Monday, September 14, 2009

reel me this, reel me that

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore [October 22, 2006]: From the opening sequence (a bleeding Technicolor 1.33:1 frame within the 1.85:1 frame offering a rather wicked version of Dorothy in Kansas with a tip no doubt to Douglas Sirk as well) to the restrained optimism of the end, this film is a showcase for great performances (led by Ellen Burstyn whose Alice is a fascinating study of the steadfast, determined American woman who hasn't lost her sense of humour) and for Martin Scorsese's enthusiastic mix of a variety of techniques: filters, tracking shots, a nuanced choice of songs on the soundtrack, movie references -- The Postman Always Rings Twice -- and showpiece scenes (my favourite one is Vera's bad day intercut with Alice and Flo talking about Alice's problems). The DVD also has another rarity -- a commentary track featuring Martin Scorsese (it is always a pleasure to hear him fire one exuberant salvo of words after another).

Waitress [October 01, 2008]: It's not hard to be reminded of Scorsese's film when watching Keri Russell in a fantastic performance as Jenna Hunterson. The film's trailer was an exceptionally good one (the kind that piques your interest in a film instead of being a showcase of the best bits of a piece of creative guano). It was only several months later that I settled down with the DVD in the player. The film confidently mixes the essence of a chick flick with a compassionate study of characters and humanity laced with broad strokes of whimsy and constant cheer. Unfortunately, the senseless murder of Adrienne Shelly has robbed us of a filmmaker who seemed poised to offer so much more.

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