess" which had completely dropped off of the
radar is incredible for me. His performance changed what the film was, it
changed the dynamics between the relationships and he restructured the
role through his performance by adding so much depth that was simply not
in the dialogue alone. It could have been played so differently. To me, it
is the best Supporting Actor performance of the year and I do not
anticipate anything going above it, so to see him be recognized for a
performance that had dropped off the radar completely, especially
considering he was campaigning for "The Reader" because the film is
getting better reception is fantastic.

Although they did nominate Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder so I do not know
how much people are going to take this category seriously. I think it is hilarious that he was nominated even if it is not deserved. He was great though.

There are certain nominations that I am happy about even though I have not seen the films. One is Rebecca Hall for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This is an actress I have been following since “The Prestige”. I have her on my actresses list despite having only seen her in one thing. So it is nice to see her getting some recognition because I know a lot of people were talking about her presence in the film. Another is the attention for In Bruges. The trailer did not really impress me despite the song usage of the Pixies in the trailer. Then it got pretty fantastic reviews, people were very surprised by how much they liked it and it dropped off the Earth because of its February release. Nobody was talking about it anymore but now I got some nominations and I am happy for it. I’d like to see it. It has even popped up on a couple of Top 10 lists if I am not mistaken.

James Franco for Pineapple Express makes me ecstatic. I am excited for Burn After Reading getting in there as well. Disappointed about no Tropic Thunder. Guess they just did not want to face the truth that the film had. Interesting that they did not go with Melissa Leo for Frozen River. I predicted they weren’t but she is going to need a boost to get in there. It is also interesting that they omitted Rachel Getting Married for Screenplay and Supporting Actresses. Weird considering Lumet could win in that category.

As for TV I am happy to see shows like Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal and Grey’s Anatomy omitted to make room for some different shows. But there’s no Lost so what the fuck is the point of even talking about it.

So that’s all for now. I am going to attempt to churn out some reviews really quickly so I do not get too far behind with this shit. Tomorrow I am supposed to play with a puppy for a little bit and hopefully spend at least 8 hours at the library and do work.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Golden Globe Predictions

Sorry everyone I have seen some movies but I do not have the time to review them because it is finals period and my free time has gone to this. I saw 7-Up, 7 Plus 7, Gentlemen's Agreement and Gun Crazy. I will have reviews up eventually. But not right now.

Here are my Golden Globe Predictions. What I think will be nominated not what I want. I have no strategy; I'm just doing it.

Best Drama:
Revolutionary Road
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Comedy/Musical:
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Mamma Mia
Sex and the City
Tropic Thunder

Best Actor, Drama
Frank Langella, - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Brad Pitt - Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
Leonardo DiCaprio - Revolutionary Road

Best Actress, Drama:
Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Angelina Jolie - Changeling
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Kristen Scott Thomas - I've Loved You So Long

Best Actor, Comedy:
Adrian Brody - Cadillac Records
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Synecdoche, New York
Jason Segel - Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Ricky Gervais - Ghost Town
Dustin Hoffman - Last Chance Harvey

Best Actress, Comedy:
Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky
Meryl Streep - Mamma Mia!
Elizabeth Banks - Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Sarah Jessica Parker - Sex and the City: The Movie
Samantha Morton - Synecdoche, New York

Best Supporting Actor:
James Franco - Milk
Josh Brolin - Milk
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder

Supporting Actress:
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Taraji P. Henson - Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Rosemary DeWitt - Rachel Getting Married
Viola Davis - Doubt
Kate Winslet - The Reader

Best Director:
Gus Van Sant - Milk
David Fincher - Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire
Jonathan Demme - Rachel Getting Married

Slumdog Millionaire
The Dark Knight
Rachel Getting Married
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Foreign Film:
Let the Right One In
I’ve Loved You So Long
Waltz with Bashir
The Class

Best Animated Film:
Waltz with Bashir
Kung Fu Panda

Awards Season Update!!

