#456 The Master
I really need to watch this again. This film is so rich in material and themes that one sitting is not enough. But, from that one sitting I could recognize its greatness. Here, Paul Thomas Anderson has made not only what could be his best film but his least accessible film to audiences. The common themes of all Anderson movies are here; the disillusionment of the American Dream, the hope for change, something distorted by greed. And this is anchored by two of the finest performances on record. Joaquin Phoenix transformed himself or at least morphed himself into this Freddie Quell, hunching his back, speaking in slurs with particular ticks. None of the war trauma he went through is ever said or even alluded to except for the scars of his face. His manic personality is juxtaposed with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s subdued, charismatic performance of Laurence Dodd. Everything he says has a reason to it for show. Yet, no matter how calculated he is there is a quiet explosion waiting to go off. If Paul Thomas Anderson have not shaken off the criticisms that he is too much like Altman or Kubrick or that he takes too much from other filmmakers then this film should change it. Here we have an ambitious director that has not come along in American cinema in a while. And if Anderson suddenly disappears now, his filmography with two American classics, three great films and one film that I have not seen yet will be immortalize as one of the greats.
6:08 pm • 17 September 2012
#455 The Joy Luck Club
I must admit, it got a bit dusty when I was watching this film which happen to be on a bus ride. “The Joy Luck Club” seems to be the definitive Asian American film. It takes on melodramatic details and can feel ham fisted during several points but it is indeed a truthful take on being an Asian American. The pressures a first generation American has to take from their parents balanced with the dangerous journey to America is extremely truthful even today. In fact the immigration stories of the four mothers are so heavy that it made the problems of those who were born in America almost seem irrelevant. Everything has a certain truth to it. That said, Asian males do not seem to get a break in this film. None of them are relevant except for those who are the most evil beings in the world. As an Asian American male I am clearly offended.
5:49 pm • 17 September 2012
#453-#454 Seven Up & Seven Plus Seven
A unique documentary experiment in which the film takes several subjects and began filming them at the age of seven with the proclamation that they want to see the leaders of the country in year 2000. Every seven years afterward, they look at the same group of people again to see where they are in their stage in life. The first two installments set paths for the future. Asking the kids simple questions, you can see the naivete of children as they are asked to look upon the future. Knowing that there are films that follow up on these children’s journey in life, I cannot wait to see where they end up. Recently I believe 56 and up was released. This social film series could serve as an important time capsule for the future in how we see life.
1:34 pm • 17 September 2012 • 1 note
#452 The Shop Around the Corner
Unfortunately, this Ernst Lubitsch classic has the dubious distinction of being remade into “You’ve Got Mail”. But, this is a classic romantic comedy in which the humor holds up and even feel risque for that time. The Lubitsch touch is ever present in this film as he fills it with charm and intelligence. Frank Morgan, who is known as the Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz”, gives an underrated performance that runs the spectrum of emotions. What surprised me about this film is the themes that they touched upon that were really dark including suicide and infidelity. Then again, this was the filmmaker that made “To Be or Not to Be”. It is an enduring comedy that still resonates today.
1:27 pm • 17 September 2012
#451 The Cats of Mirikitani
Jimmy Mirikitani has an amazing life story. Born in Sacramento California to Japanese immigrants, he went to school in Japan and came back right in time before World War 2 to be put in Internment Camps. Later he would work as a chef for Jackson Pollack and serve as an assistant to a wealthy man in the Upper West Side. When the man died he became homeless living off the paintings he sold. And his paintings are truly amazing combining classical western style with his Japanese style. But, the story behind the artist is more amazing as featured in this documentary.
1:17 pm • 17 September 2012
#450 Carnival of Souls
“Carnival of Souls” is a strange picture, and in that it is uniquely brilliant. It has a surreal quality to it that was not around during the time of American horror films populated by Roger Corman. The fact that you never knew exactly if the lead character was crazy or not gave the film a European quality to it. The scares aren’t there like the boos or sudden shock. The horror comes from the psychology of our main character who you is never sure what is true and what is false. It is no wonder how Her Harvey’s classic film has now become a cult classic. That said, the ending was pretty silly but without it doubt influenced George A. Romero and his soon to come “Night of the Living Dead”.
1:02 pm • 17 September 2012
For some reason I have always respected Buster Keaton more than I liked his films. His stunts are amazing and I could appreciate his dead pan humor, but nothing ever really made me laugh. I don’t think I ever really like Keaton’s persona as opposed to Chaplin or Lloyd. His shtick of being old stone faced never garnered any emotions for me and I think that is because I personally (don’t want any hate mail) do not find him as sympathetic. His stunt work is amazing and his influence on cinema and cinema tricks without a doubt puts him as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. “College” is one of Keaton’s lesser films because he did not have full control and the thing that made me appreciate him is not there. I know a lot of people disagree with my take on Keaton but that’s why opinions are wonderful.
12:44 pm • 17 September 2012 • 1 note
#448 The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Peter Lorre’s first English speaking film, he takes his madman persona with a rich, creepy voice to combine with the master of suspense. The results is a fine film that doesn’t have the grandeur of the slick Hollywood remake a few years later. Maybe it was the quality of the version I watched, but i found myself squirming a few times despite the relatively short screen time of an hour and sixteen minutes. But, the Royal Albert Hall sequence is still an amazing exercise in editing to create as much suspense as possible.
12:30 pm • 17 September 2012
#447 The Purple Rose of Cairo
There is no need to explain how it happen or why it happen because that is the magic of the movies. Sometimes, a person can just pop out. Woody Allen is a fan first and foremost and that what “The Purple Rose of Cairo” is. It is an ode to the films that he loved and the magic it brings. Mia Farrow, who in my opinion is the ultimate Woody Allen muse and heroine over Diane Keaton, gives an amazing performance of naivete. Originally cast as the dual actor and character of the film within the film was Michael Keaton but he was reportedly not 40’s actor looking enough. That could have been a good casting choice but Jeff Daniels is absolutely brilliant playing two completely different types of characters. Last year “Midnight in Paris” captured people’s imagination with its unexplained magic, but “The Purple Rose of Cairo” still brings wonders almost 30 years later.
12:22 pm • 17 September 2012
#446 A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
Wayne Wang is one of those directors that can take the smallest of moments that speaks so much. “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” is comprised of many silent moments. And from those silent moments it speaks loudly to where the characters are in their lives. This is a father daughter story in which not much is said about each character until the end as it is slowly revealed to the audience. This hint of mystery on their relationship drives the story as well as the universality of it. Wayne Wang is the only filmmaker I can think of who makes true Chinese American stories and from that niche he is still able to make it accessible to everyone else.
12:13 pm • 17 September 2012 • 1 note