Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer movies worth going inside for


It has come to TVOR's attention that in much of the northern hemisphere, summer has arrived.  True, it's not official yet, but summer has definitely arrived.  TVOR, however, does not live in a place like that, so she is happy to have been sitting inside in dark movie theaters at the Seattle International Film Festival instead of remaining outside in the cold and damp, complaining about the weather.

In honor of the (in her case theoretical) season, there will be all sorts of big summer movies coming out over the next several weeks, showing up in theaters all over the place.  These films will be full of superheroes, explosions, CGI, and other Hollywood contrivances.  There will also be some smaller, quieter, movies in theaters, and a few of these are actually worth going inside to watch.  Here are a few:

Moonrise Kingdom--Wes Anderson, the director of Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and others, has come up with a winner.  He has made a film that it is pure pleasure to spend 94 minutes with.  The basic plot revolves around a couple of twelve-year olds who run away together, but the world Anderson creates (the visuals, the music, the sensibility, the writing, the acting, etc.) elevates the film into something that is about way more than that.  A recommendation: don't read too much about this film before you see it.  Just enjoy.  And it's PG-13, and would work for lots of kids as well.

Safety Not Guaranteed--this funny and sweet film was inspired by this actual ad, which appeared in a magazine:

"WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me.  This is not a joke.  You'll get paid after we get back.  Must bring your own weapons.  I have only done this once before.  Safety not guaranteed."

The movie's fictional story follows a writer and two interns who investigate the ad and the guy who placed it.  Good writing, acting, direction, etc.--the result is a lot of fun.  

Your Sister's Sister--Lynn Shelton's newest film is another winner.  It's basically a simple film:  one guy, two sisters, complications ensue.  The nice thing is that the characters are intelligent, flawed, human people, a trio you care about and enjoy spending time with.

Headhunters--if you're lucky, this Norwegian corporate thriller/crime movie/dark comedy will play at a theater near you.  Based on a book by the crime writer Jo Nesbo, the movie will take you (along with the protagonist) for quite a ride.  In it, a corporate headhunter/art thief finds that his dual career is a lot more complicated than he bargained for, and the result is a game with increasingly high stakes.  It's funny, scary, bloody, and a lot of fun.

Video notes:

Check out Wes Anderson's earlier films, especially Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Royal Tenenbaums.  They all involve the creation of wonderful worlds populated by interesting people (or animals, in the case of Fantastic Mr. Fox).   

Lynn Shelton's last film, Humpday, is a good place to start if you've never seen her work before.  It's about a couple of straight male buddies who decide to prove how hip and arty they are by making a gay porn film for an amateur porn contest.  It's an hilarious examination of friendship, growing older and probably a few other things.  TVOR also liked an earlier Shelton film, My Effortless Brilliance, about an obnoxious writer reconnecting with an old friend by barging in on his rural home.

Monday, June 4, 2012

SIFF 2012--one week to go


TVOR has been watching movies in Seattle International Film Festival venues pretty much full time for 18 days, and has been in her element.  The films have been generally quite good--there have been a number of delights, and very few disasters.  Now she's on the home stretch, with one week to go.  Many films have come and gone, but here are some brief thoughts and recommendations on films you still have a chance to see:


Coteau Rouge--a lovely French Canadian film, a little slice of life taking place in a Montreal neighborhood.

Hello I Must Be Going--a thirty-something woman ends up living with her parents after her life and marriage fall apart.  A little funny, a little dark, a little sweet.

4 Days in May--at the tail end of WWII, residents of a community on the Baltic coast of Germany wait for the Russians to arrive.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists--very good documentary about computer hackers, focusing on Anonymous and related groups.  Entertaining and informative.

Charles Bradley: Soul of America--good music documentary about an R&B singer "discovered" at age 62.

Earthbound--sweet little flick about a guy who may or may not be space alien and his quest for a human mate.

Guilty, Innocence, The Invader, and Red Road are more good films that have screenings in the upcoming week--TVOR wrote brief blurbs about them in her last post.


Hail--very well made film about a career criminal getting out of jail and starting again in life.  The quality of the filmmaking makes this movie very hard to watch, as the viewer gets in the head of this man, and that is a very unhealthy place to be.  A warning: there were many walk-outs in the screening TVOR attended.  

6 Points About Emma--nicely done Spanish film about a deaf woman whose one strong desire is to be a mother.  Good, not great.

Simon and the Oaks--a crowd-pleaser about life in wartime Sweden.  Many loved it, TVOR had a little less love for it.

My Dad is Baryshnikov--another crowd-pleaser taking place in mid-80's Moscow about a ballet-obsessed fatherless kid who chooses a father (based on no factual information) and proceeds to tell people about it.  Again, TVOR felt a little less love than many.

Mirage--interesting South Korean film about a young writer who returns to his home town to accept an award, and ends up reconnecting with some old friends who informed his work and his life.  One of several films from South Korea in which adolescent bullying is featured, there are some scenes that are difficult to watch.

TVOR wrote about Starbuck and Hunky Dory in her last post--check out those blurbs if you're interested.


Prime Time Soap--a strange Brazilian film that tries to combine a sort of bright and breezy tale of the life and adventures of a call girl in late 1970's Rio de Janeiro with a more realistic story about dictatorship and corruption.  This strange brew did not work for TVOR, and hard-to-read subtitles did nothing to improve the situation.

170 Hz--two deaf teenagers fall in love in this Dutch film.  The filmmaking is very interesting--the problem TVOR had with the film is that she didn't want to spend time with the people in it.  The boy was appalling--the girl was slightly less so, although still pretty obnoxious.

Go to the movies!