Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wilde Things

A few notes on films seen recently at the Jerusalem Cinemateque:

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride: Pretty standard Burton fare (beautiful imagery, eerie content, great music by Danny Elfman, plot and characters that aren't too interesting). I imagine Tim put more effort into this "personal project" than the overblown and mostly dull Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which in context now can be seen as a fundraiser. I noticed a cute detail in Corpse Bride: when Victor plays the piano early on as his intended bride Victoria Everglot watches from the shadows, check out the name brand of the piano above the keys. It is "Harryhausen," a reference to Ray Harryhausen, one of the original greats of stop-motion creature animation in film.

Lord of War: Loved it. Very cool and engaging way to present political issues. Has some Jewish humor. And did I hear Mazzy Star in the soundtrack?

Jarhead: Very good. Worth seeing, especially if you liked Three Kings and Full Metal Jacket (both of which I loved). Jamie Foxx puts in a good turn as the Staff Sergeant (maybe he got "military training" from the silly but enjoyable Stealth), and all of the casting was excellent. I'll be sure to keep an eye on Peter Sarsgaard, the sleepy-eyed actor that I remember from Flightplan and Kinsey. If you see Jarhead, stay to the very end of the credits for a short bonus song.

Hana and Alice: A very nice film, part of the Shunji Iwai tribute this month. I love modern Japanese cinema, which often features wonderful kinetic uses of light, color, animation, and cathartic endings. Plus, its just cool to get into a whole different culture and perspectives on life, art, dialogue, locations, and soundscapes (use of space and silence).

A Good Woman: Well, pretty good at least. Based on Oscar Wilde's play, Lady Windermere's Fan. I needed a discussion with Miss S to clarify a few plot lines and express a few opinions on casting, but now I'm delving into the life and works of the amazing Mr. Wilde. Happily, the BBC aired a show about him just this week, making the claim that Wilde was the first post-modern pop star, and we should not forget how shocking his work was at the time of publication.

In Her Shoes: A very good film, covering lots of interesting topics. Not the romantic comedy fluff I was expecting, and that's a good thing. Great cast. Cameron Diaz continues to take roles that don't just capitalize on her looks. Film features Jewish jokes, Florida locations, senior citizen humor, an actor from The Sopranos, great cuisine (made us hungry after viewing), and serious issues like career choices, illiteracy, marriage, and family secrets. Miss S needed the tissues and I almost did too!


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