The Resident Bitch's Movie Log

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The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/08/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


Paul Thomas Anderson seems to like making long, slow-ass movies about s***ty people who do s***ty things to each other - and compose them in gorgeous colors and cast them with some of the best actors Hollywood has to offer (Adam Sandler and Marky Mark aside).

The Master takes that and turns it up to 11. Holy **** is this movie beautiful to look at and holy **** does it seem to never f***ing end. The performances are amazingly good, but I just don't give a **** about anything that actually happens and this bizarre love story isn't so much a slow burn as it is a torturous endurance test.

I'm a bit torn on how to rate it. On the one hand, what it does well it does extremely well, but on the other, if I never watch it again it'll be too soon. Guess I'll put smack dab in the middle.




"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."





Walk the Line (James Mangold, 2005)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/08/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


Although I've long considered this movie a favorite, it's been ages since I last watched it and I'd somehow forgotten just how good it is. The performances are universally strong and the chemistry between Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon is incredible. They are absolutely mesmerizing to watch and a joy to listen to.

The film is also lit with rich, earthy colors that enhance the beauty of everything in it - including its star. Holy crap. One of the things that had faded in my memory was just how damn good Joaquin looks in this. I have to admit I was actually a little distracted by it, though it certainly didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film any.

-





U Turn (Oliver Stone, 1997)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/10/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes


This dark comedy masquerading as a crime thriller has long been a favorite of mine. It's light on substance but heavy on entertainment and memorable characters. A surprising stand-out here is Billy Bob Thornton (who I normally despise) who is absolutely hilarious as perhaps the dumbest hick in the little hick town of Superior, AZ. But funnier still to me is another dumb hick, Toby N. Tucker (Joaquin Phoenix), who loses his cool any time his girl Jenny is talking with another man.

There's no real depth to any of it, but who cares? It's a damn fun movie.

+






8MM (Joel Schumacher, 1999)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/10/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes


Strong atmosphere, solid performances, and an intriguing plot are undermined by terrible editing and a soundtrack that is in turns absent and intrusive. It still manages to be pretty entertaining though and Joaquin Phoenix looks good with blue hair and tight pants.




Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Hey a Joaquin film I've actually seen and liked (Walk the Line) From what I remember the opening is pretty bad, melodramatic and hamfisted; making it ripe for the spoofing it got in Walk Hard. That aside though I'm a big fan. Do agree that he gives a really good performance. He may not look or even sound a great deal like Johnny Cash but I think he manages to capture his outlaw character/personality impressively. Though would it upset you greatly if I said I felt Reese Witherspoon was the real star of the show?



Though would it upset you greatly if I said I felt Reese Witherspoon was the real star of the show?
Would it upset me? No. Would it make me question your taste and judgement? Absolutely.





The Immigrant (James Gray, 2013)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/11/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


I've got kind of mixed feelings about this one. The film looks great - with its yellow and brown hues evoking the grime of the city - but it also looks like all the other James Gray movies I've seen. The costume designs, too, are really beautiful. It's story is engaging and, of course, it features strong performances.

The trouble though is that I rather disliked its central character, Ewa. I felt some sympathy for her situation, but she's so cold and withdrawn that the feeling waned considerably and I had to wonder why - beyond her physical beauty - men found her so captivating. Thankfully my disinterest in her character was made up for by Joaquin Phoenix as Bruno, the pimp who both exploits Ewa and harbors genuine feelings for her.

A solid movie overall, but not a particularly remarkable one.

+





To Die For (Gus Van Sant, 1995)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/16/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


To Die For is a film about obsession, seduction, and murder - and it's pretty damn funny. Nicole Kidman is fantastic as Suzanne Stone, a woman who is as clueless as she is ruthless. But of course the performance I'm most interested in is that of a very young Joaquin Phoenix (who was just shy of 21 at the time of the film's release). He showed a whole lot of potential in his role as a clueless and horny teen. His performance is mainly comedic, but he's still able to tap into his incredible ability to convey a wide range of emotions.

But these performances aren't the film's only strengths. The supporting characters - particularly Illeana Douglas and Matt Dillon are also amusing as Suzanne's dufus husband and her husband's sarcastic sister. The film is also shot in flashbacks and a sort of mockumentary style with vibrant colors that sharply contrast the darkness of its content.

