November 23, 2015 – November 29, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
1) The Pursuit of Hippo-Ness (2015)
Why I watched: My friend Alan Franks made a film and I was invited to screen a rough cut of the film and give him some feedback.
Impression: Focused on a unique community founded on an obsessive love of hippopotami, this film is a great exploration of how we relate to other people, and the commodification of nature. It’s a fun look at obsession and how it can unite like-minded individuals.
2) The Decline of the American Empire (1986)
Why I watched: Included in the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.
Impression: It wanted to be a grand, eloquent statement about sexual relationships in the western world, but it’s a little whiny. These are all upper class individuals, who value their own needs and desires above their partners. They approach relationships for the most part with the mentality of what they can get from the other person. Focused on short-term gain, mostly sexual gratification, they don’t invest and work on their relationships.
Some of it has an intellectual, talky vibe it, but for the most part they seem like smarter versions of Sam Malone, a character motivated almost completely by his libido. The conversations were nice and occasionally illuminating, but mostly they were just trying to get in each other’s pants.
2 ½ stars.
3) Pride (2014)
Why I watched: Nominated for Best Musical or Comedy at the 72nd Golden Globes ceremony.
Impression: This was a great film about how hearts and minds are changed and how political alliances are about emphasizing common interests. Politics is almost always a trade-off; if you support us in this, we’ll support you in this, etc. I liked so many of the cast in this film, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, the always fantastic Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy. The only real problem I had was the film’s downplaying of the communist ties of LGSM founder Mark Ashton. His political activism and specifically his championing of labor rights were obviously tied to his communist activities. A brief mention would have given the movie more credibility. Leaving it out, opens the film up to criticism it was trying to mislead.
One of the interesting things about the film is it casts gay and lesbian rights as a specifically political movement. This film makes it clear, it is not only about acceptance but about having political power and clout.
Most films about sexual issues tend to focus on the underlying humanity of the characters, and while this is certainly at play here, the underlying theme of the movie is political power.
4) Streets of Crocodiles (1986)
Why I watched: MUBI’s films of the day.
Impression: It’s a twenty-minute animated homage to loneliness. The Quay Brothers are some of the most famous stop-animation and the film is visually impressive, but it didn’t engage me.
2 ½ stars.