Monday, July 28, 2014

Headhunters


Introducing himself in voice over narration, Roger Brown (Anskel Hennie) is a very smug CEO-level recruiter (headhunter). He has a very beautiful Nordic trophy wife Diana (Synnove Macody Lund), a mistress on the side, and a modernistic jaw dropping house. In order to finance this extravagant life style, Roger is a part-time art thief. Everything changes when Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) shows up at Diana's art gallery opening and Roger decides Clas would be perfect for a job opening he's been trying to fill. Things go horribly awry in fairly short order. Roger goes from smug shithead to scared shitless in about sixty seconds.


Headhunters is a clever Norwegian comedic thriller based on Jo Nesbo's best-selling novel.  My eyes were all over place trying to pick out the artifacts that make up life in Norway and I just couldn't get enough of local fauna. However, don't pick at the plot details. It's not a movie that takes itself seriously - relax. This film careens along and I must say, everything I thought I had figured out turned out to be wrong.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ode to James Garner (and the 70's)


RIP James G. My version of James was  Jim Rockford; Jim drove a bitchin' gold Pontiac Firebird and he tried to make a buck as a PI. Admittedly, The Rockford Files was pretty good TV for the 70's.


The phone messages at the beginning of every episode were a hoot. Nice touch.



I watched the first episode - The Kirkoff Case today. It was chic-a-block full of all the goodness of the the 70's had to offer. Seriously, in one single episode you get to see a grumpy doberman pincher, a old time photography dark room, a swinging tennis club, a dude in a cowboy hat, a cop or two with serious pattern baldness, and a kick ass car chase scene on a golf course.

I'm probably going to watch a few more episodes. Thank you, James!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ida


Ida is a stunning film by Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski. A week before she is to take her vows to become a nun, Ana is told that she must meet with her only surviving relative, aunt Wanda, a woman she has never met. Reluctantly, Ana agrees, only to be told by Wanda that Ana is actually an orphan named Ida and her parents were killed in WW II.


Ida/Ana and Wanda set out to find the actual location where her parents are buried. Both of them reveal a bit about themselves as the journey progresses. It's 1962 and this film looks as if it was actually filmed in a Polish village in 1962.


The cinematography is breath taking. Filmed in 4:3 aspect ratio this movie looks more like photographs from a bygone era than a film. 


I am so delighted that in an age of endless super hero movies there are people out there crafting worthy cinema.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Surfwise



The film follows Doc Paskowitz as he dragged his 9 children and wife around the world in a non-stop surf's up pursuit of being a better man/surfer. In 1956 he gave up a very lucrative medical practice in Hawaii, money is the root of all evil by the way, to enjoy surfing day in, day out with his wife and soon to be 9 children.

They get about in a series of beat camper vans, the kids aren't allowed to attend normal school, and mom must breast feed each child a minimum of two years. The documentary also shows how adult kids struggle today to deal with the after math of such a stringently healthy-eating (daily morning gruel) and nomadic lifestyle.

This is a fascinating film to watch. There is a lot of stock footage from the family's 70's early travels. It's  not quite as simple as one man's ego trumps everyone else's needs - which of course is part of the problem. It's a very frank film. The kids talk about holding their ears when they heard their parents having sex every night. This is a reality checker for me. Doc says he wants to be a better man/father, but at the end of the day, he'd rather surf and shag - family be damned.

The Snowtown Murders




The Snowtown Murders is one of those rare three-headed baby movies: I know I shouldn't stare, but I can't take my eye off it. Masterfully directed by Justin Kurzel. Almost everyone in this film is a first timer including director Justin Kurzel, except for Daniel Henshall as the charismatic John Bunting.  This movie makes No Country for Old Men look like an episode of The Monkees.

The phrase "the banality of evil" is quite appropriate here. Single mom Lizzie lives in a bleak, forgotten suburb with four teenage boys. She's just dumped a not-so-great man friend and the mind numbingly boring days stretch on. Enter John Bunting. The food gets better; bacon and even snow peas are common place. Oddly enough, John seems to always have a hearty appetite.  Birthday parties at the skating rink, ice cream and a macabre bag of tricks.  Ariel Castro showed us that a seemingly normal guy can live a disturbing and sinister other life right under everyone's nose.

Do not be mistaken; this is a disturbing film to watch.  There aren't a lot of difficult scenes, but the  unspeakable events in those scenes, and trust me, I couldn't watch the entire scene in some cases. This isn't gratuitous violence either. I think the world needs to see John Bunting's violence for what is was. He didn't act alone. I think this is the most disturbing thing for me - he managed to not only get 2 other blokes in the 'hood to help out, but also managed to get 16 year old Jamie Vlassaski to join in on the torture and killing of fiends and relatives.

The sound track is disturbing in its own right; a staccato track of scratches and scrapes that mimic the victim's time in the tub. Justin Kurzel gets the details right - junk cars with ripped seats, outdoor ash trays sitting in the rain, and cheap, thin torn wall paper.

Watch…because you must.








Gilda and Yasujiro Ozu's Good Morning



I must admit, I had no idea that Rita Hayworth was that beautiful. Honestly, I could not imagine being that atractive. While Gilda is not a great movie (by any stretch of anyone's imagination), it is a time capsule of Rita's stunning beauty. And, no, that's not her singing that famous song that will stick in your craw for the next couple of day.

Glen Ford stars as Johnny - cuckold on a string if you ask me.



Yasujiro Ozu's Good Morning is a peek into suburban Tokyo life in 1959 as a pair of adorable boys decide they will do anything to get a television. There's gossip, sales men, and awkward neighbor interactions. My eyes were all over the interior scenes - discarded Japanese beer boxes as storage and the ever ubiquitous rice cooker. Families lived uncomfortably close by Western standards, in very small condos, but after dinner…swoon…folks would sit around and read.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Someone Else - Pravada



Pravada is one of my fav local bands. Jesse Lee's singing/songwriting is quite Ray Davies-esc. Jesse's Bambi-eyed wife can be seen in the video peering through the bars on the jail cell and in the line up.