My final list recollecting on the flops and the top of the pops. These movies were the ones that either made no money or did reasonably well at the box office but no one appreciated them nearly as well as they should have been. I commend these films in that they all have an importance and relevance and speak in ways too unfamiliar to modern day audiences. The most interesting films today and perhaps always are the ones that challenge your expectations. That is also why they do so poorly. This is the crisis of modern day cinema; lest it changes, true cinema is in trouble.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
HM: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – it made no money but I certainly wasn’t sleepin’.
Chloe: I met Adam Egoyan in Toronto and he told me this (underrated) film of his was a devilish turn on eroticism – to paraphrase. That is Chloe. One that hinges on a lecherous gaze, convoluted narrative, and ambiguous storytelling. None of the characters ever earn the credence to be liked inasmuch trusted. Excluding the ending, Chloe is a delicate yet exciting film that pounces on your expectations and explains most prominently: Chloe does not find something to love in everybody, but something to obsess about. The audiences were not smiling at this film, but I’m sure Hitchcock would. Nevertheless, I scoffed in discord when a critic remarked about the film: “You can call it fromage but it’s still cheese.”
The American: This is a samurai movie. Its feel is rigid, suspenseful, but graced with Zen. Referring to such films like Melville’s Le Samourai or Jarmusch’s Limits of Control, The American is a restrained drama, wrongly advertised as an ‘action’ film. Constant blather against the film has been “boring”, “dumb”, “pretentious”, and “Clooney tunes on mute” – okay I made that one up. But never have I seen such a handsome, suave, and reputable actor like George Clooney been constrained to a character who actually sits and thinks instead of running with his hand on the trigger all the time. Anton Corbijn, who directed the excellent Control, shoots The American with a gloomy, poetic style. But this is not exhibition; this is a drama that’s suspense grips us past our own control.
Love & Other Drugs: Contrasting the other two, Zwick’s dramedy Love & Other Drugs is not a great movie, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and stretching for the mainstream audience. It made only 44 million worldwide on a 30 million dollar budget, which may be a factor of the amount of risks the film takes. It has side bits of dimwitted slapstick, but hurdles past those loop holes to some sincere drama that makes these characters thinking organisms and not mechanisms of a contrived plot. Gyllenhaal is such a talented and diverse actor, who reminded me of a hip Jerry Maguire. You know what? I liked this more than Jerry Maguire, because Love & Other Drugs focuses just as much on those “other drugs” – the main character’s addiction to talking the talk through life. His love (played by Anne Hathaway) simply shows him walking the walk.
Flipped: Where did this film run off to? I saw the trailer when I went to see the Karate Kid. That made a bundle, but this is a superior, one-hour shorter coming-of-age love story that went under the radar and out into oblivion. It is narrated adorably: from both the boy’s and girl’s point of view, in which we receive an objective crush. It goes off in crazy directions, but Rob Reiner is so familiar with the mannerisms of children but he never exploits children as delinquents, but the flawed learning kind occupied by their parents – who are just as erratic as they are. I smiled the whole way through, but lamented after because it made barely 1 million dollars worldwide. Another charmer gone to waste.
You Don’t Know Jack: Understandably this film was overlooked since it only played on HBO for a few weeks. But this film, about euthanasia activist, pathologist Jack Kevorkian (the dazzling, should-be-Oscar-worthy Al Pacino) who quarrelled with the government on the verity of euthanasia. It won’t necessarily change your disposition on euthanasia but it will force you to wear your thinking hat. This film is long, but enjoyably so, and intriguing the more and more it develops. I wish more people saw it and if not, choose to rent it now. What you will receive is a film directed by a political connoisseur Barry Levinson (Wag The Dog – good film) whose most assertive and apt skill in cinema is satire. This one is satirical but fiercely important in its message.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!