Monday Morning Quarterback Part III
By BOP Staff
June 15, 2011
Let's all go to the lobby
Kim Hollis: New Monday Morning Quarterback bi-weekly feature - Have you seen any movies recently? What did you think?
Brett Beach: About a month ago I had 34 films checked out from the library (the max as it turns out). I am now down to 15. This weekend, to "prep" for seeing this year's Palme d'Or winner The Tree of Life - which I hope to do Thursday - I watched the 2009 winner, The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke's chilly vision of a Pre-WWI German town beset by an escalating series of unexplained and disturbing violent incidents that threaten the village's economic and psychological well-being. The physical violence was left fairly implicit while the emotional violence packed a wallop (esp. a scene where a callous doctor effectively cuts off a long-standing affair with his assistant by going on at great length about everything he finds revolting about her.) Hanecke's narrative style may inflame some - the film ebbs and flows along for much of its 144 minutes. In the final 20 mins he finally begins assembling the rumblings of a climax, only to end on a fadeout of indeterminancy - but by resolutely refusing to answer anything, he is able to maintain his air of unease long after the film ends.
To wash that down, I watched Cars for the first time. It's easily the least of the Pixar films I have seen (I still have not viewed Ratatouille). Paul Newman's understated vocal performance helped maintain my interest in the storyline, but unlike the earned sentimentality in WALL-E, Up, or Toy Story 3, I rebelled against the over-orchestrated paeans to small-town Main Street and 1950s car culture. I was caught up in Lightning's touching gesture at the race-off (and surprisingly, Larry the Cable Guy's Mater didn't make me want to gouge my ears out) but the most enjoyable moments for me were the silly credit cookies, especially John Ratzenberger's moment in the sun.
Max Braden: Of the big titles I've seen this year to date, I'd rank them from best to worst: Super 8 (regardless of my grade, I just love that this film was made), X-Men FC (Fassbender was great), Fast Five (good heist and pairing of Diesel/Johnson), Rango (pretty but trippy), Green Hornet (harmless amusement), Kung Fu Panda 2 (unflawed but also uninspired), Thor (popcorn with margarine), Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (no charm), and Sucker Punch (insultingly awful). My favorite performances year to date are Elle Fanning in Super 8, Fassbender in X-Men, Portman in No Strings Attached (because she's at her most relaxed and natural for this role), and Billy Burke in Drive Angry (saving an otherwise truly awful movie).
Direct to video movies usually don't make it into theaters for good reason, but there are a few recent ones I can say are worth watching. Spin (starring Amber Heard and Michael Biehn) has a Pulp-Fiction-esque vibe for a younger crowd, and I liked it so much I bought the DVD (my last purchase before that was Easy A). A few films that had very limited releases earlier this year and are now on DVD are Waiting For Forever (Rachel Bilson), Daydream Nation (Kat Dennings), and Black Death (Sean Bean). Waiting and Daydream both depict the darker side of romance, which can be a downer, but are effective. And Black Death depicts a group of Catholic soldiers investigating a village practicing witchcraft in the 14th century - a genre might have put it among SyFy channel fare, but the production values and story turns in this one are pretty good.