We've decided to end the DVD review feature in the blog after a year's worth of posts, because we've ended up hanging on to the same Netflix DVDs for a month while I decide what to write about them. Way too much effort put into something that was supposed to be for fun.
That said, here's what we've been watching since that decision was made, with a few brief comments:
Don't Need You: A Herstory Of Riot Grrrl: Turned out to be the same movie I caught at ATA Gallery in 2001. A sketchy, 35-minute documentary that someone else will need to flesh out someday. Some of the principals come off a lot better than others. Let's leave it at that.
Dream Of Life: Could be subtitled "Hanging Out With Patti Smith", as this is essentially what this sprawling, charming, non-linear documentary is like. Lots of fun.
Happy Go Lucky: Mike Leigh's character study of a relentlessly upbeat woman surrounded by snarky North Londoners. Poppy Cross gets an incredible amount of hate in the IMDB, but I thought she was all right. She means well, and the comedy and drama of the movie lies in how she and the other characters try to interact, and ultimately raises the question, can someone this "happy go lucky" function effectively in the real world?
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: The gossipy movie version of the gossipy book about the "New Hollywood" of the '70s. Censorship was eliminated, directors had the power to tell any story they wanted, and society was being questioned on every level, which made it possible to re-examine all the old tropes the movie biz had taken for granted. A lot of great work came out of this wave, though it's easy to walk away from this account thinking the end result was mostly just ultraviolent nihilism spewed out by cocaine-crazed egomaniacs. One thing you get to see here is how fast one year's counterculture rebels become the next year's new establishment. Roger Corman gave a lot of the directors here their start, which made me think: four decades later, most of the movies that come out of Hollywood are basically Roger Corman exploitation flicks with a big budget and state-of-the-art effects that take themselves far more seriously than Corman ever did. Nowadays we don't really need to break any more taboos, but we could use some soul. A LOT more soul. It's hard to find a new movie these days that's even remotely interesting. If a "New Hollywood" came along today, what would it look like?
Man On Wire: This will give your acrophobia a workout. I had to keep reminding myself, he made it, he didn't fall, look, there he is on the screen getting interviewed. Half the suspense lies in the crew's meticulous planning to pull off this highly illegal stunt. After 9/11, they'd have been labeled "terrorists" and thrown into Guantanamo. Here we get a reminder that a sense of wonder can be worth taking a risk.