Thursday, March 28, 2013

What I've been watching

Since I had a lot on couch time on my hands while I was recuperating I watched the shit out of some movies and TV series on Netflix and Huluplus.  Here's some capsule reviews of some of it:

The Straits-Another very well done taut Aussie crime series.  It's King Lear meets Lady MacBeth meets a crime family unlike any you've seen on American TV.  Definitely worth your time.

Zonad-Hilarious Irish film about two guys who escape from an alcohol treatment facility only to land in a small backwater town where they manage to convince the locals they're from outer space.  Highly recommended.

Pleasures of the Flesh- 1960's Japanese film about a man who kills another man and is then blackmailed into holding 30 million yen by an embezzler who saw him commit the murder.  The murderer holds the money until he can't take it any more and he decides to spend it all a year before the embezzler is due to get out of prison.  He spends the money on women and all sorts of libertine things.  But during all his fun he becomes wracked with guilt and he ends up getting arrested for his crime.  It's an odd mix of misogyny, petty crime, prostitution, and moralizing.  It's a neat look at Japan in the 1960's when everything was so cool and retro modern.  I recommend it.

Slap Shot- I saw this film about down on their luck minor league hockey players years ago and watching it over this time I was struck how misogynistic and homophobic it is.  I had also forgotten that a young Swoosie Kurtz was in it.  I can't recommend it because some of the dialogue is so repellent but it's a real time capsule of the mid to late 1970's.

The Dish and The Spoon-Greta Gerwig stars in this strange yet sweet little film about a troubled woman who when on the lam from her troubled marriage hooks up with a young man and leads him to believe they they are in love and will be married.  She's really really really cute and fun to look at but at times the characters turned me off.  It's not a romantic comedy by any means, it's more of a character study about some needy people who've got many issues to deal with.  If you like Great Gerwig, and I sure do, then you'll like this film.

Ran- Stunning film about a King Lear type character in feudal era Japan who decides it time to step down and let his sons lead his clan.  The youngest son tells him it's a bad idea and he gets banished for telling the truth.  Once he steps down his older two sons betray him and then they run on each other.  This film is beautiful to look at and it's a good story told very well.  The only quibble I have with it is the Japanese tendency to over act in films like these.  But don't let that stop you from seeing it, it's a masterpiece.

Sunny Side-This is a strange little Chaplin short about a farm hand who loses and then wins the hand of a girl in the village.  It's not really classic Chaplin but it does have it's moments.  Meh, see it if you like but you'll never get back the half hour you'll invest in it.

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