two movies I watched recently

I went from the sublime to the ridiculous recently when on two consecutive nights I watched Things We Lost in the Fire and then Mr. Woodcock.  First the sublime. Things We Lost in the Fire directed by Susanne Bier (note to self, check out any new movies of hers that come along immediately), with Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in the leads with David Duchovny in support. Duchovny is a good samariatan murdered and his widow in trying to move forward after his death draws close to his best friend, a lawyer fallen into heroin addiction, played brilliantly by Del Toro. Berry is also brilliant. I was reminded of the previous heights of her work such as the memorable Monsters’ Ball.  Duchovny is winsome and strikes just the right notes in support. The real revelation of soul and vulnerability is Del Toro.  It is a sublime movie.  Then like an idiot I ruined the effect by the very next night watching one of the worst movies ever made: Mr. Woodcock. I just hope Billy Bob Thornton is wisely investing his pay cheques. Because if he keeps making this kind of horse crap one note sour note comedy again and again his career in the movies will be over. It is hard to believe that he is the same man who did Swing Blade and Monsters’ Ball.  I even liked the Astronaut Farmer although it borderd on the nearly too simplistic.  BBT is a great artist and Mr. Woodcock is not great art. Its not even that funny.  How many million did it cost? It has Susan Sarandon and in a part too small by miles for her major talent, Melissa Leo.  The one person who made me laugh out loud was Melissa Sagemiller who I think is the actress who played the book tour wrangler. She had about four lines that made me laugh hard and true. I just wish the rest of the script had reached that not terribly dizzying height on the ladder of comedy. Please Billy Bob do something good next. just dont cash the cheque.

Tropic Thunder is terrific

Tropic Thunder is a funny, filthy film. Tom Cruise has begun his second career as a character actor. He is ferocious and ferociously funny. The fake movie trailers at the beginning of this epic are pretty fine. But what really tickled me were the deep heart felt comments about acting unleashed by Robert Downey as Lazarus, the blond Australian pigmentation treated to be an African American sergeant. The cinematic hat is tipped to great films like PLATOON, APOCALYPSE NOW, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (I think I am right about that one), FOREST GUMP, and on and on. My hero Nick Nolte is great in a supporting role. Jack Black made me cry I was laughing so hard. Ben Stiller is almost a genius. I hope this makes him filthy rich.

saw Havana the other night

Pollock, I miss him so much, directed this gem back in the previous century. Set in Havana just before Castro took over from Batista, Jack Wild (Robert Redford as a professional card player) encounters revolutionaries Lena Olin and Raul Julia/ All hell breaks lose. Alan Arkin is perfect in support as a casino manager who tries to steer Redford’s character away from his romantic interest in Olin. Havana is a beautiful romantic old school high quality film that bombed at the box office when released. I went to see it way back then and loved it and could not understand its failure. Watching it on the movie channel late one night last week I was overwhelmed at its quality. If you can grab the chance to watch it, do so, you will not be disapporinted.

In Bruges, In Brilliant

You have to see this movie. I just finished watching the DVD and it is in my top three of the year. Farrell is brilliant. Brendan Gleeson is briliant. This is a black comedy about two hit men lieing low in Bruges after a job in London has gone wrong. Perhaps the most interesting character in the film is the town of Bruges itself, a medieval architecture wonderland. Much more than original, a touching story with full, deep characters. Highly recommended.

Cleaner – movie misfire

Cleaner is one of those movies that makes you want to cry a little at the lost opportunity. With Samuel Jackon, Ed Harris, and Eva Mendes as the main players, and great supporting actors like Robert Forster in the mix, I was hoping for something great. This does not deliver this. The premise is startling and new – Jackson, a former cop runs a specialized cleaning service, he cleans crime scenes. He gets an order for a cleaning job but only realizes after he completes his work that he may have destroyed all the evidence of a murder. But the plot that follows has too many holes in it. It is a little sad to watch great actors work with substandard dialogue in a story that does not deliver on its tantalizing promise.

10 Items or less

If you want a delightful movie to watch, rent this. Brad Silberling wrote and directed this low budget but highly entertaining movie starring Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega. Freeman plays an actor researching a part in an independent movie set in a supermarket. Vega plays the overly competent check out cashier who runs the 10 items or less check out line. Their worlds connect, their characters delight. Highly recommended.

Al Pacino in 88 minutes

I didnt enjoy this as much as i hoped going in. Thriller about a forensic psychiatrist who receives a cell call informing him he has 88 minutes left to live. It was a little muddled to me but did show up in a slightly deficient way the true meaning in cinema story telling between shock and suspense. The audience has to be told things before they happen for suspense to build. Too many things in this plot move ahead with no effort to keep the audience informed. A lot of the time we have no idea where we are going or why. One major problem with the character of Dr. Graham (Pacino) he is painted with too many flaws and is basically unsympathetic, although every female character is enamoured with him.

Peter Bogdanovich, Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors

I started rereading this fascinating book tonight.  Bogdanovich is to be thanked for making the determined effort to question film directors about their art and preserving their answers.  Allan Dwan is the first director in the book. He was born in Toronto in 1885. Dwan was among the earliest of directors, a contemporary of D.W. Griffith. He explains the techniques developed during the days of one reelers as well as his work on features with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson. He was one of those who invented the language of movies. Other directors: Robert Aldrich, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, Fritz Lang, Joseph H. Lewis, Sidney Lumet, Leo McCarey, Otto Preminger, Don Siegel, Josef von Sternberg, Frank Tashlin, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Raoul Walsh.

A great book. Highly recommended.

John Huston – my pencil drawing of him

John Huston

Originally uploaded by “canuckshutterer” wj gibson.
one of my favourite movie gods

the best drawing I ever made, part of a course in pencil drawing – about 8.5″ x 8″

I simply don’t have the patience for this kind of art, I need the speed of photography…

The Best of Youth (2003) film extraordinaire

what a tremendous movie – story that moves with so much telling detail over so many years in the lives of the characters

they say this is the finest movie made in Italy in years, perhaps it is the finest movie made anywhere in years

“Everything that exists is beautiful!!!”

As I watched this I was continually bouncing my small brain back to my life and the events that matched the age of the main characters.

treat yourself to real story telling and watch this movie.