Netflix was dropping a lot of titles from my queue off of instant this week, thus I watched a lot of movies!
A lot of movies this week, with a wide variety between them all,
Muppets From Space (1999, Tim Hill, United States Of America) ***
I’ve spoken before about the love I carry in my heart for the Muppets. The collection of misfits and outcasts that make up the Muppets never get old, I literally laugh and smile through every single one of their movies. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the movie is, nor does it matter how cliche the film is. The Muppets are a group of characters that are a blast to spend time with and every film of theirs I watch is a testament that the comfortableness of characters can cause a movie to be more than what it should be. Muppets From Space isn’t good when it puts the focus on its human cameos, but when the Muppets are on screen there’s a great time to be had.
Comizi D’amore (1965, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy) ***
An interesting documentary from an interesting era in time that remains prescient today. A lot of people I know espouse the idea of Italy as a sort of sexual Eden, a country that is free and open in their sexuality. The interactions I have had with transplanted Italians and removed generational Italians have always made me question why so many people take that stance on Italy. Pier Paolo Pasolini is open and free with his sexuality, his filmography speaks to this fact, but it becomes clear as Comizi D’amore moves along that Italy is a country standing still. As the world changes around them their views on sexuality and the role of men versus women in society become increasingly antiquated. It seems to me that Mr. Pasolini set out to show how shut off his country is from their sexuality, and he mostly succeeded. The movie does peter out and far exceeds its usefulness at a point. When it becomes clear that Mr. Pasolini is asking the same set of questions to the same demographic for the fifth time my interest waned. Still, I usually don’t like documentaries, and Comizi D’amore interested me and I liked the way Mr. Pasolini went about tacking the issue of sexuality in Italy. It may go on too long and become repetitive, but Comizi D’amore is still pretty darn good, and modern.
The Animal (2001, Luke Greenfield, United States Of America) 1/2*
It takes a special movie to lay claim to being the worst movie I have ever seen, The Animal is now that special movie. Everything about this film is irredeemably horrendous, there’s no point in breaking it down into specific examples. No matter what the movie tries to do it fails miserably, it’s that terrible. Avoid this film at all costs, unless you want your senses to be put through hell like mine were.
Friday The 13th (2009, Marcus Nispel, United States Of America) **
Generic and pedestrian, this is a movie made by a group of people who watched the YouTube clips of the original Friday The 13th movies and never bothered to watch the actual films themselves. Jason is too small, seen far too much, and the idea to combine the first three movies into one is incredibly stupid because it creates a story that has no pace or flow to it. Friday The 13th uses loud techno music, and super dark cinematography and lighting that makes it hard to follow what is happening. The film also violates the law of horror boobies, when you show them it’s either a surprise or something that you’ve teased the audience with. Friday The 13th shows boobies at a rate of a pair every five minutes, and while I may love me some boobies you don’t go against the laws of horror film making like that unless you are going for all out camp. I don’t know what happened here, I really liked Marcus Nispel’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, but Friday The 13th is a big bag of suck.
Porcile (Pigpen, 1969, Pier Paolo Pasolini, France/Italy) **1/2
What exactly is Pier Paolo Pasolini trying to say with Porcile? I think he’s trying to say a lot of different things, and that is his great mistake. Pasolini bites off more than he can chew, he wants to hit as many targets with social commentary as he can, but he would have been better off saving all his darts and aiming for one target. Porcile is a satire of bourgeois film making, including Pasolini himself, it’s also a political commentary on the efforts of West Germany to rebuild itself following World War II. Finally, it’s a dark comedy about the tendency of humanity to try and destroy itself while at the same time hoping to restrict said tendencies. All topics that deserve exploration, but they aren’t truly explored in Porcile. They are brought up, they exist, but they aren’t truly given any sort of depth or time and the film suffers greatly because of that.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011, Rob Marshall, United States Of America) **
On Stranger Tides is an apt subtitle for this entry in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise. Rob Marshall isn’t sure what film he wants to make and because of that he makes a strange film that is all kinds of bad. The story is pedestrian and its full of moments and supposed twists so obvious that I’m sure the five year old sitting a few seats away from me saw them coming. Johnny Depp is good, he’s really trying too, but a script that makes no sense and visuals that are content to be vanilla leave him very little to springboard off of. Ian McShane is the only one of the supporting actors who is worth a damn, the rest are pretty bad to watch, and the mermaid/missionary story is terrible on a level that is sad. I wanted the first twenty or so minutes of Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to be the entire movie, Mr. Marshall had a chance to go somewhere with the idea of pirates as legends and how they can help shape history, but instead he opted for a generic adventure tale with awkwardly filmed action scenes. My fiancee completely loved the film, so I’m probably just an idiot, but that’s usually the case.
À Nos Amours (1983, Maurice Pialat, France) ***
Sandrine Bonnaire is captivating as Suzanne, and if À Nos Amours had been content to be a film about her I think I would have liked it a lot more. But, Maurice Pialat turns the story from one about a girl dealing with the world around her by engaging in meaningless sexual encounters to one about a dysfunctional family. The dysfunctional family is always there, but it’s just another force pushing Suzanne towards the meaningless sex and endless string of relationships she thinks will bring her to some sort of understanding with the world. Then in the final twenty five minutes Mr. Pialat turns the focus completely on her family and screams at the audience, “no, this was not a movie about Suzanne, it’s a movie about a dysfunctional family!” The problem is that no matter how hard Mr. Pialat pushes for this turn in the direction of the film, he never earns that turn and the final twenty five minutes feel like a completely different picture. Sandrine Bonnaire is really great as Suzanne though, I could watch her performance for days, and that plus a rather strong first half make À Nos Amours worth seeing.
Tirez Sur Le Pianiste (Shoot The Piano Player, 1960, François Truffaut, France) ***1/2
François Truffaut brings together a collage of styles and themes to tell the tale of a man who is never comfortable settling on a single persona. Charlie Kohler, also known as Edouard Saroyan, is many different things at once, his weak willed nature allows him to be as such. Interestingly enough the portrayal of the character in this fashion works, but it holds the film back in certain areas. Take the gangster element for example, it’s played as something large but in reality it’s a mere piece of the frame of the larger exploration of the lead character. It feels in a lot of ways like Mr. Truffaut is passing through the ideas in his head, using those that he thinks will work and then moving on to the next before he finishes with the last one. It creates an interesting film, an experiment of ideas, but it also creates a film that is harder to come to grips with. Tirez Sur Le Pianiste is many things at once, but in a few areas it could have settled for just one thing and been more fully constituted as a result. Not that this complaint is a large one, watching Mr. Truffaut toy with the ideas in his head was a treat, but the random nature of the film did push me away at times.
I watched some shitty films this week, but I also watched a few that I liked a lot. Tirez Sur Le Pianiste is the film of the week, and special honors go to The Animal for assuming the much lauded position of being at the very bottom of my all-time list.