Thursday, September 24, 2015


I finally watched Bound, which I've been meaning to see for two decades. It is a sexy mob film featuring a steamy relationship between two women. One, played by Jennifer Tilly, lives with her mobster boyfriend, and she invites her lover, played by Gina Gershon, to help her steal a shit load of money and set him up so they can run away together and start a new life.

It is very tense, and there is quite a bit of violence. Weirdly, there were parts -- particularly scenes with the mobsters -- that I'm sure I've seen before. Maybe they were familiar because those kinds of mob confrontations rely on overused tropes? Maybe I've actually seen this movie before? In any event, it was engaging. The relationship between the women was the most compelling and interesting part. Even though Jennifer Tilly, with her annoying whispering contrived voice, bugs me incredibly.

Madame Bovary

I watched the recent (2014?) adaptation of Madame Bovary the other night. I read the book many years ago and had mixed feelings about it. It was fascinating and riveting and sexy. But the main character, Emma Bovary, was hard to sympathize with.

This version is okay. It is interesting but falls flat emotionally. The story is about a young woman who marries a country doctor and suffers from intense boredom and a sense of being trapped in a mundanity and mediocrity. Her husband is kind, but dull. Also he is unambitious and unglamorous, which is a big deal to Emma. She begins to have affairs and gets deep in debt, both which lead to her downfall.

What seemed lacking in the movie was the intensity of her affairs. I remember from the book that they totally transported her. That they were passionate and all-consuming and gave her tremendous relief from her malaise. In this adaptation they just felt like a handful of liasons and the depth of emotion was not conveyed.

Diary of a Teenage Girl

Over the weekend I saw Diary of a Teenage Girl. I really liked it. It's about a 15 year old girl in 1976 enjoying and exploring her sexuality. She loses her virginity to her mother's boyfriend and has an affair with him. This is something I thought I'd have a very hard time with, but there was something so honest and compassionate about the filmmaking that made the potential sordidness okay, or at least understandable. The characters were well developed, and the actress who played the girl, Minnie, was wonderful. She conveyed vulnerability and joy and confusion so well. Also, she was very assertive and unapologetic about her desires, which was great to see. It is a very moving, smart, and tender movie.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Last night I watched Birdman, starring Michael Keaton. I found it sort of mesmerizing and interesting, and it took my a while after it was over to decide whether or not I liked it. I decided that I did not.

Birdman is filmed in a sweeping, fast, yet somehow claustrophobic style that seems like one long camera shot. This is amazing, but it's also dizzying, and distorting. Add to that a score of a seemingly unending drum performance, and I found myself on edge and uncomfortable throughout.

But these effects weren't really the problem. The drama is self is over-wrought and heavy handed. Way overly emotional and all at a very high pitch. The characters are constantly giving too-well-written dramatic speeches and screaming in everyone's face in a stage-y confrontational manner. The stage-yness is part of Birdman's conceit. It's about a Hollywood actor once famous for playing a movie superhero, tries to establish himself as an artist by adapting a Raymond Carver story and directing and starring in it on Broadway. The theme of entertainment vs. real art is a cliche that kind of bores me. And the crisis of the performer coming to terms with his demons has been done before, and better, most notably in All That Jazz, based on Bob Fosse.

How Cats Took Over the Internet at MOMI

Yesterday I also took in the Museum of Moving Images new show, How Cats Took Over the Internet. This small exhibition provides a timeline of cats in the media, exploding with the rise of personal videos and ubiquitous phone cameras, along with the internet. It features a lot of cuteness, and an interesting film loop of various wonderful videos. I wouldn't make the trip just for this exhibition, but if you're going to be there anyway, it's definitely a fun thing to check out.

Matthew Weiner's Mad Men at MOMI

Yesterday I went to the Mad Men exhibition at Museum of the Moving Image. This show featured many artifacts from the brilliant show that I loved so much. It was wonderful seeing all the clothing, furniture, items, and small details that went into capturing the era. Clearly the producers wanted to get everything just right, and they did an amazing job. From taking photos of Don's childhood and aging them, to having Sally Draper write lists of her favorite things about Glenn, the cosmetics in Betty Draper's vanity... the many cigarette lighters, the old version of typewriters and phones and office supplies. The exhibition was really fun and made me want to watch the show all over again.