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Monday Movies: Foiled Again

This weekend, we watched The Social Network. The Girlfriend and I have been Aaron Sorkin obsessives for a while now, watching Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and even that play about the guy who invented TV — so this was going to happen eventually, but I honestly didn’t want to see it because I don’t like Facebook. I was sadly disappointed to find out that it’s actually a really good movie, particularly the opening set piece where he alienates his girlfriend. It started to drag a bit toward the end, but once we felt like it was dragging, we checked the time remaining and it was like ten minutes. Another nice touch: the Napster guy, who in the film takes credit for wrecking the record industry, is played by Justin Timberlake.

The other movie we watched this weekend was kind of a disappointment: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which dragged and dragged and dragged. We did make it all the way through, and we did find the post-assassination portions (SPOILER ALERT: Robert Ford ultimately assassinates Jesse James) to be pretty interesting, but they were interesting, as The Girlfriend noted, in the sense that we wish someone would’ve made a movie just about that, rather than tacking it onto the lengthy monstrosity it actually appears in. In short, two thumbs down.

I also started Haneke’s adaptation of The Castle, but I’ll wait until I’ve finished to write about it.

What did you watch this week, dear readers?

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March 6, 2011 - Posted by | Monday Movies

11 Comments

  1. I loved Assassination at least three time. Pretty pictures, why does anything have to happen? Liked Justin in Alpha Dog, which isn’t much else but young actors.

    3/01/11 – Tokyo Twilight – Ozu
    3/02/11 – Kagi – Ichikawa
    3/04/11 – The Girl in the Rumour – Naruse
    3/05/11 – Secret Sunshine – Lee Chang-dong
    3/06/11 – The Empress Yang Kwei-fei – Mizoguchi

    Comment by bob mcmanus | March 6, 2011

  2. I really liked The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford even though I still have to keep myself from writing “… by the Coward Tennessee Ernie Ford”. It does indeed go on for some time but I found it pretty effective and not boring.

    Comment by ben | March 7, 2011

  3. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | March 7, 2011

  4. I think we own AOJJBTCRF, but still haven’t made it all the way through. My wife and I started to watch it one night after we got home from a long drive and didn’t think we’d be able to fall asleep right away. I give it credit for solving that particular problem. We also wondered if the seemingly unnecessarily long title was supposed to be a warning about the movie. Like Adam, we probably weren’t watching it under the best circumstances.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | March 7, 2011

  5. I watched Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead with Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Albert Finney. I enjoyed it, but sometimes it’s hard to take the movies where every main character is a miserable person.

    I also tend to feel a bit claustrophobic for characters when they put themselves in situations where there seems to be no possible means of escape. It’s not really an enjoyable feeling, but I guess if you let that kind of anxiety in, it means you’re invested in the movie.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | March 7, 2011

  6. I also really liked Assassination. It greatly improved on the second viewing when, having the characters better in mind, I was able to freely enjoy the style and performances. I think the only viewing “mood” you need to be in is a patient one, as is the case with any film edging on three hours. But it avoided the formulaic narrative of most Westerns, and delicately wove together the legend of James with the vulnerability of the man. And Casey Affleck’s performance was more solid and dimensional than I ever would have expected from him.

    Comment by ebolden | March 7, 2011

  7. Our DVD player died, but it turns out that Handbrake is completely adequate to the task of ripping rental DVDs to the Apple TV. It is not, however, adequate to the task of getting us to watch them now that there is no need to return them to get the next one, so we have Marie Antoinette, the original Death at a Funeral, and something A White Bear recommended called Devils on the Doorstep lined up to watch (not to mention 85 movies On Demand) and instead are preferring House Season 4.

    In the theatre: Rango beat out The Adjustment Bureau; reviews of TAB have been mixed (though surprisingly good from such quarters as Manohla Dargis) and I am inherently suspicious of any movie that takes on John Slattery but doesn’t seem to make him at all funny. OTOH I like Phillip K Dick movies; OTOOH I don’t see the bad ones.

    We enjoyed Rango a lot. The references (Chinatown, Apocalypse Now, Carlos Castaneda, the spaghetti western) are mostly smart, not cloying, and some of the sequences are outstanding — there’s an unbelievable canyon chase, not to mention some really charming weirdness. A few lulls… but more lols.

    Comment by k-sky | March 7, 2011

  8. I, too, will chime in for love of Assassination. I will go so far as to cite it is one of the best American films of the new century.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | March 7, 2011

  9. I started watching Possession last night, but I had to stop. I realize that complaining that a film adaptation isn’t sufficiently faithful to the novel is probably missing the point, but I can’t help it. It’s fine (I guess) if you don’t want Roland Mitchell to be the small, awkward, nerdy guy that he is in the novel, but really think about it: are you improving the story in any way by re-envisioning him as a total douchebag? Also, Aaron Eckhart! If you have to cast a douchebag, why such an unattractive one?

    I admit that Jennifer Ehle as Christabel was an inspired bit of casting, and Jeremy Northam as Ash was also a good choice. I can even live with Gwyneth Paltrow as Maud. But I didn’t get to watch any of their performances, because I had to turn off the DVD player when Aaron Eckhart started schooling the Brits for being so uptight. I really wanted Maud Bailey to stab him in the face.

    Comment by jms | March 8, 2011

  10. If the above seems excessively vehement, let me say that I feel like personal harm, however small, was done to me by the ruination of this movie, which I had really expected to enjoy. I had been, like, saving it. I knew that Aaron Eckhart was in it, but I didn’t have a clear picture of who he was or what he looked like, as my prior exposure to him was limited to his role as Two Face in the Batman movies.

    Comment by jms | March 8, 2011

  11. Nobody reads this, whatever. Ozu still freaking me.

    Tokyo Twilight all filmed at night until very end.

    Last rewatch was Early Spring which Kotsko liked. I was stunned by the consistently great compositions in every frame.

    So <i.Tokyo Story (next, again). Kotsko said he wasn’t impressed by the compositions.
    Thesis:Ozu only has his “painterly” compositions in Onomichi, the old parent’s home (and other scenes with parents away from adult children), and deliberately does not shoot the Tokyo segments, especially those in the homes of the children, in a painterly composed way. IOW, he films Tokyo in a relatively “ugly” manner to enhance his themes. I think this even gets worse over time, the drabness of Hara’s apartment.

    Film before TS is Flavour of Green Tea over Rice. This is a marriage drama like Early Spring and is mostly indoors and domestic. But Flavour is very brightly lit (although even darker in mood) compared to ES’s chiaroscuro.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | March 12, 2011


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