The 5th and final part of My 100 Movies of Summer
I had two goals going into this Summer. Watch 100 movies and once a week write about the best thing I saw.
Well, clearly the latter was a raging failure. I got lazy and just stopped writing. It wasn’t because I didn’t see any good movies. I hit 100 in the middle of this week and finished the summer off with about 105. So that’s cool. And in the period since my last entry, I watched three of the top ten flicks I’ve seen this year.
Back in 1994, Roger Ebert gave a very enthusiastic ‘thumbs up’ to a fascinating documentary by Steve James called Hoop Dreams. Almost 20 years later, James and Ebert decided to film a documentary loosely based on the critic’s autobiography. Shortly after they started filming, Ebert broke his hip and it was discovered that the cancer that had taken his voice had returned with a vengeance. It was apparent to all involved that James would be filming the last few months of Roger Ebert’s life. It’s a tough viewing experience. Ebert isn’t hiding anything here. He’s completely vulnerable, his physical state deteriorating, the prosthetic he had used in public to give his face form now removed. I can only imagine the great difficulty Mr. James faced but ultimately he does an incredible job of chronicling his friend’s final fight.
Richard Linklater had a crazy idea. Put together a cast and film a movie for a few weeks at a time over the course of twelve years, chronicling the maturity of a young boy and the lives of those around him. It is a most singular achievement in film-making. Consisting of a series of vignettes, it’s a simple coming of age drama clothed in the usual trappings of divorce, blended families and growing pains. Nothing truly exceptional happens but the viewer becomes invested in the lives of this young boy and his family as they (and the actors who portray them) age over time. The film is long but you don’t really feel it and I found myself almost disappointed as it ended. I dare say there’s probably something in this film that anyone who survived their childhood can relate to. If Mr. Linklater decided to continue the project and film the next twelve years of this kid’s life, I’d be on board.
This film starts off as something very familiar. A man kills a home invader. In the eyes of the police, it’s a simple question of self-defense. But then the father of the intruder is released from prison. The grieving father stalks the man and his family. A tipping point is reached and a thrilling climax is reached. But that’s just the first 20 minutes as what starts off as a simple reverse revenge flick begins smoothly transitioning into…something totally different and disturbing. Suffice it to say that truly terrible things are happening in the Lone Star State and uneasy bedfellows Sam Sheppard, Michael C Hall, and Don Johnson(!) aim to put an end to it. Fueled by a great Carpenteresque synth soundtrack by Jeff Grace, the film hits the gas and doesn’t let up until a lot of people are left dead in its wake. This is a perfect piece of neo-noir.
If you’re curious to see what all I watched these last 3 months, feel free to check out my Letterboxd profile.