Thursday, September 30, 2010

Movie: Armadillo

"Armadillo" follows a group of soldiers from Denmark during their first stay in Afghanistan.

For the people of Denmark (and of Norway), getting an idea of what the boys going to war experience, is important. While this movie is not "The Truth", it may contribute to a richer image of what the war consists of.

Well, what does it consist of? We see that the soldiers spend lots of times watching heterosexual porn, and that there is lots of time to kill. There are trips out of the camp to speak to the locals, where the locals complain that the soldiers are destroying their fields when they go to visit the locals. And there is fighting with the Taliban, of course, which is very real and deadly, but seems a bit less important as it doesn't actually change anything.

It's an important documentary.

Armadillo (2010)

All movies I've seen

Monday, September 27, 2010

Porn at Norwegian cinemas?

The manager of a cinema in Gjøvik, Norway, has censored a free newspaper because it has featured an "antifashion" spread which she considers to be "porn", according to Dagbladet. Some of the photos can be seen at the free newspaper's website.

Is this really porn? In that case, the cinema manager (Marit Bratland) should perhaps consider herself a porn seller, as most movies includes more nudity and sex than this newspaper...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Movie: Oh Happy Day

Jonathan hooks up with a guy at a marketing award show. That turns complicated when they guy turns up at work, representing his big client, not the least because his firm has a strict no-sleeping-with-clients policy.

The movie is actually quite funny at times and also warm and cozy. But on the other hand, there are scenes that are there just for some cheap laughs, and in addition the whole moral of the story gets a bit too pushy in its be-true-to-yourself philosophy.

So even though there are cute gays and a few laughs, I was disappointed.

Oh Happy Day (2007)

All movies I've seen

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Funny Quotes of the Week 95

"We had gay burglars the other night. They broke in and rearranged the furniture." (Robin Williams)

"Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow." (Oscar Wilde)

"We'd all like to vote for the best man but he's never a candidate." (Kin Hubbard)

Movie: Howl

"Howl" is the movie about poet Allen Ginsberg, which got the honor of opening the Oslo Gay And Lesbian Film Festival today.

The movie follows three stories at the same time. The core is, of course, the poem itself - performed powerfully by James Franco (as Allen Ginsberg). The second story is Allen Ginsberg's life, and the circumstances of writing the poem. The third story is the trial in which "Howl" was to be considered as either obscene or of artistic value. (Due to some unfortunate Supreme Court case, a poem cannot be both at the same time.)

I think my problem with the film can be simply summarized: I often wanted to see more from the courtroom. I like courtroom dramas (LA Law being a favorite some years ago), but had the life of Allen Ginsberg really engaged me, I wouldn't have wanted to see less of it...

The poem is interesting, the court case a scandal and Ginsberg himself an important figure - so it's surprising that I find myself checking the watch so often...

Howl (2010)

All movies I've seen

Friday, September 24, 2010

Movie: Marty

I may have mentioned that some time ago I created a spreadsheet aimed at giving me suggestions for good movies to see. Into the spreadsheet, I put movies with certain attributes (such as getting an Academy Award for best movie, being on lists of the best movies of all times etc), creating a little point system to guide me to movies I should see. Marty has been on top of this list of must-see-movies for some time, so finally, I got round to ordering it. (I don't usually buy DVDs, but I had to make an exception.)

Why is Marty so special? Well, it did get an Academy Award for best movie and best male actor (Ernest Borgnine) as well as the Palme d'Or in Cannes (being the first movie to get both the best movie Oscar and the Golden Palm). It's also on lists such as 1001 movies you should see before you die.

Was it any good? Yes, I did like it very much. It is a very simple story, but told with great warmth and with wonderful actors. It's also benefiting from a rare condition: it is no longer than it should be. At only 86 minutes it tells the story just fine, and does not go on for another hour after that...

Ernest Borgnine is the local butcher who has trouble finding a woman. In fact, his customers tend to harrass him about it, telling him its time to find one. But the fact is that its not for a lack of trying, on the contrary, it's because women tend to turn him away.

Obviously, this can't go on for a whole Hollywood movie, so enter Betsy Blair as Clara Snyder. And that's about as much as I can tell without ruining the whole movie.

It's a treat to find a great, classic movie which is sufficently unknown that I don't feel I know the whole story before seeing it...

Marty (1954)

All movies I've seen

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Movie: Fighting Tommy Riley

Tommy is a former boxer who is having a boring job for low pay, quarreling with his girlfriend and being thrown out of the local gym. Then one day he meets a new trainer, and starts to train seriously hoping to get a title match... Zzzzz... Sounds boring, doesn't it? Sounds like something you've seen about 400 times before? The stuff that mind-numbing series of films are made of?

Well, the twist making the film still worth seeing, is that the trainer, Marty, has a past which is gradually unpacked through the movie. His character has a lot of love to give but never seems to find the love he seeks.

