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.]
APRIL 25, 2011- I’M NOT DEPRESSED ANYMORE, OR MY APRIL AT THE MOVIES RECAP
So last week I was in Phoenix for a software training course. Or to be more accurate, in the middle of the anonymous, endless suburban sprawl that is greater Phoenix. I went looking for a Borders (to feed my manga addiction) and in the same mall found a 25 screen movie theater. Yes, you read that right. Twenty. Five. Screens. Needless to say there wasn’t anything like 25 movies filling those 25 screens. Between Arthur and Hop Russell Brand alone occupied five of them, which says pretty much all there is to say about that.
Luckily for me a couple of the screens were given over to limited release films. Not being much of a one for nature documentaries, I went with Win Win over African Cats. It went over really well with the audience and I enjoyed it too. The screening was close to sold out, which really shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Writer-director Tom McCarthy’s track record (The Station Agent, The Visitor), indie favorite Paul Giamatti, likable characters in realistic situations, and a big dose of formulaic comedy are a recipe for mainstream arthouse gold.
Multiplex-wise this month I’ve taken in just two movies, the compromised by its ending scifi-thriller Source Code and the excellent dramatic thriller Hanna. My local mixed multiplex/arthouse theater gave me the beautifully photographed and acted Jane Eyre. It also gave me the best movie I saw in April, the French drama Of Gods and Men. A contemplative dramatization of the last months of a small group of Trappist monks in Algeria who were kidnapped and murdered in 1996 by Islamist terrorists, it builds subtly but inexorably to its emotionally overwhelming conclusion.
APRIL 18, 2011- (RANDOM) TRAILER OF THE MONTH
APRIL 13, 2011- A FEW GOOD BLOG POSTS
Insightful review of Underworld at Only the Cinema
The Furious D Show presents “Studio Notes for Classic Novels” (here’s a sample, and it was hard to pick just one: “To. R. Bradbury. Re. Fahrenheit 451. Does he have to burn books? Magazines make better product placement opportunities.”)
Love HK Film published its annual “best of Hong Kong cinema” nominations
APRIL 7, 2011- CONNECTIONS: THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (2005)
The March “movie of the month” was writer-director Jacques Audiard’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped. A remake of a 1978 American film called Fingers (written and directed by James Toback and starring Harvey Keitel), it moves the action from New York City to Paris and re-focuses the character drama. File that away for the next time you play the “remakes that are better than the original” game.
The title change made for a good group discussion topic. The story follows a few months in the life of a man in his late twenties who is experiencing an existential crisis. The crisis is symbolized by the competing life demands of putting through shady real estate deals, a line of work in which he was mentored by his loan shark father (who sometimes uses his son as a collection agent for hard-case clients), and training for an audition as a concert pianist, an avocation he inherited from his professional musician mother, who died young and still haunts him. The film is richer and more complex than a bare bones description can capture, but it should suggest some of the possible readings of the title, with its echoes of loss and disruption, romantic longings, music, and emotions and physical sensations alike.
It takes nothing away from the rest of the filmmaking to locate Romain Duris’ extraordinary lead performance at the film’s beating heart. It’s a highly physical performance; his body language reveals the character’s thoughts and feelings as much as his expressions and much more than what he says. I’m convinced you could follow the story just by watching his hands.
APRIL 1, 2011- WHAT’S YOUR MOST-WATCHED MOVIE?
A reader recently commented on Nir’s review of The Crow that it was her favorite film and she’s watched it a total of 65 times. Now I can’t compete with that, but if I really started to think about it I bet I could come up with a few films I’ve watched more than 20 times.
What’s the most number of times you’ve watched a movie? Is it your favorite film, or were you a hostage to someone else’s movie fanaticism?
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