Soukie's Place

keeping track of random thoughts

Archive for movies

The Charms of a Pessimistic Workaholic

The top grossing film from Woody Allen ever, Midnight in Paris, is sweet and nice like a Belgian chocolate. It is like a dessert after some of the more substantial films of Allen’s career, even though – judged on its own – it is somewhat unsatisfactory.

That’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.

The movie is about human feelings – nostalgia, romance and disagreements – but more in the sense of the characters talking about rather than living through them. Contrasted with Allen’s lowest grossing film, September, where the characters also spend a lot of time talking about these issues, in Paris the protagonist and audience are somehow insulated from feeling the pain.

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Home Video Rip-Off

Amadeus movie poster

Can I see the film that won all the awards, please?

I believe there exists an ideal length for a given book, song or movie. That does not mean that the same theme cannot be recreated in a more minimalist or expansive way but then it is a different work. Take Annie Hall as an example of a film which feels just right at an hour and a half.

Successful authors often produce more complex and expansive works as their skills grow. But the success can also inflate the egos, and then the length grows as any output seems suddenly worthy of preservation. The results are Metallica’s St. Anger full of endless yet uninspired songs, the Harry Potter series which even some fans admit does not need to be 40% longerWhen I saw the Order of the Phoenix in a bookstore I thought it was a ‘cumulative’ edition. When I realized the mistake, I decided to wait until Rowling edits the heptalogy to be shorter than War and Peace. than the Bible, and extended versions of movies. The popular culture, and especially Hollywood, is influenced by the dogma that bigger is better.

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Silver Screen Fascination with Robots

Some of the famous movie robots

Some of the famous robots (spanning just over 100 years)

I used to think there was some kind of evolution in sci-fi movies. For example, that robots started with awkward boxes and blobs as seen in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) or Forbidden Planet. One only needs to see Fritz Lang‘s silent-era Metropolis (1927) to learn there is nothing new under the sun not only in terms of robots but of the overall structure and themes of sci-fi films. Continues » 

President Behind the Scenes

Václav Havel

Havel’s humanist values defined the social transformation of the post-communist Eastern block

A documentary spanning 15 years, 45 hours of film and 25 hours of video tapes offers an intimate look at the presidency of Václav Havel. It is unparalleled that a head of state would allow to be captured to this extent behind the scenes arriving at key political decisions with his staff. Continues » 

Recount

I did not follow the events of the 2000 presidential election in Florida the way I have the 2008 race, so I was happy that I could catch up on the subject while on the plane to Seattle with the movie Recount. Three weeks later, I watched it again.

The appeal is coming from the awareness of the inevitable.

The movie, written by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach, documents the legal struggle of Al Gore’s team, including the hand recounting of the ballots, all the way to the official result: George W. Bush winning the state by 527 votes, thus securing his first term. Continues »