I guess that how much you like the movie depends on your ability to ignore the cliches. The boxing thing is one, Marty being a teacher quoting the same lines from literature to his friends as to his students is another one. Hm. I guess I was pretty good at it, because as I watched the movie I wasn't as disturbed by it as I am now that I'm writing this post...

Fighting Tommy Riley (2005)

All movies I've seen

Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie: A Serious Man

I'm a big fan of the Coen brothers, even though many of their movies are not up to the high expectations I have. For me, Hudsucker Proxy and O Brother, Where Art Thou? are hard to match.

It's the same old story again with "A Serious Man". This movie about a US physics teacher whose life is falling apart, has plenty of small, funny situations and quite interesting characters. In particular, deaths of several people throughout the movie appeal to my sense of black humour. The Coen brothers' habit of doing unusual things are shown when they start the movie with a ten-minute short without noticeable connection to the rest of the movie.

So perhaps it is unfair to measure the movie by looking at their very best work. But on the other hand, it is unavoidable. This is a movie I never doubted that I wanted to see, but which is less unforgettable than I had wanted...

A Serious Man (2009)

All movies I've seen

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Movie: Plein Soleil

These days, more people will know Matt Damon's The Talented Mr. Ripley than the much earlier Ripley of Alain Delon (directed by René Clément). However, Delon's Ripley is hard to surpass; seductive, sexy and sinister.

The basic story is well-known (and based on Patricia Highsmith's novel): Tom Ripley is sent from the United States to Italy to convince Philippe Greenleaf to return home to his family there. But as he befriends Philippe, he starts to see that he may do better than getting him home - he can become him.

While the film copy I saw was not good - quite battered at the ends of each roll and with a bad Swedish (!) translation (leaving out quite a bit of the dialogue), Alain Delon's performance were still shining through. So if you liked "The Talented Mr. Ripley" but would like to see an even better Ripley; here's your chance...

Plein soleil (1960)

All movies I've seen

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Movie: Cachorro

Bernando's mother goes to India for vacation, leaving him with his uncle Pedro in Madrid. However, an unwanted meeting with border police delays her return, meaning that Bernando and Pedro will have to stick together. But there's also Bernando's scheming grandmother to take into account.

Of course, making movies about childs missing their mothers is a simple way of getting tears to the audience's eyes, at least for a while and if the child actor is great. But it does take more to make a great movie. The actor playing Bernando does a good job, but the portrayal of Pedro's gay life is perhaps more interesting - how he balances between a seemingly carefree existence on the gay scene and heavy responsibilities and an important secret.

The title, which translates into "bear cub" for the English-speaking audience, is borrowed from one of the first scenes in the movie, and references "The Jungle Book". But it is of course also used as Pedro and his mates are "bears" while Bernando is the smart, little kid who understands it all.

The movie is warm and emotional, and has won several prizes at film festivals.

Cachorro (2004)

All movies I've seen

Funny Quotes of the Week 94

"Military justice is to justice what military music is to music." (Groucho Marx)

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." (Oscar Wilde)

"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." (George Bernard Shaw)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Movie: He ni zai yi qi

"Together" is the English title of this Chen Kaige movie. Liu Xiaochun is a 13 year old boy who is a brilliant violinist. But he is born in the Chinese countryside, thereby being without any connections necessary to be successful in this world. However, his (single) father travels with him to Beijing to get him a teacher who can make him successful.

These efforts turn into a beautiful movie on many level. Of course, his violin makes beautiful music and some of the Beijing scenes, for instance from the Forbidden City, are beautiful as well. But it's also a story of fatherhood and about a boy about to become a man.

I know I may be alone in this, but I think Peiqi Liu does a bad role as Xiaochun's father. For me, many scenes are destroyed by his almost parodic rural-guy-persona. I do see, however, that he has received several prizes for his effort in this movie, which may mean that I'm totally wrong in this...

Anyway - for me, this movie was anyway a nice way to spend an evening.

He ni zai yi qi (2002)

All movies I've seen

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Movie: Coffee Date

Coming out is a huge thing for many people - both for the gay people coming out and for their environments who may or may not be struggling to deal with it. A cute way of portraying the different ways people "handle" it, is to look at what happens when a straight guy is considered gay - which is the premise of this movie, as well as in the movie Le placard (The closet).

Le placard was less silly and had wonderful actors, including Gérard Depardieu. "Coffee Date" has a few unneccessary low points (the police scene in particular), but is also a quite entertaining movie.

Todd goes on a blind date, only to find out that Kelly - his date - is not a woman. While carefully pointing out that he is not gay, he can't help being charmed by the great personality of Kelly. This leads to complications, which are not helped by everyone's assurances that they fully support Todd's coming out...

The movie has featured on the list of 50 best gay movies (at number 38). That mostly goes to show that there are far too few gay movies made yet, but it also shows that this movie has its charm. (We'll see if it makes the updated version of my list of best gay movies later...)

