A Good Yarn

Sunday, May 06, 2007

End of the M-SPIFF 2007

I caught a couple more films before the M-SPIFF finished up for the year. First up, a documentary:

This is another documentary that was kind of odd and just not to my taste. Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst who obviously is also a film scholar. He applies Freudian analytical concepts to many movies, particularly the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch (two of my all time favorite directors, by the way). The film intersperses clips from the films with Professor Zizek's analysis. In some of the analytical scenes, Zizek is shown "in the film" - for instance sitting on a couch in Blue Velvet or in the basement in Psycho. It's extremely odd. Somewhat funny and sort of a good way to break up the "talking head" aspect of Zizek's analysis, but it just didn't work for me. Since I don't buy into Freud, I always didn't quite buy the film analysis, either. The film was directed by Sophie Fiennes, sister of Ralph and Joseph. She definitely had an interesting way of putting the film together, so even though I didn't love it, I'd definitely see her next film.

The final film I saw got the highest ratings by the audiences this year and just won the German version of the Oscars:

In English, it's "Four Minutes". It's a pretty interesting film about an older woman who is a piano teacher at a women's prison. A new prisoner shows up for lessons one day and shows a level of talent equalled only by her anger and violence. Both women are shut down emotionally, but manage to form a friendship and reveal their psychic pain to each other. The film ends with the prisoner's bravura performance at a youth piano competition (the four minutes of the title). It is a good film with really good performances by the lead actresses. I wouldn't be surprised to see this film nominated for best Foreign Film at next year's Academy Awards.

And going from small, arty films to huge blockbusters, the summer movie season started this weekend:

I love the Spiderman character and the last Spiderman movie was great, but this one really disappointed me. You probably already know what's in store in this film from the media blitz, but in case you don't - Spiderman fights several enemies this time. He's fighting his own inner demons when a black goo from outerspace lands on him and takes him over - thus the black suit. The goo brings out all of his feelings of rage and vengence. He's feeling vengeful because he finds out the man who really killed his Uncle Ben has escaped from prison. This man ends up running into a scientific experiment so his DNA is merged with a pile of sand and he becomes the Sand Man. This really isn't giving too much away because it's pretty much shown in all of the commercials, but eventually Spiderman frees himself from the black goo and it finds another host in Peter Parker's newspaper rival and becomes Venom - a sort of Spiderman-like bad guy with the black suit, but big pointy teeth. Spiderman's old friend Harry Osborn also continues to want vengence on Spiderman for his father's death and becomes a sort of Green Goblin, Jr. Phew, that's a lot of fighting!

Too much, in my opinion. This movie could have easily been broken into two films that were each a little more cohesive. With introducing two new villains and juggling the old themes, there's just too much going on. You don't have time to care about any of the villains and the plot just jumps from one thing to the next like a ping pong ball. There are some good pieces, including one part toward the end that I was thrilled by, but overall it was just too much. Some of the special effects were great, but one of the first scenes, involving yet another new character, Peter's lab partner who has a bit of a crush on Spiderman, was really fake looking. It took me right out of the action. As usual, I couldn't stand the wooden performance of Kirsten Dunst and her singing was horrible. When the black suit has taken him over, Peter Parker sort of turns into an emo version of himself, with floppy hair, eyeliner and pseudo-sexy moves. It was a pretty funny performance by Tobey Maguire, but again seemed so out of place with the rest of the film. The whole thing was just too disjointed to work.