New York Film Critics:

Best Picture - Milk

Best Director - Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky)

Best Actor - Sean Penn (Milk)

Best Actress - Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)

Best Supporting Actor - Josh Brolin (Milk)

Best Supporting Actress - Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

Best Screenplay - Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)

Best Cinematographer - Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Foreign Film - 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Best Animated Film - WALL-E

Best First Film - Courtney Hunt (Frozen River)

Best Documentary - Man on Wire

So they clearly went down the Milk route. Very cool. I feel awful commenting on this awards season when I have seen nothing. I am allowed to have very few opinions. I had heard that the NYFC was not overly pumped about The Dark Knight. So this gives Milk a bit of a boost which is greateven though it is a lock at this point for Picture. It gives Sean Penn aboost though which is good. He does not need it either but in terms ofmaking the stakes higher between him and Mickey Rourke, he does need togather up some momentum for the possible win. So this is good.

L.A Film Critics:

Picture: “Wall-E”
Runner-up: “The Dark Knight”

Director: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Runner-up: Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight”

Actor: Sean Penn, “Milk”
Runner-up: Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

Actress: Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Runner-up: Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”

Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Runner-up: Eddie Marsan, “Happy-Go-Lucky”

Supporting actress: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Elegy”
Runner-up: Viola Davis, “Doubt”

Screenplay: Mike Leigh, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Runner-up: Charlie Kaufman, “Synecdoche, New York”

Foreign-language film: “Still Life”
Runner-up: “The Class”

Documentary: “Man on Wire”
Runner-up: “Waltz With Bashir”

Animation: “Waltz With Bashir”

Cinematography: Yu Lik Wai, “Still Life”
Runner-up: Anthony Dod Mantle, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Production design: Mark Friedberg, “Synecdoche, New York”
Runner-up: Nathan Crowley, “The Dark Knight”

Music/score: A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Runner-up: Alexandre Desplat, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

New Generation: Steve McQueen, “Hunger”

Douglas E. Edwards independent/experimental film/video: James Benning,“RR” and “Casting a Glance”

Unfortunately the L.A Film Critics rewarding Wall-E Best Picture means nothing. They like to pick different things. They like to take a chance on different films that they feel will not get the credit it deserves when itcomes to the Oscars. Thus they pick Wall-E and do their part to spead theword about the gravity of the film. Looks like the L.A Film Critics are mykind of people. They picked Wonder Boys as a runner up for Best Picture in 2000. Mulholland Drive for RU in 2001 with David Lynch winning Director(fuck you Oscars) and the list goes on with interesting choices of performances and other such stuff that takes a chance to recognize people they know will not be recognized.

I think it's funny that Sasha Stone thought it was dumb to reward Wall-E (not because she does not like the film) because she feels that they were trying too hard to steer away from typical Oscar picks. I find it funny that trying not to go with the flow of the Oscars is somehow wrong. The Oscars as much as I love them have no real meaning in the end. Everyone gets that its all politics. Yes the Oscar's picks always contain some of the years best work but it is never a fair competition and there are always films that are considered to be some of the best that never get due attention because they aren't big enough or they come from other countries. Or Lord help us if it's fucking animated. So while I do not think that one should award something Best Picture just to break away from the mainstream, the fact of the matter is, the best film usually is not from the mainstream Oscar films. I believe that like twice out of the last 8 years the film that I thought was the best of the decade was not even nominated. And no these are not crappy movies, in every case the film got some of the best reviews of the year. But the Oscars by this time latch on to a select few, most of which are probably great but it does not mean that lots of other equally impressive works get the shaft. I may latch on to Awards Season like mad; it motivates me to see a ton of movies and its just plain fun. But I never take anything they have to say very seriously. I am happy to see things that I want to win, win. But in the end they are ridiculous. It's just a game So which is worse Sasha; depending on campaigning and money and big names to win Oscars along with the quality, or simply trying to look more at the work and happening to find something different. Maybe they weren't going out of their way to do that. Maybe they were just trying to be fair award givers.

