Weekend Viewings (4/18)

20 04 2008

Not feeling my usual talkative self lately so I’ll just provide a little rundown of what happened, in terms of film watching, this weekend.

Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973) [rewatch]

Still the most easy-going of all of Mr. Malick films, but probably the least emotionally rewarding. Calling it simply escapist entertainment is a bit too harsh, but I can say that it felt that way by the end. Malick has always had an approach to characters that isn’t necessarily complex, but instead, something more fleeting and poetic. In this case, this flashier fleshing out of characters is not fulling developed. At times, the film crosses the line to a plot-driven sensibility if only for the overwhelmingly simple set-up. This is all meant in relation to the man’s other films which are more abstract, more profound, and more ambitious. Don’t get me wrong, I love Badlands, always have and always will but it does feel a bit more empty compared to the type of films I usually watch. Perhaps the humor is just a bit too much? Odd to think that Malick is seen as a humor-less pretentious maniac nowadays. I found myself laughing more often than I did on previous viewings.

Malu Tianshi / Street Angel (Yuan Mu-jih, 1937)

A neat little romantic comedy with aspirations to be something socially relevant but the result is a film whose tone shifts far too frequently to comprehend its own intentions. Xuan Zhou is captivating and exudes an ethereal beauty that one would expect from a young actress in an old Chinese movie. This is a perfect representation of the film as a whole. On it’s own term, it is a fun little film trying to say something profound. Instead, its age creates an almost perverse type of poetry, a film that is cooler to talk about than it is to actually watch. Deep and complex, but inherently so.

Asfalto (Daniel Calparsoro, 2000)

After a long string of older, gloomier films, it was nice to sit back and watch a newer shakycam thriller/love story from Spain. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid comparisons to Mean Streets, Cyclo, and so on but it does pretty well alongside such company. The main attraction here is (probably) the beautiful Najwa Nimri, who one may remember from Julio Medem’s messy, contrived, and overly-symbolic Sex and Lucia. She’s great here, and maybe even better in Medem’s otherwise laughable effort. A neat little fucked up romance and drug film rolled into one, but its nothing overwhelmingly great.

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