Watched this the same night as The Social Network. They both currently rank in the top 150 movies of all time according to IMDB voters, who have no sense of history. I cringed when I saw Aronofsky’s handheld follow-cam from The Wrestler, but he didn’t overdo that stuff this time. He’s always had a knack for filming deteriorating human bodies and creating sustained intensity through editing and music – plenty of opportunity for both in a story about a ballet dancer going mad. Mila “Extract” Kunis was just as good as Natalie Portman. Barbara Hershey (as Portman’s mom) and Winona Ryder (as the washed-up dancer Portman replaces) round out the cast – apparently a very female picture, though it didn’t feel like one. Will Darren ever make a movie in which nobody dies (or suffers massive trauma, whatever) at the end?

Do I detect an Inland Empire influence?

Too bad the song “Black Swan” wasn’t in the movie, but it couldn’t have made a bigger impact than it did over the ending of A Scanner Darkly.

I avoided this because I don’t much care about Facebook, but after it started winning every major year-end award I thought again. Besides, I’ve seen every other David Fincher movie in theaters, so why stop now? And I kinda loved it. What’s strange is that the stylistic flourishes I love in Fincher’s films (didn’t love so much in The Benjamin Buttons) were missing from this one – except in the great scene of the Winklevoss brothers’ big race, a wordless high-energy montage scored to a Reznor version of In the Hall of the Mountain King (better known by me as the Tetris song). Otherwise, Fincher’s style seems to disappear, simply supporting the brilliant writing (Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Wilson’s War) and acting (Jesse Eisenberg of Zombieland, Andrew Garfield of Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Justin Timberlake of Southland Tales and Armie Hammer, who recently played Harrison Bergeron).

Timberlake:

I think I liked it better than Katy did, but then, she’d seen The Princess and the Frog so I had lower expectations – the most recently-produced Disney animated movie I’d seen was Atlantis (and before that The Lion King). Didn’t find it as edgy and Shrek-like as the poster and trailer promised (which is a Good Thing), just a perfectly-paced, well-animated classic adventure story.

Backstory: the kingdom’s magical rejuvenating flower is used to heal the pregnant queen, so her daughter’s hair takes on the flower’s powers. Evil stepmom witch kidnaps the young princess so that the hair will keep her forever young (by that logic, why doesn’t Rapunzel’s own hair keep her from growing past the age of five?) but Rapunzel yearns to escape in order to see up close the lanterns released in the kingdom each year in memory of the missing princess. That accounts for the classic fairy-tale part, then the thief, a royal guard’s white horse, Rap’s pet chameleon, and the tough bar patrons who wish to be mimes represent the hyperactive post-Aladdin Disney.

Actors: I didn’t recognize Southland Tales star Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, nor the Voice of Chuck as the thief, nor Doc Ock’s wife in Spider-man 2 as the old witch, nor Ron Perlman as the thief’s twin thug associates, nor Pixar regular Brad Garrett, nor Jeffrey Tambor, etc, etc.

Pedigree: One of the directors did Bolt, the writer worked on Cars, and supervising animator Glen Keane (the Family Circus author’s son), who sounds like the main man behind the look of the film, has been a Disney guy since the 70’s.

The movie’s title brings to mind Zach Galifianakis’s buddy Patton’s rant against generic sounding movie titles. Feelin’ Kinda Sorta. And it’s kinda sorta an okay movie but it’s maybe pretty forgettable. Kinda average-looking Keir Gilchrist with pretty normal parents feels suicidal over his high-pressure school, checks himself into clinic where he meets a suicide girl then immediately betrays her by confessing his long-held crush on his best friend’s girl, hangs out with fellow patient Zach, inspires his shut-in roommate, bares his teenage soul to the doctor in charge and discovers his creative side. The indie-quirk (see especially: the hasidic jew whose mind got blown on LSD) doesn’t overwhelm the movie – but neither does the comedy, despite the word “funny” right there in the title and the reliable presence of Zach G.

