This has been an uneven week for the films I’ve watched. We’ve had some all-time classics, some new favourites, and some confused stinkers. Find out which is which after the jump!
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
Directed by Michael Bay
Bay’s chaos cinema in proper context. Full review here.
Slow West (2015)
Directed by John Maclean
This is a strange film for me to review. On the one hand, it seems to be a solid little film about the damage left in the wake of the relentless pursuit of a fantasy (in this case, that fantasy is a woman), on the other hand, it seems to be about the redemption of a surly gunslinger. These two ideas never coalesce into a single point, and so the film falls flat on this dissonance.
Ghost World (2001)
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Whereas Slow West was an example of two dissonant ideas working against the film, here the same dichotomy is used to the film’s benefit. It is both an ode to the weirdos and outsiders of American culture, and a critique of those who use such outsider characteristics to mask their own aimlessness. A film that perfectly captures that nebulous period between the teenage years and adulthood.
Directed by Spike Jonze
Yes, it is a brilliant, modernist script that plays with the idea of writer and story being inextricably linked. However, what I haven’t seen much discussed, for perhaps it is easy to over look among all the sleight of hand, is the metatextual nature of the film. For in adapting The Orchid Thief, the film uses all the cliche narrative choices of a traditional Hollywood adaptation: the forced romance, the climactic, action finale, the heroic sacrifice, etc. It is film as commentary on itself, and as commentary on film at large.
The Magnificent Seven Ride! (1972)
Directed by George McCowan
How many of these movies are there? I can only handle the same story so many times. Gunslinger (is it supposed to be the same Chris in all these movies?) gets offered job in Mexico, hires 6 men, liberates people at the loss of some friends. I fell asleep during this one, I can’t lie. Also, it’s weirdly offensive.
The Ties That Bind (2015)
Directed by Thom Zimny
The main thing this documentary taught me was that, much like Steven Soderbergh and film, I enjoy hearing Bruce Springsteen talk about his music almost as much as I enjoy the Boss’ music. The River is one of the great rock ‘n’ roll double albums, as it serves as a summation of all the themes that concerned Springsteen at this point in his career. While this documentary relies a little heavily on a single interview, it remains a joy to catch glimpses of the live performances from the River tour.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Directed by Blake Edwards
The template for all modern romantic-comedies. The rom-com get’s a bad rap, but when it’s executed with grace and style, it is some of the most vital cinema around. While there’s uncomfortable mention of people “belonging” to other people because they love them, it remains a sweet story about two friends who come to fall for each other. I think there’s a version of this movie where the boy doesn’t get the girl, and I may prefer it. Oh, and “Moon River”, best original song?