Planet B-Boy – fun, yet a little bit long documentary following the international breakdancing championships in Germany. The dancing is unreal, and you feel like you’re in the middle of the action. Competitions like these are often organized chaos, and the filmmaker expects you to keep up, as the film as a whole is pretty rough around the edges. However, he invites you effectively to sympathize with and follow a few individuals. Nice, if not unsubtle, commentary on father-son relationships where career breakdancing is not the cultural norm. Go Korea!
The Watcher in the Woods – definitely a rewatch, 6th or 7th. This movie doesn’t really get less terrifying. That this is a Disney film is shocking enough! (And the movie trailers disclaim it being not your traditional family film.) The surprise effects with sound and light, and the sparse, fitting soundtrack were all well-done. Blue lasers shooting! Mirrors and windows cracking! Blood! Drowning! Tense violin chords! Scary, possessed voices that call out common names backwards! “Nerak.” !!! But, if you watch the alternate endings, this thriller suddenly becomes a comedy. I jumped quite a few times. That is all. I’ll probably watch it again in a couple of years.
Tron – okay, so maybe when I was 8 years old, when plot sometimes fell secondary, this movie was visually interesting and fun. The story, however? 25 years later? The computer programming jargon that brought all the renegade geeks out of the woodwork and into the theaters in the early 80s? Major snoozer. I wonder if Jeff Bridges watches this movie and then asks himself what he was thinking. Although, he seems to be involved in a remake, or a sequel? Redemptive, hopefully.
Dear Zachary – perhaps one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. Here is a review that won’t spoil it. The language is strong and some of the images are grim. This felt like more of a personal endeavor – which, it really was – and the documentarian masterfully crafted it with a whole lot of heart. It sent me through the emotional gamut: laughing and crying and being en/outraged and then crying some more. It’s not an easy film to watch, but it’s worth it if you make it to the end.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – I saw this for the first time in the theater, in 2004. I remember loving the entire concept of it. The performances are nicely understated; Jim Carrey keeps his cool, at least relatively, in this somewhat frenetic movie. This was not his typical role. Anyway, this film quite creatively encouraged working through kinks and setbacks in relationships. Maybe I related to it a little bit. I cried, but mostly rejoiced.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – I didn’t see this so much as a “movie” as a reminder of one of my adventures around the city, when I first moved here. Cruising in a car with a few of my non-nondrinking friends, looking for gigs, coming from gigs, taking friends home, watching a few of them almost hook up, not getting home until daybreak. It portrays that aspect of city life pretty accurately, and I do adore Michael Cera and think he’s quite talented, even if he is mostly typecast.
The Visitor – There’s this one scene where Walter and Zainab are discussing Tarek’s detention in an illegal immigrant facility in Queens. Tarek is a drummer from Syria, and Zainab is his girlfriend from Senegal. Walter is a bored, washed-out professor in the city who lets the couple live with him in his apartment and becomes their friend. Walter has visited Tarek in Queens and tells Zainab he has hired an immigration lawyer. Zainab interrupts that they cannot afford one, and Walter says it’s okay. I cry at this scene. The acting is exquisite. It’s not so much you can see Walter’s heart and Zainab’s gratitude, but you can sense them. The nuance is stunning. Richard Jenkins really deserved his Oscar nomination for this role.
Princess Mononoke – Not Miyazake’s best work, in my opinion. To be fair, I’ve only seen two of his films, and I liked Spirited Away a lot more. This is an incredibly violent piece of anime, fyi. The friend I watched this with agreed the plot could have been more developed; they could have tied a few elements together better. Maybe the ideas didn’t translate well from the Japanese version. The hate within; forest spirits; general mythology. As a whole, it seemed pretty disjointed. Oh, but you don’t have to second-guess one of the themes of the movie, which is the relationship between man and nature. Save the forests, people! That one they pretty much shove down your throat, all the while neglecting everything else. The movie, for all its 2 hours and 14 minutes, felt incomplete. Maybe they should have cut back on everything else.