I also find it amusing that Stone cannot understand the hype surrounding Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. To each her or his own as they say.

Now for Peter Travers Top 10 of the Year:

1. Milk
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. The Dark Knight
4. Frost/Nixon
6. Revolutionary Road
7. The Visitor
8. Doubt
9. Rachel Getting Married
10. Man on Wire

It is weird that Wall-E is number 5 since he gave it 4 stars. But I guess as time passes certain movies stick a little more. Cool for Milk. I need to see more movies! I've seen nothing! I cannot comment on this race at all this year!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oscar Update

So it is the time of year leading upto the SAG and Golden Globe Nominations, as Awards are announced and critics Top 10's keep popping up everywhere. I hate how behind I am in everything this year involving the films. I've seen like nothing. This winter vacation I plan on watching tons of stuff. Even stuff I'm mildly interested in, foreign films I can find and documentaries to. I'd like to feel that I have the right to voice my opinion about the Oscars. I'd like to feel that I've seen great things, mediocre films and my fair share of crap. The Choices so far for these awards have been interesting and while they are indicating a lot it seems like there are still a few films that have no idea where they stand within the race.
Something that makes me very happy is the abundance of Wall-E love that has managed to break through the summer season and be at or near the top of virtually everyone's Top 10 list. This makes me very happy since I am seriously campaigning for a Best Picture nod for this film. Ratatouille managed to be at or near the top of everyone's Best of lists for 2007 but I do not recall the film winning or being nominated for any big awards outside of the Animated Film Category. Wall-E has leaped over this hill it seems because it is being nominated along with all of the other big films of the year. It has WON the L.A FIlm Critics Best Picture of the Year, and is nominated for Best Picture from the St. Louis Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Awards. This means there might be a chance. Nobody is talking about it as a serious possibility but if this keeps up they are going to have to.
I was surprised by the Independent SPirit Awards Nominations I was expecting Milk to swipe. It's upsetting but it is nice to see films being recognized in a way that is so much more about the work than the Oscars are, even though I'm sure Milk deserved to be in there.
Best Picture right now looks like Slumdog, Milk and Curious Case as locks with The Dark Knight as a very strong possibility along with Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road and Rachel Getting Married as possibilites too. And of course Wall-E. I am counting Doubt out right now due to the sort of mixed reviews. It's award nominations will come in the acting categories.
Best Actor looks like its a race between Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn with Clint Eastwood as a dark horse. I suspect that he will pick up more steam when the film comes out. Frank Langella is a strong competitor as well. This leaves one spot open. The three biggest contenders right now are Richard Jenkins for the Visitor, Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road and Brad Pitt for Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This is one freaking packed race.
Best Actress seems to have Kristen Scott Thomas, Anne Hathaway and Kate WInslet as a lock although the films absense in the Critics Choice Awards is curious. Some would say Meryl Streep is the biggest lock right now but I am reserving that title to her for a bit because a few had problems with her performance and we still need to see what happens to this mixed reception. I am fascinated by the whole Melissa Leo thing. She probably is a lock. Others would say They could snub her since it is a small film and we know how the Oscars deal with small films that have no names behind them. If she is nominated though, she could win. Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie and Sally Hawkins are strong possibilities as well. I desperately want Kiera Knightley in but her chances are nil at this point. It’s a strong year for the females as well.
Supporting Actor is the most ridiculous race of them all.
Even though Heath Ledger is expected to win the other 4 spots have many strong contenders vying for a nomination. With none of them being consistent locks. We have Josh Brolin, James Franco, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Sheen, Robert Downey Jr., Eddie Marsan and Michael Shannon. Emile Hirsch and Ralph Fiennes for The Duchess are two that I am hoping for. It sucks that Fiennes is not getting any recognition considering I think it’s the best Supporting Actor performance I have seen this year. I have 6 supporting actor performances that fall into my top 10 for the year so far so that should say something.
Supporting Actress is wide open and easily the least competitive performance of the bunch. Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelina, Rosemarie DeWitt for Rachel Getting Married and Viola Davis for Doubt are the 3 frontrunners with Kate Winslet for the Reader, Taraji P Henson for Curious Case and Debra Winger for Rachel Getting Married as other very very strong possibilities.

