Ten Mere Films At A Time
I was hoping for a big Easter, not in terms of eating chocolate, but in terms of watching films. And as with almost every ambition in life, or at least mine, there is a daily reckoning, a humbling that indeed you are only human and sometimes sleep, work, exercise, and regular interaction with loved ones is more important than one’s lofty goal of watching 365 films this year.
But still I tackle the task before me 10 mere films at a time.
So here without further ado, are films #36 – #45 out of 365:
36.) The Secret In Their Eyes directed by Juan José Campanella. This was my second time watching this film from Argentina, and even though I didn’t love it as much as the first time around, I do think it’s great when you’re in the mood for a good thriller-meets-love-story.
37.) Jeune & Jolie directed by Francois Ozon. I love Ozon but was disappointed in Jeune & Jolie as the motivation of the main character was not clear enough to me and so I couldn’t see what else the film was about other than a pretty, young French girl who sleeps with older men for cash. I couldn’t have helped not seeing this one though – even the trailer did not put me off! – because I do admire the breadth of Ozon’s work. There are a few things that make this film worth one’s time (aren’t there always?) and that is an appearance by Charlotte Rampling and an ending I didn’t see coming.
38.) Drive directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. This is not the kind of film I’d like to make as it’s not a world I am interested in portraying, yet I really loved this film. Ryan Gosling was so well-cast, and what a study it was in tension – which for me as a filmmaker seems very difficult to pull off well. Some great moments in sound design too, especially in the opening sequence where police scanners (why on earth do Americans listen to these things?) vying with the baseball game. Yet despite loving this film I didn’t think the violence was justified. Drive was on my list as films “I think my mother would like” until the scene where a fork. . . you get the picture.
39.) Mud directed by Jeff Nichols. Like Drive, Mud created another intense world which I didn’t want to leave. And it was similar to Drive in that both films were about love and the misunderstanding of it. A great coming-of-age story set in the American south with solid performances by Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon.
40.) Upstream Color directed by Shane Carruth. I had no idea what happened in this film or what it was ultimately about and so it was a real struggle to get through, but I loved its pace and style of editing which takes you forward and backward in time. Definitely a film to see more than once, and it raised my interest in Carruth’s earlier piece Primer which is probably not a bad thing.
41.) Kramer vs. Kramer directed by Robert Benton. A film that I have been wanting to see for years and at last I needed this resolution to do so! The music is superb as are Dustin Hoffman’s jeans with penny loafers and his glasses of Tab with sliced lime. A young Meryl Streep, big 1970s furnishings in Manhattan apartments, and a divorce court room scene that could very well have taken place today: “I remember he said I probably couldn’t get a job that would pay enough for a babysitter for Billy.” If you haven’t seen this film, do! It really stands the test of time.
42.) Under The Skin directed by Jonathan Glazer. Another film that could bear repeated viewings, in fact I have a friend who has seen it three times and has revealed flashes I had missed the first time around. Absolute amazing sound design. The sound of Scarlett Johansson’s heels, the sound of a tea cup shaking on its saucer as it is carried across the room – this is a film – even if you don’t understand it! – that needs to be seen on the big screen to appreciate all of its striking images and sounds.
43.) Milk directed by Gus Van Sant. An unbelievably powerful true story that moved me to tears. Again, another film I have been wanting to see since I lived briefly in San Francisco in the late 90s. Hard to believe that in such recent history a gay politician could have provoked such controversy.
44.) Brothers directed by Jim Sherdian. When a friend heard of my 365 films a year goal, she handed me a pack of DVDs in sleeves, and Brothers was one of them. I have to say I didn’t expect much from this film but it was one of the ones I loved best, perhaps because it was such a surprise. A film about war and hence a great anti-war film, nice interplay of scenes on the home front with Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal while Tobey Macguire experiences Hell On Earth in Afghanistan, even though at times the scenes felt crowded out by music. A great dinner table scene of tension when an eldest daughter defies the authority of her father by twisting a helium balloon in her lap whilst staring him down as if to say “What are you going to do about it?”. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. The balloon pops and so does something else. Again, another moment of great cinematic tension to study and relish.
45.) Cosmopolis directed by David Cronenberg. I signed up for Love Film to watch this film (okay, along with the Girls series!) yet I was really disappointed. Perhaps I didn’t quite “get” this film, and if there is anyone out there who absolutely loves it, do drop me a line and explain to me what I missed. Even though Cosmopolis boasts a fantastic cast who appear in Robert Pattinson’s limo as it glides through a silent city, the absence of these city sounds heard from within the limo makes the dialogue seem stilted. This was probably the point but still I was bored, got distracted, and then no doubt missed out on important plot points which explains why when the film finished I was left thinking: huh? But there was a silver lining, and that was the ending which showed a reserve I wish I had seen more of in Drive.
Until next time, when I hope the majority of the main characters in my chosen films aren’t roaming cities in cars…