Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Like To Watch

Javier Bardem. Since the writers strike we've been watching a lot more movies on IFC, Sundance or HBO. We've watched three movies starring Javier Bardem in the last couple of weeks. I suppose since the release of No Country For Old Men some stations have featured movies with Bardem. I'd seen Before Night Falls directed by Julian Schnabel in the theatres a few years ago and loved it, but Stagg hadn't seen it...with it's mysterious cameos with Johnny Depp playing three characters. A really gorgeously filmed story of Cuban poet Reynaldo Arenas struggle to be published while being persecuted. I enjoyed it more this time around really appreciating Schnabels style and storytelling. We also watched The Dancer Upstairs a debut directing of John Malkovich about a detective in a South American country searching for a beloved guerilla. the terrorists kill dogs and string them up, the people secretly feel a spiritual bond with the terrorists, and Bardem is so compelling in this role. A very very good movie. Mondays In The Sun is the third movie and we watched it a few nights ago and we have still been talking about the characters who are laid-off shipworkers in Spain. I will be watching out for other movies directed by Fernando Leon de Aranoa as these characters really got under our skin. One memorable line from the movie had us laughing and also in awe "Everything they said about Communism turned out to be lies, and everything they said about Capitalism turned out to be true". JAVIER BARDEM ROCKS!

We watched the 1935 version of David Copperfield, which I had been avoiding all these years partly because it is one of my favourite movies and wanting to see it for the same reason. It was excellent. I have never been a fan of W.C. Fields, I just never "got him" but playing this Dickens character he was perfect. The boy who played David was really remarkable: Freddie Bartholomew seemed to have a real life Dickens childhood. Of course, almost no movie version of a Dickens novel could have all the details that make Dickens stories and characters so terrific but this movie does a fine job of capturing the evil creep of Uriah Heep, the loyalty and love of Agnes and Peggoty, but misses just a little on the corruptiveness of Steerforth. Overall a really terrific movie though.

We watched another adapted from literature movie based on Kafka, Orson Welles' The Trial. We started watching this one night, but I was tired... I recommend watching this one in daylight. That evening...the unfinshed viewing manifested in my dreams and I tossed and turned. Actually, we had quite a laugh because I woke up and told Stagg I had all these existential dreams. Dam that Welles and Kafka! The next day we finished watching the film and it is very well done. The production began because the producer wanted to use existing novels that the copy rights had expired and work with Wells. Wells chose The Trial and found amazing solutions to low budget movie making. This one was creepy, funny, anachronistic, paranoid, honest, surrealistic satiric and Anthony Perkins really is perfect as Joseph K. If you're curious here is a good review. I really recommend the review and the actual movie.

You know, last week I was watching CSI. No biggie. I was even a little tired...wondered how far I would make it till I needed to sleep. The opening sequence was so fucking well done I kind of sat up out of my slouch. the tv show CSI is slick and sexy and well made. But this was different, this had a whole new zip...and I noticed immediately. It was directed by William Friedkin. Which brings me to the documentary A Decade Under The Influence which we watched last night. A very cool set of interviews and clips from one of the most inspired and productive eras of moviemaking in the United States, the 1970's. Interviews with Dennis Hopper, William Friedkin, Sissy Spacek, Polly Platt, Peter Bogdanovich, Paul Mazursky, Martin Scorcese beginning with directors and their movies that influenced their work. Basically these film makers pointed out that in the 1960's the streets of every college town theatres would have young people lined up to watch foreign language films. From small town movie houses to Manhattan and San were watching edgy inventive movies from other countries. Enough said. Duh.

The Clash changed my life. Really. Everything came together and fell apart. My love affair with the band didn't happen overnight. It was a courtship of about six months. And then I "got it". It's like every question every ambition dream or confusion was answered by listening to The Clash. The cliche of every generation having it's own sound is fairly true and The Clash was the new Rolling Stones, The Clash was the new Bob Dylan, The Clash was the new Woody Guthrie, The Clash was the new Sex Pistols, The Clash was the new Iggy Pop. After we watched the doc on 70's film makers we watched the dcumentary Let's Rock Again of a small gruelling tour that The Mescalleros did in 2001 and some interviews shortly before Joe Strummers untimely death. I know I am getting old when my youthful music makes me cry. heh heh. Seriously, I cry often when I hear the Sex Pistols, Bruce Springsteen...and I creid like crazy at the end of Let's Rock Again. In the movie Joe Strummer is trying to promote the bands tour, showing up at rural radio stations, handing passes out to people on the street and meeting with fans. Fan after fan went to Joe and said, often crying, "You changed my life".

Joe Strummer was born as John Graham Mellor in Ankara, Turkey on August 21, 1952. His mother, a crofter's daughter and one of nine children born and raised in the Scottish Highlands, was a nurse. His father was a British foreign-service diplomat who had been born in Lucknow, India. The family spent much time moving from place to place, and Strummer spent his childhood in places such as Cairo, Mexico City, and Bonn. At the age of 9, Strummer and his older brother David, 10, began boarding at the City of London Freemen's School in Surrey. Strummer rarely saw his parents during this time. He developed a love of rock music listening to records by Little Richard and The Beach Boys as well as American folk-singer Woody Guthrie. (Strummer would even go by the name "Woody" for a few years, following his brother's suicide in July 1970, until changing his name to "Joe Strummer" a year and a half before the Clash was formed.) After finishing his time at City of London Freemen's School, Ashstead Park, Surrey, in 1970, Strummer moved on to London's Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, where he briefly flirted with the idea of becoming a professional cartoonist, but ultimately completed a foundations course.[1] During this time, Strummer shared a flat in the north London suburb of Palmers Green with friends Clive Timperley and Tymon Dogg.From Wikipedia.

LONDON CALLING, above, is the first music video I ever saw. I went with friends to visit another friend, Kim Tomczak, who was djing a caberet show at Larry's Hideaway. I was new to Toronto, music networks were just being born: I was a hick from the west coast and wasn't aware of the new medium for music. When I heard the music of London Calling and then saw the big screen of The Clash I sort of flipped. The concept of a video station playing music was complete euphoria, I had always gone to rock movies like Rude Boy or Quadraphenia...but music your own house? Nirvana for us music lovers! I immediately went and got cable service. I also saw The Clash perform more than any other major performer and I've seen a lot of live music.

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* (asterisk) said...

Bardem definitely rocks, but I just couldn't get through Before Night Falls. I found it slow and boringly directed. Never got to see Johnny Depp even. Would like to see the Dancer Upstairs. Have you seen The Sea Inside? WATCH IT NOW!

I'll be back to comment about others later. It's half midnight, and I need my bed!

Red said...

Javier Bardem is definitely one to watch, I think he's going to be stratospherically big within a couple of years. We haven't seen an actor with such a towering presence for a long time.

I've heard of Mondays in the Sun from Italian websites (I think it's a co-production?) and the reviews are superlative, so that will definitely end up on my list somewhere! Have you seen Jamon Jamon and/or Live Flesh? And of course he's going to play Pablo Escobar in Killing Pablo...

mister anchovy said...

You mean Strummer wasn't his real name? And all these years, I thought it was such a great coincidence that his name was strummer and he strummed. Next thing you're going to tell me that Flea doesn't have fleas, and Bono isn't related to Sonny Bono.

Gardenia said...

I'll have to pick up the Barden flicks - maybe the guy will quit haunting my dreams as the cold blooded killer from "No Country..."!!!