Thursday, November 18, 2010

Favorite Films: Funny Face

NOTE: While watching Funny Face for the tenth time I finally had a surge to change things up. We could all use a release after all and I've decided to begin piecing these articles together based on whatever film I have most recently re-watched. So Let's get to it.
The 1960s were a fun time for film. There were so many colors. Design came to a new peak in this decade. Oddly enough, Funny Face isn't from the 60s. Stanley Donen directed this offbeat musical in 1957. So why does it feel so Mad Men? I dunno. That's not really the point. The point is Funny Face, to me, is unencumbered joy. It's the movie that proves Audrey Hepburn (Oh Audrey =D) could really dance and sing, even if the producers of My Fair Lady didn't believe. After all she always wanted to be a dancer. And the way she moves its crazy to think she didn't get to do it more often.
Fred Astaire does a number on this film. He pulls off a wacky wonderful performance with only a small group of routines. He more or less comes into this thing as an actor before his dancing and singing abilities can be exploited, though they certainly are. You can't have Fred Astaire in any film without fully enjoying his talents. It almost seems sacrilege.

So Funny Face, as always, lives up to my childhood... teenhood... memory. It's fun, funky, and totally unexpected. But it feels like a classic musical and it's too bad we don't have more gems like this one.

The List So Far:
1927 - Metropolis - Fritz Lang
1928 - Steamboat Willie - Ub Iwerks
1931 - M - Fritz Lang
1932 - Tarzan, The Ape Man - W. S. Van Dyke
1933 - King Kong - Merian C. Cooper +
1934 - It Happened One Night - Frank Capra
1957 - Funny Face - Stanley Donen

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TV Is Sort Of Maybe Possibly Good Again...

With this latest half season of South Park totally kicking ass,
I thought I'd post about the very very few shows that are actually working and thus taking up a miniscule bit of my daily schedule:

The Walking Dead - AMC. This one's a no brainer (pun, way accidental).
So much about this series works and after seeing the second episode actually feel right and not forced I can state without question that I will be an active and regular viewer. The pilot contained one of my all time favorite tv moments. It involves a second story window a rifle and an emotional black man I swear I've seen on a CBS show...


Moguls And Movie Stars - TCM. A documentary series about the creation of Hollywood.
It's great. And TCM has been making a really cool point of show specials dealing with the subject matter from this series, ie. movies discussed. I'm excited by this because perhaps it means TCM will become more proactive in classic film education. Sometimes a good screening deserves a full-fledged explanation of the people and times involved.

Great Migrations - Nat Geo. Another cool nature documentary.
This one applies a new technology of camera including one called "The Frankenstein"?? But there's some really exciting work being done here. In the second episode they capture an image of an ant posing like a war hero.
That just stood out in my mind as memorable.

Conan - TBS. I'm just glad he's back.
I hope this show blows Jay's numbers out of the water. It's exactly what you'd hope it'd be.

So let's take a moment and smile at the fact that not all TV is trash. I still enjoy 30 Rock a great deal and am trying to get through Todd Margaret (key word being "trying"). So here's hoping these programs lead to other greats.

As always, I love Breaking Bad.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Near Death And 127 Hours To Go

If you don't already know the story, 127 Hours is that new Danny Boyle flick based on the true story of Aron Ralston who had to cut off his own arm back in 2003 after five days of being pinned at the bottom of a canyon. James Franco is just awesome here. But let's go beyond the basic story elements (which were great) and discuss the clarity of emotion this movie emitted... Rather, let me retrace the experience I had while watching the thing. And believe me, I am aware this is not how everyone will react and perhaps the pieces of the whole came together in just the right way to make me feel an emotion I can't say I've ever felt before.
Firstly, I felt for Aron. He was a cool guy and a believable human being, which is hard to come by even in true stories. But when I came to realize just how dire his situation was and why it had come to this, I really connected with the reality of strain he had almost intentionally forced upon his relationships. So I felt for the guy.

Secondly, as the event came up... the arm breaking and subsequent cutting off... something happened to me, something that has never happened to me, not in a movie or in a real life situation... the film struck a nerve... literally. And with that strike came a sound. And when that sound jolted out of the speakers... I went blind. For thirty seconds I sat there unable to see what was happening. I was thoroughly freaked. Slowly the colored specks cleared from my eyes and I could see the rest of the act, but I felt this warmth rise up in my body. "Am I gonna be sick?" I had to ask myself. I felt queasy. I couldn't get cool rolling up my sleeves. I couldn't get warm rolling them down again. And my ears began to ring.
The movie ended. I exited the theatre. And I felt... dare I say... amazed. Never in my life have I felt like that. Not a horror movie in the world has ever pulled off that sense of connection. But this flick brought it. I'm not saying this is the greatest film ever made or anything that extreme. But it surprised me... intensely. And that is a rare thing.
Definitely give 127 Hours a chance in theaters. Now maybe I should go have a visit with a doctor...?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pink Elephant

This post is for everyone who ever knew what they wanted and tried to draw out a path to reach that thing only to get diverted every-so-often by someone or something that managed to be momentarily more interesting. It's about maintaining focus and recognizing that once things have cleared the original stuff'll all still be there and the other thing... may not. There is a hope that both can coexist. Maybe they still can. Probably. As humans we all have an intense capability to multitask, put things on the back burner, and recall past experiences with full emotion. Our brains are established to maintain focus on specifics and find a version of the whole picture that fits those specifics without having a 100% assurance that this is the truth. But we always notice the Pink Elephant. It's that one thing that isn't quite right. It pulls our focus just a bit even if we don't know what we're focusing on. It's the only girl at a party wearing a costume. It's the bit of the quarrel that doesn't quite make sense because the facts have not all been given to us. If everything were laid out on the table I don't know if such moments would ever truly exist. Still I recall the time traveler in The Circus.

It's unlikely that this is what it looks like, and we've all seen it by now, but the thought that this could be a person holding a cellphone is pretty whack. So why can't people stop talking about it? Like that creepy kid from Back To The Future III.

Or the Priest in The Little Mermaid.

My Pink Elephant is nothing like these... it's a girl. The one I mentioned in the costume. But everyone gets something to rack their focus. And I'm on the outs anyway. Life is about to get really interesting.

Pink Elephant:
1. Thunder Road (Cover) - Tortoise and Bonnie "Prince" Billy
2. All For Myself - Sufjan Stevens
3. The Giant Of Illinois - Andrew Bird
4. Open Sea Theme - Sven Libaek
5. Everybody Here Is A Cloud - Cloud Cult
6. Chain Of Missing Links - The Books
7. Pieces Form The Whole - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
8. Black Guitar - Blonde Redhead
9. The Seedling - Bonnie "Prince" Billy
10. I'm A Fly In A Sunbeam - The Flaming Lips
11. Occident - Joanna Newsom
12. Black Tables - Other Lives
13. Suburban War - The Arcade Fire
14. In The Ether - The Who
15. Kissing Underwater - Moonbabies
16. The Great White Ocean - Antony & The Johnsons
17. Vesuvius - Sufjan Stevens
18. On A Good Day - Joanna Newsom
19. Dancing In The Sky - Moonbabies