Not a musical. Why did I think it was a musical?

Katy: “Why would you watch a movie that you don’t want to see?” A good question. Here’s the answer:
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My third-to-last available Lang film. Now that I forgot to tape Human Desire off cable, I’ll just write that one off. Two years ago I set out to see ALL of the Lang films… most were very good, almost all were enjoyable, some are now among my favorite films ever, but there were bound to be a couple stinkers. I didn’t even know Liliom was a stinker (now I know) but it didn’t look too great from the cover art and plot description. But Lang was on a winning streak in Germany… M (1931) being one of the best films ever, then Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) completely excellent… then the whole Hitler thing forces Lang to leave Germany, so he makes Liliom in France then ends up in the U.S. making Fury in ’36, one of his best American movies. So everything surrounding Liliom was great, but I’ve hardly heard anything about Liliom. Can’t rent it, so I bought it to find out for myself.

Unfortunately what we’ve got here is a very bad movie. Liliom is a charming carnival barker who digs a young woman named Julie. The moment he steps off the carousel he reveals himself to be kinda a jerk, but later we learn the truth: that he’s a TOTAL jerk!

jerky Liliom (left) and his thug buddy:
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As the movie goes on he becomes more of a jerk. Then the movie takes a weird twist: Liliom dies in a heist and goes to heaven to be judged. They deem him a jerk and send him to purgatory for some years. He gets to come back to earth for a day, and he checks out his daughter who’s now 16 or 18 and he slaps her then gets sent back to purgatory. The judgement doesn’t look good for Liliom!

But then something even stupider happens. The daughter goes up to her mom and says “hey mom, you ever been slapped by someone but you didn’t even feel it?” The mom says “yes I have” and cries and her tears fall on her hand or the daughter’s hand and the judge SMILES ON LILIOM AND LETS HIM INTO HEAVEN, which is just an offensive ending to a dreary and pointless movie.

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Very very dark – hard to get screen caps. Had some thrills and some scares, worth a look, but not the saviour of horror cinema that it’s been made out to be. Just a fun movie. Or is fun the word, since it starts out grim and just gets less hopeful towards the end, up until the Brazil fake ending.

Sarah and Juno and their friends are extreme-sports enthusiasts. One day Sarah’s husband and kid die in a car crash and she is sad. Later the friends go on a new adventure together. This time they will explore a cave. But Juno wants to make things real extreme so she picks a cave that nobody has explored before and doesn’t bring the map. Oopsie there are blind cave dwellers within who will kill and eat them all. Most people die from cave dwellers but Juno accidentally kills one friend, and Sarah finds out, so she sort of kills Juno. Sarah escapes and is relieved, but oh she dreamt that and she really lays dying in the cave. It’s a motherfucker.

Better than Dog Soldiers.

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Rivette was working on this from 1957-1960. In ’57, Chris Marker did Letter From Siberia. In ’58 we had Le Beau Serge, Elevator to the Gallows and a couple shorts. ’59 brought Pickpocket, Hiroshima Mon Amour and The 400 Blows, then Breathless and Shoot the Piano Player were in 1960. So Rivette might have started everything, in a sense, but by the time he’d made his statement public (in ’61, along with Cleo From 5 to 7 and Last Year at Marienbad), the whole “new wave” was in full swing in the theaters.

Betty Schneider (of Mon Oncle) is young innocent Anne with brother Pierre (Francois Maistre, later of a buncha Bunuel films). She meets theater director Gerard (Giani Esposito of French Cancan), paranoid American Philip (Daniel Crohem) and mystery woman Terry (Francoise Prevost of Rivette’s 1981 Merry-go-round). Movie gets more disturbed and paranoid (as well as loose and rambling) as it progresses, ending with the deaths of a buncha characters. Somewhat like The Dreamers. Incidentally, “Paris Belongs To Us” would’ve been a better title for that movie.

Interesting parallels with Out 1, both being about theater groups and city-wide conspiracies. In this one, we never find out if the conspiracy even exists, and in Out 1, the group does exist and is partially uncovered, but the group has no sinister purpose, never even did anything together and have been long dormant.

