Movie capsule reviews, 7/26

I’ve been watching movies!

A Night to Remember: My sister and I watched this film about the sinking of the Titanic as a black comedy. It worked! In near-real time, a series of mental lapses spelled the ship’s downfall. The chronicling of these domino-ing mistakes reminded me of The Wire. The script lays out the failure of the Modern World a little thickly, but the brisk second half and the still-impressive scenes of the tipped dining room made my viewing worthwhile.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: I wasn’t expecting much from this, and I didn’t get much, but there are at least two noteworthy aspects of this film. The first is that the plot (let’s make a movie [in this case, a pornography] at my dead-end job) basically retells writer/director Kevin Smith’s own origin story. The second is that the soundtrack choices are superb. The Pixies’ “Hey” colors a scene of sexual jealousy, while Blondie’s “Dreaming” illustrates the imaginative pull of infatuation.

Samurai I–Musashi Miyamoto: my thoughts are of the “wait-and-see” variety with this one, as it’s the first of a trilogy and ends on a cliffhanger. Once again Toshiro Mifune electrifies as a wild fighter in feudal japan.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974): I love the myth of crumbling ’70s New York as narrated in musical histories, that “Drop Dead” headline, and movies like this. The grime and deep colors really pop; take a look at Walter Matthau’s yellow tie, for instance. The film, about a hostage crisis on a subway car, puts its burning questions right out in the open: how do the criminals think they’re going to get away with this? which of the hostages is secretly an undercover cop? The pacing is watertight–it’s another movie that takes place in near-real time. Walter Matthau is wonderfully understated as the harried subway cop who realizes what’s going on just a little later than we’d expect him to.

Metropolitan: I sold this movie to my sister as Hal Ashby does Gossip Girl. We follow the man character as he infiltrates a coterie of young rich Manhattanites. As in Ashby movies, the characters each have inner lives that we’re forced to ferret out for much of the movie. And it doesn’t hurt that central character Tom Townsend resembles a young Bud Cort. There’s something about seeing young people act like adults that puts me on edge (I think it’s jealousy). The dialogue can sting at times, because like all young people, the characters say a lot of stupid things smartly. If you like Ashby, Wes Anderson, or Noah Baumbach this is right up your alley.

1 Response to “Movie capsule reviews, 7/26”

  1. 1 Matt Thomas August 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    “Do you know the French film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie? When I first heard that title I thought, finally, someone is going to tell the truth about the bourgeoisie. What a disappointment.”

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