There you have it everyone. As time goes on I will post updates on the race that goes into other categories besides Picture and the Acting Categories. In the meantime enjoy the evening!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Movie Review: Milk: A/A-

"Milk" (2008)
Grade: A/A-

“Milk”, directed by Gus Van Sant, is a film that is unarguably important. Few films can reach the level of inspiration and emotion that this one does. It is impossible not to be moved at your core as you watch it, whether it is through the scenes that focus on Harvey’s success as a politician and his drive towards the gay movement or the heartbreaking moments during and following his assassination. This is not a film without flaws but compared to the film’s overall success and its astounding message, relevance and importance, "Milk" is a rare film that is a special contribution to film.

“Milk” follows the last eight years of his life, starting with his meeting Scott Smith who would be his longtime partner and Harvey’s move to San Francisco that would be where his motivation to work in politics emerges. The films framing device consists of Harvey sitting at his kitchen table as he recounts these years with a tape recorder in case he is eventually assassinated. At first this device felt a little too obvious and forced to me but eventually as its use balanced out nicely with the film, I ended up liking it. It did a nice job of compressing information in a concise way. Once things got rolling it did not stick out however it did a bit in the beginning, like a cliché of the biopic. Van Sant manages to operate within the conventions of the biopic and makes the film rise above most in the genre by doing things that I will talk about in a bit.

I need to address the other outstanding elements of the film that qualify as taking the film a step further into greatness. While these are not quite as revelatory as the 2 most important components that are coming up, there are aspects of the film that critically help make this film as good as it is. The first is Gus Van Sant’s directing. The only film that I think will have a shot of impressing me more than this will be David Fincher for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. As of right now I am rooting for Van Sant. It is remarkable how he works within a conventional narrative and adds his own experimental touches to the mix. It makes for a truly enriching experience. Take the scene soon after the start of the film when Scott and Harvey go to his place to have sex. The series of shots are extreme close ups, point of view shots, profile shots all going in and out of focus. It is one of the most interesting scenes I’ve seen in a long time and it is just one example of the magnificently eclectic use of engaging yet just subtle enough techniques that make his directing the best this year that I have seen.

I must point out a few performances that help take the film to the next level. Nearly everyone was fantastic here. James Franco gives a simply wonderful performance as Scott Smith. His smile is infectious; right away it becomes instantaneously understandable why Harvey picks him out. His performance is subtle and effective and his on screen chemistry with Sean Penn is really truly fantastic. It is nice to see him get a chance to finally shine with the films he has had this year. Alison Pil who plays the only girl in the film, aside from the Anita Bryant footage is great here too. She fits right in with everyone, easily holding her own. She is someone who I have liked for a while and she is so young yet comes off as very mature. It is great to see her in such a prominent role in such an important film. Joseph Cross as Dick Pabich needs a shout out as well. He has a small but very effective performance.

I know there is a lot of talk about who from this film will get into the Supporting Actor race. We have two candidates: Josh Brolin and James Franco with Emile Hirsch as an underdog choice. While I think James Franco did a great job and if he gets nominated I will not in any way be upset (even though I think "Pineapple Express" is the better performance) I really want Brolin and Hirsch to be the ones getting nominated. I will get to Brolin in a minute. Here is my case for Emile Hirsch. Yes, he does not have the dramatic privilege of being Milk’s lover or his killer. The contribution of the character of Cleve Jones to the story is less than these other two. But guess what he manages to do? He steals every single fucking scene he is in. I am not joking. He literally commands every second he is on screen. He creates such a memorable and distinct character; one that while he does not contribute as much story wise as these other two, adds such a unique element to the film with his presence. Just keep in mind that when I say that he steals every scene, Sean Penn is in these scenes people. But if there were more than one person in the shot and Hirsch was one of them, I was looking at him probably about 80% of the time, even if Penn was in the shot as well. I do not know how he pulled this off. I just know that I smiled so many times during this movie because of him and the sheer force of his talent continues to amaze me. The way I understand it, even though I have not seen "Into the Wild" is that Hirsch was snubbed. So I implore you, nominate him this year. He fucking rocked this movie.