Katy and I liked it.

This was to be the U.S. premiere with director in attendance until the stupid New York Film Festival stole him away. Still, third U.S. screening ever for a top-shelf auteur’s new Cannes-winning feature ain’t bad for Emory. Too bad they couldn’t drum up more interest – maybe 40 people in attendance. Too bad it played from DVD (in a room with a 35mm projector), also. Atlanta film culture sucks.

When I saw Tropical Malady I fell for the atmosphere (there wasn’t much else to that movie but atmosphere), the sounds, the magic and the jungle. Syndromes and a Century added slow, quizzical camera moves and characters with shifting identities. So this one was the best of both worlds, like a small set of Syndromes characters plopped into Malady’s magical forest, still feeling more like an original vision than a retread.

Boonmee runs a farm in the country, has a personal nurse (an immigrant, possibly illegal, from Laos) to tend to his kidney problems. Jen (sister of B’s late wife) and Tong (a young relative, maybe a nephew) come to visit from the city. It’s a peaceful tour around the farm until Boonmee’s wife Huay materializes at the dinner table, and then his son Boonsong emerges from the forest. Boonsong had been lost to the family for many years, having run into the forest to start a family with the monkey ghosts and apparently become one himself. Of course all this is strange, but only Boonmee realizes his family has returned because he is about to die, so the next day he tries convincing Jen to move to the farm. Finally Huay leads the three (Boonsong has left) into the jungle, and into a giant cave, where she drains her husband’s kidneys one final time. At the funeral Tong is made a temporary monk, but is uncomfortable so he visits Jen’s hotel room where she’s counting gift money with her daughter, and takes Jen out to get some food. But after they get up from the bed and start to leave the room, they also remain on the bed watching TV – a final bonkers scene in case the audience got too complacent after Boonmee’s death.

Unless it happened when I left to use the bathroom, Boonmee never vocally recalled his past lives, but there are unexplained scenes which might refer to them. The movie opens with a cow (NYFF says it’s a water buffalo) snapping its rope and lumbering into the forest, maybe glimpsing a monkey ghost before being retrieved by its keeper. Late in the film there’s a photo montage of soldiers who apparently capture a gorilla. And in the middle there’s a scene with a princess stopping at a waterfall on her way through the forest. She intends a tryst with one of her servants (seemingly not their first) but drives him away, accusing him of loving only her status, not her beauty. Then she peers into the lake and sees herself beautiful beneath the water, wades in, dropping all her jewelry, and has sex with a flattering catfish. Was Boonmee the catfish? Did his hookup with the princess provide the bad karma that led to his kidney ailment?

I knew I recognized Tong, but didn’t realize he played the monk in Syndromes and a Century. That’s interesting, since he’s play-acting as a monk in this movie. He was supposed to only stay a few days but ditched on the first night, showering and changing into his street clothes at Jen’s place. In Syndromes, the monk wanted to be a DJ, and denied another character’s story of reincarnation. Before that, the same actor played a character named Tong in Tropical Malady – a definite thread through Weerasethakul’s last three features, even if recognizing that thread doesn’t clear up any of their mysteries.

Watched again summer 2011 with Jimmy, this time on handsome 35mm at Cinefest – lovely! I’m sure that photo montage with the soldiers/gorilla and the incongruent voiceover is important, given that it comes right before (or during) Boonmee’s death, but still can’t figure what it means.

A.W. says that parts (the cheap gorilla suit?) were inspired by classic Thai TV and cinema, that his father died of kidney failure, and that there are plenty of deleted scenes with the princess that he hopes will be on the DVD.

It’s like Sweetgrass, only instead of sheep there are babies. And there aren’t so many of them. And the camerawork is better. That was surprising, that a doc about babies (from just-been-born to just-learning-to-stand) looked better than the Cinema Scope-acclaimed doc about sheep herding. But neither movie transcended expectations. If you are into sheep (or, in this case, babies), we’ve got your movie here. Bonus feature of the movie: pretty vistas of Mongolia.

