[*Read Part I: Chick Flicks here.]
For today’s list of 3 we head over to the quirkier side of town where the Film School Graduates/Dropouts are hanging out, existentially speaking of course. I regret that I haven’t spent more time with films like these, especially the foreign language ones. It’s hard for me to read subtitles because I need glasses and refuse to go get them. Maybe that will be my 2012 resolution… sit closer to the screen. Without further ado, here are the three best films that I watched with about 10 other strangers in a theater that holds about 275 people.
Melancholia – Filmschool Gone Wild
As 2011 ends, this very well may end up being my favorite film of the year. That’s different from calling it the best film of the year, which it’s not. I admit I was transfixed, mesmerized, hypnotized and mystified by the visuals, score and mood of the movie. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Only when I was walking into the theater did I realize that this was the same film that caught the attention of Cannes earlier this year and more so for the moronic and sick statements made by the director Lars Von Trier regarding his “understanding” of Hitler – to put it mildly. In the spirit of separating the art from the artist, as is the case in many parts of Hollywood and the art world, I want to shake the hand of everyone involved in creating this film. Kristen Dunst, who has played the sad, sad girl so well in the past, truly shines albeit very modestly. The pace of the film is deliberate and methodical, much like the overbearing event taking place on and around Earth. Being a fan of the TV show 24, I was just waiting for Kiefer Sutherland to yell out a classic Jack Bauer line and save the day (those who’ve seen both should appreciate that). Catherine Gainsbourg is always good and this was no exception as she convincingly plays Dunst’s sister. Forgive me for giving you a one-note, superficial take on the film. I just want you to experience it how I did. Knowing very little but intrigued by the visuals presented in the trailer.
Drive - Flawed and Delicious – full review here
I’ve heard many different adjectives to describe this one. Awesome. So good. Stupid. Really funny. Terrible. Ridiculous. Amazing. I agree with all of it. Drive is a guilty pleasure of art house films. Much like Zoolander is for comedies or Armageddon is for an action flick. There is so much wrong with them. But in the end… who gives a shit. In all three of those films – The lead actor nails it despite having zero to work with. The music is perfect. The camera delivers the exact emotions the filmmaker intends. The story is basic enough that anyone can just get it. I’ll say it again too, bonus points for shooting in and around Los Angeles. LA looks awesome at night. Final note, I do wish there were more getaways and stunt driving. Maybe I too can get in on this lawsuit.
The Artist - ____ ____ _______
The above review of The Artist was an attempt at humor. But it actually does mean something, “Long live talkies”. This was an extremely well done experiment. If the goal of the filmmakers was to make an endearing film with a terrific acting and a wonderful tone on a beautiful black & white canvas. Then I would like to be among those that proclaim that they achieved it. If the goal was to convey to today’s audiences why Silent Films are no longer made, then they succeeded there as well. I don’t think I will ever watch The Artist again. It wasn’t an original story, it didn’t break any new ground, nor did it conjure up any emotional attachment for me. All it did was brilliantly teach us the reason why silent film practically disappeared overnight from cinemas all over the world. It also proved that black & white film can be a superior look compared to today’s over saturated movie screens. The Artist clearly proves all of this. The story itself tells us how immediate the drop-off in interest silent pictures had as soon as the Talkies arrived. Proof is in the history. Talking Pictures premiered big time with The Jazz Singer in 1927 and by 1930 most releases world wide were Talkies. By contrast, big productions in color started in 30’s and lived side by side with black & white for more than 30 years. The Apartment was the last black & white film to win Best Picture (1960) until Spielberg’s Schindler’s List won in 1993. If The Artist wins this time around it will be for the nostalgia – not the story.
*Be sure to leave your favorites below in the comments.