Friday, February 15, 2008

Pretentious Mobsters, Travelers, and Secret Agents

I've decided to just start doing mini write ups in groups of three just because I like the format better and it makes me feel like I wrote a lot when I havent written almost anything.

Little Odessa (1995, James Gray) - *1/2

Sometimes when I look back on old posts I get a feeling that I might be too kind and easy towards movies. I feel like I should be more strict but when I look at the movies that I watch and rent I like to think that I rent according to my taste, I rent and buy movies that I have liked or have a feeling that I will like. I feel that I got my taste pretty much down and even when I venture off and rent a film that I have never heard of before there is always a small root that appeals to me and that is why I take a chance with them. I like to think that most of the time I am right and the film ends up good.

So..after watching and really enjoying We Own the Night I did my I-just-finished-watching-a-movie-routine of going to IMDB and checking out what other films the director, writer, or actor have doneor are doing. Through this I found Little Ordessa.

My thought process went a little bit like this:

" its a crime drama....looks dark...mid 90s and indie...hmm...I'm not a fan of those...oh but it stars Tim Roth? Tim Roth in a crime drama by the guy who did We Own the Night? I am sold"

I expected a gem and found a huge misfire. Little Odessa suffers from the same thing that I feel most indies from the 90s suffered from and while reading Down and Dirty Pictures it seems that I am not the only one who has a problem with this subgenre. They all try so hard to be dark and moody (Things to do in Denver While You're Dead, ) , be quirky (Party Girl, Living in Oblivion, Welcome to the Dollhouse), or represent generation X and freeload off of the Slacker/Clerks vibe (Empire Records). I hate them all and I think that they have aged worse than films from the 80s. They just feel extremely pretentious to me and never sincere.

I'm currently in the middle of Down and Dirty Picture by Peter Biskind (my favorite writer maybe ever and I also like to name drop books I'm ready because I am cool like that...lulz) and there is a quote from Soderbergh when hes talking about Sex,Lies, and Videotape which I feel sums up this 90s indie boom perfectly. He says something along the lines of "I look back on that film and just see a student film where the director is trying to say so much" and that line describes Little Odessa.

It feels like a student film where the director is hammering you away with his brilliance and awesome screenwriting. Maybe I sound like a dick right now but if you were to see this film then you will know what I am talking about. It just feels unpolished, amateurish, and rough but what is annoying is that the film tries to pull it all off as polished, slick, and just as good as the crime films of the 70s. I realize that I am now rambling but I will just say that all of this might excusable because of it's an indie and a debut film but the plotholes that this film takes just for the sake to create melodrama and "deepness" in its theme is just too bad and obvious for me to like. The director is also able to bring out an uneven performance from Tim Roth and that is just inexcusable and close to impossible I think. I am very happy that Gray "grew up" and can now do a film like We Own the Night.

Man..I really did go on a mini rant now that I look back. I feel like backspacing all of this and just putting "it sucks" but I will just end it now with....."it sucks"

Into the Wild (2007, Sean Penn) - ****

I am going to make this one short and use the easy way out by saying that everything that could be said has already been said. I was blown away by it and it would go into my top 5 without a doubt. The direction and writing by Sean Penn is outstanding and the performances by the entire cast are perfect. Holbrook also deserves all the praise he has received and was actually able to break my heart. I was also surprised that the film turned out to be nothing like how it was marketed as.. This is not the hip "fuck the system" movie it was made out to be. It's a much more joyful and beautifully tragic road film than anything else. I was surprised by how much I really loved it.

Also...Zach Galifianakis...what the hell are you doing in this? That was just out of nowhere and hilarious. Thank you, Sean Penn.

The Silencers (1966, Phil Karlson) - Dean Martin Cool

A very,very,very,very cool 60's spy comedy staring Dean Martin as a part time secret agent and a full time ladies man. I was reminded of Danger: Diabolik during the film with it's tongue in cheek style, colorful sets, jazzy score, and uber coolness. I enjoyed every single second and can't wait to see the rest of the series. that Dean Martin riding a gun?

And now I am officially up to date. Finally.

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