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This category really only has one entry: Basic Instinct. I don't know why I watched this. It came up on a list of films filmed in San Francisco, and it's had such a prominent place in the culture, I don't know, I figured cultural literacy or something.

Here's the thing about this movie: it's not for me. It has no interest in women, either as an audience or as anything other than erotic objects. Also, the version on Netflix streaming, I learned after watching it, is the unrated version. Which means there's a lot more sex, but it also means you get to see someone stabbed repeatedly in the face with an ice pick two minutes into the film.

Let's break this down a bit )

I mean, the fuck. The movie's basically going plot shmot DANGER MAKES SEX EVEN HOTTER. I had thought there was more to making this movie a phenomenon than a crotch shot, but it turns out...no. That's really it.
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I'm splitting this into two posts. First for good movies. Amongst those:

Brick
I highly recommend Brick, which was Joseph Gordon Levitt's breakout adult role after Third Rock (if you can call a small distribution indie film a breakout). I saw it when it was released in 2005, and spent a lot of it going, wait, isn't that the kid from Third Rock from the Sun?

It is an archetypal noir. If I wanted to exemplify the genre to somebody, with just one movie that had all the features, it would be Brick. Which makes it even more interesting that it gets counted as "neo-noir" because it's set at a high school. But it's set at a high school in the way that Romeo+Juliet was set in a modern city--that is, in no way except sets and costumes. All the main characters are high school kids--or rather, they look like high school kids--but act like adults with the long history that entails. This somehow really works. The writer/producer has said that he wanted to make a new Dashiel Hammett story, but didn't want to fall into all the visual cliches of the old noirs. So he came up with this.

And it is, throughout, brilliantly plotted, brilliantly acted, and brilliantly shot. Though it may take more than one viewing to catch all the pieces of the plot.

Rewatching this now was of particular interest, because the writer/producer and JGL are teaming up again--on Looper. From the ads, I kind of dismissed it as yet another high concept shoot-em-up (something like RED, which is entertaining, but not more than that). But if it came from the guy who wrote Brick, it's probably phenomenal. And the early reviews seem to think so.


Sneakers
I love this movie. I really do. And I do not want to hear any trash talk about it. I rewatched it cause my dad pointed out that it's set in San Francisco, and I've been watching movies filmed in SF lately. This was kind of shocking to me cause--I've watched this movie many, many times, and can remember the visuals of many scenes. But watching it again, after having been to SF--there's a scene where Alcatraz is bang behind Robert Redford, enormous, and I'd somehow never managed to notice that. They talk about the fog horn at the Golden Gate, they talk about the toy company being in Palo Alto, and I'd somehow managed to never notice any of this because I didn't know the place they were talking about.

What I enjoy about the movie at this point, well, a few things. A) I love all the performances, particularly Ben Kingsley (this is the role that made me love him) and Mary McDonnell, who will forever be the woman in Sneakers to me, and was the best part of BSG, in my opinion. I have not watched her new show, but I am so excited for that when it hits Netflix. Anyway. B) I love the score. And C) the techno-nostalgia. Tape recorders! MS-DOS! Keypad locks! Answering machines! God, I get such a kick out of all the gadgets. This is the technological landscape of my childhood.
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The One Percent is a doc by Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, and a follow-up to Born Rich, his first documentary. Both are really worth a look. Because they're made by an insider, Johnson has incredible access (incredible--he can get a Nobel prize winner to come talk to him, no problem), but he has this access because he's seen as a snot-nosed, rebellious kid. So people talk to him, but they call him, at one point, an "arrogant trustafarian."

Johnson is clearly wrestling with his own wealth, and what that means for both his life (which was the focus of Born Rich) and the rest of society (the focus of The One Percent). Though he's obviously cutting across major taboos, it's not clear where he'll end up. But in the mean time, he has a remarkable talent for giving people enough rope to hang themselves. People talk to him as one of them, which means they say things they'd never say to the press.