Josh Brolin and the entire construction of the Dan White character was for me the most fascinating aspect of the film outside of Harvey. I need this man to be nominated. Along with Franco, Brolin is another actor who has had an amazing year and last year for that matter) His work was so fucking subtle and astounding during certain scenes. It is not just him though. I completely commend Dustin Lance Black for how this character is written, how much time he gets, how the film shows little moments that are just with him yet never gives White his own story. It is brilliant and by a considerable amount, the most successful aspect of the screenplay for me. The scene outside of the party when White approaches Milk drunk is a perfect blend of the whole “I want to laugh because some of this is funny but wait a second this is really fucked up” conundrum that sometimes arises in film. How much White says and how much he suppresses is shown so well by Brolin as he portrays a man who’s caught in an uncomfortable situation for him and who tries and fails to function within the circumstances as it clearly brings personal issues to the table for him that he has been trying to suppress. The working relationship between Milk and White was endlessly interesting and "Milk" manages to create a fascinating mini character study of Dan White through its pitch perfect use of screen time, nuanced but unforced moments, and disturbingly subtle work by Josh Brolin. He just won the National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actor. Fuck, he deserves it. This Supporting Actor Race is so absurd I do not even know what to do with it.
The blend between Milk’s personal and political life is really well done here I think. I would have liked to see a bit more on his personal life, maybe 10 more minutes but for the most part I really appreciated how they address both in most of the scenes in some way. I also enjoy that they do not make Milk into a perfect being. I find him to be quite flawed. I was completely on the side of Scott when he singled out Dick to call his father and tell him he was gay. It was while well meaning it was also naïve and hypocritical. He has considerable flaws, he is not a saint, he was a human which makes the story more relatable to portray him as such and more inspirational because he it is a person who could accomplish this.

Ok so now for my complaints. While I thought Diego Luna did a good job as Jack Lira, this whole story felt out of place and completely underdeveloped. I do not know what could have been done. His character was annoying and I felt it was very unclear as to why he killed himself outside of him being very needy and clearly lonely. I feel like if this character was going to be introduced then at least we should get a better understanding as to what his character’s deal was. I am glad we got the line that Harvey has when he is talking to Scott about why he is with Jack. We needed it. I know he is supposed to be annoying on some level because of Cleve’s and Ann’s reactions to whenever his name is mentioned. However it just felt out of place. However despite all of this I will say that his presence was worth it for three reasons. One was his line about “I am more important than poop” which while it was their last phone conversation and I was the only one who found this funny, the line combined with Luna’s accent made this hilarious to me. More funny than I probably should have found it. Second was for the scene in which Harvey finds Lira and third is for the scene after it when he says “I could come home at 6 instead of 6:15”. These moments made Lira’s presence more than worth it even though I still think it is a messy part of the film.

I also feel that Scott Smith is a smidge underwritten. I would have actually liked to see a bit more with him as I felt that his leaving was pretty anticlimactic considering how long they had been together. The scenes involving the kid in the wheelchair should have come off as moving but for me they came off as forced and sort of hokey not to mention obvious. Of course Penn plays it perfectly, but I felt that the actor in the wheelchair was outright awful and these are the only scenes that actually took me out of the movie despite Penn steering it away from ridiculousness. Danny Elfman’s score at times worked beautifully and stunningly for that matter but there were a few times I felt it was trying to be a little too inspirational.

