CATCHING UP WITH FILM - THE QUEST FOR A PERSONAL CANON

 

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Uncaged - 8 MM (1999) & Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. 8mm (1999) 8 MM is reminiscent of the work of Paul Schrader, not just because the plot is almost identical to his movie Hardcore, in which a father tries to track down his daughter in Los Angeles where she has gotten herself involved in the pornography underground, but because of the surprisingly conservative attitude it has towards sex and sexuality. Due to his intense Dutch Reformed upbringing, Schrader has written many movies about sex, but more specifically, about the marginality of sex and those who work with it. This film has

TV Wednesday - Olive Kitteridge - Episode 4

For April 2019, I will be watching Olive Kitteridge, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, whose work I have always admired if not loved. This episode made me realize how isolated a bubble Olive’s town is. We see nary a modern-looking car or any sort of technology, which would date this work. When we see Olive in New York, a modern, recognizable one, it becomes clear just how out of place Olive is. Her surroundings and the small, parochial neighborhood she lives in really fostered her own prickly attitude and tendency for antisocialism. I loved how both the screenwriter Jane Anderson and director Cholodenko made it clear that we are not to immediately sympathize with either Olive or her son and his f

Uncaged - City of Angels (1998) & Snake Eyes (1998)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. City of Angels (1998) When I was really young, I knew this as the movie that featured that inescapable Goo Goo Dolls song, Iris. When I became a more worldly cinephile, of course I knew it as a remake of Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, but never bothered to watch it until this marathon. Now I know why this movie hasn’t lasted. It’s dull and overly sentimental, and it only suffers when compared to Wenders’ original movie, which explored the meaning of humanity and what makes it both so awful and so beautiful at the same time. I am surp

TV Wednesday - Olive Kitteridge - Episode 3

For April 2019, I will be watching Olive Kitteridge, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, whose work I have always admired if not loved. This episode took me aback in so many ways. Olive and Henry are driving home from a dinner with friends when Olive has to relieve herself in a major way and urges Henry to pull over to a hospital. (I love how Olive’s gluttony is something that is brought up but never explicitly commented on in this series.) The attending nurse urges Olive to get a check up since she suspects that Olive may be having an allergic reaction to shellfish. While she is waiting for her checkup, Henry comes in to wait for her, and he predictably socializes with the young attending nurse. A

Uncaged - Con Air (1997) & Face/Off (1997)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. Con Air (1997) Con Air is essentially a vaudeville show of the most interesting character actors trying to one-up each other. I mean, Bruckheimer and West had to know that no one would usually find John Malkovich remotely threatening. I have never seen Malkovich play a normal person convincingly, so I guess it would only make sense that he would be able to play a villain as psychopathic and volatile as Cyrus the Virus. Reportedly, Malkovich hated working on this movie because the script was constantly being rewritten, and he had no

TV Wednesday - Olive Kitteridge - Episode 2

For April 2019, I will be watching Olive Kitteridge, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, whose work I have always admired if not loved. I relate so much to Olive Kitteridge after this episode. Though she has a heart, and she does care about the people that she loves, she is antisocial to a fault and, quite honestly, socially awkward. Often this type of character is played for laughs in comedies, and she definitely gets quite a few of them, especially when she is criticizing her future daughter-in-law and her family in a not-so-veiled manner. But before her son’s wedding happens, she runs across her son’s former classmate Kevin Coulson (Cory Michael Smith) whose mother had bipolar disorder and whom

Uncaged - Leaving Las Vegas (1995) & The Rock (1996)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. Leaving Las Vegas (1995) Leaving Las Vegas’ ironic title gives the illusion of choice to the main characters of Ben Sanderson (Cage) and Sera (Elisabeth Shue). I have always found it ironic that a city in the middle of the desert, which is quite objectively awful and soul-crushing, should be seen as any sort of haven. Both Ben and Sera are under no such illusion. Eventually, I will have to write about this film for my Canon, so I will save my more complex thoughts on this movie for that time, way in the future. Both actors give thei

TV Wednesday - Olive Kitteridge - Episode 1

For April 2019, I will be watching Olive Kitteridge, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, whose work I have always admired if not loved. I don’t know anything about the original book by Elizabeth Strout, other than it was highly acclaimed, and I chose to keep it that way for this series. I wanted to see if I could tell that I was missing a lot by not reading the book beforehand. As far as I could tell from this first episode, I was not. While I am not over the moon about Lisa Cholodenko’s movies, I cannot deny just how good the performances are in all of them. I still think about Patricia Clarkson’s German actress in High Life who claimed to have worked with Fassbinder and how magnetic and charming

Theme Tuesday - Pier Paolo Pasolini - Accattone (1961)

I have never seen a single film from this iconoclastic and controversial director, so April 2019 seemed as good a time as any other to rectify this. I have a distinct feeling that this movie in the neorealist tradition will be the outlier in Pasolini’s work, from what I know about him. I can’t say I really connected to this film. I suppose it was daring to use non-actors to portray most of the characters in a film that takes place among the more impoverished stratum of society. Yet Italy has a rich and hugely influential neorealist tradition that would influence nearly all of film, including the French New Wave, arguably the most influential of all film movements. It was hard to see this fil

 
 
 

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