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Went back to Mission Valley (ihsp, and there's a funny story about that) to try again to see Apocalypto.
I really want to call it Apocalypso )
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Went to the Rialto Thursday night to see Flags of Our Fathers.
I hate the beach - this didn't help that on any level )
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Friday night M and I skipped the first friday art gallery crawl to have dinner (sushi, Waraji) and two films. First to The Colony for The U.S. vs. John Lennon, then down to The Rialto for The Queen.

two films, two funerals )
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Saw Infamous Friday night at the Colony. A second film about Truman Capote and his writing of the book _In Cold Blood_. Film is slightly lighter-toned than _Capote_, but the clinical detachment involved in the two killers' executions, plus the overall subject of the film being a murder of a family, plus Capote's morally flexible use of anyone around him, makes this not a particularly happy film. Solid film, though. In another year, Toby Jones'd be up for the Oscar. Best performance in the film is by Daniel Craig (_Layer Cake_, and the new James Bond) as one of the two killers of the family. One of the best performances in the film is, oddly enough, Sandra Bullock. Honestly.

Card: Seven of Pentacles reversed.

Trailers:
Fast Food Nation - Fictionalized film version of the non-fiction book, directed by Linklater. Soundtrack by Friends of Dean Martinez.
For Your Consideration - new film by Christopher Guest.
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Went Monday night to see The Departed, essentially Scorsese's portrayal of the Irish Boston mob as he did for the Italian NYC mob in _Goodfellas_ sixteen years back.
good looks bad and bad looks good )
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Just came back from the Colony and seeing Edmond. David Mamet play adapted by Mamet to the screen, has William H. Macy as the title character who suddenly decides he's had enough of his boring middle-class Manhattan existence and wanders out. From there, bad things happen. Not remotely Mamet's best play or best screenplay adaptation does not make a good film. Essentially, this film is director Stuart Gordon (yes, _Re-Animator_ and _From Beyond_) making a film that's strongly reminiscent of Michael Douglas in _Falling Down_. I think Macy's great, but the film itself, like the main character, falls far short of its aspirations. Reminded me more of _Suburbia_ than _After Hours_.

spoilers )

Card: Hermit reversed.

Trailers:
Russian Dolls - sequel to a film I didn't see. Perhaps.
Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos - documentary about NYC, 1979 and after, the owners and players (umm, Pele) of the Cosmos, and the rise of soccer in America.
Jesus Camp - documentary about children's Christian camps. Looks intense.
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Went back to the Colony at 11am for the second Saturday in a row [1], this time for an early screening of Who Killed the Electric Car?. Focused on GM's all-electric EV1 program and looks at why the program was discontinued.
Discussion, and a purple Corbin Sparrow )
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Went to the Colony Saturday afternoon to see Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle). A 1970 French crime film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville with an overt message that everyone's guilty of something, the film's sparse, open, and quiet: there's no soundtrack in a modern sense, all the sound is diegetic. Given that a large chunk of the film involves a cat-burglary of a jewelry store, the film is quiet in the can't-eat-popcorn way that Eddie Izzard described English films as being.

John Woo idolizes Melville and his films, was involved with this US release of this film, and is remaking it. Interesting. It won't be anything like the original, but when Woo isn't required to a) do mainstream Hollywood scripts, b) isn't limited to a PG rating and c) doesn't have to be limited by the talent/ego of his leads (Van Damme, Travolta in at least one, Cruise)

Card: The Hermit.

Trailer:
Army of Shadows - Mid-September at the Colony release. Another film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville focusing on the Nazi occupation of France. Mentioned in the trailer was the info that Melville also directed _Le Samourai_, which *googling* I notice was apparently a big part of Woo's inspiration for his film _The Killer_. Oddly enough, _Le Samourai_ is on my DVD shelf and I've never watched it. That is, not before this afternoon.
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M and I saw Wordplay at the Colony Tuesday night. A documentary about the New York Times crossword puzzle, the people who love it (including Jon Stewart trying just a little too hard, Bill Clinton, and the Indigo Girls), the people who write it, and the people who participate in the 28-year-ongoing annual crossword puzzle tournament.

not that long, but cut anyway )
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Saw The Lost City at the Colony over the weekend, being Andy Garcia's directed and starring film about and love letter to Cuba, specifically Havana in 1958 on the eve of Batista's ouster and Fidel's takeover. Haven't read the novel that the film is based on this time, so can't compare the two. One of the best bits for me in the entire film was Bill Murray as "The Writer", an intentionally anonymous American [1] hanging around Garcia's club, facing off versus Dustin Hoffman as Meyer Lansky. Pure genius in the room.

