Putting aside all the Tom Cruisey shenanigans and South Park sketches, he’s a really good actor for this type of movie. Fun fake faces, costumes, cars and brain bombs. The action scenes make my eyes hurt, and it’s all action scenes.

Billy Crudup, looking not so familiar, was the inside man and Phil Hoffman was an endearing psycho killer. Everyone else did whatever, and probably did a fine job of it. I was all caught up in the tension of the thing and the wild missions… thrilling. Took exception to the happy-sappy final scene, where all survivors (TC, wife, three teammates, commander L Fishburne and the comic-relief tech guy) laugh and cheer, the camera taking turns showing them smile in close-up. But later read a fine explanation of how Cruise maybe got brain-bombed or never woke up from eating a live electric cord, and the ending is a dying fantasy. Katy had a point in the action scenes having way too many cuts, but that’s nothing new.

Should this really be compared to Ghost World, which was a whole different kind of movie? Sure, why not. Both try to mix humor with failure and both have Steve Buscemi in ’em.

Art Con is disillusioned with the art-school crowd and has nothing nice to say about the students, their teachers, rich successful artists, or lonely bitter failures. Pretty harsh outlook (but of course). A few interesting bits – our kid being more accepted as a famous serial killer (not “innocent” since he did burn down an apartment building, killing many) than he ever would’ve been as an artist, and the “outsider artist” cop being celebrated for making daringly crappy paintings. Kind of an easy-target comedy, like Best In Show, but meaner. Angelica Huston didn’t have much to do. Katy didn’t seem too enthused.

A social issues movie. Indians girls who are widowed (before even realizing they were married in some cases) are sent to live in widow-houses as beggars and whores. Our little protagonist and a free-spirited strong-willed young woman daren’t defy their fat tradition-bound elders, and so surrender to their fates till a young male idealist, too late to save the young woman, sacrifices the girl to the Gandhi Train. Before that, the y.w. drowns herself in the river, our girl brings holy water (too late) to a dying woman, and a parrot is murdered.

Full of pretty shots and good performances, but in retrospect a lightweight and obvious script. Seems the whole movie is meant to make us feel bad about these widows, being oppressed by their religion/culture, like Los Olvidados or Salaam Bombay. None seem quite as good, or quite as depressing as Germany Year Zero, but depressing poor-people movies are never my favorites. Nor are happy rich-people movies, for that matter. Katy seemed to like it, but didn’t say much.

Hooray! So. Slave from snowy land who can run and jump and fight super sfx-fast helps his owner defeat bad guys using bull stampede. Master dies, but soon gets new master as Red Armor dude being chased by darkwing snowland fella. Slave rescues Queen, kills king, Red Armor is blamed. Queen once sold her happiness to mythic swamp lady for beauty + wealth (after betraying kid who will grow up to be fey supervillain). Slave rescues her a few more times, sometimes fighting and sometimes joined by Red Armor or Darkwing. Showdown with Fey leaves Slave wearing immortal darkwing suit, Queen freed of her curse, everyone else dead.

Maybe the “promise” of the title is the Queen’s. She is forced to keep that one by the goddess, while everyone else breaks their promises (of love, slavery, kinship, etc). Pretty excellent looking movie, and satisfactory ending (more so than Zhang Yimou’s last three pictures?).

Typically depressing movie about poor people, but this time with a goofy “childlike” criminal lead. Funny how he stays likeable even when abandoning his young buddy and selling his baby. Must be the hat and the stylin’ jacket. Redemptive ending in jail. His wife isn’t the focus of the movie… and good, cuz she’d ground it too much in sad reality. Liked it for sure, breezily watchable, but wouldn’t give it the top honors that’ve been floating around (palme d’or, etc). Kinda put me in a low mood and made me not wanna go see the promise. But figured it was my only chance, and went anyway.

Skipping past twenty years, Las Hurdes, the Spanish Filmofono productions and a couple other Mexican movies… to Los Olvidados. I understood that this was one of the pre-60’s movies that Bunuel had the most control over.

