movie list

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Sunday, January 24, 2010
Here are some movies I’ve seen recently. Well, some of them are recent, some of them are from when I decided to start keeping a list a couple of months ago. My plan is to clear out the backlog (this post and maybe another) and then just sort of keep up to date in a weekly-ish fashion. WHO KNOWS! I don’t exactly have the best plan to action record these days. These are just little descriptions - I may come back to some of them for longer, later.

Ball of Fire: 1941, Howard Hawks (library) (written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder) I love Barbara Stanwyck. LOVE HER. You know what else I love? I love Barbara Stanwyck playing a slang-slinging burlesque-singing dame named Sugarpuss O’Shea, a woman with a gangster boyfriend problem, which leads to a hot nerd problem. Gary Cooper is handsome but hopelessly square Bertram Potts (good old Pottsie), a linguist trying to compile an encyclopedia entry on slang. He lives in a house with 7 other eccentric encyclopedia authors who each live up to different egghead stereotypes with great enthusiasm. Potts is convinced he must conduct interviews with Ms.O’Shea (and others) in order to fix his entry and save the encyclopedia. Complications, as you might imagine, ensue. Cops, the Conga, stockings, spangles, a grouchy housekeeper, cheesy wise-guy lingo, smooching, a car chase, self-taught pugilism and much, much more. Dana Andrews is gangster-boyfriend Joe Lilac. JOE LILAC!

Twilight: 2008, Catherine Hardwicke (netflix) - they filmed a lot of this in Oregon, and some of it in Portland (I drove by some of the high school stuff on the way to work one time) - so I love seeing the misty grey thickness of the rainforest represented so faithfully. I learned previously unknown to me things, like that when vampires sparkle in the sunlight (!!), they also make a noise not unlike a flourescent lightbulb. This movie was overcooked in a lot of ways (why not make up a new monster if you want to have a vegetarian vampire who can go out in the sun???), but I also know that I would have been desperately, irrationally in love with this whole franchise between the ages of 12 -14. (including a dramatic “you just don’t understand” door slamming fight about it with my dad, who was a big Dracula fan.) fun fact/ annoying weather pedantry: If the Cullens really lived in Forks, Washington they’d never get to play baseball (!) because while it does rain a lot, thunder and lightning are rare.

The Hangover: 2009, Todd Phillips (netflix) isn’t this just a raunchy version of Dude, Where’s My Car? (which itself is a goofy version of Memento?) Is that too reductive? I know there are only so many ways to tell a story, but I kept thinking “DUDE” while I was watching The Hangover. That said, I laughed a lot. Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis are very funny. Bradley Cooper is funny too, and maybe he has the harder job since he always plays such an asshole.

Where the Wild Things Are: 2009, Spike Jonze (movies) I enjoyed this! The first bit (before Max runs off) is crooked and ragged and vital and the kingdom of the Wild Things is primal forest/beach strange, but also natural and beautiful. I thought most of the dialogue was too therapy-speak, but the visuals were magical and spoke to the 8 year old wild-jen within. (be warned: she is queen of the alligators.) Max Records has a very expressive face and I love the Karen O/Carter Burwell score.

Julie & Julia: 2009, Nora Ephron (netflix) I wanted to love the Julie parts of this story too, if only so I could be the one person on the planet who didn’t say “I wish it was Julia & More Julia.” But I didn’t so I can’t! I will say that I do normally really like Amy Adams. (did you know she was in an episode of Buffy? She was!)

The Wizard of Oz: 1939, Victor Fleming (library)The new digital technicolor restoration is AMAZING! I watched the old DVD version last year and the restored 70th anniversary edition this year - the difference is astounding. I thought the old one looked pretty good, but the new one is incredible.

The Harvey Girls: 1946, George Sidney (library) Judy Garland is a sassy mail-order bride/ railroad singing waitress in a wild west town. The guy with a lot of teeth and shiny black hair who runs the town is at war with her… or is he?! Will they resolve their differences? Will Judy sing songs by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer? Also starring Ray Bolger (“Scarecrow, I’ll miss you most of all”) , Cyd Charisse, and let’s not forget Angela Landsbury in sequins and feathers, hiding her pining heart of gold if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

Fantastic Mr. Fox: 2009, Wes Anderson (movies) FANTASTIC! I loved this. Review from the 6 year old sitting behind us: Booo-ring. (of course that tiny critic thought the tooth fairy movie with The Rock looked good, so I’m not looking for any movie advice from him.) I loved every little individually placed piece of animal fur and cuss graffiti in this movie. It was a good year for stop-motion animation! It’s funny how these kind of raggedy puppets dressed in human style clothes get to the essential parts of their wild animal nature in ways that the big monsters of WtWTA never quite do.
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