Sunday, September 25, 2011

Movie Update 18

Does this even need an introduction?


Terry Gilliam has a long history of misfortune trying to get his movies made, but if nothing else I think he can look back on this as one film that he got to do completely on his terms. Unless he actually didn't, but it sure seems that way. Brazil is a combination of satire, violence, slapstick, and oppression that I don't think I've ever seen in a story before. Maybe something Kurt Vonnegut would write, I guess. It's set in an odd dystopian future where a gigantic bureaucracy seems to control everything. Johnathan Pryce is part of the system, but he gets caught up in something bigger involving a terrorist played by Robert De Niro and a beautiful girl he's been seeing in his dreams. It's both very funny and extremely dark at points, featuring some really great imagery and a killer ending. Unique and worth checking out.


Despite really marking the beginning of the slasher movie craze, Halloween has a remarkably low death count and lack of a focus on gore. It's almost like a Hitchcock movie in its focus on suspense over shocking the audience. Like all older horror movies, it doesn't register quite as terrifyingly as it probably did in the past, but it's still a pretty effective little film. I definitely think I like John Carpenter's work in the horror genre a little more than action. Some teenagers do things Michael Myers doesn't like, he stalks them and kills them brutally, and he repeatedly fails to die. A lot of tropes, but it's a tight, tense movie.


As far as Hayao Miyazaki movies go, the plot in Ponyo is pretty slight. His films have always balanced family-friendly whimsy with deeper ideas, but I think this is easily his most child-focused movie, even more than My Neighbor Totoro. That doesn't make it bad though, of course. I still liked it a lot, from the undersea mythology it quickly builds to the gorgeous animation and painterly backgrounds. The environmental themes and dialogue (at least in the American dub) are a bit too obvious and expository, but they just flavor a fun little fairy tale. Not the best Miyazaki movie, but still a really good one.

Wings of Desire

This is a weird movie. I actually saw the American remake (and hated it) around when it came out in the 90s, without realizing it was based on this German film. The original is a lot better, but still really weird. It's based on the creepy idea that angels are always walking around outside our vision, watching over us and sometimes longing to be one of us. Bruno Ganz, also known as Hitler from Downfall and those funny youtube videos, plays an angel who falls in love with a human, and considers becoming a human to be with her. There's a lot of extended scenes with the angels just listening to the thoughts of humans, which can get repetitive, but they are really artfully shot, and the use of black and white and color is another effective touch. There's also a very strange subplot where Peter Falk plays Peter Falk. Yeah, it's a weird movie.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

What do you call a dark comedy that you really like, but isn't really that funny or that dark? I'm not sure, but that sort of describes Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Carmen Maura stars as an actress whose affair with a costar has recently ended, and now finds herself caught trying to figure out what happened. At the same time, her friend recently slept with someone who turned out to be a terrorist, and she's considering subletting her apartment to an awkward, nerdy looking Antonio Banderas, who happens to be the son of her lover. Also, his wife is crazy and wants to kill her, or really anyone. It's a twisty, entertaining little movie, though it never reaches the crazy sort of climax or fevered pitch that the best movies of its ilk tend to. Still, a fun, well made movie.

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