I intended this blog to be about baseball and movies but no baseball movies, and it took just 9 days into the year for me to break that promise to myself.
No No: A Dockumentary (2014)
Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
The Lake House (2006)
No No: A Documentary
I was not feeling well today so we had a few relaxed movies in the background of the apartment to hunker down to as the temperature drops outside. I glanced through the Netflix selections for documentaries and found I had this movie in my queue for quite a while. It's the story of Dock Ellis, a former Pittsburgh Pirate player who was famous for throwing a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. There is an entertaining short film on youtube that highlights his recolections of the no-hitter but this film is very interesting to show many of the other interesting things from Dock's life.
The film documents his no-hitter, winning the world series, being in the starting lineup in the first game in MLB history to field all minority starters, his activism as a player and his struggles with substances and his ultimate sobriety before passing away. I think the film was highlighted by the scene about the first minority starting line-up. I was impressed by how many of the players didn't even notice there was anything new to baseball happening until the middle of the game or even after it ended. They were only thinking about how it was just their teammates out there.
Encounters at the End of the World
This one was just for background noise but there's nothing like Werner Herzog falling off the deepend early in the movie saying that the reason he went to antartica was because he questioned why monkeys don't ride goats around like little cowboys. This movie is a bit of Herzog falling into an art loop of making art without making art because everything you do is art. At times he fixates on menial day to day things in an attempt to say "there is more to antartica than the natural vastness of it, sometimes there's heavy machinery that I can't turn away from because Klaus Kinski hit me over the head in an attempt to murder me," but it comes across as "I got an endowment and they said I can do whatever I want, it's really cold and I don't want to venture out too far from the warm enclosure."
Fantastic Mr. Fox
It was time to have something fun on. I decided it would be fun to sample another favorite Director, Wes Anderson, and to watch something light and animated. The use of stop animation really gives this movie an extra layer of richness that computer animated films can't get. The helmets on construction men are worn and have been dirty before but have since been cleaned, the clothing has loose stitches, and there is a slight stiltedness that puts the movie in another time. It's amazing to see it now and think it did not stick at all culturally. From wikipedia: "Despite its critical success, the film's box office receipts were overshadowed by other films, particularly The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel." While that's quite depressing, Fantastic Mr. Fox lost all the major animation awards it was nominated to the great film Up. Up should have had a better shot at the best picture award that year so I don't fault anyone for Fantastic Mr. Fox losing, however it has resulted in curtailing the cultural resonence that other Wes Anderson movies have had, even lesser ones. Perhaps with the release of Anomalisa this year, a serious film "with Oscar buzz" that uses puppetry and stop motion animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox will gain renewed relevence for it's animation artistry as well as the fun storytelling and great actors lending their voices.
The Lake House
This is one I'd never seen before but it made enough of an impact on pop culture when it came out that I felt like I knew a lot about it. At one point I asked "is the viewer supposed to know right now that they're two years apart?" and my fiance answered "I think they just said it in the trailer so everyone would know going in." It's not a bad movie, a lot of it is awkward in the acting and writing, and I had a bad feeling I knew the ending after the first scene but it felt like an alternate version of You've Got Mail. We saw You've Got Mail around Christmas and I hadn't seen it since the '90's. It was fun to see the take they had on the technology we use so much now at a time when many of the viewers didn't have a grasp on email and chat rooms seemed to be something that happened. At least in The Lake House they don't have the very odd dynamic of loving and hating each other at the same time due to their romcom misunderstandings. By the end of the movie, though, I was really lost about which versions of the characters lived at what times and I got to the point where I had to just go with it to see where it ended up... exactly where it looked like it was ending up in the first scene of the movie.
Thrown in to wind down the night. It's a classic and it's odd to think I was hesitent to see it for quite a while then rented it when I had my wisdom teeth taken out. I saw Wall-E and Tropic Thunder while groggy post-anesthesia and I thought both movies were rather depressing although I was still having a great time. I am a big fan of the cleaning robot. He's going to have a helluva time with his OCD on Earth.