Now for the two aspects of the film that project "Milk" into that special unique category of films that contain an element or elements so unique that they will stand the test of time. The first it almost goes without saying is Sean Penn’s performance. I do not even know what to say about it except that it moved me to my absolute core. He reached out and grabbed my soul. His transformation into this man has to be seen to be believed. I have never seen anything quite like before. It is as good as Daniel Day Lewis’s performance last year in “There Will Be Blood”; it could be better. I am not sure. He is funny, charming, motivated, stubborn and intensely heartbreaking. There is so much subtlety going on under the very apparent transformation of Penn right from the start that it is not hard to imagine finding a whole new batch of moments each time one watches it. There are moments that destroyed me within a few seconds. His face as he watches Dan White drunkenly rant to him. His reaction to Proposition 6 not passing. Finding Jack and the scene afterwards. His speech after he gets the postcard that threatens a bullet to him the minute he stands on the stage. The scene when he dies. There are so many little moments I cannot even begin to remember them. I would equate his performance to that of a small miracle. I know Mickey Rourke seems to be the front runner right now and his performance looks to be remarkable as well if the trailer and the reviews are any indication and he has real life parallels on his side. I do not want to be against this performance in any way because it looks really moving but fuck… I really want Sean Penn to get it. Although it looks as though if Rourke wins, then Penn won’t be losing out to a performance just a lot of hype. Then there is Clint. Fuck. I wish this was not such a competitive year for Actor. It is the best performance in a film I have seen this year and I will be surprised if anything can top it honestly.

The second aspect of the film that completely elevates it is the genius decision to seamlessly incorporate archival footage of real events within the fiction of the film. This makes everything so much more authentic feeling, infinitely more moving and absolutely awe inspiring in certain moments. The images of the 30,000 people with lit candles walking in tribute to Harvey’s death was an image so moving, an image that fictional film could not produce. It sent me into near hysterics. It took all of my effort to keep from having an explosion of audible sobbing. The archival images open the film and close it, the film uses a lot of it and it could have been bad but it was so incredible. The actual Anita Bryant footage is again infinitely more effective than casting someone to play Anita Bryant. This archival footage is absolutely crucial to this film being successful to the degree it is. I do not know if it was Van Sant or Black who came up with this but it is part of the direction and is another reason why I am advocating for Van Sant for director. Even though I have seen like nothing else. I will not say he deserves it because I have not seen so much but I want it for him and its one of the best directorial efforts I’ve seen. I think it is his best directed film but I do believe "Elephant" works more completely as a film so I’d say that is still his best. Although it is close between that and "My Own Private Idaho".

In conclusion to this long winded and extreme interview, go see "Milk". It is one that will stay with you, one of the most completely fulfilling, inspirational, moving and satisfying experiences I’ve had at the movies. It has its flaws but what this film accomplishes is something remarkable, something that few can. With brilliant direction and a slew of incredible performances most notably by Josh Brolin, scene stealing Emile Hirsch and obviously Sean Penn in a performance that hits you in the gut and takes you for a ride you are not even close to ready for. "Milk" is in ways, astonishing. The rest of the audience, my boyfriend and myself united and experienced something profound together and when something like that happens it stays with you. "Milk" will stay with me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Streetwise (1984) - Grade: A

Streetwise (1984)
Grade: A

“Streetwise” is a film that I watched for my Intro to Screen Arts class. It is a documentary from 1984 that chronicles the lives of kids living on the streets of Seattle. It is a film that reminds me that I need to see more documentaries because this was completely heartbreaking and fascinating.