Much is made of the cameos by Godard, Chabrol, Rivette and Demy in the promo material, but I can’t say I noticed any of those.

Michael Rowin in Reverse Shot calls it “a fascinating disappointment”.

the calm:
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the storm:
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the intrigue:
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Daaamn. A mean, helluva movie. I liked Winterbottom’s Code 46 then was on the fence after 9 Songs and 24hr Party People, but this one redeems him (for its intentions alone, but I thought it was well-made). And this is a movie with intentions… it has a definite and righteous goal.

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Interesting how people call this (like Touching the Void before it) a documentary when it’s mostly re-enactments with voice-over. Three guys went to afghanistan, got caught up in the al-qaeda retreat by mistake, and got captured by the US forces. Or that’s what they say happened… whatever truly happened does not matter, because it’s what happens next, their imprisonment and torture, that really counts. Seems like the US forces can do whatever they want without repercussion, so I’m surprised they even let these guys loose to tell their stories, despite their innocence. Took ’em two years to do it, though. My favorite part is the Americans and Brits pointing at zoomed-in photographs and grainy videotapes, pointing at blurred heads in the crowd and saying to these guys “this is you, admit this is you at an osama bin laden rally”). It’s not them, and our guys have proof they were in Britain the entire year in question, but all the inquisitors want is a confession (of anything at all, however false)… and apparently all middle-eastern people look the same to them.

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As an expose of the post-terror guantanamo system, it’s a horribly necessary film. Sad, mean and awful, but with a purpose, an anti-torture agenda. Winterbottom’s a minor hero for actually travelling to Afghanistan and Iran to shoot this. The story continues, since some of the film team was detained on the way home from winning prizes at the Berlin film festival and “asked if they intended to make any more political films” Scary.

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Yay!

A purely textural, immersive experience, defies all description or explanation. The actors in a film become their characters, teleporting to Poland, psychics and unknowns, and of course, Rabbits.

Sam writes: “most impressive to me was its function as a purely visceral machine. The sound in the theater was booming, giving his shock-moments of menacing narrative intrusion a physical as well as mental impact. The endless distorted close-ups, his use of darkness and blinding brightness, and the excellently interpolated sequences of abstraction (and those verging on it) contribute at least as much to this effect. Perhaps this is what has been missing in his films since Eraserhead: his attempts at messing with our imagination were only interesting inasmuch as we were interested in his, while in these two very medium-specific movies he ropes our physiological responses into the mix, and cuts far deeper in every way. In an era when the loudest and flashiest action films can actually seem boring (even when combined with artistic pretention as in Children of Men), the emergence of a truly shaking cinematic experience is good news indeed.”

Katy didn’t go.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that Audrey Hepburn’s character was named Holly Golightly, but elsewhere I assumed she was named Tiffany. The jewelry store never occurred to me.

5-time oscar-nominated audrey/tiffany:
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I read that Holly is a “call girl” and that she’s a “socialite”. I prefer the latter. Audrey (who I barely remember from Charade) runs around with a buncha guys looking for a nice rich man to marry, but she sorta falls for boring lumpy novelist George Peppard (Hannibal from the A-Team!). He falls harder for her, for obvious reasons, and their relationship seems like an excuse for us to get to watch her for two hours, which is worth doing anyway.

Patricia Neal (Cookie in Cookie’s Fortune, and herself in Bright Leaves) is a neighbor, Buddy Ebsen (Barnaby Jones and Jed Clampett!) is Holly’s ex-husband, and Andy “Mickey Rooney” Hardy plays a surprisingly horrible Japanese caricature of an upstairs neighbor (“Miss Goriightryyy!!”). Audrey’s cat “Cat” is in almost every scene. Blake “Pink Panther / Peter Gunn” Edwards directs from a Truman Capote story (my second, after The Innocents (also from ’61)).

“the most distasteful thing I ever had to do on film”:
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won an honorary oscar:
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A good movie (when Rooney’s not onscreen), but not a romantic comedy like I thought it’d be… more of a drama / character exploration. Holly has a hidden past as a rural wife and homemaker with a dear brother who’s off at war (she renames Peppard “Fred” after her brother) and she doesn’t do relationships very well. It sometimes seems like a story of a modern liberated woman, but then Peppard will go into his spiel about how she belongs to him and people need to be together, and is he proven right at the end?

