Author Topic: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots  (Read 3677 times)

oldkid

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Re: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2013, 12:40:27 AM »
Jeff, Who Lives at Home

I expected a dumb, light, mumblecore comedy, along the lines of Humpday, with which I wasn't really impressed.  The big difference with Jeff is that it is truly funny with characters I actually care about.  I may be giving Jason Segal more credit than he is due because of his work on The Muppets, but even so, he's a great dude-ish character here, and a lot of fun to watch.  Susan Sarandon is just wonderful to see her change from uptight to loose-- she is great to watch.  While I wouldn't call this a great comedy, it was a lot of fun and that was good enough for me.

4/5

Thanks for making me watch it, T!
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PeacefulAnarchy

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Re: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots
« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2013, 09:10:37 PM »
Beasts of the Southern Wild
This is the kind of film I have no qualms about calling good, perhaps even great, but which does almost nothing for me. Part of it is that the style seems tailor made to annoy me. The film's use of music is exactly what I hate, an overbearing soundtrack that strives to tell the audience exactly how to feel at any given moment and dominates the scenes instead of accentuating them. The cinematography is this odd blend of pretty colours and style with handheld camera rawness, a lot of halfheartedly composed shots and slightly imperfect focus. This is very purposely done and it does serve a function, but it's not something I enjoy. Then there's the acting which, again, comes off as intended but is not a style that helps me care about the characters. Finally the script is a meandering lethargic mess, with the only moments of clarity coming in the form of Hushpuppy's trite observations about life. My real problem isn't with those individual things, however, but the narrative and directorial perspective that pushes them. This isn't a film about struggling with poverty, about the open prison these people live in or about how society forces them into this state. To me if a film is going to focus this much on poverty, then it needs to either take a social stance and a wide perspective on the subjects, or focus entirely on characters and their struggle. The path chosen by Beasts of The Southern Wild is to pretend to focus on characters, even though the actual depth of what we learn about these character can be summarized in a couple of lines, while giving a meaningless nod to the outside world. The worst part is that this nod to the outside world serves to reinforce the film's warped perspective on poverty which seems to boil down to, "it's not such a bad thing." For some reason remaining isolated and not getting help is not something to fight against, or even something to grudgingly accept and persevere with, but something to revel in and fight for. The ten minutes in the shelter where this all gets put in stark relief was the only segment I really enjoyed, but then the film went back to its bizarre fantasy. Even with all these negative words I still don't think it's a bad film, nor would I even say I dislike it, I just found it really frustrating and lacking the insight that can make other similarly frustrating films feel worthwhile.

Corndog

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Re: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots
« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2013, 09:17:49 PM »
I think that's a fair shakedown, though maybe a little more forgiving of the fact that there are people out there that actually like that sort of thing. I really expected to like something like this, but boy did I swing and miss on any connections to the characters. Yay! They love each other despite him being a terrible father! Yay! They are super poor and underprivileged but it's okay because she is cute and says the darnedest things and they appear joyous! I reacted with much less forgiveness than you, but hey, I don't ever want to tell anybody how they should feel about anything. Unless you loved Project X, then you're dead to me.
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oldkid

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Re: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2013, 12:20:28 AM »
I took great pleasure in the film because I know these people-- this isn't a choice they make to live in such poverty, it is the culture in which they swim. 

I absolutely loved it, and I think there is a lot to get out of it: http://bloggingmoviesrus.blogspot.com/2013/01/wisdom-of-child-beasts-of-southern-wild.html  Plenty of insight there, if you see it.

Sorry you didn't get more out of it, PA. 
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Bondo

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Re: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots
« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2013, 08:01:15 PM »
The Imposter (2012)

The human capacity for belief is quite a miraculous thing. Life of Pi paints a bright picture on belief as a component of faith where a cynic might point out that it is crazy to believe, well any manner of things that are incorporated in religions. The Imposter is in some ways a Catch Me If You Can style story about one man's capacity to play a part, and it isn't unimpressive, but the circumstances of this case make the belief the more intriguing aspect as on its face, it seems so obvious.

After being picked up by Spanish police while sheltered in a phone booth, a young man stumbles his way into pretending to be a missing teen from Texas. In spite of his dark hair and dark eyes and his French accent, the family believes that he is their missing blonde haired, blue-eyed son/brother. As the film progresses, their reasons for believing get complicated. Science, however, does not believe and is not fooled. The ultimate success of The Imposter is the charisma of its central character as he deals with the reality that his charade cannot last.

Of course, aside from a compelling story and subject, the real aspect that makes The Imposter stand out is its audacious style. Featuring a hefty dose of reenactment, The Imposter displays a sharp cinematic style, even in its relatively traditional interview sections. The production quality of the whole thing is just leaps better than one comes to expect from a documentary. Even little editing tricks like cutting to reaction shots, as if the interviewees are watching along with us, just brings the whole thing to life in a way few docs really can, all the way to the film's final shot. Frankly, I wish more narrative films had this much style.

4.5/5 (This will certainly be making my ballot for doc and editing).

Antares

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Re: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots
« Reply #35 on: January 24, 2013, 03:56:20 PM »
Searching for Sugar Man (2012) 81/100 - Before films became my main hobby, music was my one love. I grew up as a child in the sixties and basked in the creative outputs of the greatest musical generation. So it irked me that I had never heard of this performer or his music. I had heard the urban myth about the performer who created suicide on stage, but that's what it was, just a myth. Listening to the clips that are played in this documentary makes one wonder why he never had a successful career. He had a voice that was harmonic and rich, yet eerily similar to Bob Dylan. His lyrics were poetic, and laced with a societal substance that few songwriters every attain. Maybe it was his ethnic background that created the ceiling he couldn't punch through or maybe it was a case of the right songs at the wrong time. All the while I was watching this, I felt a connection between Rodriguez and another performer who was never truly understood, Laura Nyro. She too, was a gifted songwriter with a distinct flair, but only achieved marginal success. The documentary itself, is pretty manipulative. I say that because after I finished it, I jumped on the web to do some research on the man chronicled. That's when I found out that the underlying theme of the film, that Rodriguez never knew success and had just disappeared, wasn't exactly true. Six years after his second, and final album was released, he did achieve a small level of success in Australia. Which is never mentioned in the film. And that's where I have a problem with the film. After learning about what transpired in Australia in 1979 and the subsequent release of a live album not mentioned, I felt that I had been slightly duped by the director and writers of this film. You can't take poetic license when you are trying to make an historical documentary, which this film is. Sure, the story as shown, is heartwarming and intriguing, but in the end, it kind of rings hollow, if you do just a little bit of research on your own. So while I enjoyed learning about this performer and will definitely seek out his two albums, I can't give this a higher rating, because it is just manipulative mythologizing for the sake of entertainment.

Bondo

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Re: January 2013 MDC: Filmspots
« Reply #36 on: January 24, 2013, 04:14:14 PM »
it is just manipulative mythologizing for the sake of entertainment.

Entertainment>Truth!

For me the factor that sets it apart is not Rodriguez but South Africa and why that country was fertile territory for his music. Those facts that are left out would probably dampen the impact and I'm not sure they ultimately change the broader narrative as it relates to South Africa. Admittedly one can hold documentary to a different standard than narrative work but it's like Argo for me. That film decides to play a bit fast with reality in the name of cinematic power.