Sunday, September 16, 2012

Day 287 Random stuff

My Neighbor Totoro is one of the happiest and most charming movies I have ever seen.  I have seen it twice - each time on the big screen, and I have had the same reaction each time - pure joy.  There's no real story or conflict to speak of, it's simply about two sisters (one 10 and one 4) and how they meet some wonderful forest creatures.
And then I followed that up with The Bourne Supremacy.  The second film in the Bourne Trilogy ends with a spectacular car chase.  After watching it, I thought to myself that every movie that has a car chase in it should do it practically - no CGI.  The only exception to that rule is the Fast and Furious series.  That fifth film was able to capitalize on the kinetic energy and destruction that CGI is able to portray.  But that being said, real cars smashing, speeding, and blowing up is something that I have always appreciated, even in a crummy movie.
Someone asked me today what my favorite genre of film was, and I replied, "Good movies."  In the span of a week I have watched Pina, a documentary on modern dance, Compliance, a stressful drama, Killer Joe, a stunning, brutal noir film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which needs no explanation, Remember the Titans, a sports film, Totoro and Bourne.  The only thing missing from that group is a comedy.  And I do like some good comedies.
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain trilogy is a wonderful vampire story.  Jaw-unhinging, blood-sucking, worm-infecting vampires make for some incredibly tense reading experiences.  The first book does a great job of being tense and suspenseful throughout its entire length, and the third novel does a wonderful job tying up all storylines in a satisfying way.  This is a series that I can't wait to see adapted into a film.
Finally, soon all my free time will be taken up by all the new television shows that are starting up this week.  Good times, good times.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 280 - Compliance


What would you do if someone called you at work and told you he was a police officer?  If it sounded legit, would you do what he said?  And how far would you go doing something that just walks that line between being a good citizen and blind obedience?  Those are the questions this film asks, and how it goes about doing it just seems absurd, except for a couple of things. 1). The film is incredibly well-acted.  Ann Dowd, as Sandra, the restaurant manager, does such a good job as someone who's obviously in something that's over her head, and it's during an incredibly busy time, so you see her trying to keep juggling all these things, and you know it's all just going to go south.  2). The film is based off actual events.  Sure, what happens in the film is dramatized, but it makes the film just believable enough that you accept what's going on.
The basic plot is this: At a fast food restaurant on a busy Friday, a cop calls the manager and tells her that one of her employees stole money from a customer's purse.  After taking her in the back, the cop says that the choice is either the employee is strip-searched or taken to jail.  And things simply escalate from there.
When I was in college, one of the film classes I had showed a film called Sweet Movie.  The professor told the class that if any of them wanted to leave at any time due to the content of the film, it would be fine.  I stuck it out (to simply be able to tell people that this is one of my bottom five films of all time), but a number of people took him up on that.  When I saw Children of God, at a certain scene, an audience member literally ran out of the theater.  During Happiness there was a steady stream of walkouts as the film went on.  The Aristocrats sent out a number of people in the first 15 minutes (after that, the rest of us knew what we were in for).  And more recently, a father grabbed his clan of young 'uns when he realized The Campaign was rated "R" for a reason.  One of the reasons I wanted to see Compliance was because people apparently weren't able to stick it out through the whole film.  I always like to see what gets someone to think to themselves, "I spent some money on a movie, but it's not worth it to stay."  At about the one hour mark in this film, the tension ratchets up to a fantastic level, and even more bad things happen.  It was then that I saw something I have never seen before - a couple was sitting in front of me, and the lady said something to the guy, got up, left, and never came back.  He stayed, though.  That was odd.
But any movie that is this gripping and suspenseful is definitely worth staying to the end.  And the end of the film really makes the movie.  It does what it's supposed to do - give the viewer closure and satisfaction.  You may still feel like a creep (because that's what the film wants you to feel), but at least there's no indecision.