Interstellar and other Recent Viewings

Interstellar – dir. Christopher Nolan – 8.3 I feel that it is important to note that I try to rate films as soon as possible after watching it in a new Google form that I created. The reason that I feel that I need to specify this is because I have two films rated 8.3, one is Interstellar and the other is 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the long run will Christopher Nolan’s film hold up next to 2001 after a few other viewings? Probably not, but it may. I will say that while watching the movie I was thinking about 2001 during several scenes so there is some interesting serendipity in their ratings.

Interstellar tells the story of a dying world that needs an option to carry the human race forward. The acting was aces; everyone involved did their job very well. Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote a wonderful story. Those are important parts to any film. What makes Interstellar truly special is that the film was conceived originally by producer Lynda Obst and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne (who previously worked on Contact) so the science was there before the Hollywood influence. Are there themes and ideas that stretch your imagination? Absolutely. Is it perfect? No. Will you cry? Probably. Is it worth it? Yes.

Mr. Boogedy – dir. Oz Scott – 7.7 Mr. Boogedy is terrible. I absolutely love Mr. Boogedy, it is a long-term love from childhood viewings of the Disney Sunday Night film. That is the only reason I love this movie. There are better family Halloween films out there. My opinion has blinders.

A Woman Under the Influence – dir. John Cassavetes – 6.3  I struggle with understanding this film. In many ways I see it as a feminist film as it highlights the effect on domineering husbands on their spouses. It is a very scary film when you see the anger and violence that Peter Falk expresses. A Woman Under the Influence is a very important film as a tool of learning from history and moving in the right direction. The movie itself is not perfect but the intellectual content greatly outweighs any of its flaws.

Vernon, Florida – dir. Errol Morris – 6.3 There is a movie that my wife’s family enjoys watching, I think it is the Dancing Outlaw, they watch it all the time, I cannot sit through it. Vernon, Florida reminds me of that in many ways as it highlights peculiar people that live in Vernon, Florida. Some of the residents really touched my heart, some didn’t. This movie is not for everyone.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – dir. Joss Whedon – 6.1 Good, not great. I am starting to get tired of superhero movies. Even if they are well made, when you have a genre of film that is designed to play your emotions like a piano you eventually lose interest in the concert.

Jolene – dir. Dan Ireland – 6.0 Jolene is Jessica Chastain’s breakout, and first, film performance (aside from a filmed version of Salome) and I hesitate to say but the film was rescued by her performance. The content is very important as it highlights the misfires of a woman’s history and holds it against her ever during the worst parts of her life. For instance A Woman Under the Influence could easily be a chapter in Jolene. The downsides of the film are the performances of the male leads in the first half of the film. Chazz Palminteri was good, if formulaic, and Michael Vartan did an excellent job but my between his character should force you to hate him. Chastain the actress and Jolene the character make this an important, although flawed, movie.

The Tales of Zatoichi – dir. Kenji Misumi – 5.9 Now that I am finished with James Bond I will start my way through the Zatoichi boxed set but I have no interest in maintaining as strict a time table here. Tales, the first film, was good. At times it is beautiful. Shintaro Katsu is spectacular as the title character, a blind swordsman. The first movie is somewhat formulaic of an Asian period film so my mind wandered several times. Two yakuza bosses hire swordsmen to help them to overthrow the other. The swordsmen befriend each other and are forced to duel when the war between clans erupt. I am interested to see how the next 22 films are and when they start to slag.

A Canterbury Tale – dir. Michael Powell – 5.2 I watched A Canterbury Tale because it is one of the early post-war films by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the team that bring us The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffmann, two of my favorite films. A Canterbury Tale is not quite as good as their best but even that is better than many other films I have sat though. The movie borrows from the ideas of its namesake by Geoffrey Chaucer and features soldiers travelling to Canterbury near the end of the war. It is a good movie and anyone who enjoys black and white English-language films will enjoy it. There are a few scenes that didn’t seem to be lit well, but that is nitpicking.

Bride of Boogedy – dir. Oz Scott – 3.8 While Mr. Boogedy is a terrible movie that shines through eyeglasses of childhood Bride of Boogedy is just terrible. Even Eugene Levy couldn’t save it, he tried. Save you time. The reason I have this is because it is on the same disc as its predecessor.

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe – dir. Les Blank – 7.1 This movie is a special feature of Gates of Heaven by Errol Morris, which I did not have a chance to watch it yet, disc that fit the time constraint that bound me. I like Werner Herzog, and I like Les Blank, so I watched it. The short version is that Herzog told Morris that he would eat his shoe if Morris finished and released Gates of Heaven, he did and Les Blank decided to help the shoe entree. It is interesting to listen to Herzog’s feeling and philosophy towards film and television (I imagine he finds reality television to be the first horse from Revelation). I am very glad to I watched it and hope that Herzog’s advice makes many filmmakers.

A Most Violent Year – dir. J.C. Chandor – 7.8 There is a twitter account which share peculiar amazon reviews that are a touch ridiculous. One of my favorites said that A Most Violent Year was not violent enough. That person doesn’t get it, and that’s fine. The movie is not for everyone, it should be, but it is not. A Most Violent Year is about chasing the American dream and some of the short-cuts you have to make that may come back to bite you. The main character, Abel Morales, masterfully played by Oscar Isaacs, has gone out of his way to try and keep everything above the boards but his business gets tagged by the district attorney’s office forcing him to make a decision to save his business.

The most jarring moment in the film is when Isaacs was driving with Jessica Chastain, who plays his wife Anna Morales, when they clip a deer. Isaacs has to put the injured animal down and hesitates. Chastain gets out the car pulls out a gun and kills the deer without batting an eye looking eerily like someone who is able to murder in cold blood. The scene shook me, Chastain and Isaacs go toe-to-toe for finest performance in the film, almost. It would be criminal to not give the nod to Elyes Gabel (from TV’s Scorpion) for his portrayal of Julian, a driver for Isaacs company, who pays the highest price in the film. A Most Violent Year is bound to have a long life as an American drama and I imagine people looking at it in the same light as The Godfather.

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