Friday, July 31, 2009

The Pelican Brief

Last night it was The Pelican Brief, with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. The plot had a lot of holes, and in general the movie seemed dated, very 90s; but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even think I've seen it before, but I didn't care. It was suspenseful and there wasn't anything distractingly annoying going on.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Flawless, with Demi Moore and Michael Caine in the 1950s (I think, I'm actually not sure when it took place) doing a diamond heist. It was incredibly boring. Demi Moore was frigid and tense as ever. Michael Caine was warm but remote. The plot dragged. Plus, on Watch Instantly I have trouble hearing sometimes, so I might have missed a few things. Anyway, I never for a moment cared how it would turnout.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone is about a child abduction, not the kind of thing that usually appeals to me. I get kind of turned off by the self-righteous "to save one child" rhetoric (and this movie definitely had some of that). But Gone Baby Gone is different. It's a portrayal of the white trash (hate that phrase, but don't know what else to use) in South Boston. It's definitely an elitist, classist kind of fucked up depiction, definitely voyeuristic and judgmental. But it's very well done and gripping.

Particularly gripping was Amy Ryan's performance as the drug abusing mother of the missing little girl. She was so intense and raw. It was hard to believe she's the same actress who plays Michael's girlfriend on the office! She really held the film together, gave it it's center. She made up for the fact that Casey Affleck wasn't quite believable in his role, and that Morgan Freeman's character, who is pivotal, was very remote and underwritten and also maybe not quite believable.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In Bruges

I LOVED In Bruges. LOVED it.

It's about two hit men who need to keep on the down low after one of them accidentally kills a young boy. They are waiting in Bruges, a small tourist town in Belgium, till their boss tells them what to do.

But so much else happens. I know sound corny, but it's about friendship and redemption. It's very very witty, and even though there is quite a bit of violence, there is a lot of real warmth in the film. I don't want to spoil anything (like anyone reads this!) but it's amazing that a movie that ends quite in the way this one does can be so moving and uplifting at the same time. It's the best movie I've seen in a long, long time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Busting the Mob

Last night I watched The History's Channel's documentary Busting the Mob. It is about the key role electronic surveillance played in the arrests of heads of New York's major crime families in the 1980s.

It was really 15-20 minutes (at the most) worth of information spread out into 45 minutes. It wasn't that insightful and didn't raise any interesting questions. I watched it because I am considering using it in a class I will be teaching in the Fall. I still might show a little bit of it. Particularly if I include (which I will) readings on organized crime.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

Just finished He's Just Not That Into You. I had started it over the weekend, but the DVD glitched up and the replacement came today.

I really enjoyed it! It's superficial fluffy fluff of course. Nothing too insightful, nothing too funny, no majorly interesting performances, no great lines, no great scenes.

But, there was some insight into the meshugas of relationships; there were some funny moments; the main character played by Ginnifer Goodwin was charming and Jennifer Aniston was interesting and on target; there were some good lines here and there; and all the scenes were enjoyable. It was fine. Not a waste of time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Reader

I just watched The Reader and I don't know what I think of it.

I wish I had enjoyed the love story more. I suspect that had I found that aspect more compelling, the rest of the movie would have fallen into place for me. But as it was, I didn't feel like I was "getting" it. I just didn't know what my reaction was supposed to be.

Kate Winslet gave another tough, impeccable and yet impenetrable performance that left me feeling perplexed.

The story is about a man who when he was fifteen had an affair with an older woman. This was in 1958/9. Then, in 1966 when he's in law school, the same woman is brought up on charges of Nazi war crimes, for her conduct as an SS guard at Auschwitz. He watches the trial but doesn't approach her. Nor does he volunteer information that would (partially) exonerate her (she was illiterate, and out of shame claimed to have written a false report that proved to be severely damaging to her in the trial). Years later, out of guilt (?) (I'm actually not sure what his motives were), he sends her tapes of himself reading aloud all the books he had read to her when they were lovers. She listens to these in prison and is inspired to finally teach herself to read. She writes him and apparently he never writes back (I didn't understand why not). When it is time for her release, she has no one and he offers to help her get a job. He visits her, nearly 40 years after their affair, and it is sad and stiff. Rather than be a charity case for him on the outside, she kills herself. She leaves her remaining money in his care to deliver to one of the surviving victims of an atrocity. After doing so, he returns to his grave and tells his daughter the story...