The film is not without it's flaws though - in particular, some aspects of the plot don't quite make sense (like why someone as driven as Suzanne would stay in such a tiny town), but this is easily forgivable because it's so entertaining.






Buffalo Soldiers (Gregor Jordan, 2001)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/16/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Who knew a movie about boredom could be so entertaining? Buffalo Soldiers is a look at what happens when soldiers have no war to fight - especially when those soldiers weren't exactly upstanding citizens prior to enlistment.

Joaquin Phoenix is, of course, fantastic in the lead role of Ray Elwood - a car thief turned battalion secretary stationed in West Germany who makes plenty of money on the side cooking heroin and dealing Mop 'N' Glo on the black market. Also great is Scott Glenn as the newly arrived Sergeant set on cleaning up the base. He takes an instant and intense disliking to Elwood and his crew and things really start to come to a head when Elwood begins a relationship with the Sergeant's rebellious daughter.

The film is cynical, irreverent, deeply unsettling, and darkly (really darkly) funny. Too bad it had terrible timing - coming out a time when patriotism was at a fever pitch and when anything that didn't tout American soldiers as heroes was seen as anti-American.


+





Two Lovers (James Gray, 2008)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/17/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


Two Lovers is a film with gorgeous cinematography and a really fine central performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix plays a very damaged man (surprise!) still reeling from a traumatic breakup and struggling with severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and feelings of inadequacy. By necessity, he lives with his parents and works at their dry cleaning business.

On the surface, he should be a very sympathetic character and Phoenix does everything in his power to make him so, but for me it doesn't work. Don't get me wrong, Phoenix's performance is excellent. The trouble is that his infatuation with his neighbor - a drug abusing woman having an affair with an older married man - and my strong dislike of her drags down my ability to care much for him. She's far too wrapped up in her own f***ed up little world to care about him beyond being a convenient shoulder to cry on that will come running at her call and he's far too wrapped up in his obsession with her to give much notice to the other "lover" of the title - a woman who genuinely cares for him.

I can't deny though that the film is well crafted, it's just not something I like much.

+



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Oh yeah I forgot about Buffalo Soldiers. Really liked that one when I watched it several years ago but never gave it another watch





I'm Still Here (Casey Affleck, 2010)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/17/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


In 2008, Joaquin Phoenix announced to the press that he was retiring from acting to pursue music - specifically rap music. Then, as now, he was my favorite actor. I was horrified. On the one hand, I wanted to believe - as many had speculated - that it was all a joke. As an actor Phoenix is, after all, a professional liar and a brilliant one at that. But on the other hand, he looked very disheveled and unwell. Then there was the infamous David Letterman appearance. I still wanted to believe that it was a joke, but there'd also been past incidents where he seemed out of sorts on camera. Not to mention the car crash where he was found by Werner Herzog. I was genuinely concerned for his well being.

Fast forward a couple of years and I'm Still Here is released. I sit through nearly two hours of head-scratching WTF moments - gratuitous drug use, diva-like outbursts, prostitutes, lots of male nudity, a crazy monologue from Edward James Olmos about drops of water, and a guy defecating on a sleeping Joaquin. I didn't know what to think. So I immediately watched it again - with audio commentary. It made a little more sense, but I still didn't know what to think.

Watching it tonight, for the third time, I still don't know what the hell to think. What is this film really? Was this a brilliant send-up of fame and a big middle finger to the press or was it a catastrophe that Phoenix's career and reputation are lucky to have survived? I don't know. Maybe both. What I do know is that it is entertaining (albeit in a very train-wreck kind of way) and that it is unlike any other film I've ever seen.

-





It's All About Love (Thomas Vinterberg, 2003)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/18/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes


It's All About Love aspires to be an important film about loneliness, moral decay, and the emotional disconnect so many of us feel from those around us. It bombards the viewer with rich colors and images that would be intriguing, if only anything else about the film matched that level of quality. Its plot is needlessly convoluted; It tries to shove far too many ideas into its runtime - without giving any of them adequate exploration. Its capable cast - including Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes, and Sean Penn (reuniting after 1997's U Turn) - all give valiant efforts to make something of their characters, but even the best actors cannot always rise above terrible writing and clunky dialog. This is especially frustrating for me because I've seen both Festen and Jagten and I know how good Vinterberg can be.