[1] Intentionally anonymous enough that I spent the first half-hour he was in the film thinking he was a campy spy [2].
[2] Speaking of spies, the Raleigh Spy Conference this year is all about Cuba. Run film?

Card: Two of Swords reversed.

Trailers: None. Pity. I like trailers.
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Went to the Colony Monday night to see An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary about Al Gore's slide show he's been giving for decades about global warming.

Short version: I do not care overmuch whether you've made up your mind on the topic of global warming. I suggest seeing this, then argue with it if you can. Please. I hope he's wrong about a lot of what he says. In the meantime I'll be over here cleaning up a little mess.

this got a bit long and more ranty than I usually get )
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Saw A Scanner Darkly over the weekend at the Rialto. Loved the film. I liked Linklater's last film _Waking Life_ a great deal, so I've been looking forward to this since I heard it was starting production.

Reasons you should not see this film:
You strongly dislike Philip K. Dick's writing, Linklater's animation style [1], or Radiohead (who does pretty much the entire film score). Myself, I'm going to see this again before it leaves. Recommended.

comments, not really spoilers )
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Saw Down in the Valley this afternoon at the Colony. Edward Norton plays a fellow out of touch with reality who's trying to live according to an idealized code of the American West cowboy in modern-day San Fernando Valley, California. As you can probably guess, this goes about as well as Ed Harris's attempt to live as an Arthurian knight did in _Knightriders_. If this film had come along two decades back, Harris would have been a good casting choice. Ten or fifteen years back, Nicholas Cage would have been a fine choice. Evan Rachel Wood as the female lead does quite well, David Morse as expected gives a good performance, and nice cameos by Bruce Dern and Geoffrey Lewis (who appears to have mostly been working television since I last remember seeing him in _The Way of the Gun_).

Card: Seven of Cups reversed.

Trailer: Keeping Up with the Steins - _My Big Fat Greek Wedding_ idea (look at wacky customs of an American ethnic group), except it's a bar mitzvah.
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Saw The Notorious Bettie Page at the Rialto Tuesday night. I found the film interesting, though overly shallow and flawed. Focusing on a relatively small section of the 50s pinup model's life, the film was much more of a tribute to a still-living person the filmmakers didn't want to upset too much as opposed to an insightful biopic.

However, in what the director Mary Harron chose to portray, she was successful: she does a wonderful job of portraying mid-1950s NYC, at least as far as I know. Gretchen Moll gets every nuance of the title character so perfectly that I'd swear she was channeling her, except that Bettie Page is still alive. Perfect. Nice supporting performances by David Strathairn as Senator Keefauver, someone who I'd swear was David Thewless (and would be wrong), and Chris Bauer (who I recognize mostly from _The Wire_) as Irving Klaw. Lili Taylor is great, but I always think she's great.

for more, within )

Card: High Priestess reversed.

Trailer: Down In The Valley: Ed Norton as the last cowboy.
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Went to the Rialto this afternoon to see Brick. Basic setup: a high-school student's ex-girlfriend gets killed and he investigates a drug ring mostly within the school to find who's responsible.

That's the bones of it. The meat is that the story is one of the best noir crime films I've seen in a long time. If you like Raymond Chandler, Dash Hammett, or the kind of elliptical dialogue that almost no one currently working outside of David Mamet (_Heist_, _The Spanish Prisoner_, etc.) writes, you'll likely like this. Stripped of its modern California high school setting, the story would need very little retooling to be dropped straight into the original _Black Mask_ magazine.

The main character fits Chandler's definition of the hard-boiled detective as he wrote in his essay about the genre "The Simple Art of Murder":

the quote's as long as the entirety of this post )

There's some brilliant touches in this film, and the more Bogart films you've seen, the more I bet you'll likely appreciate them.

Oh, and I hadn't realized until just now that today's Dash Hammett's birthday. This, obviously, calls for a drink. 'Scuze me.

Card: Three Swords, reversed.

Trailer: Kinky Boots.

Poster on wall for upcoming film: _The Proposition_, described as "a brutal Western" set in Australia and written by Nick Cave. Yes, *that* Nick Cave.

