Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Movies: Pre-Thanksgiving Grab Bag

Things have gotten a mite hectic around Chez K. Here’s a quick rundown on some of what I’ve seen recently.

The Squid And The Whale. The filet of current releases. Noah Baumbach’s semiautobiographical script about the effects of divorce on a family of New York intellectuals is harsh, unsparing, and brilliantly funny. Jeff Daniels gives the performance of the year.

Jarhead. A few years ago, I spent an afternoon in the Firearms Training Simulator (FATS) at the New York City Police Museum. It was a revelatory experience. More than once I had my gun drawn and ready to fire, only to realize that the situation could be defused through other means. That taught me a terrible lesson about the burden of being in law enforcement: once you steel yourself up to act, the adrenaline must be released somehow. Otherwise, it will tear through you like acid.

That point was at the heart of Anthony Swofford’s searing Gulf War memoir. Director Sam Mendes and writer William Broyles Jr. find a way to bring it home onscreen in this potent and disturbing adaptation.

Bonus links: here’s Swofford on the movie. And Nathaniel Fick – a key figure in GENERATION KILL, the brilliant book on the invasion of Iraq, and an author in his own right – explains why he hated the book, and how the film improves on it.

Walk The Line. Yes, all the standard biopic beats are here – but it’s the Man in Black, people. And when the movie focuses on the music, it verges on glorious. Having Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon (as June Carter) do their own singing brings a sense of discovery to those scenes that’s electric. And Dallas Roberts has a great small role as Sun Records honcho Sam Phillips. Where’s the movie about him?

Miscellaneous: Link

Empire Magazine ranks the supermonsters. Should the Alien Queen be ahead of Godzilla? Discuss.