Member’s Picks

Perhaps we members when we have a moment or two each week, or month, could list some of the films we are viewing in Seattle, Olympia, at festivals, or on video. Sue P. and Chico have remarked in the past that it would be fun to keep track of member’s favorites. We used to have a few mintues at the close of the TFC meeting and we went around and each member made reference to some films they had seen that month. We have been so verbose and animated at the meetings for months, that segment did not happen. Maybe we could reinstitute it. I, for one, watch films at home, and think hey, I have to tell someone how good that film was. This could be one option for us, listing the films and bried comments here on the blog.          GB


5 thoughts on “Member’s Picks

  1. I am currently watching: The Libertine, and Bird Flu In America.

    Also, take note if you like to watch lots of films per month. The best deal out there is now Blockbuster’s Total Access account. Instead of mailing back your movies you take them to a Blockbuster store and they trade you the envelopes for movies in the store. They mail in your old movies and the minute the scan them with their machine at the cash register it signals Blockbuster to send more by mail. I have about doubled the number of films I watch using this new program. Oh, yes; you do have to take back the films you got from the store to the store–actually since they have extended return times (sans charges) you will have received new films by mail and then you take back the movies you got from the store and new ones with your new envelope.

    Cheerfully, Phantom Director

  2. Friday night, Jan 5th, I went out to see CHILDREN OF MEN. It was not reviewed, nor listed in the TNT’s “GO” section. It seems to be on a “limited release”. How odd. Chico and Susan were both wondering when it would open, considering it for a February pick for the club. The film is fantastic! It is unrelenting. As the trailer says, it is the BLADE RUNNER for the present. Clive Owen and Michael Caine are very good in it. It is drama and science fiction. It is a political and a moral tale. When all the men of the world can no longer make babies, things look pretty bleak. Chaos and anarchy have descended on all the countries of the world. England is the last bastion of some civilization, and it is struggling to maintain it, dealing with revolutionaries and a government scourge of all aliens. It is Big Brother and Nazi storm troopers mixed in with THX 1138 drone cops. It has the visceral punch of those first 20 minutes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The too realistic action is ongoing and unrelenting and terrifying. One ducks the bullets in the theatre. A woman becomes pregnant, and needs to escape the government clutches. Clive Owen does not play a hero type, yet it is up to him to save this woman, this miraculous child; and possibly the world while he is at it. Michael Caine adds another vivid characterization to his considerable canon. Gosh, if any of you can, get out and see this film. It is a keeper.


  3. David G. loaned me an advance DVD copy of a new Canadian film that will be released next month. It is titled: A SIMPLE CURVE (2007) It was a “debut” effort by new director Aubrey Nealon, and it is autobiographical. It was even filmed in his small hometown in British Columbia. The Canadian Rockies, the Kootneys, have never looked better. They filmed it in the fall and winter, and the colors are wonderful. David Geddes did the cinematography, and his arial shots are to die for. It stars Kris Lemche, who was a regular on JOAN OF ARCADIA. He does a wonderful job playing a late twenty-something lad working with his Dad in a wood shop, making fine furniture. Michael Hogan played his father, and he did excellent work. The most well known actor was Matt Craven, who had a meaty role too. The love interest was played by Pascale Hutton, and a fling was provided by curvy Sarah Lind. When this film opens it is well worth seeing.

    Yesterday I made the trek out into the ice fields to see CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER (2006), directed by Zhang Yimou. It starred Chow Yun Fat, and Gong Li (she just keeps getting more beautiful). Yimou directed HERO and HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS, so one expected to see stunning cinematopgraphy and martial arts. But the film was a lot more plot-driven, a kind of Chinese MACBETH, rather than another CROUCHING DRAGON. Chow Yun Fat had to have a dialogue coach again to speak Mandarin, and he was very good. The real star of the film was Gong Li. The intrigues, double-crosses, and secrets were the bulk of the plot. A botched rebellion with thousands of troops pitched against each other was a long time in coming, and over quickly. As I told David, the cinematography, all the shots in the palace in Peking, in the Forbidden City, were beyond stunning. It made Bertolucci’s THE LAST EMPORER look like it was filmed in Brooklyn. One had a real sense of place watching this film. So if you are to see this one, have patience.

