Saturday, October 21, 2006

seven/+ movies

Movies I've seen within the past two years that I voted a "7" or higher for on

Half Nelson (2006)
An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret.
I dug this post up from the grave for a new entry. A little clicking around results in a short film Gowanus, Brooklyn (2004) that quite possibly is the precursor to this quiet screamer of a movie.

Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
'Me and You and Everyone We Know' is a poetic and penetrating observation of how people struggle to connect with one another in an isolating and contemporary world. Christine Jesperson is a lonely artist and "Eldercab" driver who uses her fantastical artistic visions to draw her aspirations and objects of desire closer to her. Richard Swersey (John Hawkes), a newly single shoe salesman and father of two boys, is prepared for amazing things to happen. But when he meets the captivating Christine, he panics. Life is not so oblique for Richard's seven-year-old Robby, who is having a risqué Internet romance with a stranger, and his fourteen-year-old brother Peter who becomes the guinea pig for neighborhood girls -- practicing for their future of romance and marriage.
If I'd made a film, it would have looked something like this, not that I have the know-how. Wonderfully done. People are capable of displaying very diverse personalities. The characters and events depicted may seem a little stranger than usual, but are they really? I laughed out loud.

The Door in the Floor (2004)
Alternately tragic and comic, an exploration of the complexities of love in both its brightest and darkest corners. Adapted from John Irving's best-selling novel A Widow for One Year, the film is set in the privileged beach community of East Hampton, New York and chronicles one pivotal summer in the lives of famous children's book author Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his beautiful wife Marion (Kim Basinger). Their once-great marriage has been strained by tragedy. Her resulting despondency and his subsequent infidelities have prevented the couple from confronting a much-needed change in their relationship. Eddie O'Hare, the young man Ted hires to work as his summer assistant, is the couple's unwitting yet willing pawn - and, ultimately, the catalyst in the transformation of their lives.
Once in a while comes a movie that slips under the radar, giving it elements of surprise. Not the brightest in the sense of heaviness or being smart, but a rare one in today's Hollywood's dogpile.

Contact (1997)
Contact, based on the novel of the same name by Carl Sagan, is the story of a free thinking radio astronomer (Jodie Foster) who discovers an intelligent signal broadcast from deep space. She and her fellow scientists are able to decipher the Message and discover detailed instructions for building a mysterious Machine. Will the Machine spell the end of our world, or the end of our superstitions? Will we take our place among the races of the Galaxy, or are we just an upstart species with a long way to go?
If anyone wants to see a sci-fi that is belivable and heartfelt, this is it. Nothing like the War of the Worlds crap.

Clerks. (1994)
Dante Hicks is a clerk at a local convenience store in New Jersey. On one particular Saturday morning, he gets called in on his day off. Once there, he must deal with multiple problems. The shutters outside won't open. His ex-girlfriend, whom he is still in love with, is getting married. His girlfriend, who bugs him about starting college, has revealed certain, uh...stuff about her past. His boss hasn't come in to take his place. He has a hockey game at 2 o'clock. Another ex has died, and today's the last day he can go to her wake. He must deal with customers that aren't so intelligent. His friend, Randal, a clerk at the video store next door, is even less dedicated to his job than Dante, and is always bothering Dante's customers. And the biggest problem of them all: HE'S NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE THERE TODAY!! Can Dante manage it all?
Lots of clever one-liners. Really interesting dilemmas in everyday's situation.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
Steve Zissou, sea-film auteur a la Jacques Cousteau, has reason to be melancholy: his partner has been eaten, perhaps by a mythic jaguar shark, his wife may be taking up with her ex-husband, a young man appears claiming Steve is his father (Steve hates fathers), his most recent films have tanked, he's having trouble raising money for his venture to revenge his partner, and he's attracted to a pregnant reporter who prefers the pretender. At sea, in pursuit of the shark, will he escape pirates and mutiny, forge the bonds of fatherhood, place his arm around his wife, find the monster of the deep, re-establish box office hegemony, and discover a reason to smile?
Maquinista, El (2004)
THE MACHINIST is the story of TREVOR REZNIK, a lathe-operator who is dying of insomnia. In a machine shop, occupational hazards are bad enough under normal circumstances; yet for Trevor the risks are compounded by fatigue. Trevor has lost the ability to sleep. This is no ordinary insomnia...
Watched it a while back. Well executed ideas. Keeps you wondering.

Dark City (1998)
John's life has become a nightmare. He is hunted by the police for a series of murders he knows nothing about, a woman who claims to be his wife is after him, and so is a mysterious "doctor". But his worst trouble is the strangers, a series of vastly powerful beings who seem to manipulate just about everything in the city, and want him because of the extraordinary powers he manifested. John decides to find out what is happening in his city; why is it always night? And why can nobody tell him a way to leave the city?
Another great Sci-fi. Mind opening as well as intriguing.

I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Determined to solve the coincidence of seeing the same conspicuous stranger three times in a day, Albert hires a pair of existentialist detectives, who insist on spying on his everyday life while sharing their views on life and the nature of the universe.
Need I say more?

Code 46 (2003)
Code 46 is a love story set in a Brave New World-type near-future where cities are heavily controlled and only accessible through checkpoints. People cannot travel unless they have "papelles," a special travel permit issued by the totalitarianistic government, the "Sphinx". Outside these cities, the desert has taken over and shanty towns are jammed with non-citizens - people without papelles forced to live primitive lives. William is a family man who works as a government investigator. When he is sent to Shanghai to solve a case of fake papelles, he meets a woman named Maria. Although he realizes she is behind the forgeries, he cannot help but fall completely in love with her. He hides her crime and they have a wild, passionate affair that can only last as long as his papelles: 24 hours. Back home, William is obessed with the memory of Maria. When the original investigation is inevitably re-opened a week later and William is sent back to finish the work he started, he tracks her down, only to discover she has been accused of a Code 46 violation and any further relationship is impossible.
Unconventional depiction of the future. Although they miscast Tim Robbins for the role.

quoted plot outlines taken from
bold type comments by me