Century 1996: Star Trek 8: First Contact

Star Trek 8: First Contact. Jonathan Frakes. 1996.

Oops! Another Star Trek film. I guess my stacks of DVDs were pretty light on 90s films…

I remember this as being much better than it is. It’s got the best Star Trek villains, the Borg, but somehow this film manages to strip away many of the things that made them scary: Their unrelenting, impersonal drive for assimilation.

Instead we get a time travel thing with lots of Rikerian humour, and they’ve made the Borg be personified by one evil woman, and that’s just not as interesting.

But it’s easier to write lines, I guess, when you have an eeeevil character instead of an impersonal, implacable collective.

That said, the film looks very nice, especially on bluray, and there are several scenes that have nerve. I’m just… disappointed.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1995: Rendez-vouz in Paris

Rendez-vouz in Paris. Éric Rohmer. 1995.

Eric Rohmer was a director I was totally and utterly unaware of until a couple of years ago when I bought one of his films on a whim in a DVD shop somewhere. Mostly because of his name, which reminded me of Sax Rohmer. And it’s weird, because he was a major name from the Nouvelle Vague of the 60s, but, like, you know.

I’ve seen a handful of his films now, and they’ve all been great. Quiet and still and intimate in a very enjoyable way, so I’m excited to watch this now (which I apparently got in a Danish DVD shop at some point).

I’m guessing that Rohmer is fond of using non-actors. Sometimes that’s wonderful, and sometimes things fall flat because some of them are so much more convincing than others. This film has that problem: The main protagonist, played by Clara Bellar (I think; I may be reading the cast list wrong), is so perfect, but some of the actors she speak with have that “I’m waiting until I can say my line” expression on their faces.

This film is so much up my alley that I’m probably not a very good judge of whether it’s actually good or not: It’s basically pretty people walking around Paris talking rapidly at each other. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1994: Trois Couleurs Blanc

Trois Couleurs Blanc. Krzysztof Kieslowski. 1994.

This is one of the oldest DVDs I have, I think. I remember buying the box set while on holiday in London in the 90s. And somehow it’s never felt vitally urgent to watch these films, so it’s taken me almost 20 years to watch the trilogy.

I have to admit to being somewhat distracted while watching this, because I’ve got a new wifi setup here, and I’m kinda tweaking it, which isn’t the optimal condition for watching Kieslowski.

I like the actor who plays the protagonist. Some of the other ones aren’t as convincing, though.

The plot’s way silly. I wonder whether Kieslowski meant it to be that way or whether he thought he was making something serious.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1991: Poison

Poison. Todd Haynes. 1991.

Todd Haynes have done so few films. If I’m reading imdb correctly, this is his first one (from 1991), and he’s only done six more, which isn’t a lot of films per decade. And it’s not like his movies haven’t been successful… It’s weird.

I like all his films (although I haven’t seen Velvet Goldmine), but it’s Far from Heaven that made me pay attention. It’s such a perfect emulation of Douglas Sirk’s 50s “relevant” melodramas. (Which I love.)

“I still could not take lightly the idea that people made love without me.”

Anyway, this isn’t like that at all. It’s slightly studentey, but fascinating. It’s three short stories intercut with each other; each with their own distinct style (a 50s horror movie, an 80s TV documentary and an… er… art film), and it’s unclear what (if any) the connection between them are. (Except being kinda queer.)

It all makes sense by the end, and I’m really glad I saw this film, but there were some dicey bits here and there.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1990: Alice

Alice. Woody Allen. 1990.

This is a Woody Allen film from after I stopped watching him (I think I stopped the year before, growing tired of watching film after film concerning the problems of rich people in Manhattan), so I’m curious as to what he’s up to now, then.

Aaaaand… it turns out to be about rich people in Manhattan.

Or is it “on Manhattan”?

But this time the Woody character is played by Mia Farrow, so that’s different. And she’s having fun mirroring his mannerisms, I think.

During the 80s I would see “William Hurt” on a DVD cover or movie poster and I’d go “yay” and then I’d be disappointed when I saw the film because I was totally thinking of John Hurt.

That feeling’s still with me: Even if William Hurt is a good actor, I’m always disappointed on some level when he appears on the screen.

I do like Mia Farrow in this, though. I don’t believe in her character, but she’s entertaining to watch. But Allen isn’t good with actors: None of them are convincing.

The cinematography is a bit iffy. They try to do interesting things with mirrors, tracking shoots and stuff, but it’s a bit mannered. It’s like “NOW WE”RE DOING THIS” and “NOW WE”RE DOING THE OTHER THING”.

I find myself wanting to like this more than I am, and I’m also thinking that I was right to abandon Woody Allen when I did.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1989: Rosalie Goes Shopping

Rosalie Goes Shopping. Percy Adlon. 1989.

This is one of the less-than-handful of films from the Percy Adlon DVD box set I bought that I can actually watch (most of the rest are in German without subtitles in any language I understand), but, oh, what a film. I remember watching this when it was new and being absolutely transfixed. Not as mesmerised as I was by Adlon/Sägebrecht in Zuckerbaby, but it’s still a pretty special film.

And I apparently bought it three times on DVD.

It’s quite similar to that film in some ways. Of course, this one is set in the US and is in English while Zuckerbaby was in Germany and in German, but it’s got that somewhat heightened reality thing going on: The colours are a touch too vivid and the people are a bit more extreme than in reality.

I love it to bits.

And did I mention that Brad Davis is in this? Brad Davis is in this.

It does have some pacing problems just when they switch to the incomprehensible computer heist bit (i.e., the third act), but making a computer heist work dramatically is difficult. So it’s not perfect, but there’s still so much to love here, from the different children, all with their quirks, to the father, the airplane enthusiast, to the evil grandmother, to the nightly entertainment (watching TV ads), to the priest who gets more and more involved.

There’s so much in here. Percy Adlon is a genius.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Century 1988: Pee Wee’s Christmas Special

Pee Wee’s Christmas Special. Wayne Orr. 1988.

OK, I’m on today’s nth cocktail, but I think this might be the best TV thing ever shown anywhere ever. Pee Wee has gotten an amazing number of amazing stars to appear on his special (Grace Jones, k. d. lang, Cher, Whoopi Goldberg), but it’s still the same insanity as every Pee Wee episode is.

It’s simply perfection.

I haven’t watched this far in the TV series yet, but it seems like they’ve deemphasised Gary Panter’s designs here… It looks slightly less punk than it did at the start.

This blog post is part of the Century series.