Films seen in December 2011

First off, fuck you WordPress! When I wanted to publish this post WordPress ate over half an hour of writing! This is the first time this ever happened, maybe because I left a tab with the WordPress ‘Add New Post’ window open in Firefox for too long. Did that make WordPress lose a connection or something? Whatever it is, you should have allowed me to save my work, WordPress.

Now that I’ve calmed down after striking my fist at my desk a few times, let me tell you that I’ve seen two films this month, La piel que habito (2011), also known in English as The Skin I Live In and Drive (2011). This is the second film from the hand of Pedro Almodóvar I’ve seen, the first being Volver (2006). After seeing another film directed by him I can say I’ve become a fan of this man’s work. The subjects of his movies are unconventional. His last work contains some murder and rape which makes for tougher subject matter than Volver. Because La piel que habito is a film which is as least as surprising as The Sixth Sense, I can’t reveal too much about it because otherwise I would spoil the surprise. If you are going to see this, which I certainly recommend, refrain from reading the plot summary in the Wikipedia article. Or I should probably say, refrain from reading the Wikipedia article at all. Reading spoilers against my will happened to me recently when I read a summary of the sixth season of Dexter. Before I was even realizing I was reading spoilers I shouldn’t be reading I had already given in to my curiosity and the temptation to read on. I could bang my head against the wall after reading them because it spoiled the fun for me. Returning to the film, I wonder if the encounter between Vicente and Norma could be considered rape? I thought that the end of the encounter certainly amounted to that, but strangely a woman with who I was watching the film as part of our date thought otherwise, she blamed Norma for freaking out. Almodóvar is on my side and made sure that what comes around goes around for Vicente, who is punished in a most fitting manner.

Drive is a great film which didn’t deserve to be overlooked by the wider audience. It’s got Ryan Gosling, the beautiful Christina Hendricks and a few car chases. Most importantly it has the ingredients to appeal to both the mass audience and the art film audience. The Wikipedia article says that the film was initially planned to be released as a blockbuster, but that it was finally released as an independent film. But I don’t understand why? Because the director is Danish? As a consequence I had to see this film in an art house cinema, but I think that if the release wasn’t limited (it certainly was very limited in the Netherlands) and the popular cinema’s also showed it, it would have grossed a lot more. Because of the limited release the wider audience has missed it mostly, but it’s their loss if they only get Hollywood productions shoved through their eyes and ears. The film’s opening scene works wonders with suspense, similar to having a hard time with evading the cops in car chases in the GTA games, but two scenes later in the film do it even better. What I didn’t like about the film was the protagonist playing shy and mute most of the time. Like La piel que habito it’s also violent, the scene with the depiction of catching buckshot to the head is justified because it’s realistic. But a violent scene close to the finale left me wondering what kind of message the director wanted to convey, just shock? Critics have frequently placed this film on their lists of best films of 2011, which is well deserved.

Something else which I’d highly recommend for viewing (for free) are the film reviews done by Plinkett. Especially his reviews on the Star Wars prequel trilogy are great to watch and frequently got me gasping for breath after I rolled over the floor laughing. I already thought that the prequels didn’t compare well to the original, but he manages to articulate so well and in so much detail what is wrong with these films, unlike other reviewers.

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