Rewatching Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game for a recent Movie Quote of the Day put me in the mind of Boy George on account of the singer’s cover of the Dave Berry song which gave the film its title. Boy George in turn set me off on a whole nostalgic early-to-mid-eighties MTV music jag which included a lot of songs just like the one above: “I Melt with You” by Modern English, famously used in Martha Coolidge’s ’80s cult classic Valley Girl.

And that’s all from me this week. A winter cold put me out of the running for anything new this weekend so it’s your turn. Has anyone seen anything worth talking about since last weekend?

10 Responses to “Watervalleycoolergirl”

  1. Yep Craig, this one is most infectious as I was just again reminded when listening to it again!

    Lucille and I (with Broadway Bob for two and Sammy for one) saw the following this week:

    Hitchcock *** 1/2 (Monday night) Union Square Cinemas

    Samsara *** (Friday night) The Picture Show Theater (Pelham, New York)

    Mea Maxima Culpa **** 1/2 (Tuesday night) Film Forum

    A Royal Affair **** 1/2 (Sunday morning) Paris Theater

    Killing Them Softly ** 1/2 (Saturday night) Union Square Cinemas

    Nikolai Arce’s fascinating period costume drama A ROYAL WEDDING is a Danish film that deftly weaves romance, court intrigue and tragedy in a picturesque tapestry that recalls “The Madness of King George.” Set in 17th century Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, it features a batty king who marries his English cousin, but erratic behavior leads to his wife’s affair with his trusted German councul. This intimate epic is one of the year’s most beautifully lensed films, and a lovely score completes the deal. Mads Mikkelson and Alicia Vikander are superlative as the cheaters. Certainly A ROYAL WEDDING contends from a year-end ‘best of’ list.

    HITCHCOCK, a rather entertaining look at the directing icon’s making of “Psycho” isn’t always effective, but it’s better than some out there are saying. For the most part Anthony Hopkins is most amusing as Hitch, and Helen Mirren is classy as Alma Reville, the director’s beloved spouse. The battles with the censors and the audience reaction to the horror classic were funny, and the film included a good number of facts that surrounded the production. It’s cheesy at times too, but it trumps “The Girl” and is mostly enjoyable.

    Lucille and I traveled 11 miles to Westchester, New York Saturday night to watch SAMSARA in the quaint ‘Picture House Theatre’ in the town of Pelham. The film was not playing in their main auditorium (which was showing “The Intouchables”) but in their 14 seat “screening room”, a new addition that provides blu-ray projection on a 16 ft screen and comfortable reclining sofa chairs. This theater and rustic environs were quite a find, and a nice Italian restaurant to boot! SAMSARA was often captivating and meditative, and I thought the soundtrack contained some sublime and haunting passages including the employment of the harp, organ, chorals and a talented African female. I didn’t find that everything worked throughout, but that’s the risk when the approach though discerning is till somewhat random. The disturbing sequences of conveyor line dismantling of food products from their sources recalls a recent documentary from Denmark about the systematic killing and packaging of farm animals and “Food Inc”., though the manner in which these sequences are presented in SAMSARA is more in the ‘fast lane’ spirit of the Italian “Mondo Cane”, with it’s off-the-beacon-track visual montages. I thought Fricke’s previous “Baraka” was more mystical and awe-inspiring, but I like the director’s attention in SAMSARA to visual order and how crowd-filling scenes are united by color, movement and shape. There’s no denying that there is an epic scope to this melting pot, and there are images here that become enveloping, intoxicating and mesmerizing. I am aware that the very best way to see this film would be on the very big screen but the blu-ray projection and the intimacy of the experience at least trumps any home viewing. I wasn’t fully engaged with SAMSARA throughout, but the flashes of brilliance and the still unique presentation is one I don’t regret availing myself of.

    Andrew Dominick’s long-awaited follow-up to “The Assassination of Jesse James” is a noirish off-shoot titled KILLING THEM SOFTLY, a Brad Pitt starrer that actually shows the actor impressive against type, and both James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins quite good in support. The sickening violence committed against Ray Liotta’s character is way over the top, and stylistically over-emphasized, and the economic theme that features opening and closing Obama speeches are as pretentious as hell, and the film’s metaphorical undercurrent never quite jives with this talky gangster film that offers retaliation a la mode. It is very hard to but Brad Pitt’s killer as a political intellectual though.

    MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD (translation: “through my own immense fault) is a wrenchingly powerful documentary by Alex Gibney about the abuse of deaf young boys at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee from 1950 to 1974. that began over fifty years ago by Father Lawrence Murphy. The director employs uses voiceover and subtitles for the victims’ stories, but accentuates the audio for telling re-enactment. It doesn’t require sign language to translate the pain and humiliating committed at an impressionable age by a serial predator. Some vignettes are deeply disturbing, like one in which a victim says he was chosen by Father Murphy while watching Bambi in a dark theater. He confesses that he felt Father Murphy bumping the back of his head for attention. Many years afterward, he realized that it was Murphy’s erection he felt against the back of his neck. Others tell tales of how Murphy masturbated them in the confessionals. One man remembers Father Murphy telling him that ejaculation relieved him of his sins. Chris Cooper and Ethan Hawke are among the voice cast, and Richard Sipe, a former Benedictine monk and therapist reports the nefarious findings. in the end the film is deeply affecting and a rightful condemnation against Catholic authories who attempted to downsize or overtly cover the crimes. Father Murphy, who died in 1998 was forced into retirement, but was never charged with with what is now estimated as nearly 200 individual cases of sex abuse.

  2. On Friday I caught an old, minor psychological noir on TCM that starred Laraine Day and Robert Mitchum, among others, called The Locket. The most remarkable thing about it was how they used flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks (and then one more flashback within that at one point) to tell the story. Not the best I’ve seen but interesting with a reveal at the end that, though not surprising, is striking in the way it’s presented.

    On Saturday I saw Lincoln again with some friends. It’s even better on second viewing. This really is such a well-crafted film in every way.

  3. Nothing new this week — repeat viewings of Lincoln and Skyfall, with the former, in particular, retaining its deep impact.

    I also finally caught up with Muriel’s Wedding, which I found quite fun — and good. I was surprised that Collette gained 40 pounds in like 7 weeks for this role, which is pretty extreme if you ask me.

  4. I gleefully concur with Pierre and Alison on LINCOLN, which is surely one of the very best films of 2012, and one that will get better and better with time. Our school conducted a field trip on November 21st with all the seventh and eighth graders attending. Many of the kids were stoked to talk about it afterwards.

  5. The publicity for Lincoln – which seems to have fallen into place quite well – contains the narrative about how Spielberg went out of his way to exercise “restraint” (that’s the word used) in all aspects of making the film as opposed to his usual practice of going a bit overboard to tug at the audience’s heartstrings. For example, there one clip showing him deciding when and where to utilize the score, with “restraint” the byword. It’s gotten to the point where restraint has become a commodity – a selling point. I venture to say that all this restraint has become a bit excessive. :)

  6. Sam, “rather entertaining” is probably the exact right take on Hitchcock. I was much harder on it, but partly because I think the director (and book) deserve a much better film. This is almost a sitcom level of entertainment. All it needed was a laugh track.

    Interesting to hear your thoughts on Samsara. I’ve heard mostly great things about it and need to catch up on it right away. Ditto A Royal Affair… seemingly a likely Oscar nom?

    Alison, any minor film is elevated by Bob Mitchum! No? I love that Lincoln is a movie that gets better with repeated viewings. So many movies are exactly the opposite.

    Pierre, how did Skyfall hold up for you on a second viewing? Did it wear thin or is it still looking great? I’m surprised you hadn’t seen Muriel’s Wedding for some reason.

  7. Craig, Mitchum is definitely the actor who stands out in the movie. It’s an interesting noir. I can see why it never got the grand status that other noirs have gotten but it did have an interesting approach. And yes, always worth watching him.

  8. They can’t all be masterpieces, but then they can’t all be Mitchum either.

  9. Craig, my second viewing of Skyfall didn’t have the exhilaration that accompanies the discovery of first-time experience. But exhilaration indeed was there. Naturally I was able to find the time to deconstruct it in my mind and better see the process that went the making of the film. That said, I enjoyed the performances of Bardem and Craig more than I did first time around. I still consider it to be a perfect movie. Note that I said “movie,” not film. This is “B” material lifted to “A” level because the talent involved were at the top of their game — because the screenplay and direction were good enough to allow them to do so.

    On the other hand, there’s no comparison to my second viewing of Lincoln, for example, because that material has deeper roots.

  10. I’ve really grown to like Craig’s minimalist performance as Bond and Bardem was a hoot.

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