Films Viewed (November 2012)

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Le Amiche, an early film by Antonioni, has flashes oft he breakthrough yet to come. A study of Italian bourgeois existence, filled with plot convolutions and despairing characters. A Saturday afternoon well spent. (The Charles).

Hit So Hard may be a bit “fans only” but does a great job of telling the story of the woman behind the drum kit of Hole in their prime years. Patty Schemel is a likable and engaging character at the center of the great tornado couple of 1990s altrock. Addiction  dysfunction, and some memorable music along the way. (Netflix Instant)

Turn Me On, Dammit! was a bolt from the blue, a coming of age drama featuring a sex-obsessed Norwich teen who has many painful and awkward encounters on the way to adulthood  Could have been exploitation  but instead felt authentic. Why don’t films like this play Baltimore anymore? (Netflix)

You have to admire the ambition of Cloud Atlas, taking a sprawling complex novel some have called “unfilmable” and turning it into a sprawling yet cogent film. So many excellent thought-waves and sequences to get lost inside for a while. Preposterous things happen and I just went with it. Sometimes I cannot do that. (Landmark Harbor East)

Skyfall is another James Bond film. I enjoyed Sam Mendes’ handling of the sacred texts, an eyebrow arched at some of the more hoary cliches  Not amazing  not as tonally odd as Quantum of Solace. I was very struck by the end set-piece, at least visually. (Rotunda Cinemas)

Horse Feathers is early Marx Brothers on film, not quite at the place I consider the most excellent and perfect, but still a good time. A burlesque take on a now-forgotten genre, the college life film. The jokes come so fast and furious, still at a vaudeville velocity, that you have to suppress your laughter to catch them all. (The Charles)

For many years I have been meaning to see The Lovers on The Bridge based on the recommendations of several friends. I managed, finally, to see it. A couple live in abject squalor and mad love on France’s oldest bridge  Took time to get started, but became free and alive and messy and wild. A stunner. (Netflix Instant)

The Weird World of Blowfly was engaging enough as a documentary subject. Blowfly, of course, is a dirty song-smith with a semi-secret rare groove R&B past. Too see the drama play out with the man himself on the road well into his senior years was surprisingly compelling and poignant. (Netflix Instant)

Speaking of compelling (in another sense), I felt compelled to see Flight because of the word of mouth surrounding the film at the office water cooler. A pilot unravels following a disaster in which he is, arguably, the hero. Denzel Washington’s performance is superb, and the film’s script and construction are top notch. (Rotunda Cinemas)

Sometimes you are at Video Americain and you have a third rental for free so you grab something off the shelf. Street of Shame turned out to be the final film by Kenji Mizoguchi, a  director I have until now not encountered. Various prostitutes suffer and struggle as legislation to outlaw their profession moves through the political process in Post-war Japan. A great introduction to the filmmaker that managedto be tragic without being strident or polemical. (Video Amercain)

Total: 10 films, (5 in theaters)

(Please note: Whenever possible, all titles are linked to their pages on the Netflix website)

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