Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Movie Mond..uh Tuesday


The Princess and the Frog. Well, I slept through most of it, but woke up in time to realize that my shock that the "princess" had two living parents was for naught. Dad dies, natch. The music is really, really good especially if you consider that the overused and monotonous (and white, btw) Randy Newman wrote it. At the risk of fueling the current political "we're not racist" fires, I would like to add that the movie had some odd elements: a "magical" black guy, black maids, white plantation owner (benevolent though they may be), and maybe even a white prince? He's sort of pale.

The animation, however, is lovely. And who doesn't want to listen to Anika Noni Rose wail it out? My children liked it a lot. The days when I can get them to even watch an animated feature may be waning so I'll sit through it again.

However, this brings us to
Ponyo.
Before I tell you about Ponyo the movie, let's discuss Ponyo the Theme Song's awesome lyrics:

Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo... tiny little fish; she's a little fish from the deep blue sea
Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo... she's a little girl; she's a little girl with a round tummy
.

AGH! The cuteness! I love that. We sing it all the time around here.

Ponyo the fish is very seriously non-fishlike but that made me like her all the more. Again, excellent animation and disturbing too - the bigger fish, the strange gelatinous wave creatures, and a massive storm with a mad water Daddy leading the charge are all pretty terrifying. Ponyo and her little siblings are cute and have the aforementioned round tummies. The voices are GREAT - with the exception of Cate Blanchett who simply reprises her role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm not going to lie: the filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has freaked me the hell out in the past, but Ponyo was weird in the best of ways.

Adult movies have been seen also, believe it or not...like Green Zone. I saw this with my best friend, who flew into town unannounced for my birthday weekend...so emotions were running high and we both have it bad for Matt Damon. The movie was fine; Matt Damon's lack of shirtlessness took away from my enjoyment, but I secretly loved all the military power and gun fights.

And I finally got to see Pédro Almodóvar's latest, Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos) after months of waiting. I am a huge fan of Almodóvar's, but I can't really seem to express why. The words that come to mind are: color, pain, humor, spirit, indulgence....but nothing gels into coherent thought. I GET him. I GET the very complex layers of feeling and art he puts on the screen. I didn't read a review of Broken Embraces yet (still processing, thank you for reading along as I process here) but I did read a quote from A.O. Scott in the Times around the time the film came out that said that the film "... leaves the viewer in a contradictory state, a mixture of devastation and euphoria, amusement and dismay that deserves its own clinical designation. Call it Almodóvaria, a syndrome from which some of us are more than happy to suffer." I suffer.






If I were a sharper student of film (or of anything) I would get more of the references that are clearly abundant in this noir-ish mystery. I do get that Penelope Cruz is, for her director, an amalgam of his screen goddesses and idols. She evokes so many of our great actresses physically and with her first-rate acting in this piece, one loses count. Towards the end of the film (when many, many plot lines have unraveled and unspooled) there is even a time when she brings to life a character from a very early Almodóvar film. A nod, perhaps, to earlier, better times for the filmmaker? I don't know, but if you need to have a good looking, entertaining, funny look at how painful life and loss can be, just check this flick out. Or, for that matter, any of Pedro's work. It's that deep, and that good.

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