5 Jan 2014, 1:45pm
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At the Movies

The best movies I saw in 2013 are those which I don’t wish I had that time back. They mostly aren’t new releases…

  1. You Can’t Take It with You (1938)
    It moves along whip-fast and ambles both. A banker makes a deal to make a munitions factory where there’s a very odd family/commune where people do as they like. Will you be a lily of the field too?
  2. Poetry (2010) (Korean)
    People who are schoolyard and business world bullies and those who try to piece together a life of integrity. And a learning poetry class and first open mic. Everything isn’t routed through dialogue and spelled out.
  3. Modern Times (1936) Charlie Chaplin
    Absorbing. Beautifully shot, framed, considered.
  4. Lady for a Day (1933)
    A sense of community even across classes. Admittedly there’s a lot of dumb and neurotic females but also a golden heart or few in there, and a united respect for one poor woman to make her dream happen, even if it is to deceive her daughter.
  5. Once (2006)
    Feels untorqued even to slow-paced at times. People live their lives. There’s a remarkable non-messed-upness of the characters. It’s centrally about the music and relationships.
  6. Pranzo di ferragosto (2008)
    The hapless fellow is apparently going to have a lot of people move in with him, or rather with his mother who lives with him. Feels like a time and place and a hanging out in Italy.
  7. To Rome with Love (2012) Woody Allen
    A jenga of absurdity in Rome.
  8. Before Midnight (2013) Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
    A continuation of the previous two movies. Real conversations, this time in Greece. Coming of age is for every stage of life. Not necessarily comfortable but engaging.
  9. City Lights (1931) Charlie Chaplin
    Social criticism and surprisingly moving. Characters feel real.
  10. Linotype: The Film (2012 Documentary)
    The history of the machines and the people who love and fix them.

Apparently in first flush I loved The King’s Speech (2010) and gave it 10/10 right after but I can’t remember a blessed thing from it a few months later. Likewise Elsa & Fred (2005) and Flesh and the Devil (1926). Liked immediately but it all washed away.

Not making the list, exactly, is Hugo (2011). I walked it more recently than most.

Such a mixed bag. Although technically well-done, I thought I’d never make it thru the first 10 minutes. Music and framing reminded me of pump up the excitement of NHL games. Slapstick-like Jim Carrey crotch injury to open. Distractingly overt lighting with that flashlight tracking the eyes in dark rooms of every scene. If it’s to be for kids, is it driven that kids need more cues? But surely kids are more attentive and can read more subtly better?

It was a vehicle for interesting history of cinema and embedded references and largely a tribute to cinema and used good actors but the ending annoyed. It all would fail the Bechdel Test surely. It would have been so easy to fix. Even in a speech, thank you for those who helped, not his partner of 50 years, she who coloured prints acted, collaborated, she who he left his wife for, but a boy and not his adopted daughter who did as much? Sure it’s called Hugo but. Really?

It feels oddly gratuitously male-centric where saint cutouts of females come to assist and redeem the broken males. Female folk are just happy that the male-folk are happier. Which makes sense because they’re pretty tyrannical and overbearing when they’re not happy. Which I don’t think is the central lesson intended. People just need to find their place in life, their purpose, or they feel useless. In other words, Work is cure. Hm.

Quote: “Georges, you’ve tried to forget the past for so long, but it has caused you nothing but unhappiness. Maybe it’s time you tried to remember.” ~ Mama Jeanne in Hugo.

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