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Black Swan

 

Simply amazing. My head is still spinning from last night. I can't really get into details without spoiling where the story takes us, but there's plenty to chew on to discuss with friends afterwards.

 

Aronofsky employs a muted color palette except in a few key scenes and does a lot of camera tricks.

 

Natalie Portman gives one of the best female performances in years. To discuss what she's done would be to give away the gist of the story.

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I'm a big Andrea Arnold fan, so I'm happy to see that Fish Tank is finally available in North America. It's not quite as solid as her previous works of social realism, but there's plenty to recommend it, including a terrific lead performance by Katie Jarvis.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Watched these two last night:

 

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Sick in bed all day (I'm the last in the family to catch it, so it's been a pretty awful four days around here), but I managed to watch these two:

 

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I first learned about Temple Grandin in 2000, when she was the subject of an episode of First Person, Errol Morris' documentary TV series. The HBO movie is an engaging and curious version of her story--diagnosed with autism as a child in the 1960s, Temple still managed to go to grad school and become a famous animal behaviorist and inventor of humane treatments of livestock--and features a persuasive performance by Claire Danes. Liked it a lot.

 

I've wanted to see Josef von Sternberg's Underworld (1927) since I was a teenager (so early '90s), and 2010 saw the release of a Criterion DVD edition. It's not a masterpiece, but it was fun to finally see the movie that pioneered the Hollywood gangster genre.

 

El Picador, hope you liked The Return. That's a movie that has lingered in my mind for a very long time.

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I know we talked at length about this one in another thread, but I watched it again last night and was struck by how this movie has just the right tone.

 

The budding psychopath finding his soulmate with a lost child (so to speak). So very cool.

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The budding psychopath finding his soulmate with a lost child (so to speak). So very cool.

The pic isn't showing up, but I'm assuming this is Let the Right One In, right? Definitely one of the best horror movies I've seen, mostly because it's so much more than just a horror movie. (I haven't seen the American remake, but it looks okay... I'll check it out eventually.)

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Was well enough to see a double feature today. The Fighter had a terrific sense of time and place, and the Coens' True Grit was surprisingly old-fashioned (I mean that as a compliment).

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El Picador, hope you liked The Return. That's a movie that has lingered in my mind for a very long time.

 

Yes, I enjoyed it very much. This was actually my second time watching it, my first being a couple years ago, prior to me ever visiting Russia. I have since spent considerable time there and wanted to revisit some of the vast landscapes of the north western region. This film also left a lasting impression on me for many reasons, particularly the relationship between father and children that seems to be quite the norm in Russian society. I have watched many films from Russia and USSR in the past few years and this one is one of my favorites.

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Which is a better bet, Duck Soup or Night at the Opera?

Really can't go wrong here. I've seen 13 Marx brothers features, and those are my two favorites. Night at the Opera is perhaps more unhinged, but Duck Soup has the benefit of a fairly serious war satire. Both, however, present the brothers at the height of their anarchical power. (After those two, their movies began to weaken, mostly because MGM unwisely tried to contain them in more conventional song-and-romance formulas.)

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Question for anyone, but Beltmann's advice would be most appreciated: TCM is showing a couple of Marx Bros. movies on NYE. Which is a better bet, Duck Soup or Night at the Opera?

 

Obviously, if you have the means to DVR them then watch one that night and DVR the other one for later.

 

How Do You Know - How do you know if a movie sucks? How do you know when to walk out of a film that has snail pacing? How do you know that Jack Nicholson had a paycheck in his hand in the few scenes that he showed up in? How do you know to leave off a question mark? Horrible. Terrible. Made solely for the sole purpose of having the distinction of the worst James L. Brooks' film ever. The first film that I've walked out of in a very long time. I can't believe that the fucking budget on this was $120 million?!?!?! Wow.

 

True Grit - I saw this on Christmas night and this drunk dude next to me was crunching his popcorn loudly for the first 45 minutes. It was tough to tune into this dialog heavy film because of that. Overall, it was a fairly simple story that left me with a few questions that weren't really relevant to the overall plot.

Was Mattie Ross a lesbian? Edit: I could care less about this, but the way how she narrated the ending made me wonder if that's what she meant when she "didn't have time to get married".

