10 Things I Hate About You
this movie is bundled in my mind with clueless. they’re both loose adaptations of classic british comedies that portray an exaggerated version of 90s californian teen culture. i feel like clueless gets more love from the 90s nostalgic crowd, but i’d take this one any day. it has the better source material, more likable characters, and a much stronger cast.
- the title sequence text style really thrusts the viewer into a 90s state of mind.
- of all the hilariously overdone cliques, the street hockey group is my favorite. they’re always crammed into a tiny space, just hacking at a ball with no apparent objective.
- what happened to larisa oleynik’s career?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
much more than good and bad, this movie is about the struggle between order and chaos. the mental institution in this movie is highly ordered and nobody values strict adherence to its routines more than nurse ratched. mcmurphy is an agent of chaos dropped into ratched’s ordered world. both have good reasons for what they’re doing, and both push things too far in their attempts to break each other.
- the half-finished boondoggle clutched by one of the patients and waved around when gesticulating is hilarious to me, and all the more so because nobody acknowledges it.
- the look on mcmurphy’s face when he finds out that the hospital isn’t beholden to the length of his prison sentence is priceless. i always laugh when people think that pleading not guilty by reason of insanity is a scam.
a common topic among movie commentators for the past year or so has been the bechdel test, which a movie passes by having two female characters that have a conversation with each other about anything other than a man. it’s startling how many movies fail such a simple test, and interesting to ponder why that is.
also interesting is how few movies fail the test when you switch the genders. i’ve tried to think of an example a few times, but had never come up with one until tonight. this movie fails the reverse bechdel test. there are five male characters, but four of them barely have names and never talk to each other, so it’s not even close.
but that’s irrelevant to how excellent this movie is, which is good to remember; that tests like these (and there are many others) are good at showing a trend in the industry as a whole but bad for judging individual movies by.
- natalie’s gaunt frame in this movie is scary. sadly, it’s entirely appropriate for the role of a ballet dancer.
- being a prima ballerina is stressful enough without a passive aggressive stage mom and an artistic director who can’t manage people. i’d lose my mind too.
- when vincent cassel is describing the plot of swan lake, he checks his hair in the mirrored wall of the studio as he says the words “true love.” it’s a perfect little moment of characterization.
The Bourne Ultimatum
the bourne franchise started to feel a little long in the tooth with this third entry. the action movie facet of it is as strong as ever, but the thriller facet is weak. bourne’s motivation is unclear, not in a mysterious way, but in a muddled way. is he seeking revenge for the accidental death of his girlfriend (not very heroic), trying to gain his freedom (i thought he did that in the previous movie), or seeking a more perfect knowledge of his past (surely not worth the danger and destruction)? the government’s side of the story feels overcomplicated, like the writers are arbitrarily re-tying knots just so they can unravel them again - secret organization “treadstone” has already been exposed and dissolved, so there’s a super secret organization “blackbriar” that was behind it all along. the movie is well executed, but the plot seems tacked on to the bourne universe rather than a natural extension.
- julia stiles is great in this. she’s a better actor with just her eyes than most are with their words.
- released in 2007, i think this is the last movie to be credibly high-tech while populated with dozens of people talking on flip phones.
- the foley in the climactic fist fight in tangier is overdone to the point of being funny.
Eyes Without a Face
i often complain about opening credits. i truly do think they’re terrible because credits belong at the end (stand behind your product, not in front of it) and because they’re heinously non-cinematic. i’m willing to compromise on a title sequence, though. give me something to enjoy and i’ll let your vain credits slide.
this movie has a perfect example of a simple title sequence that is highly effective. it’s a shot of leafless trees passing by, presumably seen from a moving car, with a dark night sky in the background. all that’s heard is some odd carnival-esque music. it’s a very unsettling combination, and creates an atmosphere that is utilized afterward. this is all it takes to have a successful title sequence; a piece of b-roll and a royalty-free song. there’s no excuse for lazy opening credits.
