On Screen This Week: Game Shows, Dismemberment, & a Giant Space Brain

We’re officially in the deep, long part of winter and we had a big snowstorm come through this week which means the Midnights really got to business and watched some MOVIES.  A few highlights:

SolarisSolaris – Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972

I saw the Soderbergh Solaris a few years ago, but had never seen Tarkovsky’s original, which we picked up over the holidays as part of an excellent B&N Criterion sale (Merry Christmas!). It’s long and quiet and intimate and strange, with spectacular early 1970’s space station settings and swirling landscapes of space ocean at sunrise. Essentially a film about humankind’s encounter with a mysterious extraterrestrial intelligence (see: giant space brain), Solaris floats a few characters and a simple story within big themes about conscience, grief, and memory. This film definitely has a (slow) tempo from a different time – so the ADHD among us may need to split this into a couple settings or really dig in some snowy afternoon when you’re ready to snuggle under a blanket all day – but other than that and Kris Kelvin’s amazing mesh tank tops, it’s just as fresh and stunning now as it was 40+ years ago.

Black Death – Dir. Christopher Smith, 2010

Sean Bean plays the best tragically misguided heroes. Maybe he is typecast at this point, but I swear he was made to be the guy who is trying his best to do what’s right, fighting with all his might for a just cause – and then dying in disgrace as his convictions unravel around him. Black Death features what is maybe the most gruesome Sean Bean death yet (and it didn’t even make the famous Sean Bean death reel on YouTube! There is no justice in the world).  

This movie is really good. It’s spooky, dirty, and gory as only a medieval crusader meets Bubonic plague meets pagan film could be and layers on provocative, deep thoughts about religion and fear in a time of crisis. 

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
– Dir. George Clooney, 2002

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay for this movie, which is based on the memoirs of and recorded interviews with TV Producer and alleged superspy Chuck Barris, played delightfully by Sam Rockwell. Creator of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and The Gong Show, Confessions tells the story of Barris’ rise to TV stardom as a producer and game show host and his double life as a CIA hitman during the cold war.  It’s just as bizarre and great as it sounds.

Also on screen this week:

  • New MoonThe Twilight Saga – New Moon: Somehow my sister has NEVER SEEN the Twilight movies, which is ridiculous, because they are such a guilty pleasure of mine and all the brooding and angst and ridiculousness is right up our alley. We’ve been working our way through this during my niece’s naps and it is just as great as always. Jacob Black 4 lyfe!
  • Capote: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener are amazing and this is a really thought-provoking, stylish movie. So glad I finally saw it.
  • Moneyball: Apparently it’s Bennett Miller week!  I bet the real guy who this movie is about was pretty pumped to find out that Brad Pitt was going to play him in a movie. Good lord, that man is handsome. I also enjoyed this movie, even though I don’t really care about baseball.
  • My Beautiful LaundretteMy Beautiful Laundrette: Another Criterion pickup, this 1985 British movie features a very young Daniel Day Lewis and was directed by Stephen Frears. It’s about a gay Pakistani immigrant who is in love with a British nationalist skinhead. They run a laundrette together, which is complicated, as you might imagine.


SlackerWe also paid a visit to our local Half Price Books, and found a lot of great stuff including this beautiful copy of Slacker, one of our all time favorites.

Quick plug: we’re working right now on building inventory for our community film library – so if you or anyone you know is interested in donating movies to the library (any format), please let us know! Contact us via email at midnightmovietrain@gmail.com

What are you all watching on these snowy February days?

– Betsy Midnight

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