Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Monday, January 29, 2007

This weekend in movies

I saw three movies in the theater this weekend (it's my goal to see 100 in theaters this year, which is an expensive, but really desireable, goal), here's a brief recap of one and a deathmatch of the other two.

Smokin Aces (Joe Carnahan, 2006)

Much like Let's Go to Prison, I felt like I was on another planet from all the reviewers I read of this film. It's not boring, nor the bland Tarentino rip-off you might expect (Tarentino never made a film this octane-driven, nor really this entertaining). Characters come in and out of the movie, but never feel extraneous, and the performances are all-around top notch. The best come from Jason Bateman (a brilliantly hilarious, although much too small performance as an alcoholic lawyer), Ryan Reynolds (who really isn't smarmy at all as a young FBI agent), and Jeremy Piven as Buddy "Aces" Israel himself.

Piven (who I never much cared for before this movie and last week's Saturday Night Live, now I'm drooling at the prospect of watching all three seasons of Entourage) gives a tremendously funny and pitiful performance as Israel, who I think is one of the most interesting characters of the past ten years. Buddy is in constant fear of his life, yet is a reprehensible douchebag who you somehow care about. Plus, he's probably done a kilo of coke in the past day, and has that insane paranoia/dementia that only comes with a lot of cocaine. The movie could have been all about Piven's Buddy and I would have been very happy, but everyone in the film is great (including Common and Alicia Keys' acting debuts). Forget the reviews, if you're looking for a fun, tense, incredibly entertaining film with a hiigh body count, this is for you.


Almodovar knows how to write women and Godard doesn't. I really think it's as simple as that. Volver has the most realistic, amazing female characters ever written by a man, ever. Almodovar makes these women infinitely complex, bruised, and yet so strong; not only are they amazingly realistic women, they're a great family who hate each other, but love each other even more in the end. The women in 2 or 3 are just mouthpieces for Godard's pretentious world view; they are prostitutes or salesgirls who alternately hate themselves and love their lives, which is completely realistic, but Godard's dialogue just drips intellectual elitism (it's not a problem to make films about wanting to be more than a common person, but NOT when you so obviously disdain the common person). I didn't, couldn't, believe anything these women said - the dialogue and scenario was all inorganic. That was probably Godard's point, but I just don't give a fuck. Why he decided to stop making movies about people (A Woman is a Woman is truly amazing!) and instead about abstract ideas (hello, Hail Mary and Notre Musique) is an understandable choice, but he went about it in the wrong way, and totally sucks. Final note: in a battle royale, Truffaut would roundly kill Godard, who I am starting to think, while enjoying some of his films, is one of the most overrated filmmakers of all time. Anyway, Almovodar and Penelope Cruz are an unbeatable match, her Raimunda ridiculously sexy and almost unbearably real.

Afterthought: I don't hate Godard as much as this livejournal rambling makes it seem, but I did also see2 or 3 in an upper-class neighborhood theater with 50-something liberals, which more or less castrated the revolutionary nature of Godard's experiment. My thoughts on Almodovar's brilliance still stand, though.

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