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10/01/2012

Movie Review Mashup

It's that time of year again. The days are closing in, and when it's warm and cozy inside, I'm feeling only half as guilty for spending time in front of the TV. The thing with pay TV is that I am actually fortunate to watch both recent movies as well as the older ones, the classics, if you will. Amongst them there are surprising finds I have never seen before, much less with the original audio track. It's expensive, but with pay TV, I don't have to suffer through horrible dubbing experiments by bored and underpaid German actors. Sorry guys, but you spoil foreign-language movies for me.

While browsing the TNT-program, I discovered a movie called Dog Day Afternoon (1975, directed by Sidney Lumet), starring a very young and fresh-faced Al Pacino, playing the charming New Yorker Sonny, who, in his attempt to get cash for his boyfriend's sex change operation robs a bank - but of course, things don't go as planned. When do they ever! This movie was inspired by an article in Life magazine, "The Boys in the Bank", following the true story of bank robber John Wojtowicz and his accomplice Salvatore Naturile. I actually didn't expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did. I guess it's due to its timeless production value as well as Pacino's performance.






Another lovely, not so recent movie I stumbled across is The Wedding Singer (1998, directed by Frank Coraci). I had actually heard about this movie from several friends, but at the time it ran in the cinemas I was way too busy shedding tears over the sinking of a certain ship. Back then, the prospect of the '80s inspired romantic comedy didn't attract me as much as Leo and Kate, smooching in a steamed-up car. But times change, and now the '80s look all fresh, shiny and glorious to me. Adam Sandler plays the main character Robby Hart, a professional wedding singer. I admit, I'm usually not a big fan of Sandler movies, especially ones from the super-uninspired post Mr. Deeds phase. But this one is different, cut back and unobtrusive in its humor, abstaining from the usual caveman club jokes, and Sandler is just puppy dog cute with his perm and badly cut suit. And, well, Drew Barrymore, what's not to love about her?

Pretty adorable couple: Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler


The most recent movie I saw is called The Tree of Life (2011), a visually stunning epos directed by Terrence Malick about three brothers and the complicated relationship they have with their dad (played by Brad Pitt). I loved the cinematography, the ambient sounds and poetic visuals. The movie doesn't have dialogue and the scenes are largely unscripted, which gives it a natural, earthy flow. Brad Pitt really annoyed me though. He is quite naturally wooden, and apparently even more so when let loose. But not "tree" (of life) wooden, that would have actually been a cool allegory, no, wooden like Pinocchio, hanging from a string.
The movie was showered with all kinds of awards, because it deals with some existential questions and depicts heavy spiritual symbolism. I didn't quite get the point it wants to make, but the whole time I felt there was something important going on, something I should know about, but just couldn't wrap my mind around. Much like life itself it left me in the dark about the meaning of it all. I'd recommend watching this film for writerly input, as I felt the visual language was deeply inspiring.

And so it begins. Dinosaurs in The Tree of Life













*The good thing: all those movies are available on Blu-ray, at least on Amazon. If you have an especially lazy weekend afternoon coming up, I'd recommend every one of these flicks.