This month had a lot of promise at the multiplex, with mixed fulfillment.
Watchmen was a distant film and as a viewer I felt that the entire time I had to work to engage myself. This is not the sign of a lazy viewer, it's the sign of a bad movie or at least in this case, a not-that-great one. And yes Dr. Manhattan's dong was just far too distracting. I liked pieces of the movie here and there, however: "You're locked in here with me!"-- for example. On the whole I thought it was decent, but I know I'll never revisit it.
Sunshine Cleaning was a movie I enjoyed a lot. However, after I walked away, I realized that what little that got resolved at the end was oh-so tied up in this neat little bow. But it had that desperately needed originally so lacking in almost everything-- at least everything that is set in a contemporary, realistic setting.
When I stood up after Duplicity, the woman behind me said, "It was OK." That about summed it up. What is with Tony Gilroy? Is he the M. Night Shyamalan of urban contemporary thrillers? You wait and wait and wait for the end. And Michael Clayton had a much better ending than Duplicty, so I had much more forgiveness for it. But then again Duplicity won't get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture as Michael Clayton did, so there you have it.
And then, I saw I Love You, Man-- easily the best film this year to-date and possibly the funniest comedy since Borat. The premise is familiar-- in fact there was a french film a year ago with this very plot. The structure is formula. But Paul Rudd finally finds his niche by mixing in a heavy dose of self depreciation. One quibble: who doesn't know the band Rush? (a [minor] plot point)-- this was the only misstep in it. And I wasn't even dying to go see it!
On TCM, I watched a lot of Oscar-winners as per their annual "31 Days of Oscar." The one I was most curious about was the first Oscar-winner for Best Film Editing-- Eskimo (1933). The bastard step-child of Nanook of the North, in the misdt of the drama, is a very un-Nanook sequence in which a white trader rapes an Eskimo woman. Some of the film is Nanookish with hunting for food etc. but this storyline dominates the film and its third act. The "Oscar-winning" editing involved a lot of weird rear projection mixed with the semi-documentary stuff. To the modern eye it looked pretty bad. But the movie, on the whole, is worthwhile.
Also saw Best Picture nominee Picnic (poor!-- what a terrible movie), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (pleasant, but not the **** film the Leonard Maltin Guide claims it to be), and Vacation from Marriage (writing winner/ OK, talky-- has some Imdb fans, but I wouldn't recommend it).
Finally saw La Roue (1922)-- a really great 100 minute film, buried in four-and-a-half hours of excess. So, I would certainly recommend it, but it's a tough slog through such a running time: a shame that it has to be qualified so negatively. Again, the reason why I'm secretly glad (don't tell!) that the version of Greed we have is 2 hours, 15 mins.-- because I know this version is a masterpiece-- what the longer versions were like I don't know... but perhaps we were robbed of an even greater work.
Also caught In Cold Blood (1967): very good, but also not a supreme classic-- yet it was the best movie I saw on TCM this month. And, although I'm sure this is blasphemy, I found the Quincy Jones score to be dated and disruptive. Also on my "lists" to see: I caught This Is England (2007) on IFC-- strong start, atmospheric, but ultimately, skippable.
Caught the "last of the silent adventures" The Iron Mask (1929) on the big screen-- its flaws were so easily forgivable in the face of that irresistible Fairbanks charm.