Weekend Movie Roundup: The Snook and I wanted to take advantage of the projector so we rented some movies that we thought would be appropriately dazzling on a bigger screen.
Strictly Ballroom: This is the first of Baz Luhrmann’s “Red Curtain Trilogy” (which also includes Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge). It’s also one of the most successful Australian films of all time, so I was really looking forward to seeing it. To my surprise, it doesn’t take place in a wacky alternative universe but is firmly achored in reality… albeit the reality of competitive ballroom dancing. The story is pretty simple but the actors are great and I was really cheering for them at the end. As I said to the Snook afterwards, “It’s just like when D.B. Sweeney teaches Moira Kelly to loosen up and enjoy her ice skating and then they fall in love and win the gold medal. Except not on ice. And with better costumes.” Ebert liked it too.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: Yeah, my initial enthusiasm for this one has really waned. It looked great up on the projector but I still found myself making excuses to get up and walk around whenever the “love” story was onscreen (lest I disturb the Snook by muttering “Fascist stalker date rapist!” everytime Anakin spoke). It also still botheres me that repeated viewings do nothing to patch together the gaping plot holes. I did like seeing the deleted scenes though, and some of the behind-the-scenes material was entertaining.
Waking Life: We’d been meaning to see this one for some time. It’s from Richard Linklater, who also directed Slacker and Dazed and Confused. The movie was filmed on video and then converted to rotoscoped animation, so visually it’s pretty intense. There’s really not much of a story. Wiley Wiggins (animated, of course) meets lots of different people, all of whom tell him about their theories of life and existence and dreams and meaning. Ebert gave it four stars. I liked it, but more as a challenging intellectual exercise than entertainment. It’s impossible to watch without *thinking* the whole time. (Don’t rent this one as a way to unwind after a tough day.) You’ll also develop a charming obsession with flicking light switches on and off. I know I have.