Coffee Date (2006)

All movies I've seen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Movie: Election

WarGames was one of the first movies I saw about hundred years ago (26 1/2 years ago, actually). It was an interesting movie, featuring cute Matthew Broderick as a computer nerd who threatened the world with extinction, using a computer with about the same power as my current toothbrush.

Therefore, I find it funny to see Broderick playing in this movie, against a youngish Reese Witherspoon (about 23 years old but trying desperately to seem younger). The story is very simple: Reese is an unpleasantly ambitious girl who wants to be successful, and wants the school's student board presidency as part of a career. We get to follow the campaign and the count.

It is a moderately interesting story, but only moderately. The scenes that probably tries to be funny, mostly isn't, and it's very hard to be particularly taken with the movie. But maybe it's worth watching for people who are in college themselves.

Election (1999)

All movies I've seen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Funny Quotes of the Week 93

"Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality." (Oscar Wilde)

"Democracy is too good to share with just anybody." (Nigel Rees)

"It's better to be black than gay because when you're black you don't have to tell your mother." (Charles Pierce)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Movie: Cidade de Deus

The City of God is a favela (neighbourhood) outside of Rio de Janeiro. It is a lawless area where the police can only visit, but not make a lasting impact. In this movie, we follow a group of young guys who try to define their lives in this area. Of course, they have to take into account the violence, the drug trade and the poverty - there is no easy path to a quiet, peaceful life.

In the US, this movie was "Rated R for strong brutal violence, sexuality, drug content and language", imdb tells us. There's not really much sexuality, but there is lots of violence - escalating into almost civil war at times, although it's not a civil war that the outside world cares too much about at first. It's only concerning poor people after all...

At the time of writing, City of God is number 19 on the list of the best movies of all time. That may be because it manages to combine a heart for the poor with exciting shoot-outs and a strong story of one person's struggle to get free of the favela.

Cidade de Deus (2002)

All movies I've seen

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Movie: Eating Out: All You Can Eat

This movie is so bad. The story is silly, the actors are less than convinving and it is obviously speculative, with an opening scene including sex in a coffin during a funeral.

But somehow it's also entertaining and with a certain charm. Of course, the actors are also sexy and put in lots of situations calling for skin to be bared.

So what's the story? Casey (Daniel Skelton) moves to town, tries to find friends in the gay community, but messes things up with a fake profile at a gay internet site. And thereafter the story moves in twists and turns.

The same day that I saw this movie, I saw Shelter. While Shelter is a superior movie in many ways - and in a way as different as movies can be - the irreverence and carelessness of this movie makes it almost as enjoyable.

This is the third movie in the "Eating Out" series. Even though I remember the first one as being the best, they have all ended up getting 8/10 points in my book. I will probably see the next one also - if there will be one.

Eating Out: All You Can Eat (2009)

All movies I've seen

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Movie: Shelter

When I posted my list of the 18 best gay movies I've seen, I got five comments claiming that Shelter should be on it. Well, it couldn't be, as I hadn't seen it. But I guess it will be in the next incarnation of the list.

Shelter is the movie about Zach (Trevor Wright), who is a talented guy who would want to go to art school, but has too much sense of responsibility to his nephew Cody, whose father has left him. Zach's father is not much use and Cody's mother has to work a lot - not an unrealistic scenario, I guess, in the current economy. Zach has a relationship with a cute girl Tori, but that's not going anywhere. So what to do?

Well, as anyone who has seen the poster or the trailer (or the 2nd place on the list The 50 best gay movies) would know, romance (of the gay kind) is knocking on the door.

It is a beautiful movie. From an aesthetic viewpoint, there is Zach's art and the beautiful surfing scenes to look at besides the actors. It also portrays love, family, friendships and the whole coming-out thing beautifully.

So why only 8 of 10 points? I'm not sure. Maybe it's just a tiny bit too predictable after all. Or maybe the very in-your-face use of the music irritates me once too much. But it is surely a movie worth seeing. Enjoy.

Shelter (2007)

All movies I've seen

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Funny Quotes of the Week 92

"Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected." (Oscar Wilde)

"Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least." (Robert Byrne)

"My classmates would copulate with anything that moved, but I never saw any reason to limit myself." (Emo Philips)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Movie: Transsibirskiy ekspress

I have a sweet spot for train movies. Trains work well in movies - offering small compartments which are disjoint but still interconnected. They also offer opportunities for shoot-outs on the roof. And we can, of course, travel as we see them.

This Soviet-era movie is far less bad than expected. Sadly, I saw a version with unimpressive English dubbing (instead of subtitles). But the story of the ex-Russian Manchurian nightclub owner who is bullied into going back to Moscow, does manage to take its grip gradually. It becomes a struggle for survival, with heavy overtones of international politics, as both Japanese, Chinese and Russian interests are involved.

The actors are okay, I guess. The dubbing is (as mentioned) unimpressive. But the story is good enough. Give it a try if you get the chance - you probably haven't seen a Soviet movie in a while...

Transsibirskiy ekspress (1977)

All movies I've seen

(See "trailer".)