 

 

Tron: Legacy 3D - My biggest mistake was seeing this in 3D because my right eye hurt for a couple of days after. I think this is my last 3D film. I took off my glasses for five minutes and there was no 3D at the time and the film was so much easier on the eyes. Maybe it's due to the black and blue color palette that looks dark with the glasses on. Anyways, I really enjoyed the film, but it didn't leave me in a state of elation like Avatar did. Something along the lines of heart was missing from this. It could be due to this being Joseph Kosinski's first feature film. The visuals were amazing, but another big gripe that I had was that this felt like the sole purpose of existing to ensure of another sequel. The last one was 28 years ago and people aren't that familiar with this world, thanks to Disney pulling it off of the shelfs a few years ago. So by having this basically be the bridge between the original and a forthcoming sequel with a bad guy (who we see and was a top secret cameo in this one) makes it feel like they don't care enough about this one. (read: looking too much to the past and future simultaneously) {I still will try to see this in 2D for a second opinion.}

 

Little Fockers - All that I'm going to say about this one is Jessica Alba steals the film from everyone else. It's almost like the film is soley built around her newly created character to create phony conflict. Teri Polo has 0 to do in this film and I even forgot what her character name was in this while watching. And Owen Wilson shows up for the sole purpose of having useless banter with pal Ben Stiller. I ended up getting stuck to see this with my family. There were some funny parts to laugh at, but the whole thing felt completely unnecessary.

 

Edit: I am beginning my Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky career retrospectives. I watched Following & Pi last week. It was refreshing to see them for the first time in almost a decade.

 

It's amazing how much Black Swan is similar in tone and story to Pi.

Next up would be the Coen Bros. I started a Tarantino retrospective last fall and stopped at Jackie Brown.

 

Anyways, I think I'm going to start a Best Of 2010 Film thread at some point today.Edit Pt. 2: Sadly, I won't be seeing The King's Speech and Blue Valentine this year.

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True Grit - I saw this on Christmas night and this drunk dude next to me was crunching his popcorn loudly for the first 45 minutes. It was tough to tune into this dialog heavy film because of that. Overall, it was a fairly simple story that left me with a few questions that weren't really relevant to the overall plot.

Was Mattie Ross a lesbian? Edit: I could care less about this, but the way how she narrated the ending made me wonder if that's what she meant when she "didn't have time to get married".

 

 

It's a goddamn shame that that's the only thing the movie left you with. It could have been an unmitigated disaster, but Jeff Bridges took an iconic role and put his own stamp on it. This may have been the most impressive movie performance I have seen in a while. The nuances of his expressions when LeBeouf and Cogburn were discussing Kirby Smith vs. Quantrill was a tour de force.

 

But in response to the Lesbian issue...back in the day, unmarried women were invariably called old maids. Many were actually Lesbians. Whether Mattie was or not, the loss of her arm may have had an impact on her psyche and possible love life.

 

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My dear, dear wife decided that a movie written by the creater of Waitress had to be just as good.

 

Oh my god. She was wrong

 

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And by the way, Meg Ryan looked like she was auditioning for the role of the Joker. She ought to sue the hell out of her plastic surgeon.

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It's a goddamn shame that that's the only thing the movie left you with. It could have been an unmitigated disaster, but Jeff Bridges took an iconic role and put his own stamp on it. This may have been the most impressive movie performance I have seen in a while. The nuances of his expressions when LeBeouf and Cogburn were discussing Kirby Smith vs. Quantrill was a tour de force.

 

But in response to the Lesbian issue...back in the day, unmarried women were invariably called old maids. Many were actually Lesbians. Whether Mattie was or not, the loss of her arm may have had an impact on her psyche and possible love life.

 

 

You know that I'm a big enough fan of the Coen Bros. that I'd see this for a second time very soon and have it feel like the first due to the excessive noise that ruined my experience. I'm pretty excited to see it again. I really let out a WTF in my head when I realized no one else in the theater was making a boo. Dumb fucking luck. Anyways, I still stand by my initial assumption that the film is a pretty simple story with not much to chew on after. And that's ok. There wasn't any scene like in No Country where two kids fight over money in the street pretty much summing the main theme of that film.

 

 

I liked the relationship between Mattie and Rooster that was developing like a daughter-father. I liked how she truly had the "true grit" out of all of the characters, especially made clear when she told off that outlaw at the end. And I liked how Matt Damon played his character. That being said I just get the feeling that there isn't much more to digest in terms of ...basically, I felt that the film was very direct.

 

 

I'm totally going into it with a fresh and erased memory of my prior experience. If anything similar happens, I may have to start throwing some punches.

Feel free to PM me with some of what you took home from the film. I'll definitely look at it after I see it, so it doesn't cloud my own judgment.

 

For the record, I strongly feel that A Serious Man was the best Coen Bros. film of the last 5 years.

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