    I happened to be watching IFC this weekend as well, and I had a chance to see Atom Egoyan’s film, ARARAT (2002). I really enjoyed it as a piece of cinema. It dealt with making a film about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in 1915. Christopher Plummer was quite good in it, and Eric Bogosian was in it too, and Charles Aznavour as a film director. Cinematically the movie jumps all over the map, from the real past, or scenes from the pretend film, to the present, illuminating history and examining the soul of several characters. This film will be on some of my Pick Lists soon.


  4. Yesterday Melva and I, after returning from a triumphant trip to Pac Beach, went to to see the new Clint Eastwood film, LETTERS FROM IWO JIM (2007). This unique film, completely in Japanese with subtitles, has just won the Golden Globe for “Best Foreign Film”. Mel Gibson’s APOCALYPTO was also nominated. Eastwood’s film was shot the same time he was at Iwo Jima filming FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. Paul Haggis was also involved in the writing of LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. As advertised, LETTERS tells the story of the Japanese soldiers, dying in those caves as the Americans advanced. It is a powerful film, mind-numbing in its cruelty and violence, and very touching in its humanism. Steven Spielberg was a co-producer on LETTERS. See this film if you have a chance.


  5. Last weekend I managed to catch BLOOD DIAMOND (2006) before it left the theaters. I really enjoyed it.

    It is 1990, and we are dropped into the strife of civil war and anarchy in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Many of the events depicted in this film were historically accurate. The RUF was a rebel group who viciously roamed the countryside killing civilians and government troops randomly, and they did amputate thousands of hands, and kidnap strong men to work in the diamond fields, and young boys to be conditioned into “child soldiers”, drugged-out killing machines. Several factions competed for “conflict diamonds” that could be smuggled into neighboring Nigeria and sold in order to buy more weapons and bankroll more revolution.

    The film was directed by Edward Zwick, a mainstream mover and shaker who specializes in synchronizing real historical events with dramatic action and human nature -as many of his previous films are testament to. In BLOOD DIAMOND, there is a tremendous sense of place, of being there in Africa; much more so than say THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005). Charles Leavitt wrote the screenplay and it hummed with authority, bathos, profanity, loyalty, and hue and cry for human rights. As a film, this DIAMOND would have stayed in the rough without his intelligent and powerful dialogue. The stunning cinematography was done by Eduardo Serra, and his images shifted from sun-kissed savannas to deeply forested steaming jungles, from ghetto squalor to serene country lanes -always ready to share a vista or come in close on a character’s face.

    Leonardo DiCaprio has made some kind of artistic breakthrough, some powerful transition in this last year. He emerges as a powerhouse. He has been on the “A” list for a decade, and finally he deserves it. His Danny Archer is sporting several pounds of muscle and an authentic-sounding African accent. His soldier of fortune who happens to be a smuggler is painted in tiny strokes of brilliance. He nailed this character. By the end of the film we care a lot about him. Russell Crowe was considered for the part, but I am glad DiCaprio got it.

    As good as Leo was in the movie, the film belongs to Djimon Housou as Solomon Vandy, a simple loving husband and Mende fisherman, his personal tragedy and strong sense of survival were beyond pivotal to the plot. If Archer was the intellect of the film, and the cunning, Vandy was its beating heart. Housou shows an impressive range as an actor, moving from parental tenderness to homicidal rage, from kidnapped slave to a free man, from forced civility to unencumbered visceral torrents of resistance. He is nominated for an Oscar, and he deserves it.

    The rest of the cast is excellent as well. Jennifer Connelly as Maddy Bowen, the photo-journalist, was very effective; barely tapping her range as an actress, never the less, she shined in a part a lesser artist would have phoned in a performance for. Arnold Vosloo, always great, was cryptic and ruthless as Colonel Boetzee. Young Kargisdo Kuypers was a stand out as the son, Dia Vandy. Michael Sheen was quietly creepy and efficient as the businessman front for the Van De Kaap Corporation.

    Archer: Sometimes I wonder if God will forgive us for what we’ve done to each other. But then I look around and realize God left this place long ago.

    I would rate this film at 4 stars.


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