Monday, August 28, 2006

this week's netflix

Match Point: This is the first Woody Allen film I've seen in awhile, and it was entertaining enough, possibly because it didn't feel like a Woody Allen film. (I watched Manhattan for the first time a couple of years ago and did. not. get. it.) The story of social climbing and dangerous infidelity took its time without running overlong, maintained the dramatic tension, and featured pretty, rich people up to no good.

Junebug: This story of the clash between the urban and the rural played out within a single family is an excellent example of how independent films can take more risks and be simply more interesting. I'm sure this film resonated deeply with throngs of city dwellers who have left behind families with whom they no longer have much in common. While all of the acting was solid (I totally missed Will Oldham as an art scout) and I don't want to take anything away from Amy Adams's performance, I'm not quite sure how her role as an chatterbox mother-to-be caught the attention of the academy and led to her Oscar nomination.

Caché: After reading an article in Los Angeles magazine where Steve Erickson called this French exploration of paranoia and isolation "one of last year's best films," my expectations were fairly high. Erickson pointed out that the premise of the film - a couple receives an anonymous video in the mail that contains hours of surveillance footage of their home - was already covered by David Lynch in Lost Highway, to more unsettling effect in my opinion. There is one shocking scene in Caché that is Lynch-worthy, but for the most part, the characters' lack of affect was contagious and left me feeling detached and unmoved.

Transamerica: I don't know why I was reluctant to see this film, afraid perhaps that the focus was too involved with the idea that Felicity Huffman was supposed to be a pre-op transsexual man and not involved enough in themes to which I could relate. Boy, was I wrong. Whereas Caché left me feeling somewhat empty, this film left me so full of emotion, I couldn't tell what I was feeling. All I knew is that I was a richer human being for having seen this film. Felicity Huffman was robbed at the Oscars.

Shopgirl: The script of this film, adapted from a Steve Martin novella, was decent enough, featuring Claire Danes as a lovelorn shopgirl (Mirabelle) seeking her destiny in romance and the glove counter at Saks. Jason Schwartzman (Jeremy) showcased his usual smart & scruffy charm as one love interest while Steve Martin (Ray) played the other older sugar daddy suitor. While I enjoyed the film, what I couldn't quite understand is how Steve Martin played his role. I haven't read the book, so I can't speak to its adaptation, but I could not figure out Mirabelle's attraction to Ray. Either she was more of a golddigger than I gathered or more desperate than I understood, but would it have killed Ray to smile? To say something funny or smart? But who knows? Having never had my student loans paid off by a lover, I may be underestimating the allure.

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