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Half Nelson.  Full Cup.  Ryan Gosling plays a good guy who does bad things as a history teacher teaching dialectics at a junior high.  The relationship he builds with his student, Drey, is terrific.  But this is not your typical teacher/student movie.  And because there is no happy ending, just an ending, could be disappointing for some viewers.  There are many great scenes but for me the movie builds to this confrontation between Gosling & Anthony Mackie…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGZzWyt-YG0

I am excited to see more from Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Sugar) as well as other Neo Neo Realist directors Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff) & Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop).

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Alan J. Pakula.  Alan J. Pakula.  Alan J. Pakula.  I should stop here.  The Parallax View is the second movie in Pakula’s political paranoia trilogy, with Klute and my all time favorite All the Presiden’ts MenThe Parallax View is a straight-forward movie about a reporter, Warren Beatty, who gets in way over his head while investigating the assassination of a Senator and the mysterious deaths that follow.  His investigation leads him to the Parallax Corporation who is in the business of identifying potential assassins and hiring them out to clients.  Their motivations seem to be monetary and not political.  Trust no one and suspect everyone.

What I found to be refreshing is that the good guys don’t always win.  Political/conspiracy thrillers today, like The Interpreter, Vantage Point or The International, don’t do that any more.  Michael Clayton might be the best recent example and although the good guy wins the bad guys aren’t blown away after a brawl on top of the U.N.  The one fault with the Parallax View is that it is too straight forward and doesn’t argue or delve into conspiracy theories but this is hardly a criticism.  Pakula chooses not to dwell but to entertain.  Lone gunmen are hardly alone but to have it pinned on one keeps things tidy.

Night Catches Us did not catch me completely.  I was intrigued by this film because it takes place after the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and tensions although a memory at this point are still high.  This is the first film for me to cover this period and ask the question, ” We have just gone through all of this, demonstrations and violence so we can have the basic freedoms and rights like everyone else, so now what?”  I suppose the answer is, time.  Time happens.  History moves on.  For many that is enough and for others it only deepens their anger and resentment.   Night Catches Us is refreshing in that it avoids the street war cliche but did not delve into what the status of African-Americans is at this point.  The visuals support nothing has changed.  So the efforts of the Black Panther Party were fruitless?  This is the missing piece and I think this quote sums it up…”A refreshingly brainy, honorable attempt to address a complex chapter of African-American pride.”

-Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Rik’s Top 10 of the 2000’s
1.  Memento
2.  Children of Men
3.  Requiem for a Dream
4.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5.  Fellowship of the Ring
6.  The Dark Knight
7.  Kill Bill Vol.1
8.  Amores Perros
9.  In the Bedroom
10.Royal Tenebaums

Honorable mentions:

  • The Bourne Identity/Casino Royale
  • Michael Clayton
  • Serenity
  • Let the Right One In
  • OSS 117

Evan’s Top 10 of the 2000’s
1.  There Will Be Blood
2.  Kill Bill
3.  Children of Men
4.  Wet Hot American Summer
5.  Wall-E
6.  The Dark Knight/Batman Begins
7.  The Incredibles
8.  Inglourios Basterds
9.  OSS 117
10. Friday Night Lights

Honorable mentions:

  • Tell No One
  • Almost Famous
  • 28 Days Later
  • Casino Royale
  • Crazy Heart

Upon my first viewing of “There Will Be Blood” I made the amateur mistake of watching it with a group of people. Once it became apparent that it wasn’t your typical Hollywood flick delivering blood, guts and boobs at rate of every 6 seconds, my fellow viewers slowly lost interest one by one and the room progressively filled with chatter. No offense to a majority of movie-viewers out there, but it seems as if our attention spans suffer a great deal when we’re forced to sit through a real-time film, portraying real events in a real setting, in a realistic manner. Oh, but good things come to those who wait.
This movie did a fantastic job of transforming a novel titled “Oil!” into a film that’s worthy of the title “There Will Be Blood”. Many doubted the ability to transform an educational novel about the history of oil into a film worthy of viewing, and after two years worth of effort in getting it financed it finally came to be. Good thing too, otherwise I would have one less movie to add to my Top Ten.
Not only is it beautiful to watch; the lighting, the machinery, the gritty glimpse into hard, dirty work, it’s wonderful to listen to. The soundtrack and audio is what had me gripping my chair. I was keyed up, unnerved, just as a worker on an oil rig would be. I felt as if at any second I would be hurt, and there was more than one instance I found myself literally holding my breath.
The touch of lifestyle differences in characters – self sacrifice to God – self sacrifice to oil – was a strong portrayal of the human relationships and business deals that occurred in this film. The way it portrayed humiliation and silent revenge was beautiful. Daniel Day-Lewis gets 5 stars from me; the voice, the stern face, the mustache. It’s a rare instance that I am unable to come up with a list (sometimes brief…sometimes not) of things I would change about a movie, but this completely threw my mental list-making habits out the window. There was nothing else I was focused on other than the great film in front of me.
TWBB taught me to be patient, to wait, and to watch. The music and audio encouraged me to anticipate. Nothing left me disappointed. Committing to the film and making an experience of it would be my advice to a first-time viewer.
It takes its time and makes you wait…but don’t give up! There certainly will be blood. In the words of Senator Albert Fall, “I drink your milkshake!”.

wet_hot_american_summer_ver1

Tell No One Poster

man1Alfred Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut that his 1934 version was “the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional”. Nevertheless, Hitchcock preferred the earlier version, largely because it wasn’t so polished.

Now we all know too much.


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