While the film never outright blames parents for being the cause of the childrens problems through their various situations, it might as well have because it becomes very clear of the parenting issues that these children have had to deal with. Some do not know their parents. Some have parents but ran away from them. Some have parents that we see in the film who clearly care about their children which makes it all the more shocking as to some of the things these parents say. Erin (14), also known as Tiny, and her mother spend a lot of time together. She is married to a man named Tom who is currently in jail if I understood correctly and had broken her mother’s leg. Erin does not like Tom but the mother seems to attribute it to the concept of children never liking a stepfather figure as opposed to the oh so shocking revelation that maybe this guy is a prick. We never see him. I do not remember what he was in jail for but I know they were still together. The woman is an alcoholic and knows her daughter is a prostitute. She is not all that upset by it and claims it is just Erin going through “a phase”. Whaaaaaa? I’m not joking; she said this. Then we have another girl whose name I cannot remember talking about why she does not like her stepfather; he raped her multiple times. The daughter says she told her mother, who does not remember it and defends her husband by saying “he does not do it anymore”. Something that amazed me with this film is how open the kids are. These girls talk about being raped as if it were a minor inconvenience. It is such a normal part of life that it is simply accepted. You move on from it. Erin is talking to Kim about the dangers of prostituting saying you can get beat up and raped and it is passed off in a way that sounds like any other conversation.

Ratt is a kid who was sick of being in the middle of his parents divorce and ran away to Seattle. Dewayne is a kid whose father is in jail who he visits. While his father clearly cares about him, again he does not really know how to be a parent and unfortunately as Dewayne’s father himself puts it “unfortunately I’m all you have”. There are other people we meet but Dewayne, Ratt and Erin are the three main kids if I had to pick them. While one wonders how much is manipulated I would imagine that events remain more than moderately unstaged. This felt authentic to me.

There are several very disturbing moments one involving Erin getting into a car with an old man and her head disappearing immediately as he drove off, clearly meaning she has begun to go down on him as soon as he starts driving. Another involved Kim’s explaining how she got into prostitution, because she went to Seattle to bring a friend back when she had learned she was whoring and then the friend told her how easy and fun it was and how much money you made doing it and then she slowly began to try it. The idea that an adolescent girl could manage to convince herself that what she is doing is fun horrifies me. A particularly disturbing moment comes when Ratt and his adult friend raid “their dumpster” and explain how easy it is to tell how long food has been there because they have one particular dumpster that they check everyday and we see them eating already eaten chicken legs out of the bag. These kids somehow manage to keep everything at bay. Which is something that quite possibly disturbed me the most. These kids seemed to act basically like other kids their age outside of everything they did. They are so accustomed to this lifestyle that they can carry on and be relatively ok and smile and laugh. While I am happy that they manage to find little bits of happiness it amazes me that a child can get to a point where they become that accustomed to a certain life. This goes along with the comment I made about how disturbing it was to see the girls talking about what has happened to them in a way that if you hadn’t known what they were talking about would have assumed that they were talking about how their day at school was.

The most disturbing moment however was that sometime during the shooting of the film, 16 year old Dewayne hung himself. At the very near end point of the film we learn that he has committed suicide and we see his funeral. About 6 people were there including his father and adults he had worked with through social services. It goes without saying that this was devastating. We had gotten to know this kids throughout the film and all of a sudden we see a coffin and learn what happened. This event really exemplifies the nature of the film. That and the fact that other kids in the film died in unfavorable circumstances. Erin is still alive however, she has a husband with 9 kids (by several different men) and has apparently recently cleaned up. I do not know if this is still true. Ratt I guess drives a truck and spent some time in prison. One moment of the film that really moved me was when Ratt visits Erin to say goodbye because he is leaving Seattle on Sunday and she won’t be out of jail or wherever she was until Monday. She jokes around for a bit but then starts to cry and he does not understand why she is crying. She says “You should know by now”. He still does not get the hint and says “ I gotta go” and they hug for a while and he leaves without really understanding her feelings towards him. We see her on the bed crying after he has gone. Ratt is 16 but looks 12 by the way (at the most).

“Streetwise” transported me to another world for 90 minutes and showed me a completely different way of living that felt authentic and unfettered with and that made its point by not interfering with things and letting us see the way things are with our own eyes. An extremely moving film.