Primer: I’m a total sucker for movies that break open your head and punch you in the brain, so Primer was right up my alley. Friends accidentally invent a time machine; their relationship–and chronology itself–rapidly becomes complicated. It’s one of those films, like Memento and Mulholland Dr., that pretty much necessitates repeated viewing. I watched it one night, spent about an hour the next morning studying this diagram, and then watched it a second time the following evening. I’d probably watch it again right now if I hadn’t already returned it. It’s not a fantastic film, but compelling as all get-out. Warning: aforementioned diagram gives away the entire plot of the film. You won’t understand it, but I feel obligated to include a spoiler warning nonetheless.
The Illusionist: Conversation with The Queen, the day after I watched this film.
The Queen: Do you want to watch that movie tonight?
Me: Which one?
Q: The magician one.
M: Uhh, actually I watched it last night and sent it back to Netflix this morning.
Q: What? I wanted to see that!
M: You didn’t, trust me.
Q: I was totally looking forward to it.
M: Maybe so, but you would have hated it. It pretended to be about magicians, and turn-of-the-century Vienna, and blah and blah and blah, but it was really just a very conventional romance gussied up like a thriller, full of twists you see coming 20 minutes before they arrive on screen.
Q: Even so, where do you get off deciding what movies I do and don’t get to see from out queue? I at least wanted to compare it to the book.
M: I’m pretty sure you didn’t read the book.
Q: I did! We both did!
M: Oh. Um, you’re thinking of The Prestige. And you did see it. We watched it together, like, four days ago.
Q: Oh, that’s right. Never mind.
Deadwood: Season 1: I’m not a much of a fan of westerns, but that’s okay because Deadwood isn’t must of a western. Set in a small South Dakotian gold mining camp in the 1870’s, it certainly has all the trappings of a Western, what with the guns and poker and whiskey and breeches and tormented sheriffs and diabolical saloon owners and robots. But after the obligatory shoot-out in the pilot, it settles down to be a fairly conventional ensemble drama. One thing I love about the show is the short seasons: each only has 12 episodes. So instead of six episodes of plot, 12 episodes of mid-season-stalling-for-time, and then six episodes of wrap-up (as you would get with a standard, 24 episode serial–think LOST), every installment of Deadwood moves the story forward fairly significantly. A little too much, actually, given that major characters drop like flies, and plot twists to which other shows would have devoted an entire season (e.g., the coming of smallpox) and dealt with here in three episodes and forgotten. Still, highly recommended–doubly so if you enjoy hearing the word “cocksucker” spoken 304 times an hour. I was lying about the robots.
Off The Black: One of those films that I added to my queue back in the day and somehow percolated to the top without my ever noticing. Nick Nolte is fairly astonishing in his role as a drunken umpire rapidly coming apart at the seams, but everything else about this film hews pretty closely to the standard “indie” film formula: a buncha quirky misfits who form unlikely bonds as they navigate the extraordinary and banality of everyday life. Off The Black reminded me quite a bit of The Station Agent–which was too bad, because it didn’t come close to stacking up.
Casino Royale: Great film. And actor Daniel Craig is easy on the eyes–or so The Queen felt compelled to mention about two dozen times during the movie.