It’s been fun…

Posted in |. on May 30, 2014 by chrisfilm

..but all good things must come to an end (at least temporarily). These days, keeping up with this blog feels more like a chore than a hobby. That, coupled with my inability to see even one movie a week, has brought me to the conclusion that it’s time to call it quits, at least for now.

I will still watch movies as I can, and hopefully keep up with the latest and greatest as they are released and/or made available to me. And perhaps come next Chrisfilm Awards season, I can pick this back up, but I can’t make any promises. So with that being said, it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed having people read my writing and discuss it on occasion, but it’s au revoir for now.

walking away

EDIT: Apparently that was my 600th post. What a way to go!

Under the Skin (Glazer, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 8/10 on May 15, 2014 by chrisfilm

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

But Saul [...] went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?  –Acts 9:1-5

What an odd and enchanting story. My soft spot for sci-fi is showing here and the blend of science fiction elements with art house technical and emotional presentation makes for an eerie and poignant experience. Johansson is fantastic in her nearly silent role – flirtatious to lure men into her lair, seductive to keep them engrossed, impassive after leading them to their end. And her emotional awakening to compassion and love is a beautifully quiet set of events culminated by an oddly tragic ending. And while you can truly sense her soaking in of the world around her like you can in no other alien movie, the most impressive aspect of this entire experience was the technical clinic Glazer puts on. Part shaky cam, tight framed, soft lit intimate cinematography; part boldly drastic, semi-surreal, high energy rush of visual and aural aesthetic. Highlighted by shocking trap Johansson sets for her victims – the mysterious black room, the way to men emotionlessly sink into the floor, the hypnotic pulsating music – a grandiose technical bravado. One of the most interesting films of the year, no doubt, and one that lingers in the mind long after.  8.5/10

under the skin

Last Train from Gun Hill (J. Sturges, 1959)

Posted in 1950s, 8/10, American Classic Western on May 10, 2014 by chrisfilm

Last Train from Gun Hill (John Sturges, 1959)

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.  –Leviticus 19:15

First of all, this is a daring film for 1959. A white protagonist married to an Indian woman. A somewhat explicit attack on this woman resulting in a rape and murder. A lot of very open talk of another character’s life as a prostitute. While much of this is still tame compared to what you can find in movies today, for this time period, it was a bit jarring. It helps the film’s atmosphere tremendously though. This is a hard-nosed section of the far west and no one is living cookie cutter western lives. Additionally, it makes the relationship between the two older protagonists all the more interesting. A relationship built on respect and friendship knifed by a horrible situation that throws each into a heartbreaking set of circumstances. You can’t blame either for reacting the way they do and while justice is warranted, it’s not easy to accept. The film’s plot does drag a bit once it is fully set up, so the momentum of such a grand beginning stutters as it goes. But it comes to a conclusion that fits perfectly and is a solid film that’s not one to miss.  8.25/10

last train from gun hill

Joe (D.G. Green, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 8/10 on May 5, 2014 by chrisfilm

Joe (David Gordon Green, 2013)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.  –Proverbs 28:13

A comeback for David Gordon Green? Well, as I’ve already stated, I pretty much considered Prince Avalanche Green’s comeback, so I wasn’t as down on him as some at this point. But, yes, this is even closer still to his earlier works than anything in recent years. Joe captures the lives of a certain sect of individuals; it’s harsh and it’s brash but it’s truth. Using several locals to take on the smaller acting parts, Green found a real gem in Gary Poulter as the drunk, abusive father. Poulter was a local homeless man (who actually died on the streets not long after filming has wrapped) who brought to life his character with such natural grace and affection. Sure, he was playing a despicable human being, but at the same time somehow made him unobtrusively sympathetic instead of a stereotype. (Nothing is explicitly stated, but the way he handles himself in certain situations both publicly and privately wreaks of an upbringing of extreme neglect.)

joe

I’m glad Green was able to bring this character to the screen because, to be perfectly honest, the title character’s issues and the main mentor/mentee relationship was a bit underdeveloped. To be quite frank, I didn’t follow Joe’s character arc at all. Maybe in Green’s attempt to make Joe flawed, he went too far the other direction and made him a silly mess with no real breaking point. It was an odd presentation. Still, much of this flaw is covered by the brilliant depiction of other characters and the mostly spot on tone and atmosphere that accompany. I love these representations of rural life even when they do focus on hardships.  8.25/10

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Peckinpah, 1974)

Posted in 1970s, 8/10 on April 23, 2014 by chrisfilm

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah, 1974)

But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.  –Jeremiah 22:17

 The reddish gleam of sun-soaked amber hair resting on an adjacent partner’s straightened legs while fingers tickle the boldly green blades of freshly sprouted grass makes for only a few seconds of filmtime, but it’s the brief sense of peaceful harmony that seems to last forever in a film full of frantic action. While a man hunts the head of an already deceased acquaintance, around every corner hides an unexpected set of circumstances, whether it be varying forms of human roadblock always ending in violence or coming to terms with a past love triangle. The slope becomes steeper and more slippery the further he climbs despite the initial vision of a clear and smooth path. And the sacrifices he makes along the way, of the life he never thought was enough or of the principles he may have started with, tear him apart the further he falls. I think about the moment where time slowed down and all was right, where the wind slid through the leaves across the gravel road and over the hilly horizon, and wonder if he looked back on that moment and thought about what it would have been like to stay in it forever.  7.75/10

bring me the head of alfredo garcia

River’s Edge (T. Hunter, 1986)

Posted in 1980s, 7/10 on April 16, 2014 by chrisfilm

River’s Edge (Tim Hunter, 1986)

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.  –Proverbs 22:24-25

Not quite the troubled teenage life film I thought it was going to be. Exaggerated in both the presentation of youth’s passive attitude and in the performances of the actor’s involved, it’s far from ‘real’ and instead lives in the realm of realistic surrealism. (Yes I just made up that oxymoronic term!) It really is bizarre watching the mostly passive reaction to learning one of their friends has killed another. There is definite internal moral wrestling occurring in almost every character, but it really does not detract from the important things like when they are getting their next hit, or who they are going to make out with next. Hunter’s odd and over-the-top depiction of troubled youth is neither completely successful nor a failure; I just couldn’t quite break its outer shell.  6.75/10

river's edge

Authors Anonymous (Kanner, 2014)

Posted in 2010s, 6/10 on April 7, 2014 by chrisfilm

Authors Anonymous (Ellie Kanner, 2014)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  –1 Thessalonians 5:11

I fully expected this to be awful, so I was pleasently surprised when it was truly humorous and uninsulting. While the fake documentary approach is becoming a bit overused, it works here because they truly stick to it. Side characters question the presence of the cameras, attempts are made to privatize conversations; it’s just an all-around good effort to maintain the documentary atmosphere. And while the humor isn’t overly intelligent or real-life, it’s not crude or forced either. I laughed, I enjoyed myself, I rolled my eyes at the awful ending. But, hey, it’s far and away better than the few high selling comedies that I’ve had the pain of sitting through.  5.75/10

authors anonymous

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