- the surgery scene makes great use of simple practical effects. very convincing for the era.
- it’s madness to have a dozen hungry dogs in the basement and a dead body you need to get rid of and not put 2 and 2 together.
Good Will Hunting
does a genius have an obligation to attempt to fulfill his/her potential? is there a quid pro quo duty to those who supported them or a type of noblesse oblige to society as a whole? that question is litigated over and over again in this movie and i still don’t know where i stand. it’s so easy to say that it’s a waste for an elite mind to be spent laying bricks; that all the great things that person could do would be lost. but it’s not fair that one person should have any more responsibility than the rest, simply for being smarter. everyone else is allowed to pursue their own happiness so long as they’re not harming anyone. it doesn’t feel right to me to say it’s sad that someone lives a happy life as a waiter when they could be a nobel laureate since i wouldn’t say the same about someone who lives a happy life as a waiter when they could be a weekend manager. it’s a very interesting tension.
- i don’t like that the logo on affleck’s bruins jacket has to be covered with a strip of tape when the logo on robin’s red sox jacket is shown without obfuscation. i won’t stand for such anti-hockey sport-ism.
- it’s a strict rule that you can’t make a movie about a mathematician without having a scene of equations being written on a pane of glass at eye level.
- playing in a joke shop is a great date idea.
i have a strange affection for this movie. when i was in high school, i thought it was a gripping thriller. now, i think it’s uproariously over the top. i thought about listing the things that are cartoonishly overdone, but it would be so long it might crash tumblr. i just find it hilarious and fun.
- joshua jackson rowing crew? come on, look at him.
- i selected this tonight because of the sad news of paul walker’s death. say what you will about his movies, they were all unapologetically fun. it’s a shame his life and career were cut so short.
In the Name of the Father
in the middle of this movie about irishmen falsely accused of being ira terrorists, a character says “[the police] wouldn’t hold him if he hadn’t done something.” it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that when you’re free, but it’s an especially pernicious form of circular reasoning. how fitting that literally seconds after she uttered that sentence, the police kicked in her door and arrested her on false charges.
- what is the deal with the odd yellow panels on the prison garb?
- i didn’t like that the defense attorney deceived the authorities to win. bit of a tainted victory.
i see this movie as a portrait of two misguided groups that deserve each other. first we have the french wine fops who are so absorbed in their bordeaux bullshit that they’ve lost all contact with reality. they can be identified by their snooty dismissal of non-french wine and culture, and their explanations for what makes bordeaux’s wine superior that feature vacuous words like “magic, love, soul, and vibrations.” opposing them are the members of china’s burgeoning nouveau riche, who have so much more money than taste that they’re willing to blow millions on wine they don’t have any interest in enjoying. they can be identified by their flaunting of luxury labels like a rapper or professional athlete, and for not bothering to develop a personal taste in wine before spending thousands per bottle.
the conflict arises when the french fops create a mythology around their oldest wineries that is so thick and unquestioning that the label has become more important than the product, and then the chinese nouveau riche decide to over-spend on the liquid status symbol with a finite supply until the price skyrockets out of control. we’re meant to mourn the fact that the “traditional markets” for bordeaux can no longer afford to keep up and all the primo vino is ending up on the other side of the world. but there’s plenty other wine to drink.
- the dvd of this that i watched has basic facts about the movie printed on the disc in clear, normal-sized text. this should become standard practice for all movies.
- i was amazed at how many wine critics/journalists could not say general positive things about wine without babbling incomprehensibly.
The Bourne Supremacy
i really appreciate the way the bourne trilogy (i only acknowledge the first three) handles car chases. they feel very pragmatic, as car chases should but often don’t. it’s just about extending enough of a gap to disappear, not about flamboyant power-slides, absurd jumps, and nonsensical explosions. the drivers also try to avoid hitting objects, and when they must, they try to limit the blow to broad sections of bodywork, protecting the radiator and the front wheels. this all makes the chase seem more intense because the stakes feel real.