When I first watched this film in 2016, I concluded my write-up by saying that the film was "all about confusion." I think I had a better understanding of the film's intent this time around, but that better understanding also means I can more clearly see its failings and I like it even less than I did before.

Oh well, at least Phoenix looks gorgeous in it.

-





Reservation Road (Terry George, 2007)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/19/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes


Reservation Road explores what happens to two men and their families in the aftermath of a tragic accident that takes the life of a young boy. It deals with grief, guilt, fear, obsession, frustration, and revenge.

The basic idea is a strong one, but the film often relies on all-too convenient coincidences that make the plot feel a bit contrived. However, this is more than made up for by the strength of the performances, in particular from Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly as the boy's parents and Mark Ruffalo as the man responsible for his death. The anguish felt by both men is palpable and the film is a tough watch emotionally. Except for its earliest scenes, this is a joyless film and the weight of its subject means that this is not a something I'm likely to revisit much. Still solid overall and well worth the watch.

-





The Village (M. Night Shyamalan, 2004)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/20/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: Yes.


This film is actually a lot better than I remembered it being. Yes, the premise is maybe a little silly (and perhaps even a little plagiarized) but If you let yourself forget that this is a Shyamalan film - if you strip away the silliness and the dramatic twist - what you're left with is a really beautiful story about love and courage. Joaquin Phoenix gets top billing, but Bryce Dallas Howard is the star of this show as Ivy, a blind woman who sees more and fears less than many of the people around her. But Phoenix certainly doesn't phone in his performance as Lucius, a quiet young man who is deeply in love with Ivy but doesn't quite know how to express it.

The two of them have wonderful chemistry and I really bought into their romance. I also find it a little refreshing to have a film with a female protagonist who is a hero and who risks everything to save the man she loves without it ever feeling like a girl-power kind of story.

-



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Always meant to give that one another chance. With it being a Shyamalan film, and what I know of it, I felt like I was watching it just waiting for the twist the whole time and trying to decide what it was going to be rather than just enjoying it.





The Appaloosa (Sidney J. Furie, 1966)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/23/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The upcoming MoFo Top 100 Westerns Countdown
Rewatch: Yes.


I have a very, very vague recollection of catching this film on TV many years ago (probably more than 20 years ago), but all I could recall about the film was that it was called The Appaloosa and that I liked it. I decided to give it another try tonight.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it stars Marlon Brando as a "gringo" whose prized appaloosa stallion is stolen by a Mexican bandit (played by the very much Italian John Saxon) and he embarks on a journey to Mexico to reclaim the horse and his pride. While the film is certainly no masterpiece, and it takes a little while to really get going, I found the story engaging and the film has some impressive cinematography and plenty of atmosphere. At just 98 minutes it also has the decency not to overstay its welcome and makes for a nice bit of entertainment.

+





Shane (George Stevens, 1953)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/24/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The upcoming MoFo Top 100 Westerns Countdown
Rewatch: No.


I decided to give this highly regarded Western a go since it was available at the library.

What a disappointment. The film may be in Technicolor but the story and characters were so black and white that I was utterly bored by them. Those on the side of good were so downright wholesome that it was nauseating and little Joey really grated on my damn nerves. I very nearly turned it off and only kept going because I was hoping to get some kind of insight into why it has the reputation it has. That insight never came.

Sorry to any fans of the film, but I prefer my characters to be a little more morally ambiguous and, you know, human.

-





The Hanging Tree (Delme Daves and Karl Malden, 1959)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/24/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The upcoming MoFo Top 100 Westerns Countdown
Rewatch: No.


I'm not sure what made me decide to give this one a try (maybe just my familiarity with the theme song?), but I'm sure glad I did. I don't normally do well with 50's films but this one had me hooked from the start. Gary Cooper is wonderful as Joseph Frail, a doctor with mysterious past who is quick on the draw and will clean you out in a hand of poker. He's generous and caring, but also controlling and manipulative - saving the lives of a thief and a robbery victim and then essentially holding them captive, one as prisoner and the other essentially a slave. He's a complicated and fascinating character whose methods may be cruel but his motivations are noble.

The remaining performances are also universally strong and the film looks quite beautiful, but characters have always been the biggest draw for me in films and Joseph Frail is a great one. I really loved this, though I hesitate to rate it any higher based on a single watch.

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