12 Months of Movies 2006: February

Not a bad month at all, February 2006 marked the beginning of the Oscar movie season in Australia.

Walk the Line

February 2, 1:10, Greater Union Hurstville (Cinema 1)

The thing that I love most about biopics is that they’re all exactly the same: musician has tragic loss of key family member in childhood; grows up to become famous; falls in love; develops a drug habit; receives intervention from loved ones; returns to music a changed person.
It’s amazing that Ray Charles and Johnny Cash managed to live parallel lives.Walk the Line was perhaps overlong, but it was entertaining. I don’t believe, deep down, that Reece Witherspoon deserved the Best Actress nod (although I can’t honestly say who I would have given it to; Felicity Huffman was good, but it was a silly role). I suppose that Walk the Line‘s flaw was that it didn’t seem like anything new and that’s precisely what it was: nothing new. It was good, but this sort of movie is not at all difficult to come by.

The Aristocrats

February 7, 3:30, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 6)

Ridiculously funny. So much of this movie had me in tears. For a simple documentary about a joke, there was a lot of variation and a hell of a lot of room for dirt. I can’t understand people who take offence at this sort of thing, because profanity is simply profanity. Come on! Sarah Silverman does indeed deserve some sort of award for her work on this film.
The only downside to the whole project was Chris Rock, who somehow managed to sneer at the whole concept by citing The Aristocrats as a key symbol of white oppression. Whoopie Goldberg, on the other hand … men performing “Swannee” while extending their foreskins over their heads? That’s a class act, Chris Rock! Get with the times, you angry man!

Jarhead

February 14, 6:30, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 7)

I was surprised how much more I enjoyed the Jarhead film than I did the book. This is most likely attributable to the fact that a story is quite different to a memoir. This movie had a strong narrative, borrowing characterisation of real people and focussing solely on the war effort rather than showing too much of its aftermath.
War changes a person, especially if for many of those on the ground it’s a boring sham war. The level to which the soldiers in Jarhead became their weapons is disturbing and all too true of some of the people involved. Jake Gyllenhaal turned in a fine performance here, both irreverent and empty. I’ve read reviews suggesting that this film didn’t really have a climax, but neither did this war for these particular participants. The whole thing was a metaphor for sexual frustration. Good stuff.

(That, by the way, is the single best analysis of war anyone has ever written ever. I clearly know precisely what I’m talking about.)

Syriana

February 21, 6:45, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 7)

What was this film? A slap to my face is what it was! I’ll just use the summary I wrote several months ago when I was first drafting this feature:

“One could complain about Syriana being liberal propaganda, but I’m more liable to complain about its intricate web of characters, none of whom I cared about.”

I really didn’t.

Just Friends

February 22, 7:15, Greater Union George Street (Cinema 4)

Independent comedies are strange. They don’t seem capable of sustaining a coherent message. Is Just Friends a treatise against womanising misogynists? Is it just cruel to fat people? Are men who have emotions “pussies”? There’s a strange undercurrent of misanthropy on all sides to this movie, that suggests that if you’re both attractive and sensitive (and not just fake sensitive, either; the real stuff, man), you can score with Amy Smart. If not, get outta town!

Bonus Points: Anna Faris’ hilarious “Forgiveness” song. That girl sure gets around!

The Producers

February 24, 6:45 (Cinema 16)

Fun fact: this screening was subtitled. The audience was laughing at the jokes before they were told – the way nature intended! That said, this was a really useful function for the songs. Truth be told, I watch all of my DVDs at home with subs anyway.

Capote

February 27, 6:30, Dendy Opera Quays (Cinema 2)

What a bitch! I have, since seeing this movie, grown to love Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He makes Truman Capote totally despicable in this film: a man with absolutely no redeeming features beyond being tolerated by Harper Lee. The film seems as if it were itself directed in cold blood. This distanced me from it somewhat, but it still retains a great deal of its power.

Pick of February 2006: Jarhead

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