Posted by: Sally Ingraham | March 4, 2010

Movie Mayhem: Feb. 18th-28th

My dear old computer died last Saturday night, after I had written my post about The Road, but unfortunately while I was in the midst of writing my Movie Mayhem post… Since then, in the scramble to see about fixing it, and the struggle to decide which new computer to buy, this movie review post has been weighing on my mind. Ridiculous. So here I am borrowing the work computer so I can post the thing, and have done with it…!!

I have some extremes here – an overall good collection of movies, framed by a great one and a really terrible one. Lots of interesting stuff for sure.

The Hurt Locker – Kathryn Bigelow – USA – 2008
This movie has been getting a lot of attention lately, since it is plugged into the Oscar race in a serious way, and as I found the attention is pretty deserving. It is a really interesting look at the life of a soldier, focusing on what makes a particular bomb demolition expert tick. I can’t say much about it’s accuracy or true-to-life-ness, but as a film it was relentless in its vision. While never being scary, per say, it was knuckle-whiteningly tense. Jeremy Renner’s performance was quite good. I wasn’t completely blown away, but it was certainly one of the more intriguing ‘war movies’ that I’ve ever seen.

nineNine – Rob Marshall – USA – 2009
The really terrible movie I mentioned? This is it. Based on a film by Federico Fellini that was turned into a musical and now back into a film (why??) this was an absolute disaster – garbled, nonsensical musical numbers with terrible lyrics and boring instrumentation, mixed with a who cares tale about a famous film director who’s personal life is falling apart while no progress is made on his highly anticipated new film. A pretty, and large cast, only made matters worse since my opinion of Penelope Cruz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, and Sophia Loren among others only plummeted based on their involvement in this production. I’m not incredibly feminist, but I found the portrayal of women in this nauseatingly degrading, and with it’s tag line – Be Italian – what, pray tell, is the film’s opinion of Italian women? Horrible movie.

A Far Off Place – Mikael Salomon – USA – 1993
This movie haunted me for many years – it was one that I vaguely remembered watching and thought about frequently for some reason, but couldn’t figure out what it was. Then I read A Story Like the Wind by Laurens van der Post, and it all came back to me. One of Reece Witherspoon’s earliest roles, it is an epic tale of adventure and survival in the Kalahari Desert, told fairly well. Now I just need to read the book, which is the sequel to A Story Like the Wind, and see how good a job Mikael Salomon actually did!

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Terry Gilliam – UK – 2009
I felt generally “meh” about this film. Granted, it was visually stimulating, but for all the pretty colors and bizarre storyline and Tom Waits as the devil, I found it pretty boring. I wanted to be more engaged with it, so ultimately it was disappointing. Still, I’m glad Gilliam finished it, and I do feel the need to re-watch Time Bandits for some reason! 🙂

orlandoOrlando – Sally Potter – UK – 1992
This was the great movie that I mentioned. Oddly enough, I liked it much more than the book! Under Potter’s direction it translated surprisingly well into a movie, and while I had worried that Tilda Swinton would be too chilly to play Orlando, I actually liked her very much. The music was great, and the way the familiar events of the book were strung together was perfect. There were some modifications that were not entirely justified in my mind, but I found myself less up-in-arms about that because the movie just worked so well for me. I finished it with a feeling of total satisfaction. Excellent movie making indeed! 🙂

Paths of Glory – Stanley Kubrick – USA – 1957
I’m getting ever closer to finishing watching all the Kubrick movies! This one was another very interesting look at war, this time through the eyes of a French troop during WW1. It showed how the gritty work of war, suffered by the men in the trenches, is often merely the political maneuverings of the generals and other top officials. It’s a sad, frustrating movie about the court marshal and execution of three soldiers picked at random for so-called ‘cowardice’ after a disastrous battle that makes the generals look bad in the papers. Told in a straightforward way, but with a careful build up of tension, the movie ends on a rather profound note. It lacks the Hollywood happy ending, for which I am grateful, and finishes with something so much better. Excellent work from Kubrick once again.

There!! Now my mind can be at rest. The new computer doesn’t come until next week, so if I don’t pop round to all my favorite blogs as regularly don’t imagine the fault lies with you! This break from the computer is good for me, right? So they tell me…! 🙂


  1. Orlando was nearly perfect for me. That is until the ill-cast Billy Zane showed up on the screen. WTF? But Swinton and Quentin Crisp were both outstanding.

    • I think because I had been warned about Billy Zane, his appearance wasn’t so shocking. He is certainly the weakest element of the movie – and his presense begs the desparing question “Why??” – but fortunately he is a small part of the whole, and it is, as you say, nearly perfect. 🙂

  2. Aww, too bad about your computer! Hope a new one shows up soon.

    I REALLY hated the Billy Zane part of Potter’s Orlando, and (as I think I ranted about to Frances?) the trick she does where she have the characters directly address the camera kind of bugs me. However, it’s definitely cinematically gorgeous, and there were parts I thought were really well-done. Quentin Crisp was perfect! And I pretty much love everything Tilda Swinton since I found out that she collaborated with Cornelia Parker (one of my favorite visual artists) on an art project that consisted of Swinton lying asleep in a glass box all day in the Tate Modern. It sucks that that Billy Zane part comes toward the end because I’ve watched the film a few times and halfway through I’m always thinking “This is great! Why was I angry toward this movie again?” And then I remember.

    • Uck, I hate Zane’s puffy lips and limpid eyes… He’s just so wrong for the part. Why did you do it, Potter, why?? But he doesn’t ruin the movie for me, and while I found the looking straight at the camera a trifle pretencious I also kind of liked it! I can definitely relate to your irritation though. Seemingly inexplicable choices/changes made by directors adapting a book for the screen are one of my most violently felt pet peeves.

  3. Oh no Nine is that bad? Daniel Day Lewis is in so few things if he’s in a terrible film it can be years before he’s in another one

    • In my opinion Nine is that bad, but there were lots of people who came to see it at the theater where I work who liked it. I wasn’t the only person who found it atrocious though. Like I said, I’m emberrassed that Daniel Day Lewis was even in it…so unfortunate.

  4. You have confirmed my decision not to go and see Nine! Thank you! I have been debating about The Hurt Locker for ages – it sounds brilliant but I’m not sure I am up for the trauma.

    • The Hurt Locker is definitely intense. But it is interesting filmmaking, and story telling – something Nine decidedly lacked!! 🙂

  5. It is not hard for me to imagine liking the film Orlando more than the book; at all! 😉

    I LOVE the poster for Nine: “This season be Italian” for sure! For ever!

  6. […] smarting from the appallingly bad Nine, and having been only somewhat mollified by watching Federico […]

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