Thursday, June 25, 2009

Talhotblond

On June 15, I saw the documentary talhotblond at the Seattle International Film Festival.

To read my review, visit Cinebanter.com.

Monday, June 15, 2009

North

On Saturday I saw North at the Seattle International Film Festival.

To read my review, visit Cinebanter.com.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Life in Ruins

Tonight I saw My Life in Ruins, starring Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss.

As a half-Greek girl with a father from the Old Country, and a big fan of the star's former film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I felt it was my civic duty to give this shameless chick flick a chance. Boy, was I wrong.

When we meet Georgia (Vardalos) she's already miserable—she's moved to Athens to teach at the University and been laid off. To make ends meet she took a job as a tour guide and now tries to impart her infinite architectural and historical wisdom on groups of tourists who would rather just get a cone of ice cream.

After naming off the stereotypical people that come on her tours (the "ugly" Americans, the divorcées, the old people, etc.) they all load on to the bus and from there on out, we know what's coming at every turn.

There's the not-so-funny guy Irv (Dreyfuss) that annoys everyone, a British couple with an angst-filled teenager who wants to go to the beach, drunken Australians who are there to just be...drunk, and a bus driver that gets more handsome as the tour progresses.

Nia is charming, and the gorgeous shots of Greek ruins and seascapes are lovely to see, but the love story was too predictable to be satisfying, and the jokes throughout just weren't very funny.

It would've been better had they shown instead of told.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

Last night I saw The Brothers Bloom, starring Rachel Weisz and Adrien Brody.

The brothers in the title are Bloom (Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo). They've made their livings as scheming con artists and now Bloom is ready to retire and "go straight." But Stephen, who is more addicted to the thrill of the lifestyle than perhaps the money, doesn't want to stop and convinces Bloom to embark on one last job. This assignment is where we meet Penelope (Weisz)—an eccentric rich girl who seems to have no friends or acquaintances.

Sounds fun, right? Well, it starts out that way...and even shows promise in the spirited introduction of our heroine (and her many quirks), but unfortunately fizzles after we see the same story played out over and over again. You think you're on to the con, but you're not—but wait you are! Repeat. And again.

It does get old.

There's also a minor love story between Penelope and Bloom that could've developed into something much more intense if given ample attention, but since it doesn't it's hard to care about whether or not they're really in love or whether or not they'll live happily ever after.

Ruffalo's Stephen is charming, but he's almost too charming and you'd think that a con man as successful as he would be less (overtly) slimy.

All in all, the film was a disappointing attempt from a promising filmmaker (Brick's Rian Johnson) and a great cast of characters.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

American Collectors

Last night I saw the documentary American Collectors.

Everyone collects something—for me it's U2 magazines, Beatles memorabelia, movie postcards and Coca-Cola branded items for the kitchen. When I was younger it was seashells, anything with dolphins on it, and Garbage Pail Kids cards. "It" was always important to me at the time.

The degree of which I collect these things is what would have excluded me from being a subject in this film. I don't have enough volume or enough passion for the merchandise to remotely qualify.

The folks here have an incurable compulsion to gather as many of—whatever—as their pocketbook will allow. They all have different reasons for doing it (toys bring back happy memories from childhood; loves the artistic aspect of antique handbags), but the common thread that you hear throughout the narrative is the thrill of the hunt. The joy of finding something you've never been able to find before or making an altogether new discovery.

I must confess, I was first drawn to this film because one of its stars is a personal pal of mine. One who happens to call himself "Durandy" because of his love of the band Duran Duran. I'm also fond of the fab five, and I'm somewhat of a groupie in other circles, so once our paths crossed we became fast friends. Over the past few years, I watched Andy (I usually call him by his real name) continue to build the most impressive collection of Duran Duran posters in the world. He takes meticulous care of them, organizing them into a climate controlled storage unit dedicated to their purpose. Because of his desire to share his treasures with others through public exhibits and showings, the passion has led him to personal encounters with the band, who applaud him for his dedication and spirit. Durandy maintains a full-time job, has a loving girlfriend, and a comfortable home, so his "collection" doesn't rule his life, it only enhances it.

In some of the other cases, the audience has to wonder if the collectors aren't sacrificing basic needs to satisfy their cravings. One gentleman cannot conduct the interview inside his trailer because the camera crew wouldn't fit inside—his collection takes up too much space. Another man has hundreds of musical instruments, yet he doesn't know how to play any of them.

What the film really ends up saying is that collecting is like any hobby. If it begins to interfere with the productivity of your life (putting food on the table, paying rent, having relationships), the obsession has gone too far. If not, you're just eccentric (and probably fascinating to talk to).

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To learn more about American Collectors, click here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Drag Me to Hell

Last night I saw Drag Me to Hell, starring Alison Lohan and Justin Long.

It was the topic of Cinebanter #73, which is available here.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mommy Is at the Hairdresser's

Tonight at SIFF I screened Mommy Is at the Hairdresser's, a Canadian drama.

To read my review, visit Cinebanter.com.