Another List of Films We Recently Enjoyed

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Another holiday break….another film-a-thon at our house. What follows is a list of some of the better films that we watched over the holidays.  Each was seen at home, most over HBO or on Netflix, although some may be been via Hulu +.

Crossfire Hurricane

The first recommendation is the highly-lauded historical film about the Rolling Stones.  Currently being shown on HBO, it is a must-see for the music enthusiast and history buff alike.   John and I both loved it.   Mind you, I spent a great deal of time snapping still shots of Mick Jagger with my iPhone and then running them through various filters to be used in later art pieces 🙂 . ….because I’m an artist, and that’s what I do.

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…but my own fun aside, this is a must-see film, if not for the excellent direction by Brett Morgen, for the intimate inside peek at the band with commentary from Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood, Wyman, Taylor and others.  The rare interviews with Brian Jones were quite enthralling, since there is so little documentation out there that even begins to give us a glimpse into his personality as much as this film does.

The Hells Angels killing incident at Altamont was tantamount to watching the rocumentary version of the Zapruder film.  It is still chilling, even after all these years, and Jagger still seems deeply shaken about it all.

I recommend this documentary highly!

Bright Star

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Ah, what a beautiful, glorious film!

Jane Campion is one of my favorite directors. Her skill with detail and visual imagery is unsurpassed, in general, but especially  in this touching and beautiful film about the 3 year romance between Fanny Brawne and 19th century poet, John Keats. I dislike a great deal of the writing from the Romanic period, but Keats work is the primary exception. Campion’s masterful visual curation of his words, coupled with absolutely breathtaking imagery and an outstanding soundtrack,  shot this beautiful film to the top of my current favorites list very quickly. I plan to give it a second watch soon.

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: 
Its lovliness increases; it will never 
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep 
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep 
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”

Seven

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This is, as many of you will recognize, an older film .   It was released in 1995, but is every bit as disturbing today.

John and I  have seen this one several times, and always manage to find something new in it.  My friend, Dave, hates it…but I don’t.   John and I both enjoy it for its cinematic technique, its quirkiness, its curious  combinations of actors and chilling visuals.   Seven, surfaced on Netflix when we were browsing the other night, so we decided to give it another watch. It is a fascinating neo-noir thriller made particularly poignant in light of the religious fanaticism and misinformation that is currently sweeping the American political arena.  Just goes to show you how absurd some of these miscreants can be.   The story is based upon the Seven Deadly sins, and how one crazed religious fanatic murdered one person per sin to send a message to the world. Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman were in this one, set in some identified city. It was actually filmed in L.A. But has more of a  darkish, NYC feel  (and no, I do not think that NYC is necessarily  dark…I love it there!)  .  

David Fincher directed this unusually shot film, and managed to deliver a constant dose of discomfort and suspense, laced with the occasional giggle.  

I recommend this film….but don’t see it when you’re alone at night..

Craigslist Joe

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This is a sweet documentary presented by Zach Galifianakis, about a young man who set out across America with no money and only the clothes on his back and his laptop,  to see if he could survive on the mercy of strangers who he met on Craigslist.  He would do work for food and shelter along the way, and, at times, found himself out on the cold streets at night.  The thing both of us loved most about this film was how it illustrated the young man’s transformation into a more enlightened, appreciative spirit as he shared his life with those of others along the way.  It also illustrated  the inherent goodness in humankind.  Really a nice story

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?)

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Both of us loved this 2010 documentary about one of my favorite enigmatic musicians, Harry Nilsson.  Directed by John Scheinfeld, the story gives an inside look at the life and times of this musical genius who was decades ahead of this time.  As all good musicians do, Nilsson elevated himself from one level of musicianship to the next, always in motion, never stuck in one genre.   The film  contains some fantastic music videos and home movies, as well as interviews with all kinds of people who were close to Harry during his brief life. This is another one that I recommend highly.

The Deep Blue Sea

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“Beware of passion, Hester.  It always leads to something ugly.”

This is not a film for the person suffering from depression.   It begins with an attempted suicide and doesn’t get much cheerier after that. An excellent remake of the original 1955 version, this film is an adaptation from a Terence Rattigan play.  Cinematically, it is perfect.  Every line….every scene….every costume….is carefully planned and perfectly executed.   The story centers around Rachel Weisz’s character, a married woman, who falls in love with a younger man. Set in 1950’s England, her emotional obsession lead her into quite tragic conflict with the day’s morals. This movie is a true work of art, one that I recommend….but it is SUCH a downer!!

The Queen of Versailles

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I have always felt disdain for the nouveau riche who derive the lion’s share of their self esteem from their personal possessions, rather than from the core of their being.  This film illustrates perfectly how money really CAN’T buy class.   …..Neither can iPhones, BMW’s nor any other material object.  It’s nice to be personally successful, but life is not about the stuff!

My final recommendation is the bizarre story of the Siegel family of Florida, who made a fortune in the time share business only to watch their empire crumble before their eyes in the 2008 financial collapse. This billionaire-character-driven documentary represents everything that is wrong about the quest for greedy goods in America, and focuses on the construction of their gaudy replica of the Palace of Versailles. You really must see this funny, tragic, white trash bizarre story!  It will keep you up at night wondering how people like this exist on the same planet as you!

Please feel free to comment with your own recommendations, if you saw anything worth seeing over the holidays….old films, new ones…unheard of films.  I’m interested in your opinions and recommendations.   Please leave a comment here or shoot me an email.

Happy New Year of Film Watching!

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