The White Ribbon (2009)
Grade: A- | 1st Viewing
In a lot of ways Michael Hanekeâ€™s black and white drama about the birth of German fascism is one of his most accessible films. Haneke allows the story to unfold straight forward and confidently with some of the most fantastic cinematography of last year. The White Ribbon lacked some of the rich subtlety of his previous films Cache or Funny Games, but it still showcases one of the greatest working filmmakers in top form.
In The White Ribbon, Haneke presents anonymous and public acts of physical terror interspersed with private moments of psychological torture. The filmmaker challenges the viewer by leaving the decision up to us about which is more devastating â€“ the abuse of a child by a stranger or the psychological torture of children by overzealous parents. We find out in the end how connected the two types of terror really are.
One of the other notable aspects of The White Ribbon is its phenomenal acting ensemble including some of the greatest child actor performances that I have ever seen.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Grade: A | 3rd Viewing
George Clooney has often been referred to be 21st Century film critics as a modern day Cary Grant. Both actors seem to never age and carry such a strong sense of charm and charisma that itâ€™s impossible to ignore them on screen. However, a film like Bringing Up Baby shows how far out of Grantâ€™s league Clooney is. Cary Grant was able to play the charming awkward man better than anybody before him and his comedic timing in this film is impeccable.
The film was showing as part of TCMâ€™s Summer Under the Stars on the day devoted to Katherine Hepburn. With her characterâ€™s sweet naÃ¯vetÃ© and ruthless free spirit Hepburn can charm the pants off of anyone and she manages to perfectly contrast the self-absorbed and neurotic character of Cary Grant. In a list of the screenâ€™s greatest couples Hepburn and Grantâ€™s oddball pairing in Bringing Up Baby should be highly rated.
8: The Mormon Proposition (2010)
Grade: B- | 1st Viewing
In documentaries like 8: The Mormon Proposition there is always one moment that sticks out in my mind as completely appalling. For this film it was a scene that depicts young Mormons in their early 20s throwing a party to gather supplies and materials to combat Californiaâ€™s proposition 8. Itâ€™s the fact that people around my age could be so brainwashed that they joyfully spread messages of hate and intolerance that really made my stomach turn. In that way the documentary was incredibly successful at getting its message across â€“ by pausing from the narration and showing moments of truth.
Unfortunately this type of documentary ends up preaching to the choir and the people who really need the message never end up getting it. I was also confused about the filmmakersâ€™ comparing homosexuality to Mormon polygamy in that both have been condemned by government bodies at some point. It seemed one of those points that was used to prove an individual close-minded, rather than prove a point. However, one thing that is for sure is that after this documentary Iâ€™m going to be a little more suspicious of the kind-faced Mormons going door to door.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Grade: B | 3rd Viewing
The tent-pole novel in the Harry Potter series, there are elements from the 4th book that didnâ€™t translate as well to film. I almost wonder if it wouldnâ€™t have been better to split the 4th book into two movies because they are so packed with essential narrative and the events involving the Tri-Wizard tournament. As a result several moments were glossed over or thrown in out of necessity and not examined as deeply as necessary. For instance the death of Barty Crouch, Sr. at the hand of his own son is a crucial part of the novel, but in the film it is just used as a distraction from the events of the tournament.
Regardless of its flaws, The Goblet of Fire does exhibit some of the finest art direction in the series including some gorgeous interior and exterior shots of Hogwarts as the glorious castle begins to become darker with the times.
Father of the Bride (1991)
Grade: A | 4th Viewing
The older that I get, the more Father of the Bride resonates with me on a personal level. Steve Martin gives a pitch-perfect comedic performance in this timeless feel-good comedy. The film doesnâ€™t carry a note of realism as the characters exist in an almost perfect sphere economically and socially, but that bourgeois perfection allows for Martinâ€™s neurosis to be remarkably funny.
The pop culture cinema of the early 1990s executed â€œfeel-goodâ€ stories better than its ever been done. While watching I scanned through my memory for the last similar comedy that can be appreciated by both sexes and is able to resonate with pure joy. Those type of live-action comedies just donâ€™t seem to exist anymore.
What did you see this weekend?