Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Month in Review: May

Beginning a new, monthly feature here at CCC, "The Month in Review" will be a topical thread for each month in which people can discuss the films they saw in the past month. The emphasis is on theatrical but I do know that a few of you, and especially one of you--a certain Kiwi--may not go to the cinema particularly often, so if you wish to discuss films you've viewed in the comfort of your own home, then be my guest.

Ultimately, "The Month in Review" feature is about the films that you saw, which ones stick in your mind, possibly ones that don't (if you can readily remember them that is a good indication that they stick; of couse, a month isn't a very long period of time, but we are in the shallow summer season of movies where many movies have all the substance of cotton candy, and, needless to say, there are movies of this type all throughout the year) and which ones you loved (if there were any), liked (if there were any), were lukewarm towards (if there were any) disliked (if there were any) or hated (if there were any... gosh, I'm tired of typing that parenthetical clarification).

Films I saw theatrically in the merry month of May: Iron Man and My Brother is an Only Child on the same day (May 2); Speed Racer; Up the Yangtze; The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Roman de Gare; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I enjoyed Iron Man a good deal because it was a lot of formulaic fun. I think I'm sort of in love with My Brother... because it's such a beautiful love letter to the history of Italian cinema, and a deeply prodigious coming-of-age film that seemingly are better made in Italy than anywhere else. Speed Racer, I liked parts of it and the critics are too rough with it, but it was too long with a pummeling schematic paradigm made by the Wachowskis. Up the Yangtze was a splendid documentary with startling imagery. Prince Caspian I had completely forgotten about, and it took me several hours after posting this to remember having seen it. From now on: consult my calendar (which has all of the films I see, theatrically and otherwise, written on it). Guess it wasn't so hot. Roman de Gare, a mind-bending psychological thriller by Claude Lelouch--fascinating experimentation, if not wholly successful. A lot to admire, though. Indiana Jones is the most pure fun I've had in a theatre this year thus far, though I certainly recognized its flaws as a movie. Where the film takes off makes up for those flaws, however; Spielberg's obsessions are present, and welcome.

Overall, a very solid, perhaps even very good month, actually. Not exactly the fullest month for me at all when it comes to visiting theatres, but there have been leaner months in the past as well.

The one film I want to see in a theatre again, at least once, is Crystal Skull.

Please discuss your May!


Daniel G. said...

I don't think I saw anything on DVD. Theater viewings included The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, Up The Yangtze, The Wackness, Iron Man, The Visitor, Encounters at the End of the World, My Blueberry Nights, The Betrayal, Priceless, Harold and Kumar/Guantanamo, Son of Rambow, Speed Racer, Young@Heart, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Custodian, Blindsight, Chop Shop, Redbelt, Let the Wind Blow, Prince Caspian, Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, At the Death House Door, Reprise, Indy and the Crystal Skull, and, finally, The Fall.

This was helped by a film festival, but holy crap. Get a life.

The worst of those was easily Harold and Kumar, followed by Redbelt. The best was Young@Heart. The rest were all surprisingly pretty solid, enough to make me wonder if 2008 isn't on the way to being close to as good as 2007.

Alexander Coleman said...


Yes, I just edited my "Month in Review" post to include Prince Caspian, a movie I completely forgot about seeing just two short weeks ago. Guess it didn't quite stick with me, hm? Oh well, from now on I'm going to stick to looking at the calendar of mine with all the movies I see.

Daniel... Wow, that's a lot of movies to see. Quite a film festival there.

I plan on seeing The Fall in the next few days. Guess that'll be my first June film.

Yes, it'll be interesting to see how 2008 turns out. Which releases stand out to you, Daniel? (And this includes your film festival.)

For me, I think 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (I'm counting it as '08 for now), The Orphanage (same boat as 4 Months...), In Bruges, The Band's Visit, Priceless, My Blueberry Nights, My Brother is an Only Child, Up the Yangtze and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are the stand-outs.

Honorable mentions to Snow Angels, Iron Man, Married Life, Paranoid Park, Roman de Gare and, yes, that unspectacular but decent B-movie, The Bank Job.

Daniel G. said...

It's easy to leave one out. I only remembered those by paging back through my reviews.

I have no reason to justify my thinking, but I'm leaving 4 Months and The Band's Visit in 2007, even though I saw them in Jan and March, respectively. I guess I'm trying to think about it my the Oscar calendar, but that always screws things up anyway (Chop Shop would be considered '07 as well). I definitely labeled those as "Best of 2007," though, so we agree.

I was impressed by Stop-Loss and City of Men earlier this year, but my reaction to both has cooled a little bit, likely because I've seen some better films in the meantime.

I'll split it up between docs and features. Top 3 docs are Young@Heart, American Teen, and Up the Yangtze. At least 2 of those 3 should be in the Oscar discussion, but we'll see. Second tier would be SOP, The Betrayal, Blindsight and Encounters at the End of the World.

Favorite features so far include MBN, OSS 117, Priceless, Indy, and The Visitor. My two favorites from the film festival, Dry Season and The Grocer's Son, probably don't count because of their releases, but they're still two of the best I've seen this year. Chop Shop was very good also, but again, which year? Everything's messed up...

I didn't Married Life or Snow Angels, but I regret missing the latter, especially after seeing Olivia Thirlby again in The Wackness.

Alexander Coleman said...

Yeah, it kind of stinks how each year some films' position as belonging to one year or another becomes jumbled, largely because they're foreign.

I still need to see OSS 117 for features and Young@Heart for docs.

You might like Married Life, as it is at least partly comic, though a very dry, black comedy of sorts.

Snow Angels has a lot going for it, and it's one of those films that comes along, making you wish it was better than it was because it had the makings of a great film and just never quite found its way.

Anonymous said...

May is the month that saw Robert Downey, Jr. bounce back onto the A-list. That made me really, really happy.

cjKennedy said...

A little late to this thread, but I'm just now catching up on several days worth of people's blogs.

Just to keep it simple, here are the new releases I saw in May:
Iron Man: It was fine
Speed Racer: I'm still bumbed this one got creamed.
OSS 117: Delightful. One of many this month I should've reviewed.
The Fall: Ok, but a bit disappointing.
Up The Yangtze: Not what I expected. I was looking for a political and/or environmental message, but I got a social one. Which is fine. The messsage: No matter what happens in the world, the people on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder are the ones who pay for it.
Water Lilies. I was expecting something of a tawdry teen lesbian movie and got a rather simple, but thoughtful look at the awkwardness of growing up.
Roman de Gare. Another one I should've reviewed. A movie where the biggest mystery is "what exactly the mystery?" A lot of fun.
Reprise. Imagine an existential Swingers for the intellectual set and you're on the way to knowing what this movie is all about. Terrific. Another one I should've reviewed.
Stuck. Loved it. Worked on me like a horror movie at a time when horror movies just don't.
Indiana Jones. Much better than the nerds would have you believe.

All in all, it was a solid month for movies. Sucks that I dropped the ball on so many reviews.

Alexander Coleman said...

Thanks for all those, Craig. Loved reading your month of May. Very much looking forward to Stuck and Reprise, though I'm currently still taken aback by The Fall, which I just saw and was my first June film.

Roman de Gare. I think I'll see it again and I suspect I might review it myself...

Going back to Daniel, yes, I actually think thus far it's been generally a stronger year than 2007 was, and we all know how super that year turned out to be.

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