I started out the day with a film I had very low expectations for - The Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans. Yes, it's connected (though mostly in name and surface details) with the older film, 'The Bad Lieutenant' starring Harvey Keitel. This one was directed by Werner Hertzog and stars Nicholas Cage in the title role. Happily, to my surprise, I really enjoyed this film. Cage's (ahem, cough) exuberant acting style works fairly well in a film that can probably be viewed either as a serious meditation on the bliss of evil and how the bad can be rewarded in life, or as over the top campy farce. Either way - it's worth checking out. And Val Kilmer steals his scenes as a possible owner of a role in a (hoping) sequel 'The Worst Lieutenant.'
Red Riding - 1983 - This was the third of the trilogy I wrote about yesterday. This delivered in a very satisfying way pulling most of the strings together for the patient viewer.
The Last Station - A biopic on the last year of Tolstoy's life. With a coming of age/romantic subplot between his male secretary and a carefree follower. I felt I learned a reasonable amount about Tolstoy's social movement and watched an enjoyable relationship film. Helen Mirren is wonderful as Tolstoy's wife who loves his even though she violently disagrees with him on almost every one of his social principles.
Fish Tank - Hmmm, sometimes it pays to read all the way to the end of film's description. A coming of age story about a 15 year old girl from what I guess you can call an 'at risk' background. Raised often neglectfully by her single mom her only refuge is her personal time with hip hop dance. When a man comes into her mom's life and offers some positive reinforcement she seems to be on a more positive track. Will things go dark - well that's pretty clear if you read the description or have ever seen a movie with a 'nice guy' and a sexually awakening teen in the house. Well played across the board it's a pleasure to watch. Except when it's not. Can't say I "enjoyed" it, but even though it's not quite what I was in the mood for it worked for me.
The Miscreants of Taliwood - Australian multi discipline (and judging by the film and his personal intro overly chatty) artist heads to the Pakistan frontier to hang out. Ends up hooking up with the local independent film scene which is hard at work cranking out popular Bollywood style films while local more extremist elements seek to crush the entertainment business. It's an interesting conflict as the two groups live intertwined and parallel existences. Over the course of the shoot he ends up getting roles in two feature films. There's definitely interesting and horrifying material here. But I felt there was way too much repetition on what was bad (most of it if presented doesn't require a label as such for Western audiences) and a less than deep treatment of the people he was working with. A dramatic feature like 'Son of a Lion' shot in roughly the same part of the world seemed to give a more complex treatment. Or maybe he just annoyed me once too much with the use of the word 'artist' while discussing the unique tragedy of creative types in that area. Seems all had it pretty bad. Stayed through the end, but after the first 30 minutes not sure there's a big incremental benefit.
All that plus a cool encounter with a deer who was out for a post midnight snack as I made way back to the hotel. Quite a weekend so far.