Friday, December 6, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 54
World's Greatest Dad (2009, dir. Bobcat Goldthwait) 2009 was a strong year for movies, and one of the overlooked gems of that year was Bobcat Goldthwait's black comedy World's Greatest Dad. The movie has a one joke premise, but I give credit to the filmmakers for getting enough mileage out of that joke to sustain the entire movie. Just like Heathers (to which this movie owes quite a bit), it manages to be really funny even as the subject matter gets very dark. The movie features a strong performance by Robin Williams, who is always at his best when he downplays or is taking on edgy material. I don't know how they pulled this one off. World's Greatest Dad could have gone wrong in so many ways and it never does.
She's All That (1999, dir. Robert Iscove) I've recommended this movie before for Netflix This Movie!, but this time things are very different. We lost Paul Walker, an actor for whom I'd really come to have affection, and I wanted more than anything to point to a movie on Netflix and say "Watch this for Paul and think of him." Well, of the four movies on Netflix that feature Paul Walker, this is the one that means to most to me, even though he isn't the romantic lead. I see a lot of movies each year, but Paul Walker made movies that I revisit again and again. My pick for this week is for Paul. His films will continue to put a smile on my face.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011, dir. Mark Cousins) With the weather now turning colder and people having more time off during the holidays, now is the time to spend some serious time with this serious documentary, all fifteen hours of it. I caught this last summer on TCM and was really impressed: unique insights, fantastic clips, and the writer/director doing his own narration in an accent you will be trying to imitate for days. Slow your pace, make yourself some hot chocolate, and enjoy this feast for movie lovers. WARNING: Some of this might infuriate you.
The American (2010, dir. Anton Corbijn) George Clooney stars in this slow burn of a movie as the man who wants to reform himself and get out of his current life. The most widely heard complaint is the very deliberate pacing; I'm one who actually thinks it works because I think the pace reflects the fugue state that Clooney's character is in. You'll never find Italy shot more beautifully, although the locales are out of the way from what you normally see. I don't think Corbijn is on anyone's radar as a new director, but this is only his second feature film, with another one coming out next year, and The American has the serious timbre of the pieces he's gravitating toward.
Hard Eight (1996, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson) The first movie from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (who has gone on to become one of the best and most interesting American filmmakers of the last 40 years) feels more like a first movie than I remember, but WHAT a first movie. The movie is stately but still has the show-offy charm of Anderson's first few films, and you can see a lot of his style already in place. He was born to make movies and it shows. It's also the start of his repertory company, including a brief performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman, a great turn by John C. Reilly and a lead performance by Philip Baker Hall that's probably one of my five favorite performances of all time. Anderson still refers to this movie by its original title, Sydney. You can too if you're a douche.
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That series looks fantastic now I will have to embark on my own odyssey of film.
For this weekends viewing recommendations I would through in the classic war film "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (1970). For those unfamiliar it depicts the attack on Pearl Harbor. (anniversary this Sat) Way better than the film from the 90s.
"Tora.." is a great political and military procedural with an amazingly shot battle scene in the final act. The non-history-buffs may find the first two acts a little dry (due to the strict procedural nature) but the attack scene is a great payoff. Notable for using real aircraft, explosions and some very nice models. Probably the best use of real aircraft in a war film this side of "Battle of Britain (1969). No CGI here.
Also of note is how unbiased the films is in its depiction of the events. A result of being a joint venture by 20th Century Fox and Toei studios. The Japanese sequences were filmed by Toei Studios (Akira Kurosawa was slated to helm filming though he had to drop out) while 20th Century Fox shot the American ones.