September 26, 2011

The media! The media!

The things that I've seen...

The Darjeeling Limited - Wes Anderson's films are of a definite style, full of timeless situations, eccentric characters who live in an idle wealth and discuss emotions and their dysfunctional family lived with a disjointed, quasi-mature detachment.

I've yet to see Bottle Rocket or Rushmore, but I enjoyed Tenenbaums, Steve Zissou, and Mr Fox, so I was willing to give Darjeeling a try. This time out was the first I'd seen the film but the fifth or sixth time I've checked it out from the library.

With both Tenenbaums and Zissou, I remember experiencing a general malaise about the films throughout but having my opinions change dramatically in the course of a climactic scene. Throughout Darjeeling I kept waiting for this emotional turn, this chance for me to connect with the dry and unsympathetic characters, and I'm still waiting. The film did have a climactic 'emotional' scene in which the main trio (Jason Schwartzman; Owen Wilson, natch; and Adrian Brody) throw their physical baggage to the side and dive into a river to try to save three local boys - unsuccessfully with one, leading to the film's silent, slow-motion funeral scene, but the scene was so out of place with these cold fish characters that it felt more out of place than emotionally resonant with me.

There's nothing to see here of note.

Dog Day Afternoon - Here, however, is certainly something to see.

Al Pacino owns this early career highlight in which he and two barely functional accomplices attempt to rob a Brooklyn bank and find themselves bumbling into a kidnapping situation.The movie is basically Al Pacino and a whole lot of lesser lights - Charles Durning being the greatest find (as he always is).

The movie is a great exploration of a real-life media circus with undercurrents of homosexuality, class warfare, race baiting, and police procedures in the 1970s.

Certainly worth a watch as Pacino really puts on a masters class in acting here.

100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello - PLCH got new copies of all thirteen volumes in this well-respected series recently, and I'm not one to pass up the opportunity to read an entire series tip to tail, so I grabbed the volumes and read 'em through.

The setup's engaging - that of an uber-conspiracy, The Trust, running America for centuries and needing a team of enforcers, The Minutemen, to keep each other in line. The writing is intriguing leaving much for the reader to figure out as the series moves along.

But the artwork is annoying to the point of frustration.

I had trouble keeping the characters identified as so many of them are drawn almost identically. I had trouble following the plot because the imagery would jump from current to flashback without any mention. The writing even was hard to follow because it's based so much on unspoken understandings between the characters.

Avoid this one.

Invincible (Ultimate hardcover vol 6) -At some point Kirkman has to give this guy a break. The last couple of volumes have felt like nothing but nonstop action seeing the eponymous hero get the snot kicked out of him left and right.

This volume, then, is more of the same - battles with alternate-reality versions of himself, battles with Viltrumite conquerers, and battles with the returned Sequids. It's rough to be Invincible even though his girlfriend is there to help him (and rebuild herself with a rather interesting body-adjustment choice by the author).

Invincible is excellent. The series is one of the better superhero comics ongoing right now, capturing perfectly the high-concept of 'what if Spider-Man was Superman', but this volume felt like the wheels were spinning a bit. How many times can Invincible face off against his biggest opponent yet without suffering from reader fatigue?

Sadly, next volume will have some more of the same as Invincible and his father, the reformed Omni-Man, will head to the Viltrumite home world to battle the entire surviving race.

Good luck to 'im.

I'll keep reading, but I'm not as desperate for the next volume as I was to get my mits on this one.

Drive - Ryan Gosling can do no wrong.

It's that simple.

Drive is a stylish film that avoids exploring Gosling's character's motivation, feelings, or anything other than his pure actions. This isn't to say that he is unshielded id but rather that he appears to be a man entirely devoid of introspection. He doesn't need to know the why or the how. He's a man of when, where, and maybe how fast.

Gosling and director Refn have put together a gorgeous, smooth film that manages to shock with the appearance of a hyper-violent side to our main character. When pressed to the wall, he comes out hammer a blazin', taking care of business without hesitation or remorse.

While Katydid may find fault that the film heads down a too-predictable path, I found myself happy enough to enjoy the excellent performances from Goslin, Albert Brooks, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, and especially Ron Perlman. Admittedly, Christina Hendricks is wasted in her moments on screen, but who cares when the rest of the cast is so well suited to their parts.

This one should be seen big because it's my guess that it'll suffer from the little screen.

Classics by Ratatat - This week's topic musical choice is an outstanding instrumental album from Ratatat.

I know nothing at all about the band and don't know that I could explain what they sounds like with any confidence or skill, but they're outstanding.

Take a few listens...


Katydid said...

Nothing of note is the correct abiding statement to describe Darjeeling Limited. Yuck.

I saw Drive again with the fella this weekend, and the simplicity of the plot bothered me far less the second time. And the violence just so damn stylish.

CrimsonMirage said...

Ratatat is amazingness. It's the go-to music at my work and I love it.