* * * *
R for Langauge
This is a match made in film heaven. A teriffic nature doc in the hands of cinema’s foremost naturalist. With anyone else this would have been a “Blair Witch” type deal with the film more about Treadwell’s ghatsly death. Instead Herzog introduces us to it at the start, and rather than playing us the tape of his death tells his ex-girlfriend to burn it. Herzog is himself a character in this film, trying to reconcile Treadwell’s life. Instead of a film trying to be more exploitative we get a moving, complex, character study of a man who has been pushed to the margins by a complex society, and an animal threatened by the same people, for similar reasons. The film is surprisingly emotional, Treadwell, a one time actor, is sensational in his footage, and the animals themselves become characters. My favorite scene involves Treadwell giving a bear who has just lost a fight for a female, advice on women, and it almost seems like the bear is listening.
The 40 Year Old Virgin
* * *
R for strong pervasive langauge (surprisingly not as bad sex or nudity wise)
Steve Carrell seems like an unlikely member of the Frat Pack (Will Ferrel, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, etc.) let alone a cultural icon. But this movie propels him to be quite noteworthy in both. This movie is as unique as Carrell, not so much in formula, it is somewhat formulaic, but in its characterizations and mesage. This is a crude film, as the dialogue is really pretty nasty in some parts. At the same time it’s the quinessential guy movie of its time, or at least the first realistic male romance movie. At the same time the film is very sweet. It develops and cares for its main character as much as he cares for his action figures, still in their original containers. It is this sweetness, juxtaposed against a sex dominated society that makes this a unique film about love v. sex. The film’s message is very refreshing, and could very well have been written by David Burns. I think the film should be shown to 7th grade boys in health class, because of its ability to put sex into context in a frank, entertaining, and sympathetic way. The film suffers some in a rather surreal ending, that somewhat negates some of the films realism, and a few excesses.
This month is the 65th birthday of Hayao Miyzaki, the director of such masterpeices as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. As part of that TCM is showing 9 of his films.
Valley of the wind...
* * *
This is Myizaki’s first film for Studio Ghibli. It’s astonishingly good looking, but its very difficult to take as seriously as it is meant to because of some excesses in some Anime cliche’s. Everything that Miyzaki has perfected since is here in its begining stages, but not completely developed. Entertaning, but at the same time it does feel a little preachy.
Castle in the Sky
* * * *
This is Miyazaki’s first masterpiece. A breathtaking and exciting fantasy epic about an orphan girl with a magic stone running from the government and pirates who want to find a mysterious city in the sky that once ruled the earth. The film is confident in its imagination, like only Miyizaki can do. The music is gorgoeus, the scope is sweeping, the pace is very well done, and the message is handled very well.
Blast from the Past
God Told Me To (1976)
* * 1/2
This is one of the most ridiculous horror films ever made. The plot has twists that could have broke this film, but didn’t. The craziest thing about it though, is that it almost works. The film does well to not expose its shoestring budget, and the film looks great for a cheap horror film, in fact some of the scenes are quite well executed. The film has a few scary scenes, that surprised even me, but for the most part this is a sprawling epic of sci-fi, action, horror, in a finale’ that is like Scanners if Cronenberg had directed it.