Monday, October 10, 2005

Film 2005

So far, this has been a pretty weak year for movies, or at least for American movies, because it usually takes a year or two for stuff from Asia and the rest of the world to make it over here. Other than Revenge of the Sith, there hasn't been one film out this year that I'd consider a truly great film. Crash, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Serenity, these have been good, but nothing essential. And more than that, there haven't even been that many films that I've wanted to see.

However, in the past couple of weeks, we've been starting to get the awards season films coming out and I'm suddenly flooded with films that I want to see. I'm on break this weekend, and I'll be heading to the city to see Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's Mirrormask. I'm usually a bit hesitant about the young person transported to fantasy realm genre, it just seems very 80s. I remember even as a kid noticing the dated clothes and hairstyles of the people in them. However, a few weeks ago I watched Labyrinth and really enjoyed it. It was extremely 80s, but strangely, I love the datedness of the fashion now, it only enhances the story. Bowie was great, and it was cool to see a young Jennifer Connely. Some of the muppets worked, some didn't, but the fantasy ball sequence made the whole film worth seeing, with its wondeful masks and Bowie music. Between Eyes Wide Shut and this, there's just something about crazy masks.

And that brings us back to Mirrormask, which is being touted as a thematic successor to Labyrinth. The trailer's amazing and Neil is one of my favorite authors, even if this film does seem to indulge in some of the weaker points of his writing. But it seems to McKean who's the real star here, the visuals do an uncanny job of capturing the feeling of his comic art and design work.

I'm also hoping to get to Thumbsucker when I'm home. This is a film firmly planted in the quirky indie teen dramedy genre, and I usually enjoy those. It's got a great cast, and Air named a song after the director. However, the biggest draw for me is the soundtrack by The Polyphonic Spree. I got the soundtrack album, which is great, and I'm really interested to see how their music plays in a film.

Next week sees the release of two new films I want to see, though both have rather negative advance buzz. One is Domino, whose trailers have been a gloriously post modern, quick cut assault of off beat action. I think action movies usually work better when centered around a female protagonist, because it creates more interesting themes. If a man is going around as a bounty hunter, it's accepted, if a woman is, it raises questions, and there are very legitimate questions about why anyone would want to go around killing people. I'd like things to reach the point where people inherently question the reason why men would kill too, but we're not there yet.

Along with this, films with female action heroes are frequently more focused around creating realistic, or at least emotionally alive characters, as in the case of Kill Bill II, or on TV, Alas or Buffy. Of course there are exceptions, like Catwoman or Elektra. And it's not to say that you can't have good action films centered around men, Angel is a character who's just as emotionally complex as Buffy, it's just that generally your male action hero is motivated solely by either a family member who's kidnapped or a family member who's been killed, and that's what passes for character development.

And if you consider the fact that Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman at times look uncannily alike, this is closest we'll get to a followup to Leon. The trailers promise a quick cut, varying film stock, crazy visual film and I'm hoping that the finished product lives up to that.

Also on Friday, Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown is released. This is a film with awful advance buzz, but I'm willing to give anything Crowe does a look. Almost Famous is one of my favorite films, and I loved Vanilla Sky. However, Elizabethtown seems to have the same plot as Garden State, and I feel like that film covered the territory perfectly. So we'll see, that one may be a wait for the DVD.

Capote is something else I'd want to see. Philip Seymour Hoffman's one of my favorite actors, and I've read In Cold Blood twice, so I'd like to see how the book came about.

So, we'll see how much of this I get to. Reviews will be forthcoming.

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