by HELEN GEIB
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[Note: The monthly Free-Talking post is updated every five days, give or take a day every now and then.]
JANUARY 27, 2011- JANUARY, OR HOW I AVOIDED THE MULTIPLEX AND HAD A GREAT MONTH AT THE MOVIES
It’s hard to love Hollywood in January. There are lots of good movies still in theaters, but the operative word is “still.” Since I managed to see all the big December releases in December for a change, this year has made me acutely aware of what a lousy month January is for new Hollywood movies.
I could not possibly have brought myself to see The Dilemma or No Strings Attached. Fortunately, movie deprivation was averted by…
1) The “Winter Nights” film series at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The theme for the IMA series is “noir and neo-noir.” The movies so far: Blood Simple, the Coen brothers’ debut feature and homage to noir; archetypal noir Criss Cross, directed by Robert Siodmak and starring a young Burt Lancaster as the doomed hero; and John Huston’s Key Largo, one of the cycle of films pairing Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
2) A double feature screening of the two-part Mesrine by the Ryder Film Series at IU. The excellent French film (the two parts are subtitled Killer Instinct and Public Enemy No. 1, respectively) is an episodic biopic of a notorious criminal. Vincent Cassel won a well-deserved Cesar- the French Oscar- for best actor for his performance as Mesrine.
3) Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance. Anime-focused Funimation finagled the second part of the “Evangelion” movie series into a one-week engagement at a local multiplex that occasionally programs off-beat movie fare from smaller distributors- it’s a chain theater, but it’s a tiny chain.
So, how was your January at the movies?
JANUARY 22, 2011- (RANDOM) TRAILER OF THE MONTH
JANUARY 17, 2011- STARTING WITH THE TITLE
I was reading a guide to writing about movies recently, hoping I might pick up a few tips. One of the suggestions was to do something I’ve always enjoyed doing: Start with the title.
The baseline for a good title? It should be descriptive. Not too long (colons are death- I’m looking at you, “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise). Easy to pronounce. Catchy if possible.
“127 Hours” is an example of a good, solid title. It introduces the survival story subject matter. It’s attention grabbing because it’s so unusual. It’s a little long to say out loud, but it reads well.
How a good a title is can have a lot to do with the quality of the movie it’s attached to. At first glance, “The Fighter” is your basic workmanlike title. It’s descriptive- you read it and say, “ah, a boxing movie”- and it’s pithy. But then after you see the movie you realize there’s a double meaning. The hero’s character arc is learning to fight for what he wants outside the ring, which in turn makes him a stronger fighter inside the ring. Turns out “The Fighter” is actually the perfect title for this movie.
Initially, I wasn’t much taken with “The Social Network” as a title. However, it’s really grown on me as I’ve thought more about the movie. For one thing, it’s probably the best possible title, by which I mean this is a tough movie to think of a good title for. If there’s a better title somewhere in the ether, I know I haven’t caught hold of it. For another, when you start parsing the title it becomes an excellent entry point to analysis. Look at how much you can do with just the “The!”
What do you think makes a good title? What are some recent movies with good (or bad) titles?
JANUARY 12, 2010- A FEW GOOD BLOG POSTS
This beautifully written review of True Grit at Gateway Cinephiles situates the Coen brothers’ latest within the Western genre and their own body of work
The Movie Projector surveys the five Westerns that make up “The Budd Boetticher Collection”
Ferdy on Film’s loving appreciation should move even the steeliest-eyed skeptic to give Big Trouble in Little China a second chance
Commentary Track favorite The Bioscope reports on the films that recorded the 1910 “siege of Sidney Street” in London
Departing briefly from the blogosphere: This LA Times article on the hard times for arthouse distribution in Los Angeles is cold comfort for those of us who regularly lament how much worse it is here than there
JANUARY 6, 2011- MOVIE OF THE MONTH SERIES AND THE THEME OF CONNECTIONS
Off-line I’m one of the organizers of the Indy Film Buffs, an Indianapolis movie club.
*begin ad* If you live in Indianapolis, you should check us out! The full calendar of upcoming events is on our website, but in a nutshell, we get together to watch movies and talk about them. There’s no membership fee, and the activity costs range from free to dinner-and-a-movie. *end ad*
I program a lot of our activities, but my hands-down favorite is the movie of the month discussion series. We just finished two years of films by great directors. It went pretty well, but for 2011 I wanted a theme that would tie the selections together more closely.
So, I came up with the idea of pairing recent films with classics that influenced or illuminate them. I’ve dubbed it the Connections theme.
The only place to start was with the Coen brothers, contemporary America’s most cine-literate filmmakers. I chose The Big Lebowski for The Dude. Since the film quotes Busby Berkeley, I’m pairing it with Footlight Parade. (Of course, I could have gone in several directions with the pairing, but in the spirit of the film I went with the most amusing one.)
Not all the connections are so direct. I’ve chosen the films with an eye to variety in the movie selections and the reasons for the pairings.
Starting with Lebowski in February, each month around this time I’ll circle back to the series. As a preview of coming attractions, the full list:
January: The Big Lebowski (1998)
February: Footlight Parade (1933)
March: The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)
April: Double Indemnity (1944)
May: The Killer (1989)
June: The Wild Bunch (1969)
July: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
August: Far From Heaven (2002)
September: All That Heaven Allows (1955)
October: Eastern Promises (2007)
November: The Roaring Twenties (1939)
(In deference to general holiday season busyness, the movie of the month series goes on hiatus in December. One movie had to have two pairings to fill out the odd number of months, and The Killer was the lucky winner.)
JANUARY 1, 2011- NEW YEAR’S (MOVIE) RESOLUTIONS
My movie-related new year’s resolutions are to watch the DVDs in my to-be-watched stack and to write a couple or three more reviews per month.
What’s your movie resolution for 2011?
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