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Feeling like I'm coming down with the flu, I lay in bed icing my feet and watched Fallen on Netflix Watch Instantly. My brother had highly recommended this movie, and just a few minutes into it I realized I had seen it before, although I barely remembered it.

I liked it a lot. It's a creepy, creepy movie about a serial killer that's a demon and briefly possesses people. There are some very creepy scenes and effects. I think I was more frightened the first time I saw it, though.

Donald Sutherland is in it and his character makes no sense. He acts creepy and vaguely evil through the whole thing, but for no reason. Just to add to the vibe, I guess.

Lyons Wier Art Bazaar

Went to an "art bazaar" at Lyons Wier Gallery in Chelsea today. The small space was crammed with art hung salon style, and, although the quality of the work was pretty mixed, there were some quite impressive pieces.

My favorite was Asya Geisberg's rich oil paintings of cats. They have a tremendous amount of depth and texture to them and are very expertly rendered. (This image from my camera phone doesn't do them justice).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Robert Cray and Sweet Divines

Last night I went to Celebrate Brooklyn to see The Robert Cray Band. The opening act was a 60's style female quartet, the Sweet Divines, belting out these pop-blues type numbers. They were incredible and had great energy and put on a great show.

Robert Cray's music was gorgeous, really wonderful. Only thing -- after a couple of songs it started to rain. People put up their umbrellas and you couldn't see anything. (The sound was AMAZING though). So, we left... An incredible disappointment, walking out on such a fantastic show...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Public Enemies

I saw Public Enemies last night. Johnny Depp plays an infamous bank-robber. Christian Bale plays the agent in charge of capturing him and his gang.

I thought it was just okay. I mean, honestly I found it kind of tedious. It's just cops and robbers. Chases and heists. Lots and lots of shooting. It was beautifully filmed, yes. But something about the way it was filmed actually seemed heavy-handed and over the top.

Maybe I wasn't in the mood, but it just didn't do it for me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Falling Down

I didn't much care for Falling Down, with Michael Douglas. I watched in on Watch Instantly, where I've been watching more and more movies as I continue to ice my unhealing feet.

The story is about a man full of rage and a sense of injustice who loses it one morning on the LA freeway. He gets out of his car and proceeds to try and walk home. The first person who gets in his way -- well, that's how the story gets in motion. He starts on a slow, pathetic, scary, methodical rampage across LA.

What didn't work for me was how over the top it was. Every person he encountered was hostile and contentious. It was too heavy handed in that way, without being really humorous or ironical. It just was too broad a stroke. And Michael Douglas' performance was mediocre. I never actually felt the characters frustration and rage.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New York Doll

New York Doll is a documentary about Arthur "Killer" Kane, the bass player for the New York Dolls.

It focuses on him now. Or rather, in 2004, when it was made. He has a quiet, slightly whiny, slightly weird guy. One with a bit of a chip on his shoulder about how far he has fallen from his former glory.

After the New York Dolls broke up, his life went into decline. He couldn't get a band together and became an intense alcoholic. When he hit rock bottom, he discovered the Mormon church and became a convert. At the time of the documentary he was working in a Mormon library and living off disability. Much of the film details him preparing for a comeback concert in England, and thankfully this goes well (although David Johansen seemed like an asshole to him).

I remember being fascinated by what the New York Dolls looked like, but never got into their albums. The music in the documentary sounded good, and now I kind of want to check them out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Orphanage

The Orphanage is Spanish horror movie. Basically a standard haunted house/ghost story. I found it engrossing, but not all that surprising. It was beautiful and well-acted, but a little cliched. Still, I liked it a lot.

It's about a woman who used to live in a small orphanage when she was a child and who moves back to the house as an adult. Her son, who is ill, and who is also adopted, becomes friends with ghosts in the house, and eventually he disappears. The rest of the movie is about finding him, and playing games with the ghost children... Like I said, kind of cliched, but really well done. I would even watch it again.