Realist drama about a kid named Pedro whose mother barely loves him, if at all, and his friends, thug Jaibo and innocent Big Eyes. When there isn’t violence in a scene, there’s the threat of violence. Even Big Eyes and the little girl pick up a rock or stick and hold it up as if to bash someone’s brains out at one point, then pull back. Jaibo doesn’t pull back, killing a former friend (who supposedly sent him to jail) at the beginning. His crimes catch up with Jaibo, but Pedro’s poverty and lack of parenting and bad associations catch up with him as well.

Well-made movie. Echos of Salaam Bombay (seen a month ago) but with less positivity. Katy liked it pretty well, but watched the clock more than the screen.

Financed by the same guy who produced Blood of a Poet, it turns out. This one’s harder to remember than Un Chien Andalou for some reason. So…

Scorpion documentary intro (commentary guy leads us to believe that like a scorpion’s tail, the film is composed of five segments, ending in a sixth that is filled with poison), then bunch of decrepit guys in a shack hike away to fight the bishops, then group of people stumble upon the dead bishops. Group gets upset at our couple and takes the man away (who angrily kicks a dog). Possibly the first poop joke in the movies. Group lays cornerstone for what will be Rome.

L'age d'Or 1

Man kicks a violin down the sidewalk and guy with bread on his head walks through a field, while our man is being led down the street and our woman (speaking with sync sound) kicks a cow out of her bedroom. After she sees visions in her mirror, he kicks a blind man and escapes.

L'age d'Or 2

During a grand party at which the groundskeeper kills his son (to the approval of everyone present) and a fire kills a maid, our couple reconnects. During a concert after the party, the two sneak off to the garden to suck each other’s fingers and develop foot fetishes with statues. The minister of the interior shoots himself after a phone call and ends up on the ceiling, then it’s another touching scene in the garden. But our woman leaves our man for the conductor of the concert. The man hits the bedroom in a rage, spraying pillow feathers everywhere and tossing priests and burning trees out the window.

L'age d'Or 3

Finally, a Jesus-like man and three guys with fancy hats emerge from a 120-day orgy at a chateau. Jesus returns briefly to the chateau to kill a woman, losing his beard in the process. A bunch of scalps hang on a cross. The end.

L'age d'Or 4

Pretty interesting movie, and really fun in parts. The commentary actually helped on this one, too.

Chien 1

The guy on the commentary makes such a big deal of the opening scene, and everyone makes such a big deal of the opening scene, and I’ve made such a big deal of the opening scene, that I’d forgotten most of the rest of the film.

It does seem to be a lot better thought-out than it’s given credit for… not just a string of remembered dreams filmed nonsensically, but actual characters playing out various aspects of their relationship. Lots of fun imagery, even if Bunuel couldn’t get the framing right half the time.

Plenty of good stuff in there… the “androgyne” as the commentary calls her, the guy pulling grand pianos with dead donkeys on top and Salvador Dali’s priest towed along, the man in a slow-motion gunfight with himself… and that music.

Chien2

Opens with ineffectual dad bedding his whore daughter while she takes photos, and only heads downhill from there. Son is bullied by kids who break family’s windows and shoot fireworks. Son beats his mom constantly. Daughter is mostly absent, and dad is former TV reporter who has lost all respect. Visitor Q is young man who smiles, busts family members in head with large rock, and moves in without asking. Soon, wife is lactating gallons, husband murders then rapes co-worker (and kills a bully or two), and a happy ending has both kids and dad drinking from mom.

So… what’s happening here? Unrespectable dad, druggie mom, tyrant spoiled son and unsupervised promiscuous daughter all need a rock to the head to force ’em to function as a family unit again? Surely it’s a horrid commentary on modern Japan in some way. Enjoyable Miike movie at any rate. One of his most extreme, and probably lowest budget (video made-for-tv look throughout). No special effects to speak of, except mom’s watergun breasts.

Visitor Q