Sights and Sounds

Thirst (2009)

Thirst is the latest film from Chan-wook Park of Vengeance Trilogy fame (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance). It tells the story of a priest whose life is changed when he becomes a vampire. In the strictest sense, it is a vampire love story. However, it is a Chan-wook Park vampire love story, which means it's delightfully twisted, darkly humorous, fantastically violent, and bizarrely erotic. Yes, I do love my adverbs. If you can't overstate something, why even state it. That's what I always say.

Brick (2006)


Brick (2006) is a film that no matter how well you describe it, it still kind of sounds like a tacky idea and it easily could have been. A hard-boiled noir style detective film set in a modern-day high school? Hmm. But let me assure you that great care was taken with the specifics of the film that make this setup work surprisingly well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer) stars as Brendan, a quiet loner who acts as the gumshoe in this movie. He's lost contact with an ex-girlfriend at school who was straying into the world of drug trafficking and wants to make sure she's okay. When she turns up dead, he begins a quest for answers through the underground world of popular kids, the drama vamps and the super-smart geeks.

See? Still sounds a little tacky doesn't it? What saves the film from collapsing under the ridiculous setup is the script and the performances. The characters play the roles like they're actually in a 1940's detective film complete with rapid-fire speech and archaic slang that takes a little effort to follow. All the film noir tropes are here: the smart detective who knows how to take a punch, the bombshell who can't be trusted, the menacing kingpin and his muscle-bound henchman. This is a film that doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence and succeeds by playing the whole thing straight with nary a wink to suggest that the situations are taking place in an out-of-context environment. The plot becomes convoluted as double-crossing and lies start to twist the narrative.

This is certainly no "Disney's High School Detective" sort of film. The violence and drug content makes it clearly intended for an adult audience. It's a smart, classy and surprisingly emotional film that succeeds despite its inability to be described in a satisfying way. Definitely recommended.

The Big Bang Theory

After receiving recommendations from a number of friends for the TV show The Big Bang Theory, I decided it was finally time to check it out. I sat down to watch a couple of episodes of the first season and ended up watching six back to back. The show, a half hour comedy, features physicists, roommates, and super geniuses Sheldon and Leonard. Settled comfortably into nerddom, their lives are interrupted with the arrival of a new neighbor, a blond waitress named Penny. Leonard, the more social of the two, is immediately interested, but Sheldon is taken aback and does not welcome Penny's intrusion into his ordered existence.

3D or not to 3D

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A while back I posted an article on this blog called "In Praise of Black and White." In it I mentioned that the invention of color film brought about a number of films that focused on color shock effects and explosions rather than focusing on the story. I believe that many of the films made today would not seem as good to us if we were forced to watch them in black and white. Today we have a rise in another new gimmick format called 3D.

Mugabe and the White African

Life is hard enough without the added pressures of the truly horrific and ugly things that people can do to one another. Without straying into the politics of race and class in Zimbabwe Africa, this documentary follows a white farmer from Zimbabwe as he continues his court battle to keep is land after Robert Mugabe, the president, changes the Zimbabwe constitution and starts a new land redistribution program. The Blacks from Zimbabwe don't want the Whites to be there and the Whites don't want to leave nor do they have anywhere else they can go since they are "legal" citizens of the country. The White farmers were eventually forced from their land when their property was burned down. The police and the military would not protect them. Some of the farmers are dead, some have disappeared and others have moved to Harare.
Warning: The extreme acts of violence contained in this documentary may be triggering to some.

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