Inside/Outside

July 29, 2011

If I were you and you were me, here’s what we would do this weekend:

Steve James is one of the finest filmmakers working today. Hoop Dreams was a watershed moment in documentary filmmaking and remains one of my all-time favorite movies. His new film, The Interrupters, is in theaters Friday. It’s a somber look at gang violence in the inner city of Chicago and the efforts of a group of ex-gangbangers that have made it their mission to put an end to the bloodshed. With James behind the lens, it’s all but guaranteed to move you.

If you’re hungry for more silver screen, wander over to Cinema Village and catch the documentary Sleep Furiously. I have absolutely no idea what this film is about, but this weekend, I plan to do exactly what its title suggests. (Note: I just watched a short trailer and I’m really intrigued. Now I’m watching a longer trailer and I’m even more intrigued. The music is by Aphex Twin. I think I just talked myself into seeing this film in the amount of time it took for me to write this wack-ass paragraph.)

Go to the rooftop garden of the Met. Get a drink at the bar, gawk at the absolutely bananas panoramic view of Central Park and the city below. Get another drink and catch a buzz. Check out the sculptures by Anthony Caro that are currently on display. Pretended to appreciate the artwork for a few minutes, get back in line for the bar. Think about what else you have to do today. Realize you have nothing to do because it’s the weekend. Grin.

Two dispatches from the cultural desk, should you be so inclined to take a gander. First up, I saw a play this weekend that knocked my socks off. Pardon the hyperbole, but I honestly thought Good People was that um, good. Starring Frances McDormand of Fargo/Almost Famous fame, the play presented a fly-on-the-wall look at the lives of several blue collar folks from Southie, the famed Boston neighborhood dramatized in everything from Good Will Hunting to Mystic River to The Departed. The dialogue was so sharp and true-to-life that it really felt like you were in the kitchen sharing coffee and cigarettes (we’ll get to Jim Jarmusch in a sec) with the characters on stage. Frances McDormand was lights out, lending her character an acerbic wit and a vindictive edge that leaves you wondering whether she really is “Good People.” Getting to the theater can be tough because of the prices, but the Manhattan Theater Club is offering $30 tickets for people under 30…so if you fit the description, take advantage. You’ll be thinking about it hours, maybe even days after the final curtain falls.

Moving from the stage to the screen, I also checked out Permanent Vacation, the first feature by Jim Jarmusch. It’s an unsettling movie—16 year old Allie meanders about bombed out downtown Manhattan streets encountering various vagabonds and eccentric characters while pondering the meaning of life: his schizo mother, a junkie, a Vietnam Vet and a car thief, among others. Pretty cool to see where Jarmusch first started to develop his aesthetic and even cooler to try to emulate dance moves like the ones above.

Rohmer

April 9, 2011

I first heard about Eric Rohmer when I read last year about a retrospective of his work taking place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Rohmer was a central figure in the French New Wave, but the last of the directors involved in the movement to gain serious critical acclaim. Like I often do, I flaked on checking out his films at the time, but have since made it a point to catch a few of them on Netflix. And to be honest, the two I’ve seen, My Night at Maud’s and Claire’s Knee, are two of the best movies I’ve watched in a very long time. Perhaps it’s because they play to my mood, or what I perceive to be my mood: mellow, slow and prone to romanticizing seemingly insignificant details. Rohmer’s films are dialogue-driven, which I appreciate, and they’re smart. His characters engage in a moral struggle between virtue and honesty and their innate physical and sexual impulses. And the dude casts some truly beautiful women. I’m afraid to know how old the chick that played Claire in Claire’s Knee was. All that aside, watch one, if not both of these movies. Yea, they have subtitles, and yea, they might require some patience, but chill out on the couch one afternoon and enjoy.

Claire’s Knee

My Night At Maud’s

Blank City

April 7, 2011

Saw the premiere of Blank City at IFC tonight. Makes me want to go create shit. Or destroy shit. Or create shit then destroy it.

Snow

December 26, 2010

Speaking of snow, this was always my favorite scene from the Kill Bill films. The snow makes the courtyard seem so quiet and pure and I find the clunk of the water pump to be oddly satisfying. Then there’s the way the track kicks in right when O-Ren takes a step. And the sharp contrast of the blood on the snow. Gotta hand it to Quentin. He knows some shit about some shit. Matter of fact, this movie was the first I remember seeing and thinking about how impressed I was with the use of colors and lighting. Or maybe I was just high as balls. I don’t remember.

Somewhere

December 22, 2010

Sofia Coppola’s new film Somewhere comes out on Friday. I’m really looking forward to seeing it. The trailer is almost perfect…maybe it’s the fact that there’s hardly any dialogue and the melancholy Strokes tune pulls at your heartstrings.

If it’s anything close to Lost In Translation, I’ll be psyched. Love that film.

Dead Man

November 2, 2010

Watched Dead Man the other day. Observation: Johnny Depp is a much cooler mystic drug-tripping, revolver-packing rogue cowboy than he is a swishy Disney pirate. But now I understand where he began to mine the latter character. Still, no excuse bud. Also, I want to eat a cheeseburger with Jim Jarmusch. Score’s by Neil Young.