Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pseudo Movie Review

Our cable package doesn't include HBO, Showtime, Cinemax (does that still exist?), or the 1,001 versions of ESPN. Aside from that being way too much of a video temptation, I could never delude myself to believing the extra money is worth it. Yeah, I miss some of HBO's original programming, but that's about it. Thanks to Netflix, those shows are available on a slight time delay, so really, unless I die in the next few months, what loss is that anyway? I don't think the Pearly Gates will be having an up-to-the-minute HBO series quiz and if I take the elevator to the basement, I'm sure interviews are not part of that welcome party invitation.

But, Netflix is another matter. Don't you be thinking you'll take that away from me anyday! I've been with Netflix since 2002 and haven't regretted the monthly charge one time. Where else would I have been able to view, at minimal cost, such out-of-the-way enjoyable movies like (and forgive the long list as I hope by listing these films, a very small selection from the ones I've rented, one may catch your eye and you'll be drawn in as well to these movies):
I Like Killing Flies
Lista de espera (The Waiting List)
What Eva Recorded
La Science des rêves (The Science of Sleep)
Gori Vatra (Fuse)
Layer Cake
Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs)
Ikiru
Diamond Men
Aragami: The Raging God of Battle
Brick
The Good Soldier Scweik
Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief)
Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player)
La Grande séduction
Être et avoir
Versus
The Horses's Mouth
Nine Queens
Buffet Froid
L'Emploi du temps
Fear of a Black Hat
Big Deal on Madonna Street

I've rented the usual suspect movies, the Bournes, Talladega Nights, etc. but it's the odd and foreign movies that are the reason, for me at least, to continue supporting Netflix. I've yet to be disappointed.


The other day, Game 6, a small, make that very small, picture with, among others, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Griffin Dunne (who also produced the movie), Harris Yulin, Catherine O'Hara, and Bebe Neuwirth arrived in the mail. Not a Five Star movie, but certainly a Four, if only for the folks involved and for the story told. Yo la Tengo did the music score and Michael Hoffman directed. The most intriguing piece for me and what prompted me to rent the movie was that Game 6 was the first original screenplay from noted novelist and playwright Don DeLillo. Mr. DeLillo, a strong believer in the unexpected dangers around us, provides a nervous picture of life in the Big City complete with environmental incidents (think White Noise), baseball and life (think Underworld), haircuts and limos (think Cosmopolis). Foreigners drive all of the taxis, which once a fare enters, do not move. There's a lot of attempts at movement in the film, but instead, action becomes sedentary and sitting becomes talking. And with DeLillo's dialogue in place, sitting is a good place to be.
The movie deals with one day in the life of Nicky Rogan (Michael Keaton), playwright, on the day his newest play opens and Game 6 of the Red Sox-Mets World Series game (yes, the Buckner game) is played. You could tell early on that this movie was done with a lot of love and dedication and a minimal amount of money (in the Extra features, the director goers through a litany of how this movie should never have seen the light of day due to the money issues; seven thousand bucks was the entire costume budget), but the fine cast of actors chew up the scenery quite well, thoroughly enjoying the chance to speak the DeLillo words. The movie starts with the break of dawn on a NY rooftop and ends in the haute squallor digs of a feared theatre critic, one Mr. Steven Schwimmer (Robert Downey, Jr.). It is surprisingly a "happy" movie, not a film you'd expect to see penned by the gloomish Mr. DeLillo but the path to happiness is dotted with the necessary touches of misery and near-misses that any Red Sox fan would be accustomed to. I'd recommend it for a wet Fall Saturday, after the World Series conclude.

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Comments:
I watched Game 6 a year ago, and wasn't at all sure how I felt about it when it was over. This is my very typical response to DeLillo, actually. When I was finished with Underworld, I thought about the closing section for two weeks or so, then had a sudden, unexpected "a-ha!" moment that brought tears to my eyes.

No tears yet for Game 6. There was so much I loved about it: the mortal terror that these artists had of the critic, the absurdity and claustrophobia and glory of it all, the fevered movements from one set to the next. Then there were one or two things that really bugged me -- the religious pep-talk from the black woman and her son, especially. Curious how a film that doesn't quite scratch the itch it creates is still one I wouldn't mind seeing a second, or third, time.
 
Funny, WP, how we viewed that "religious pep-talk" piece of the film. Initially, I felt the same way as you,a tad annoyed. However, when Michael Keaton's character, in the deep grip of the Positivity Prosletizing going on, saw the ball-through-Buckner's-five-hole reality as Buckner-catching-the ball fantasy, I thought the "religious pep talk" as a brilliant piece by Mr. DeLillo. Here he had shown how religion was "blinding" Keaton's character to the truth, leading him to A Getting beat up in the bathroom and B Suffering the realization of the truth after everyone else has already accepted it. I guess I saw the "religious pep talk" as a dig by Mr. DeLillo on, among all of the other dangers lurking out there, religion as a provider of false hopes and, therefore, false visions.

Maybe I was reading too much into it...but I found it rather (snidely) funny.
 
Yikes - that's almost "Black woman as Lucifer The Tempter figure"! Not that that shouldn't "work" in a screenplay. In many ways it does just that: what is she doing in that bar -- with her son? All very surreal, nearly unreal.

Curious too that the critic was probably the most overtly religious figure of the bunch.

*sigh* Looks like I'll be renting this again.
 
WP,
That darn DeLillo hiding all this stuff in his script. One thing (among many, I'm guessing) I can't figure out is why is the "Black woman as Lucifer" the only cab driver in the movie that's a true American? All of the other cabbies, while perhaps American citizens, come off as being foreigners.
And the cabs themselves. Did you remember/notice that once Keaton gets in a cab, it either goes nowhere or moves a few feet and then goes nowhere......
.......except for the cabbie driven by the "Black woman as Lucifer", which takes him to the theater where his play's to open?

And as far as Downey's character is concerned, you're right. He is the most overtly religious of the bunch, except he seems to be covering all his religious bases. He's got Buddahs, crosses, even some voodoo-ish creatures on the wall and dressers. And he has a tv, the most modern of religions.

I think my nerve endings were on high alert during the entire movie. If you do rent the DVD, check out the director's commentary. Long? Absolutely, but he drops in quite a bit of information, specifically some of the techncial stuff happening as well as the actor interactions.
 
Funny little coincidence: I stopped by the village video store on my way back from my daughters' school, and they were selling their copy of Game 6 for $5. Looks like I'll be watching this movie at my leisure.

Different note: when I checked the link for Soldier Scweik, I saw this movie recommended to people who liked Scweik (hey - we could print up campaign buttons: "I Like Scweik!"). Have you viewed this item? I've not seen it myself, but I certainly like the poster.
 
Wow! What good fortune. You can skip back again and again to write the choice dialog.

Re. that movie. Yes, I've seen it; it's been a while so all that I recall is that it was fairly depressing, women were treated like throwaways (a normal thing in Emir Kusturica's films), and there's no hope in the world. It was tough going even for a pessimistic Slav like me. It's funny that it's grouped with Schweik; there's no light touch of humor with Underground. Some other of his movies, like Time of the Gypsies or Black Cat, White Cat are interesting and actually uplifting. "When Father Was Away on Business" is my favorite of Kusturica's films. Seen from the perspective of a son just after WW II, the films has humor, pain, and just the right off-angled view of life in Yugoslavia during the Cold War years.
 
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