Monday Movies: Cassavetes Overload
I thought this would be a super-slow movie week, as The Girlfriend and I took a break from our relentless film schedule on Saturday to go to the symphony. Pierre Boulez conducted his own Livre pour cordes, Bartok’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion, and Orchestra, and Stravinsky’s Firebird. The first was interesting though difficult, the second was more accessible and active but still challenging, and the third was basically dessert.
In any case, on Sunday we wound up watching two movies, and then I watched another on the train. That’s in addition to a stray one I half-watched this week, namely:
- Ordinary People — this movie was ponderous without being insightful, so it makes perfect sense that it won an Oscar. The fact that the movie’s conflict came down to Mary Tyler Moore arbitrarily liking the dead son and hating the living one really clinched it for me — thank God dad and son were able to get rid of that castrating harpy!
- Opening Night — I found A Woman Under the Influence to be amazing, as did The Girlfriend, so I thought Cassavetes would be a good candidate for one of my “light completism” projects. This one, however, made me wonder. A Woman Under the Influence had a tightness and coherence that Opening Night simply lacked — Gena Rowlands seemed to be insane more or less at random. I can see where he was going with it, but to my mind, it wasn’t a successful film.
- Point Break — This one had some of the most intense and well-done action sequences I’ve ever seen, which almost pushed it to the “so bad it’s good” level. Yet it ultimately fell short by virtue of being way too long. There were some great scenes late in the movie that I wouldn’t want to throw out, but ultimately Patrick Swayze’s character, as well as Keanu Reeves’s underlying legal situation, wound up making no sense to me.
- The Killing of a Chinese Bookie — I don’t know exactly what to think of this truly bizzare film, but it did at least strengthen my resolve on the Cassavetes “light completism” idea. (A sidenote: for the first time, I chose to watch a movie on the train on the way back to Kalamazoo, and so I of course had to choose one with plenty of nudity.)
Top three Netflix queue items currently (I cleared the deck this evening): Farewell My Concubine, Faces, and The Baader-Meinhof Complex.
What have you been watching?
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