Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grandiose Movie Review Based on (some) Bloggers' Recommendations

I while ago, I wrote a post about my inclination to watch foreign films rather than mainstream movies and blockbusters. Although I was delighted by Slumdog Millionaire, entranced by Mickey Rourke's terrific performance in The Wrestler, a role which I think was made for Rourke alone, was amused by The Reader and loved seeing Anne Hathaway's performance in Rachel Getting Married as well as Sean Penn in Milk, I would rather go back in time and disclose my personal feedback on the films that were recommended to me by relatives, friends and bloggers.

I'm Not ThereRecommended by a friend




Bob Dylan with David Blue, Robert de Niro & friends (1977) Bob Dylan Archive




I wasn't there. That's my review. The problem is that you have to know every minute detail about Bob Dylan's life to really appreciate this movie. Needless to say, I didn't do my research prior to watching this film and in the end, I ironically found it to be a little bit off tempo.
My rating: 6.3/10

The Band's VisitRecommended by Angelo


Image from Amazon.com

I actually liked the naturally awkward mood that wrapped this film up into a neat little package filled with off-beat humor, personal insight on the characters' lives and the subtle yet defining moments that highlighted the significance of family ties and history. Although I don't think this movie is above and beyond, it's a good, amusing piece to watch if you're up for something to smile quizzically at.
My rating: 7.7/10

21 GramsRecommended by Zeecu



Image from DVDbeaver.com


If you're inches away from committing suicide and you need a little push that'll make you drag a knife across your wrist before you jump in a water-filled bathtub, I would suggest you watch this film that was created by Uber-Depression Productions. 'Nuff said.
My rating: 5/10

Kramer vs. KramerRecommended by Sis


Image from SimplyStreep.com


My sister, a fan of romantic, dramatic films (think Unfaithful to Bridges of Madison County), was on my ass about this 80's classic for the longest time. A highly emotional custody battle between Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, this tear-jerker shows you how far a parent can go for the love of his/her child.
My rating: 8.5/10

Volver Recommended by Angelo, Zeecu and Ms. Baker



Image from Movie-Mail Online


I really liked this movie. A friend of mine said that it's not Almodóvar's best film but I think it's at least one of his best. I'm a big fan of unconventional and familiarly sarcastic humor. This might not be the best adjective to describe this film but it was, in general, pleasant, mostly because of the strong sisterly and family bonds. There is a twist in the film that I did not figure out until near the very end. For people who saw this movie, I think you know what I'm talking about. And last but oh so not least, Penelope Cruz is absolutely gorgeous in this film. I seriously don't understand how she gets better looking with age! I saw her in Jamón, jamón with Javier Bardem and she looked pretty at seventeen years of age. But fifteen years later in Volver, she was simply a stunner.
My rating: 7.9/10

Fargo Recommended by Big Brother


Image from Destgulch




I've been wanting to see this movie for the longest time ever. The main characters and their quote-friendly dialogue are very memorable. This just might be the warmest film the Coen brothers ever made with quirky humor alongside gory scenes. If you're all right with bloody films so to speak, I'd definitely recommend this piece. It's simply raw, funny, smart and unique.
My rating: 8.4/10

Baraka - Recommended by a friend
Created 15 years ago and shot on 70 mm film, this beautiful, non-narrative film is a purely cinematic poem that links the mesmerizing wonder of humankind to nature. A definitive must-see.
My rating: 9.3/10

Trainspotting - Recommended by a friend
This 1995 pseudo-cult film is the sort of thing that lingers around three days after you're done watching it. It may be because I didn't know that the movie was about the self-destructiveness heroine had in mind for its users; at times it was confusedly morbid yet humorous, fatal but hopeful and in a lot of moments, disgusting. I wouldn't recommend this movie for those who're weak at heart; I certainly would've liked a heads up before I watched this flick. Then again, it is considered as one of the classics that slip right into cult films that glamorize sex, drugs and violence such as Pulp Fiction and what not. If you want to watch something new that will give you a little shock, I'd give this a go.
My rating: 8.9/10

There were a lot of other films that were mentioned on the previous post by Ms. Baker, Zeecu, Angelo, Dalal Arch, The Universal Refusenik and Bodie Broduas, and I do plan to order and watch them. So, thanks to the aforementioned bloggers :) And if the rest have any suggestions on what to watch, let me know!

MP3's...
Gary B - It's All Right
The Long Lost - Woebegone (Flying Lotus' Luckiest Charm)
AFTA-1 - The Time in Between
Trio Mafua - Quente

at 8:30 AM

11 Comments

  1. Blogger don_veto posted at 10:08 AM  
    I saw Baraka on DVD and trainspotting when it came out. My brief review is"

    Baraka: Elevator music in movie format.

    Trainspotting: Cool Movie.
  2. Blogger Q80 Saracen posted at 12:13 PM  
    Great reviews. In terms of Baraka, its funny because you described it as non-narrative which is technically right but actually, I saw a clear story in all the strung up images. It could be one of those things that "each person sees what something else".

    Anyway, watch "City of God". Its a Brazilian production that focuses on the slums (Favellas) of Rio de Janeiro. It can be at times intense, but its not anything like Trainspotting.

