August brought my movie watching stats back up to the familiar number of 16, and about half of those were really interesting movies. The other half…from really terrible (The Joneses-Derrick Borte-USA-2009) to old favorites (Dazed and Confused-Richard Linklater-USA-1993), the other half is interesting to some extent, but I don’t feel inspired to write much about them. So I’m just going to stick to the movies that impacted me in a more significant way.
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands – Bruno Barreto – Brazil – 1976
I read this book last October and enjoyed it overall. A friend of mine had a copy of the movie, and finally got around to loaning it to me. In a moment of density, I couldn’t figure out how to get the subtitles to play though, so I ended up watching 3/4 of the movie without them. I don’t speak Portuguese, but I got the gist of the story fairly easily, as it followed the plot of the book closely. The gorgeous Sonia Braga as Dona Flor was brilliant, and the rest of the casting was spot on. The locations were great, and as a movie the plot moved along a whole lot more quickly – my major complaint about the book was how it dragged its feet at times. Overall, quite enjoyable, and it was an added bonus to get to listen to a foreign language without the distraction of subtitles (even though I couldn’t understand a word!)
Breathless – Jean-Luc Godard – France – 1960
My professor of film and movie nut friend is obsessed with Godard. I rarely see him without a biography or book about Godard’s films tucked into his bag. I finally got around to watching one of these famous movies, and I was intrigued but not blown away. I’ll have to sit down with my friend and get him to tell me just what it so special about Godard! I loved the Paris locals in this movie, and Jean-Paul Belmondo as the young car thief and accidental police killer Michel Poiccard was fascinating to watch. As was Jean Seberg as the American girl Michel is trying to talk into going away with him to Italy. The straightforward yet contorted plot of the film was unlike other things I’ve seen, but still – I wasn’t overly awed by it all. A little more knowledge of what Godard is famous for will go a long way in this situation, and I do intend to pursue the matter.
Alexandra – Aleksandr Sokurov – Russia – 2007
I’ve been astonished by every Sokurov movie I’ve watched – all three of them (Russian Ark and The Sun being the others). He’s such a creative storyteller, and he goes at things from an angle you don’t expect. This is the tale of a grandmother who travels to visit her grandson at his army camp inside Chechnya. She sees how he is living, who he hangs out with, and tries to ascertain if he is all right. It’s a simple enough story of random moments of friendship and human connection, and also a devastating picture of lives that know little else besides war and fighting and unrest. Visually drab but at the same time vividly seen, it’s a quiet, sad film, but with moments of hope and even wild happiness that make for something quite special.
I know that this isn’t nearly 1/2 of 16 movies, but I can only talk about how much I adore Love Actually so many times, and get gleeful over Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in public only once or twice a year…! I did watch Bubble Boy for the first time and absolutely adored it (my Jake Gyllenhaal crush can only get larger!) and I was flabbergast by Bruce Campbell in BubbaHo-Tep – watch this for pure wild weirdness! An excellent month of movie watching, but one well over by now, so moving on….