Friday, August 23, 2019

Wild Tales (2014)

I had no expectations when I picked up Wild Tales, other than I knew it was foreign contemporary film that hadn't hit my radar, but was hanging out on the top 250 list and I hadn't seen it.

This Argentinian film Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) came with some generic description about being a film that was an analysis of human behavior and so I put it in the DVD player and went on the ride.

How this film became a top 250 film, or an Oscar nominee, I'm not really sure - not because it's bad - it's actually very enjoyable, but it's so atypical, in the sense it's an anthology film, with a loosely connected theme. It is in reality six short films strung together.

In watch this, it reminded me of Black Mirror, a favorite television anthology series, but instead of dealing with technology, it dealt with people on the edge of a nervous breakdown pushed to there limits and expressing then in there own animal like ways.

One of the joys of this series is that you really don't know what you're going to get, and even unlike an anthology television show you don't know how long the six stories will be and there is a variety of lengths and it's own set of variations and surprises. It's a pity I watched this alone, I could imagine the enjoyment of discussing this film and the individual stories with others.

My personal favorite is "Bombita" the story of a professional working man who finds himself at his wit end by the system after his car get's towed picking up a cake for his daughters birthday.

Many of these alone are great stand alone stories worthy of a discussion and reflection. This was a surprising joy to watch.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

At the first Academy Award ceremony the silent film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won three Oscars -- best Actress for Janet Gaynor (along with her roles in 7th Heaven and Street Angel), best Cinematography and Best Unique and Artistic Picture (Wings won Outstanding Picture, and this category was discontinued in later award ceremonies).

This silent film surprised me in many ways, including it's complex non-heroic main character played by George O'Brien. As the film begins he's abandoning his wife (Janet Gaynor) and child in the country to pursue a romantic relationship with "the woman from the city (Margaret Livingston), who wants him to drown his wife -- and with an opening few minutes that begin like that I found myself shocked that this was a silent film from nearly a century ago embraced by any part of the film community at that time.

The film contains some uniquely sophisticated special effects, an elaborate "city set" that shocked me to learn it was specially made for this film. Further, I thought this film was a unique presentation of what silent films could be, even in the sense that there was a mix of tones (sentimental, dramatic, jovial) and as the film progressed the drama and connection to the characters progresses without the need for title cards to tell the story.

I'm glad this lauded film is a part of the top 250 list and that it's presence here inspired me to cross it off the list of the top 250 films I have not yet watched.

Logan (2017)

Feeling a little superhero fatigued (or abused by the franchises looking for sure-dough), I wasn't rushing to the theater to see James Mangold's 2017 film Logan. This film is the tenth - yes, the tenth film in the X-Men film series, and third in the Wolverine trilogy (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine). Yet, strangely (so it would seem to me) it's hung out a top rated film since release including holding a smug spot in the top 250 film list a(#210 at the time of this post) and was hanging out in the population I had not yet watched. So, I bit the bullet.

Well, I am sure there are fans that could help argue otherwise, but it seems to me that the novelty of this film is truly the R-rating, which allows the film to have add profanity and dramatic violence. I'm not suggesting there's no plot here, but the story line never one really grabbed me, and the X-23/Laura character which was well played by young Dafne Keen was just frankly too much for me.

In the world of Super-heroes I love a good origin story (Spider-Man into the Spider-verse was a favorite of mine and suppose I got a gift of so many origin stories here), but I can respect stories that relay the end of a Superheroes story arch, but frankly whether it's here or even something like Incredibles 2 there's an empty longing in these characters, whether it's misunderstanding, the deaths and losses of those in their past, or the disjointed story of their previous anthologies that frankly just make there end chunky, and I suppose I felt that here with the alcoholic superhero, Logan.

Who knows how this film plays over time but it simply did not grab me in the way it seemed to grab others, but alas, another imdb top 250 film crossed off the list.