    Another movie is "Maria Full of Grace" which is also a very good movie. Watched it once a while ago but I'd definitely watch it again.
  3. Blogger Erzulie posted at 12:59 AM  
    don veto: elevator music! come ON! it's beautiful! well, i enjoyed it so there :P and trainspotting...cool? i don't know, it was actually a bit much for me especially THAT part, the part where he dreams about it later crawling on his ceiling. that was...no. and the toilet part. i actually looked away.

    q80 saracen: that's a nice way to put it :) i was actually taken back at some of the scenes because it switched from one thing to another really fast. kinda intense but really cool. and of course i saw city of god! actually, i think it might be as intense as trainspotting...maybe trainspotting is a...well, i can't really compare the two. maybe it's because you can't compare two violent movies from two different locations in the world i.e. scotland vs. brazil. and i didn't watch maria full of grace! thanks for reminding me :)
  4. Blogger Dalal Arch posted at 2:44 AM  
    I would also like to add to my list
    Before night falls, 2000 by Julian Schnabel
    Le Vie n Rose, 2007
    If you haven't seen them.
    for arabic pictures I'm thinking of
    West Beirut
    and ara'a elbala7 by sherehan
  5. Anonymous Mix posted at 3:13 PM  
    For some reason I never know what all the fuss is with Coen Brothers movies. Spot on about 21 grams and Trainspotting though !
  6. Blogger Bodie Broduas posted at 8:52 AM  
    Before Night Falls!! Definitely a good movie.. a better investment than reading the book in my mind.
  7. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 7:39 PM  
    Stopped watching Hollywood/first cinema production movies a long time ago. There's nothing like third cinema production films that portray the collective rather than the individual.

    Down with imperialism :-P

    Watch The Battle of Algiers, Black Girl (La Noire de), or even Memoirs of Underdevelopment .. if you can find them :-)
  8. Blogger Broke Saudi posted at 10:14 PM  
    Trainspotting was such a great movie, it struck a chord with all emotions. Dalal Arch recommended a great movie, West Beirut. You should also check out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The City of Lost Children, finally Sex and Lucia.
  9. Blogger Erzulie posted at 5:50 PM  
    Dalal Arch: God you're like...as obsessed as me! You know, I think I have about...let me count them (I actually saved a Word document with all the movies that were submitted!) 31! 31 movies...wow that's a lot...one per day in a whole month...and i didn't see the ones you mentioned with the exception of le vie en rose which i loved. i think i loved the main character's performance (forgot her name, something french) more than the actual movie if you know what i mean. when i saw her at the oscars that year i was like, "SHE played HER?" really amazing :)

    mix: ugh, 21 grams. never. i mean, what was that? i'm sorry, i'm just not into movies that bring you WAY down. not my cup of tea. trainspotting was cool though :) coen brothers just started out on a good foot. there were simply different, and that's about it.

    bodie: wrote it down :)

    anon: the "finding them" bit is what i'm worried about! i can always find the time to watch 'em, but i have to get them first!

    Broke Saudi: I THINK i heard of the city of lost children before. remember a friend of mine who's also into good movies showed it to me once. and i saw west beirut and loved it. i can't put it into words. it's strange...i mean, heh, i don't know! :)
  10. Blogger Ms. Baker posted at 2:20 PM  
    Ok a new and more recent movie recommendation- one which I am surprised to find myself making:
    "Vicky Christina Barcelona".

    Not only was it visually more beautiful than I expected (even with the odd "adult" relationship(s) that develops between the characters in the middle of the film, but it touched a chord with me in terms of the women's perspectives and views of their lives. Penelope Cruz has never been more fierce and strangely beautiful to me than in this film, and I was surprised by the complicated intensity of her character which was so Pedro Almodovar-ish in spite of it being a Woody Allen film. Unexpected! And the passionate, gorgeous guitar music was moving as well. I found myself stirred and touched by the film, because of the intense either suppressed, confused, or off-kilter and consuming passions each of the female characters had (which every woman will recognize in herself).

    "Fargo" is an all time favorite Coen Brothers film of mine, as well as "Raising Arizona" in which Fargo's Frances McDormand has a small but funny and memorable role. She's also in the great "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day".

    Also - highly recommended oldies but goodies - Marilyn Monroe in "The 7 Year Itch" and the fantastic, brilliant "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" with Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier - if only just for the performances and for being films that dared to take on socially risky subjects ahead of their time.

    Enjoyed this post very much and am going to get ahold of some of the films you recommended here which I haven't seen yet...
  11. Blogger Erzulie posted at 6:04 PM  
    ms.baker: you know, okay, i saw vicky barcelona, and it just, it just didn't do it for me! first of all, i thought scarlett johansson's performance was totally off. i mean, she was just a stupid pushover who went in on anything that came her way and it wasn't in that courageous, let-me-try-something-new sort of manner...it just felt blah! and okay, penelope cruz was unbelievably gorgeous (still don't get it) but she was just completely nuts in the thing. she was a stereotypical spanish nutcase. the movie ended and i was like, "umm...okay? so, that's it?" it just felt, strange and not in a good way. and i hate how it was branded as a "woody allen" movie, as if we're supposed to expect something off-beat that makes us wrinkle our eyebrows and try to digest it as a film as opposed to a movie. branding branding branding! oh poop...
    and i saw the seven year itch, fantastic :) AND i memorized everything that was on TCM when i was a kid; spencer tracy's my all time fave, i especially loved him when he was with katherine hepburn (you can so feel the chemistry between them!) ah the classics :)

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