Katy suggested/liked it.

A better movie than Flags of Our Fathers? Yes.

Most Famous Current Japanese Actor In Hollywood Ken Watanabe is the new commander on Iwo Jima and commands the troops to entrench in the mountain instead of the beaches, so they can blast the Americans from above when they roll in, a decision that made the island much harder to capture (as seen in the hit film Flags of Our Fathers). His horse-riding bud Baron Nishi (star of Gamera: Guardian of the Universe) is in charge of the mountain while Ken is stationed elsewhere making big decisions.

But most of the story is told through the eyes of Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya from Pika*nchi Life Is Hard Dakedo Happy), a regular guy who gets drafted and has no particular allegiance to the war, just wants to survive and see his wife again. Saigo is the “regular guy just caught up by circumstance” who all the film critics are cheering for putting a human Japanese face on a Hollywood depiction of WWII. True dat, but his “war is hell” attitude of just wanting to get home is almost pro-American in how little he seems to care about his own side… would’ve been nice to get more of a balance within one character. I mean, the two elder traditionalists have both dealt with Americans before, and respect them, so there’s a little of that, but during the actual battle they are all-out willing to die for Japan, and our Saigo all-out refuses to die at any cost. So there’s little internal struggle.

It’s still a very good, well-done war movie, and an interesting twist for a Hollywood (Clint Eastwood!) flick. But as I was saying to Katy (who missed the whole Eastwood saga), after The Thin Red Line, it’s not enough to just make a capable war movie. That one set my standards unreasonably high.

Flavor-of-the-last-couple-years Paul Haggis (Million $ Baby, L.A. Crash, Walker Texas Ranger) helped write these flicks, Spielberg produced, and Tom Stern, Clint’s only cinematographer since Blood Work, shot ’em.

Famous Ken:
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Our hero:
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White man:
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From the writers of Planet of the Apes remake, Unfaithful remake, Casino Royale remake and The Last Kiss remake…

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An okay movie. Story of the guys who raised the flag on day five or six of the 30-40 day battle for Iwo Jima in WWII. Flashes back and forth at fucking random, but at least once it’s flashed, it stays on a single story for long enough to get a sense of what’s going on. Someone’s narrating about his dead father here in the present, the three surviving flag-raisers are out on a promotional tour, and meanwhile the war’s still on and they’re still in it. Oh and after the whole promo thing raises lots of money in war bonds, our guys are forgotten and left to crap jobs and suicide. But they were never heroes anyway, just some guys fighting for their buddies who got asked to put up a flag. War is stupid. And the US shits on american indians, that’s another theme.

This land is… my land?
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I never did figure out who’s who in the war scenes because all soldiers look the same, but maybe after Jesse Bradford (My Sassy Girl remake) and Adam Beach (Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things remake) get all famous, I’ll be able to watch this again and tell them apart from Ryan Phillippe.

Already famous: T-1000 formed his liquid metal body into the shape of a Colonel in the early scenes, I somehow missed recognizing Jamie Bell in any scene, Neal McDonough from Ravenous was Captain Severance (heh), and Barry Goodboy Pepper got blown up by friendly fire.

The high hat:
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Clint Eastwood wrote the music, which sounds a lot like “Hey Jude” and the cinematographer wants to remind us of the old photo at Iwo Jima by making the whole movie look like an old photo. Nice. Spielberg produced, whatever that means.

Katy didn’t watch it, but if she had, she probably would’ve paid better attention and then talked about stuff I missed and I’d pretend like I was following her.

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Rabbits! Eight episodes of rabbity nonsense, with Laura “Rita” Harring, Naomi “Betty” Watts, Scott “scenes deleted” Coffey, and Rebekah “Del” Rio.

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The rabbits seem to be having an actual conversation, but all the lines are out of order. So if you try to remember the dialogue in an episode, at the end you can piece it together, sort of. Or it probably doesn’t matter. And thrice there’s an episode where there’s just one person singing.

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And sometimes this happens.