Friday, July 28, 2006

Before Sunset - Reaction

More like a good play than a movie due to the quality dialog: rambling yet clever and deep as the characters try to feel each other out. Includes long, seductive camera shots as the characters wander Paris, but not so long as to be noticeable enough to distract from the action. Well, lack of action -- nothing happens beside the dialog and the subtle body language. But that's all okay. That's enough. Darker than the original.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth - Reaction

The important documentary about Al Gore and his quest to make everyone understand the perils of and reality of climate change. Interspersed lecture and personal narrative prevent the former from getting too overwhelming; this was useful, though I found the transitions sometimes slightly clumsy/unnatural. Al Gore is a good lecturer with powerful visual aids (e.g., graphs, pictures of natural wonders). While some of the data I would question, the part I would question is different from the part other people would question, and it's clear which way the preponderance of the evidence is pointing.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Transamerica - Reaction

A quality movie about family: a mother and son meet for the first time and bond during the course of a cross-country road trip. Sure, the "mother" is actually the transsexual father going through gender reassignment but, although it's constantly in the foreground, the gender issues aren't really the point. There are a few funny scenes but not so many as to dilute the focus of the movie from the dramatic. The complex characters (especially Bree) are played effortlessly; one doesn't notice they didn't cast a real transsexual in the role.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Love Iranian-American Style - Reaction

A neat personal narrative of a twenty-something Iranian-American Jew looking for love while navigating both cultures. Shows the pressures from her family regarding arranged marriages and the desire for grandchildren and in general the difficulties of maintaining culture post-diaspora. She asks hard questions of her family and gets surprisingly open answers. My main complaint is that neither she nor, in retrospect, the movie seem very deep; no answers seem to be explored to their core and her behavior never really changes / she never seems to actually learn something.

Jews of Iran - Reaction

An interesting documentary about the shrinking Jewish community in Iran. Shows how Iranians have discriminated against Jews with examples such as having Muslims as the administrators of Hebrew schools and forcing all Jewish musical merchants (but one) out of business. Also shows how the Jewish community has, to some extent, held together by, for example, consolidating synagogues and rotating which one gets used each time.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pandora's Box - Reaction

An okay silent film about a beautiful woman who is at times a kept woman, a prostitute, or a femme fatale. Men fall for her. It's unclear whether she's an expert manipulator or just plain thoughtless, but she leaves death and destruction in her wake. (This movie, made in the late 1920s, was pre-"morality code" so it was quite risque.) It's more of a disconnected story of her than anything with an overarching plot. That's probably part of the reason I got bored; I didn't care about her. The organ accompaniment was likely another. At first, it was a bit too uppity and didn't match the movie. But then, as I got used to its long, heavy notes, I got sleepy. It might be that two silent films in a day are too much for me. Or it might be that the theater was full so it got warm and stuffy. But I'm not the only one that thought the movie was slow and longer than it should've been. (Kudos to the organist for making it through it all.) Very few title (dialogue) cards.

Sparrows - Reaction

A very good, silent, suspenseful thriller about a woman and a bunch of orphans. Forced into slave labor at a "baby farm," they attempt escape across an alligator infested swamp. Feels like a series of unfortunate events. Has a strong comedy component too, both from mis-quoting biblical verses and from using slapstick humor. The version I saw had a great piano accompaniment.