Thursday, February 21, 2008

Motion Pictures and Films

Bagdad Theatre
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
The Academy Awards are coming up. I'm not especially thrilled. I haven't seen a single one of the motion pictures nominated (I'm waiting for Juno and No Country for Old Men to make it to a cheapo pizza and beer cinema like the Bagdad), but I did see some good movies last year. Here are my 10 favorites:

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (excellent, but depressing)
Blades of Glory (the Iron Lotus--need I say more?)
Breach (yet another fine performance from the under-appreciated Chris Cooper)
Into the Wild (a superb adaptation of a riveting book)
The King of Kong (who knew anyone still plays Donkey Kong or that they play it every waking moment?)
Margot at the Wedding (family dysfunction to the nth degree + top-notch performances from Jack Black and Jennifer Jason Leigh--love her!)
Sicko (made me even more outraged about our nation's piss-poor health care system)
Superbad (supergood, superjuvenile, superpenile)
Waitress (a comedy that made me cry)
Year of the Dog (an excellent satire/black comedy)

See them!

I'm in the thick of the Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) right now, and I am sorry to say that I am not batting 1,000 with it as I usually do. So far I've seen three films ("movies" are not shown at PIFF, only films). Two (The Trap [Serbia]) and Unrelated [Great Britain]) were duds. The Trap is little different from a mediocre American thriller. It did have one brilliant moment of home decor in the living room of a scruffy low-level thug—an enormous oil painting of himself talking on a cell phone. An oil painting! Ticky tacky--and hilarious! So, yes, the film has one teensy redeeming facet, but I still can't recommend slogging through the entire thing, which is rather ponderously paced for what purports to be a thriller.

The one PIFF film I do recommend is Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa. It's an American documentary about a bunch of misfits who live catch-as-catch-can in the New Mexican desert. Most are ex-military. For fun, they like to tip over clunker cars and trucks and then set them on fire and/or shoot at them. Somehow these folks manage to live on almost no money at all. Quite fascinating. Good luck finding it on DVD. I don't think it has a distributor. I've also got one more film to see, which is, by all accounts, supposed to be an excellent downer of a film--4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.

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