*waits for the expected reactions*
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Saw Kinky Boots at the Colony tonight. Another British film in the recognizable subgenre of thinking outside the box and applying determination saving the family (or other) business - in this case apparently based on a true story, a fourth-generation shoe factory owner in Northampton [1] trying to save the business by switching from making sensible broughams to boots for drag queens. The film comes across loosely sort of like _The Full Monty_ crossed with _Hedwig and the Angry Inch_. Yes, it's as predictable as your usual fairy tale but that's ok, it's still fun. Some obviously but nicely handled more serious bits involving the two main character's differing responses to disappointing their fathers.

Overall, nice performances, especially by Chiwetel Ejiofor as Lola, the campy cabaret singer and shoe designer [2]. Who knew he could sing that well? Much, much better than the film we saw earlier today, and nice enough to improve my mood from earlier.

[1] I kept thinking I was going to see Alan Moore in the background of a scene somewhere, but that was definitely just me.
[2] M's head hurt adapting to the cognitive dissonance here, given that the only role she knows him from is as the anonymous Operative from _Serenity_. Now we know what happened to him after the end of that film. M kept expecting Lola to either draw a sword and start slaughtering people, or asking them "Do you know what your sin is?"

Card: Sun.

Trailer: Word Play - documentary on the wacky world of crossword puzzle championships. And here I thought I was exaggerating a few days ago when I joked about sudoku matches.
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Went to Mission Valley to see Mission Impossible: III Sunday night. Not as bad as it could have been: I still like the first one best, but I thought this was a great improvement over the second film. Far too much of Tom Cruise as superman. As the villain Philip Seymour Hoffman, predictably, gives a minimalist performance that opposite Cruise is about as much of a mismatch as Gene Hackman versus Sharon Stone in _The Quick and the Dead_. Decent supporting cast with Lawrence Fishburne, Johnathan Rhys Meters, Billy Crudup, and with the lead from _Shaun of the Dead_ playing, as Quiller described a similar character (_Tango Briefing_? I should check), a "bent boffin". Some decent lines, many explosions.

But, in many ways, this film is recycled: we have been here before, in so many instances and in so many other films.

(Plot specifics, mostly vague, within cut.)
everything seems exactly the same )

Card: King of Swords/reversed.

Trailers:
X-Men 3
Nacho Libre - Jack Black, monks, and Mexican masked wrestling.
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Went to see Silent Hill Wednesday night. Summary: Much better, less schlocky or badly written/acted/directed than I expected. For a horror film, pretty good. No, I have never played any of the console or PC games in the genre. Radha Mitchell does well, Sean Bean is largely wasted except as an "as you know, Bob" exposition target. I liked seeing Alice Krige working, and with a role she does well with, since she's not returning to HBO's _Deadwood_. Effects nicely handled, only a few spots where the shambling zombie/demon/whatevers looked more silly than sinister, deft soundtrack (more deft than anticipated), and overall, well-done.

It was also synchronistically creepy, given the number of destroyed and other bridges in the film that serve as demarcation points between the real and the surreal worlds, that on my drive home at midnight I crested a hill to look down at a bridge at the bottom of the valley - and see the bridge lit up and almost blocked off by construction crews doing unexpected work on the bridge.

Card: Queen of Wands reversed.

Trailers:
Mission: Impossible 3 - Right.
An American Haunting - Spooky.
See No Evil - 1st in the next (or so the producers undoubtedly hope) franchise on maniac hunting teens.
Da Vinci Code - Book was one of the worst pieces of plagiaristic [1] dreck I've ever looked at, and one of the few, few books I could not finish. OTOH, it's possible the film may not be an utter trainwreck given the sheer numbers of decent actors involved - perhaps they can invest their lines with gravitas the book lacked entirely.

[1] I'm not actually referring to Baigent, Lincoln & Leigh's _Holy Blood, Holy Grail_. I'm referring to Lewis Perdue's _The Da Vinci Legacy_ published in the mid-1980s.
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Tuesday evening went with [livejournal.com profile] base10 to the Colony to see Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage. Based on the life of Sophie_Scholl, the film tells of the last few days of Sophie Scholl, a member of the White Rose anti-Nazi resistance movement whose activities were generally distributing leaflets and graffiti, as opposed to violent actions. As you can probably guess, this goes badly for her and her associates. Much of the film is built around recently-found transcripts of her interrogation. Although obviously heavily edited, the arguments for and against her actions are the core of this film. Solid performance from the actress Julia Jentsch, and the interrogator played by Gerald Alexander Held. Easy for me to see why this earned an Oscar nomination. Fascinating use of color for focus in the film, incidentally.

Cf: _V for Vendetta_, _Closetland_, _Swing Kids_.

Card: Strength.

Trailer: Hard Candy.

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