Saturday, November 5, 2011

Movie Update 28

These are some pretty runty-ass movies! They weren't bad, though.

The Good German

I've only seen two films by Steven Soderbergh, which both happened to be very populist and not terribly original. But he's known as a very experimental filmmaker, at least by Hollywood standards, and even if you don't like The Good German very much, you have to admit it's ambitious. I ended up enjoying its modern day take on lots of old noir tropes, but more interesting than the film itself is the way it is dedicated to the style of the period. It's in black and white, and more than that the way it was filmed is very much the traditional old way, with old cutting and old blocking and everything. It doesn't really actually look like it was made in the 40s, because of the lighting, and because of the weird disconnect with the very modern standards of sex, violence, and language. I don't understand the point of going this far with replicating a look without replicating a tone as well. But you can't say the whole thing isn't interesting. And I think George Clooney and Cate Blanchett make a good pair on-screen, anyway.

The Red Badge of Courage

A war film by John Huston, based on a book about a soldier in the Civil War who fears death and yet yearns to earn his own war wounds and be looked well upon by others. It's an odd movie for a couple of reasons, most notably the incredibly on-the-nose narration, which not only directly quotes the original novel but also addresses the audience in a weird, hitting-you-over-the-head kind of way. It definitely wasn't surprising that this was added by the studio against Huston's wishes, and that they also cut the film down to its scant 70 minute running time, which is hardly enough time to develop themes, especially when so much of that time is just Huston's (admittedly well shot) war scenes. There's the potential for a great 50s war movie in here, but it was lost between filming and release.


Francis Ford Coppola's post-70s career is frustrating, showing little evidence that a man who could create a film as perfect as The Godfather still knows what he is doing. Tetro is interesting though, a more personal project than most of his other work, about a couple of estranged brothers who reunite in Spain. It's shown in black and white except for flashbacks, and shows the devastating effect certain actions can have on family ties. It's not exactly the most entertaining movie ever, but there's definitely some stuff going on here that you don't really see in most other movies. It's also really nice to look at, with some stylistic experiments and just really good cinematography throughout. Definitely the best thing I've seen by him that was released in the last 30 years.

Thor: Tales of Asgard

That cover is misleading; it shows a grown up Thor, but the film takes place in his more formative years, before Loki was evil, and before Odin even allowed him to venture out of Asgard. At least they didn't extend the lie far enough to show him holding the hammer. Tales of Asgard isn't much different from the other Marvel movies, being competently animated and telling a pretty standard story, although being Thor, it's less a typical sci-fi action plot and more a typical fantasy one. Thor goes on a journey with Loki, hangs with the warriors three, gets help from Sif, and accidentally gets into some bad shit with the frost giants. As a supplement to the live action film... it's fine. There's nothing terribly exciting about it, but it doesn't really mess up anywhere either. It's a way to pass 70 minutes if you like comic books, I guess.

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