Quick Takes – 08.22.10

The White Ribbon (2009)

Grade: A- | 1st Viewing

In a lot of ways Michael Haneke’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 – 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 it’s impossible to ignore them on screen. However, a film like Bringing Up Baby shows how far out of Grant’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 TCM’s Summer Under the Stars on the day devoted to Katherine Hepburn. With her character’s sweet naïveté 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 screen’s greatest couples Hepburn and Grant’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 California’s proposition 8. It’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 – 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 filmmakers’ 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 I’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 didn’t translate as well to film. I almost wonder if it wouldn’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 doesn’t carry a note of realism as the characters exist in an almost perfect sphere economically and socially, but that bourgeois perfection allows for Martin’s neurosis to be remarkably funny.

The pop culture cinema of the early 1990s executed “feel-good” 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 don’t seem to exist anymore.

What did you see this weekend?

[Images: Outnow | MoviePictureDB | Cinemagia | Outnow | Y100FM]

, , , , ,

  • I wasn’t planning on going out of my way to see “The White Ribbon”, but after your review, I think I’ll try to check it out when I have time. As for “Goblet of Fire”, I do agree that there are parts that weren’t done very well in the film, most especially the deaths. Mike Newell isn’t really much of a great filmmaker, and I kind of wish that David Yates came in one episode sooner. My other huge problem with it is the midsection which slows down tremendously with the romantic subplot of the Yule ball. They spend a huge chunk of time on that which they could’ve used for some of the better parts of the book. However, for the most part, this is still one of the better films of the series. The first 60 minutes and the last 40 minutes are particularly spectacular, and really lead us into the darker half of the series. I’d give it a slightly better B+, and rank it as third best in the series, behind “Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Half-Blood Prince”.

  • I didn’t see anything new this week (busy with the show “Angel”).

    “White Ribbon” was good. “Goblet of Fire”, in my opinion, deserves a slightly higher grade. Most of it was great, apart from how they butchered the third task. Duncan is correct about the Yule Ball, which really sucked the energy out of the book as well. It was done slightly better here, but not by much.

  • Jose

    I didn’t see anything spectacular this weekend.

    My dad sat me down to watch “Police Academy” with him since it was his favorite comedy when he was my age. I pnly found it slightly amusing because most of the characters got annoying 1/3 into the movie. C.

    Then I saw the director’s cut of “Brazil”, I still don’t know what to make of it. It’s visually stunning and yet halfway into it the film feels as if it forgot what the plot was, let alone why we’re fillowing Jonathon Pryce. But the last 12 minutes of the film make it memorable. Grade: ?

    Oh and personally I think “Goblet of Fire is the worst Potter film in the series, I mean the book ws supposed to be them start to slowly transition into adulthood and yet the film felt to much as if it was light fluff.

  • “White Ribbon” deserved the Oscar.

  • Quinn

    @ raguabros – which Oscar?

  • Jose

    I’m assuming best foreign film Quinn.

  • Quinn

    Ha I know. I was just making sure.

  • Jose

    He could have meant Cinematography.

  • Maybe he meant Best Picture. It’s not a complete stretch.

  • LOL
    It deserved Best Foreign Language Film :P

Privacy Polcy | Contact Us