This Week in Geek (11-17/04/16)

Buys 'n' Gifts

I got Ant-Man and Fargo's second season on DVD this week, and someone randomly gifted me Calamity Jon Morris' The League of Regrettable Superheroes. Fun!


DVDs: Out of Argentina, Wild Tales is an anthology of six viciously funny stories of outrageous revenge. And it's just about one of my favorite things I've seen this year. Lusciously filmed, with each tale clearly in the same cinematic world, but having its own feel, I was most surprised at how quickly I got invested in each cast of characters' lives. Without taking anything away from the middle four stories, the movie had to start and end strong, and it definitely does, with an imaginative teaser and - no surprise it's the biggest part of the marketing - an incredible wedding where the bride discovers her groom wasn't faithful to her. A wicked, amazing finish. These Tales are Wild because they seem unbelievable, but really, the title refers to the wild return to animal behavior, when the wronged characters give in to savage impulses. Part cautionary tale, part power fantasy, it's both what we fear we might become and what we fervently wish to become in stressful situations. The DVD includes a good making of (in Spanish with subtitles), and a premiere event at the Toronto Film Festival (with on-site translator).

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a con movie, specifically about a (let's say professional) impostor, and shows you should never falls in love with your mark. But beyond the glib way I just put the premise is a novelistic film - novelistic through its aggregation of inference, with images creating motifs redolent with meaning - filled with complex characters caught up in what becomes a lethal thriller. The impostor's reality is well represented, both logistically and metaphorically, the latter through the use of evil doubles and a dedication to the lead character's point of view that turns you into an accomplice (and perhaps another mirror). Tom Ripley's problem is that he becomes others, and so loses himself, but his greatest strength is improvisation - the fact that jazz plays a big part in this film isn't lost on this viewer - and Iago-like, he takes advantage of opportunities as they arise. Obviously, great cast, Italian locations, etc. The DVD features the director's thoughtful commentary track, a couple of making of featurettes, cast and crew interviews, and music videos.

A Talking Cat!?! (Actual punctuation.) What is this doing here? Well, it was my cat's birthday, and besides we were intrigued by C-movie director David DeCoteau's ability to churn out more than one film a month, apparently all made in the same modern art nightmare of a house, on shoestring/money-laundering budgets. And a talking cat voiced by screen legend Eric Roberts!?! As if to spit in the eye of the Devil he sold his soul to, Roberts knocked his lines out in 15 minutes, apparently from the inside of an empty oil drum, breathing life (haha I'm kidding) into this cockamamie story of a magical cat that can speak to each cast member exactly once (each conversation is of course wasted on disbelief that this cat can talk - or possibly that the CG for it is so bad) and who steers two families together with his cryptic comments. It's cheap, it's dumb, it has an abundance of establish shots that don't really go together (IMDB tells me there are 59 in an 85-minute movie, though many are reused several times) putting desert next to woods next to the beach in walking distance of one another. But since the movie is very much about it being "a small world, eh?", I really want to ascribe DeCoteau a certain genius in fitting the entire Western seaboard of the United States into a small neighborhood. By not taking itself seriously, A Talking Cat !?!'s errors almost seem calculated to be part of the fun. It's not a failure, as it achieves exactly what it sets out to do. That said, the biggest laughs are still to be had with REVIEWS of the film. I recommend JonTron's, which had me in stitches, and the single best review to be found on IMDB ever.


snell said...

The Talented Mr. Ripley is one of the more underrated films of the past couple of decades, not nearly as well-remembered as it should be.


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