Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let's go to a family movie and look for gay subtext!

So I watched 3 movies today I'd never seen, trying to catch up on my Netflix. One from 1949, one from 1983 and one from 2006. The first of these was White Heat.

I honestly didn't see many James Cagney movies growing up, as my dad found him especially loathsome. I say "found," as he seems to have mellowed on him in recent years. Either that or I made the 'nog too strong over xmas, as he was actually recommending a few Cagney films to me.

But anyhoo, I've seen parts of this one before, but I really enjoyed the whole thing. It holds up great, with some really clever moments and a nice strong ending. Vaguely demented ending, one might say. Still a really tight film, especially if you're after some good tense gangster action. I could even see owning this one.

Followed that up with Risky Business, which I somehow missed growing up despite it coming from my era. I watched it at Alex's recommendation, and I'm really glad I had some warning that it is completely unlike most 80s movies we know. And particularly from all the iconic crap you see over the years:

you would have NO IDEA that it's a little bit darker and certainly a lot odder than most films of this uh, genre? It took some unexpected turns throughout and I really hope to god there wasn't a moral lesson in there somewhere because I believe I infact learned to be less moral from watching that movie. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (Just kidding... *cough*)

And despite my standard loathing of Tom Cruise (except in A Few Good Men, he is totally perfect in that) I didn't really mind him here. He can do a good job on occasion, it's just that he's so often horrendously miscast when producers seem to think he can do more than those one or two notes and GUESS WHAT. No.

I don't need to own this one, but I did enjoy the overall strangeness of it. It was somewhat disjointed plot- and pace-wise, but hey, it kinda worked for me. It ended up being unusual, which was surprising since by the time you get around to a lot of these iconic films they've been so heavily mimicked and ripped off that it's stale before you start.

After that, I finished up with a German film called Four Minutes. This could have been really eye-glazing feel-good mainstream tripe that I'd still have secretly liked for the piano playing, but it, too, took some unexpected turns and stayed fairly dark and surprising.

First of all, hooray to see Jasmin Tabatabai getting work. She was the lead singer in one of my all-time favorite flicks, Bandits, and she has a minor (but key) role in this. But what is it with Jasmin and prison movies? She does her fiery bitch thing again (only, uh, no good soul this time) and we're again in a women's prison. But this story revolves around two severely socially maladjusted people. One is the piano teacher and the other, one of the prisoners who used to be a child prodigy, playing piano internationally. She now has anger issues, to say the least.

Sure, there's some of the expected bonding moments, but unlike most Hollywood movies, not only does it not make everything better, in the end they are both still severely maladjusted people (for reasons drawn out over the film, naturally) and the film is very consistent with not trying to pretend this is something easily fixed. And it's not the cutesy "I'm shy" type of maladjusted, it's far more "I don't want to hear you play that Negro music" type of socially wrong. And that's coming from the piano teacher.

I thought it started to maybe fall apart a little near the end but then it quickly composed itself (ha ha) and made up for a little sprawling with a very good ending. Definitely recommend and wouldn't mind owning.

And today is Golden Globes day! My dork is showing, I know. First of all, a very special fuck you to Fox, for programming the 2-hour season premiere of 24 right up alongside the awards. (Or as dad likes to call it, my "right-wing propaganda show.") I'm not caught up to this season yet but it's close, so I was going to have Tivo do its thing for me. Wrong again! I guess Kiefer and the show weren't up for an award this year (though looking back it appears they have been nearly every year in the past). Bitter much, Fox?

Anyhoo. Really looking forward to the awards tonight. We all like some hot press conference action, truly, but last year was a bit dry. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go squeeze in about 9 films before 7 pm at the movie theatre...

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