But more than the gotcha moments is just the way this looks into the how the one percent think. Some of them say things that are appalling, but clearly they think that that's an okay thing to say. For example, one twenty-something who's dad just bought a loft for him on the South side of Chicago in what used to be projects says (paraphrased by my memory), "For each of these units, there's someone who trusted the public housing system that's lost their home. ... But it's just easier, you know, if those people are sent to, you know, the far reaches of the universe, and this all bouges up, it's easier for this to be a community, and for the mayor. It's just easier."

I could go on listing examples, but I think the most valuable thing that Johnson reveals is how fear-driven these people who have inherited money and never worked are. There's an intense fear of speaking out, in case it gets taken away. And there's a fear that if any of it is taken, they won't be able to survive. I think because they have no idea how to make money for themselves, so the fear of losing any of their money drives them to hoarde it even more. In contrast, the people who made their own millions that he talks to, though still entitled assholes in some cases, are completely aware of the inherent unfairness of asking a soldier in Afghanistan to pay more of their income in tax than a trust fund layabout pays on dividend income.

He also talks to an heir to the Oscar Meyer fortune who gave up his inheritance. When he announced his intention to do so, his father sat him down and asked him, what if you have a child born with disabilities? What then? He said, then he'd be with 98% of the whole country. He concluded, for his own life, that holding onto money is a sickness. If you let yourself be ruled by the fear of a possible future where you don't have enough, then no amount of money is enough. And you can't live life like that.

I hope Johnson continues to make documentaries, because he has a completely unique voice on the topic. This documentary is framed with the story of his father, who made a documentary as a twenty-something and was so firmly reprimanded by the family that he never made another one. Not only that, he won't talk about it at all, and is practically a recluse. Throughout the doc, you can see Johnson's fear that he will fall into the same trap. It's been a few years since this documentary came out, though, so I can only hope he hasn't.
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Just watched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (the most recent movie). I've never read it or seen the mini series, so two non-spoilery things:

- I had no idea what was going on for at least a half an hour. I mean, truly no idea. I still don't know what some of those shots were about.

- I did have a grasp on the plot at the end, but I don't know--the reveal wasn't very dramatic? I think because I'd barely figured out what everyone's name was, so...perhaps this is not a book that can be turned into a two-hour movie.
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I rewatched The Lion in Winter last night, and god I love that film. It's my favorite thing--political maneuvering, scheming, manipulation--with my other favorite thing--people wanting the love of someone who can't give it and they wouldn't even believe if they did.

I commented on Barbarians at the Gate, and how it flopped because it was all dialogue. Lion in Winter is all dialogue, but with this cast--dynamite. First time I watched it, I was all about Katherine Hepburn, and she is stunning. You never know whether Eleanor is earnest or angling for something, and it doesn't seem like she even knows herself. Even her moments alone are performances. And Peter O'Toole--god. I need more Peter O'Toole in my life.

Then there's the actor playing John, who manages to make him fantastically repulsive, just through the way he holds himself. Geoffrey, who was always my favorite (come on, doesn't he seem like the best choice for king?). Timothy Dalton as Philip I. And poor Richard (Anthony Hopkins), who just seems to go through the whole movie begging people to love him. Where's the fic of the doomed love between Richard and Philip? You'd think that would be fandom catnip--underage, dubcon, lies, betrayal--but I've checked. The only story I could find was fix-it (bleurgh).

I have the soundtrack from this film--it's 36 minutes long. And that is all the music in the film--they didn't leave any out. In fact, it's more music than in the film, since it includes several choral arrangements of songs Alais sings to herself. So that's a total of 25 minutes of music in a film 135 minutes long--and five minutes of that is the credits. And those 25 minutes won the Oscar for best score!

I first saw Lion in Winter as a production at my high school, and loved it despite the clunky high-school acting. (Okay, and Geoffrey was hot--sue me!) And this film adaptation is just the pinnacle of what you could do with that material. I tried to watch the 2003 Glenn Close/Patrick Stewart version and just, no. Even with her pronounced East Coast accent, no one could be more Eleanor of Aquitane than Katherine Hepburn.

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