Baby in his Searchers pose:

Edgar Wright sets out to prove he can do good work without Pegg and Frost. He and cowriter Michael Bacall adapt a video-game-obsessed comic book for the big screen, so many mediums combine – noisily and awkwardly according to Katy, or with a powerful awesomeness if you ask me.

Somehow the Michael Cera thing hasn’t worn off on me yet. Good to see Kieran Culkin as his sarcastic gay roommate, Anna Kendrick of Up In The Air as his sister, and Brandon Routh of Superman Returns as a baddie who gains his powers from eating vegan. Jason Schwartzman as a corporate supervillain was an interesting choice. Had no idea that the main hair-dyed love interest (Mary Winstead) was in Death Proof, that Cera’s band’s drummer played Milk’s campaign manager, that the action-movie-star ex-boyfriend was Human Torch from Fantastic Four, or that Thomas “Dreamcatcher/The Punisher” Jane was a vegan policeman.

EDIT: Watched again in 2013, though it took me a couple tries to get past the beginning and title sequence, which I felt compelled to watch again and again.

EDIT 2016: I have seen this movie lots. It it the best movie.

“Men like you are my specialty. You know, men of violence.”

Ruffalo, Leo and Norm in front of a crazy fake sky:

I don’t usually try to outthink a movie, to suppose what will happen next, but when I know in advance that it’s a twist-ending movie I’ve got no choice. What’s the twist ending? Will hallucinogenic drugs be involved? Who here is actually evil? Did the missing patient never exist? And if not, what is Leo supposed to be investigating? And so on, but it turned out to be the twist I’d guessed from the trailer, that Leo was mad all along. Seems his wife Michelle “Wendy & Lucy” Williams killed their kids, so he killed her and got committed, and now he wanders the asylum/island with a plastic gun pretending to solve crimes. Lead doctor Ben “Death and the Maiden” Kingsley assigns Leo’s own doctor Mark “Zodiac” Ruffalo as Leo’s “partner” and sets Leo loose for a couple days to run his “investigation” and see if he figures out the truth about himself.

Leo with dead wife:

Leo with imaginary friend:

Opens with Leo puking on a boat, then being greeted on the island by Norm from Fargo, which is distracting. Kingsley sets our detectives looking for a girl whose name is an anagram for Leo’s dead wife’s name – alternately played by Emily “Young Adam” Mortimer and Patricia “Station Agent” Clarkson (I liked the Clarkson version better – all suspicious survivalist in a cave). Things get more impossible and surreal from then on. Leo has some psychologically obvious dreams, Scorsese reverses the film (cigarette smoke, not as awesome as the snow in Bringing Out The Dead), and Jackie Earle “Little Children” Haley tells Leo “You’re not investigating anything. You’re a fucking rat in a maze.” It’s totally clear about halfway through the movie, and increasingly afterwards that something is happening which is not happening. At this point, if it was a crappy movie I’d be impatiently waiting out the twist ending so I could go home, but this stayed fun to watch through all the ludicrous turns.

Clarkson on fire:

Starts to remind me of The Game. More star power: Max “holy cow, The Seventh Seal was over 50 years ago” von Sydow as a doctor, Ted “lotion in the basket” Levine as a tough-looking warden and Elias “Thin Red Line” Koteas as a figment of Leo’s imagination. Not a lot of women in your movies, eh Marty?

Von Sydow in danger:

I hardly ever watch movies with headphones, just assumed they’d sound pretty professional, but this one had some clumsy-ass dialogue editing. Fine music, though. Written by Steve’s old Avatar buddy, who’s not as smart a writer as Steve probably would’ve been, and by Dennis “Gone Baby Gone” Lehane. Shot by Robert Richardson, who worked with Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino and shot two of Marty’s more outlandish looking features, The Aviator and Bringing Out The Dead. I like this guy.

Kingsley patiently explains the twist ending to us:

Leo can’t believe this shit: