365 in 365 … Seven Down. 358 to Go.

I have to admit, I’m really feeling the weight and enormity of this undertaking right about now.  As I watch my weekends get gobbled up little by little by more and more birthdays and various events I’m starting to wonder how I’m ever going to get on track.  I’ve currently gotten 7 films under my belt and we’re 26 days into the new year which means I’m only …oh you know, 19 movies off pace.  So yeah, no big deal there. Anyway, what have I gotten into lately?

Having been a great fan of Oscar frontrunner The Artist this year I wanted to finally catch up with the OSS 117 movies made by the same writer/director, Michel Hazanavicius and leads, Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.  I watched OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (now available on Netflix Instant) and it did not disappoint.  It’s an absurd, slightly offensive but in a the protagonist is completely clueless and only makes himself look foolish kind of way, and just ridiculously enjoyable James Bond spoof.  The movie is in French with subtitles so fair warning there but it’s definitely worth your time.  There is a second film as well, OSS 117: Lost in Rio which I have not caught up with yet but hope to this weekend. 

Next I moved onto Bill Cunningham, New York (also on Netflix Instant) which is another fascinating documentary – something there seems to be no shortage of this year.  If you’ve ever perused the New York Times on a Sunday, you may have come across Cunningham’s On the Street feature which is a collage of photos taken by Bill on the streets of New York highlighting what he sees as a fashion trend among the people of New York.  Cunningham also covers society functions, peddling across New York on his bicycle, rain or shine, never wanting to miss a photograph even in Paris when he’s the guest of honor. Bill Cunningham, New York might be the defining portrait of passion, perspective and drive all perfectly distilled into one unique 80 year old man.

I'm sorry. I'm a jerk. I couldn't resist.

Now if you’re growing bored this may perk you up – I have a cinematic confession to make.  Before this past Saturday, January the 21st of 2012, I had never seen the much beloved classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  While I certainly appreciate the film on the whole I’m not sure I can really say I liked it all that much.  I wasn’t really much of a fan of Roman Holiday either, although I probably enjoyed it more than Tiffany’s so maybe it’s Audrey Hepburn that just fails to excite me as much as she does other people.  I really don’t know what it is.  While Breakfast at Tiffany’s was entertaining I just didn’t find myself caring about Holly Golightly. She was a damaged but awfully selfish person who just used people and so while she was very beautiful and charming I just couldn’t muster much investment in whether or not she found love in the end.  More than anything I found myself worried about that poor cat than whether or not she’d get the guy. So there you have it. Feel free to explain it to me if you feel so inclined. I’m happy to hear why it’s so beloved.

Hunger Director Steve McQueen and Fassbender

If you’ve jumped onto the Michael Fassbender bandwagon like I have this year then you might want to watch Hunger which was his first collaboration with Shame director Steve McQueen.  Fassbender plays Bobby Sands, an IRA member during the “troubles” in Ireland.  While incarcerated in a Northern Ireland prison he leads a hunger strike in protest of the removal of special category status by the British government.  Such status granted prisoners like Sands the rights and “privileges” of prisoners of war.  Sands and his fellow IRA prisoners felt that they should be classified as political prisoners as opposed to common criminals as the crimes they committed were carried out during an ongoing “conflict”. It’s an interesting film in that it doesn’t feel like there is a traditional narrative at play.  It’s not a day in the life type film but it still has a snapshot feel to it as if to say “here’s this period in time, soak it in.” It’s Sands’ story and follows him almost exclusively but it certainly highlights a great deal more than just one man’s life.  It’s immersive, really. Though I have yet to see The Iron Lady, I can’t help but think that Hunger and the new Streep film would make quite the double feature as the events of Hunger take place during Margaret Thatcher’s time in office and her actions had quite a lot to do with the “troubles”.  Michael Fassbender is, as you might expect, phenomenal in the role. Beyond the performance itself, the already slim Fassbender dropped an additional 28lbs or so over 10 weeks to portray Sands during the hunger strike.  It’s disturbing and inspiring to see the lengths to which Bobby Sands felt he was forced to go and another level, the dedication Fassbender had to be true to Sands’ sacrifice.  I could honestly go on and on about this film, its Christ imagery, the brilliant single take conversation between Sands and his priest, the gorgeous and haunting ending…on and on.  In the end really all I can say is see it.

Moving from hard to watch to popcorn munching entertainment, I finally saw Real Steel on Tuesday and honestly, I have to say, that movie was SWEET!  Really, there’s no other word to better describe it.  It’s everything you would really want in a summer movie.  It’s funny, there’s great action and ultimately it really is a satisfying family friendly movie.  A great deal of the credit certainly goes to Hugh Jackman who has the ability to make even disappointing films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, watchable.  But beyond that the script is pretty solid and Real Steel miraculously seems to avoid some of the more tiresome tropes of father/son bonding films.  It doesn’t mire itself too much in family drama and several times when I thought things would happen one way the movie went in another direction.  I had heard good things about Real Steel but I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. 

So there you have it. Seven down…358 to go.

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