Quick Takes – 09.19.10

The past two weeks I have been swamped with work and events occurring in my personal life that I have had barely any time for movies. In the past two weeks I’ve only seen two films outside of the movies I screened at the cinema or films that will be getting full-length reviews eventually. However, I can’t complain too much because the films I saw this week were quite a treat.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Grade: A | 4th Viewing

I usually attempt to at least feign eloquence in my reviews, but the only appropriate words I can come up with to describe the Coen brothers’ ultimate cult comedy is “fucking awesome.” There aren’t too many films that can give me such instant joy not only with its overt humor, but its subtlety as well. I also love its similarity and ironic homage to many of the greatest film noirs. Instead of going into further detail I am just going to post my favorite quotes from the movie:

”Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

“That rug really tied the room together.”

JESUS: “You ready to be fucked, man? I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios mio, man. Liam and me, we’re gonna fuck you up.”
THE DUDE: “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

The Ghost Writer (2010)

Grade: B+ | 1st Viewing

The Ghost Writer was a more shallow exercise than some of Polanski’s previous thrillers, but it is quite entertaining nonetheless. Ewan McGregor is excellent in the tightly paced movie that features some fantastic dialogue and eternally keeps the viewer guessing. With political thrillers of this sort I’ve always found that the actual “secret” is less important than the fact that a secret exists. The stakes are raised by the fact that people will kill to protect the secret, which increases the level of suspense and makes for an excellent film.

What struck me the most about the film was not only that it mirrored Polanski’s own life (with the Prime Minister not being able to leave the country), but it also seems to be intentionally anti-American. Many films criticize American government policies without criminalizing the people as a whole, but I felt that The Ghost Writer was highly critical of Americans and any Europeans who would support them. Not only is the film’s main theme about how the support of American policies is criminal, but by casting a British man as the hero there is no redemption of any sort for the United States. I’m not saying this is detracts from the film at all, but it’s something that is hard not to notice.

[Images: OutNow]

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  • I love, love, love, love, love The Ghost Writer, the last shot is so incredible.

  • Jose

    Geez, I’ve never seen The Big Lebowski, but I do know that it is a cult classic and throughout the weekend I kept bumping into people that kept quoting the movie. I take that as a sign that I should watch it.

  • I saw (all are first viewings):

    “Into the Woods” – A filmed production of the Sondheim musical, I enjoyed it immensely, even if the show overall is nowhere near the quality of Sondheim’s magnum opus “Sweeney Todd”. A-

    “Elevator to the Gallows” – A film noir that left me completely unimpressed, even though it was technically very well made. The characters are all shallow and unrealistic, as are the situations. B-

    “Don’t Look Now” – Great performances elevate this one to a decent level, but it’s not that good. The supernatural/horror elements aren’t at all frightening or even suspenseful. B

    “Persona” – Haven’t been this disappointed in a movie in ages. Both lead actresses (particularly the amazing Liv Ullman) are great, but the film itself is an absolute mess, appearing to be about one thing and then abruptly switching gears until nothing makes any sense. Give me “The Seventh Seal” any day. B-

    The one really good one:

    “Me and You and Everyone We Know” – Just a joyous, life-affirming little movie. It’s difficult to explain its genius, but it follows a bunch of somewhat related characters as the live their lives over a few days. Sweet, funny, filled with great performances, and beautifully shot. A

  • Quinn

    I saw (all first viewings as well)

    “The Joneses”
    The performances were good especially Demi Moore and David Whats-his-face untill he blows his big scene near the end. And the subplot about their next door neighbors was unfocused and unnessecary. Other than that it was good, despite its flaws.
    B

    “Ladies and Gentleman: The Rolling Sones”
    Well I do love the Rolling Stones, although some of their songs I’m not crazy about. But my brother LOVES them and this was released in my theater for one night so we saw it. It was just the concert with a short interview with Mick Jagger at the beginning, so I really don’t know what criteria it judge it by, so I’m not rating it. Although I thought it was i tad too long and I kept thinking if it were about a band a liked better I wouldn’t be half asleep. But thas not a flaw, That’s just how I feel because I’m not the greatest Rolling Stones fanatic.

    “Easy A”
    Fantastic! The first half has more laughs than the second, but the first half was hilarious enough to make it one of the funniest movies of the year, hands down. Emma Stone was excellent.
    A-

  • City of Life and Death 7/10
    Pierrot Le Fou 7/10

    First viewings, Pierrot Le Fou had the subtitles messed up so i didn’t understand half of it.

  • @raguabros – Sometime you’re going to have to let me know some good South American movies that don’t get much U.S. coverage. I’d love to check some of them out.

  • Well I’d suggest you start with Colombia’s “Satanás”, it was my country’s submission for the Academy Awards in 2007 i think… If you need download links or something hit me up at luis.ragua@gmail.com

    I’ll check out my lists to see what else i can recommend.

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