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Monday Movies: A slow week

Only two movies this week, neither of which really grabbed me:

  • Leaving Las Vegas — the story of a suicidally drunk man and a prostitute who’s been so abused that she finds him to be a calming influence. There are some genuinely hilarious moments when Nicholas Cage is in his “good place” with drinking, but overall it’s obviously really disturbing. I kind of hope that the scenes where it seems like Elizabeth Shue is being interviewed are at some kind of support center or counselor — and I wonder how much The Girlfriend Experience is modelled on this movie. Incidentally, the music felt heavy-handed throughout, and I’m not sure that the occasional slow-motion/grainy-footage scenes added much.
  • American Splendor — the format of this was somewhat interesting, a weird hybrid of a documentary with reenactments by Paul Giamatti, but overall everything felt kind of thin to me, like we didn’t really get the character sketch that was promised.

LATE BREAKING UDATE: Last night we also went to see Le Concert, co-starring Mélanie Laurent. I would have trouble recommending it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Long-time readers might remember a few comment threads that included Dallas and Chad Jenkins. Now Dallas has been profiled in the Sunday Times due to his ongoing quest to create a movie that is (a) Christian-themed and (b) actually good — surely a difficult needle to thread, and I wish him luck. (His latest film, What if…, opened in selected markets this weekend.)


August 23, 2010 - Posted by | Monday Movies


  1. If Angelina Jolie would extend her appearances to: ‘all bad movies’, that would really make movie selection much easier (and her required effort not much higher).

    Comment by Earnest O'Nest | August 23, 2010

  2. on my binge netflix watching, i watched Cold comfort farm, funny, Guills, greasy, Flashbacks of a fool, mata hen, scrolled fast to the end 500 days of summer, quit Did you hear about the Morgans and Me and you and everyone we know

    Comment by read | August 23, 2010

  3. I watched Kalifornia with Brad Pitt, David Duchovny and Juliette Lewis. I was not a fan. Yeah, Brad Pitt was a psycho but his insertion into the protagonists’ lives ultimately didn’t seem to impact them at all. Maybe that was the point – though it seems doubtful – but it makes for a pretty unrewarding movie experience.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | August 23, 2010

  4. The director of read’s last is my third-cousin-in-law, it turns out.

    I was eager to see either Listzomania or Evil Dead II at the Cinematheque revival houses, but went instead to see a friend do stand-up at dreaded Citywalk. Afterward, I tried to gin up support for Piranha 3-D but we had dinner most heaping instead.

    Comment by k-sky | August 23, 2010

  5. I watched Point Blank (dir. John Boorman) on my computer screen and Ran (dir. Akira Kurosawa) on a reasonably large screen.

    There was a lot of stuff in Ran I had forgotten about.

    Comment by ben | August 23, 2010

  6. Oh yeah, I watched All That Jazz and had a little Anne Reinking moment. Those legs! That voice!

    I wrote my college application essay on Ran with a very large caveat about not having read King Lear, but the first question they asked me in my interview was about King Lear.

    Comment by k-sky | August 23, 2010

  7. Ran is its own thing.

    Comment by ben | August 23, 2010

  8. The Last Temptation of Christ is Christian-themed, as is Cool Hand Luke. Sure and it can’t be too hard to make an actually good Christian-themed movie.

    Comment by ben | August 23, 2010

  9. Shusaku Endo was Catholic and apparently the movie of The Sea and Poison is good. “Christian-themed”? Perhaps not overtly, but why should it be overt?

    Comment by ben | August 23, 2010

  10. Babette’s Feast was Christian-themed, and I remember it as being good.

    Comment by jms | August 23, 2010

  11. The problem with most of what passes for Christian movies is that those who plan the movie start with a message or theme and then build the story around that. That is basically a formula for bad art. It’s compounded in movies because it takes countless hours to become good at the craft, just like many other things, and these Christian studios take shortcuts (which shows in the movie with amateur-hour stuff).

    (Just to be clear, none of this is directed at Dallas or Chad, who seem aware of the problems of contemporary Christian culture).

    Besides some of the obvious ones like Last Temptation of Christ, something that is worth mentioning is that most of the higher-ups at Pixar are Christians, and they usually make pretty good movies.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | August 24, 2010

  12. I have very little faith that Dallas and Chad will make anything approaching success and I’m quite glad for that. Their father has done enough damage to the world without slick propagandist sons helping spread it further. I might assign that article in my film class as an example of what we will not be doing in the theology through film class. It made me ill.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | August 24, 2010

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