Friday, November 22, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 52
Frances Ha (2013, dir. Noah Baumbach) Continuing my picks of movies I'm thankful for, Frances Ha is my recommendation this week. A movie like Frances Ha represents a movie I disliked the first time and then gave a second chance and really liked. I think it maybe hit too close to home. I like that the movie is critical of Frances (played by Greta Gerwig, who is super charming) but mostly empathetic to her because she's still trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. It doesn't mean that you have to "sell out," but it does mean that you have to sell the fantasy-land version of what your adult life will be. A strength of Noah Baumbach's movie is it portrays Frances' eventual reality as just as magical, albeit unplanned and unexpected.
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010, dir. Brandon Vietti) Have I told you lately how much I love Batman? I have? Oh. Well, have I told you how good Batman: Under the Red Hood is? No? It's really good! It's based on a popular comic book storyline from a few years ago (much like my life) and finds a new costumed personality known as the Red Hood in Gotham City. What his motivations are aren't exactly known, because he's killing bad guys, and that's not the worst thing that could happen in Gotham. Batman and Nightwing (the first Robin, all grown up) need to find out who he is and what's going on. Along the way they'll have to contend with Ra's al Ghul, Black Mask (who is not at all like the Red Hood) and Joker. If it sounds complicated, it really isn't. But it is very grown up and dramatic, and it has some upsetting scenes of violence which serve to give the story some real stakes. As far as these direct-to-DVD animated movies go, this is one of the best. But then again, almost all of these are better than the theatrical Batman movies. Did I mention it's only 75 minutes? If you had started it when you began reading this, you'd be halfway done.
Double Indemnity (1944, Dir. Billy Wilder) Dark poetry-- Billy Wilder's directorial debut contains all of the elements we now associate with classic film noir: Fred MacMurray as the sap, Barbara Stanwyck as the femme fatale, and Edward G. Robinson as the insurance investigator and film's moral center. This one does not end well. Further proof that the AMPAS has never known what it was doing? Double Indemnity won none of the seven Oscars for which it was nominated. Phooey.
Graceland (2012, dir. Ron Morales) Bleak, squirmy crime thriller from the Philippines about a limo driver who gets caught up in a kidnapping plot. This is the kind of movie in which things start badly and only get worse. If you've seen practically any of this kind of film out of Korea in the last 10 years, Graceland may not surprise you much. It's still an effective, well-directed and dark little movie that works as it's supposed to.