Ah what the hell. Might as well copy/paste stuff from my lone remaining Reelviews thread.
Given my love for idea-based science fiction, I should've watched this long ago because it's clearly right up my alley. The story has strong allegorical aspects, but it's also stunningly beautiful to look at. The lush colors of the outdoor environments contrast with the darker interiors of the NASA-like Gattaca building. The layout of the employees' desks is creepily old-fashioned, with rows of work stations lined up in a grid. Kind of reminds me of Billy Wilder's THE APARTMENT. The score adds to the power of the movie's most emotional scenes without going too far over the top, and the acting is strong across the board, with Jude Law in particular stealing scenes aplenty.
Through no fault of its own, a "futuristic" movie like this does become slightly dated when viewing it in the 2010s, mainly because the Internet and smartphones (a staple of our society) are nowhere to be found. But odds are, you'll get so wrapped up in the story that you won't care.
Mystery Train-- 3/4
An early feature-length film from well-known indie director Jim Jarmusch, this movie involves three separate stories which all converge one night in a run-down hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Featuring a young Japanese couple visiting all Elvis exhibits, an Italian woman stuck in town until her next-day flight home, and a couple of local drunks who get into some serious trouble, this has "quirky indie" written all over it. Though it doesn't add up to much in terms of payoff, it's a very enjoyable journey to take. I've always had a soft spot for a style like this, which repeats earlier scenes and locations in order to show them in a new light (specifically, I'm referring to the hotel manager and the bellhop, who apparently sit all night in the same spot). Many will also get a kick out of seeing Steve Buscemi in a supporting role here.
Visually, the movie looks great, and the high def Criterion edition is so smooth you'd swear you were watching something made in the 2000s as opposed to 1988. Jarmusch likes to fit two or more characters into the frame as often as possible here, so often that even the non-film school viewer (including yours truly) will pick up on it. It's a nice, unobtrusive way to go when filming a low-key, character-based story like this one.
A Summer's Tale-- 3/4
If I wanted to be a dick, I could simply label this "First World Problems: The Movie. TROLOLOLOLOLOL." Indeed on the surface level this is story about a young guy torn between three pretty girls who throw themselves at him during a summer vacation. What a problem to have, right? But that description does a disservice to Eric Rohmer's film, which is rich in dialogue and characterization. There's no plot to speak of here, it's simply a slice-of-life tale about a young musician/mathematician (quite a combo, I know) visiting a beachside town hoping to meet up with his on-again/off-again girlfriend. He strikes up a friendship with a waitress and later has a semi-romantic fling with one of her friends. Eventually, his "girlfriend" finally shows up much later than expected, and he realizes he's going to have to disappoint someone.
I'll admit that I can relate somewhat to the main character here. Like him, it takes me a long time for me to get comfortable in groups, and his problem of wanting to please everyone is something I've struggled with as well. And sure, while I'm tempted to call bullshit on the fact that three beautiful women all want a guy like this in such a short period, that doesn't change the fact that the scenes he shares with each of them are by turns funny, insightful, and sometimes poignant. Rohmer also captures the location very well, packing as much background detail of the community as possible into each shot, and he's fond of unbroken takes. The ending, when viewed in a certain light, seems like a cop-out, but its consistent with the main character's nature. We get the sense he's a man who, when he says he cannot be loved, is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In the Name of the Father-- 3.5/4
A Best Picture nominee from 1993 (as well as six other nominations, but no wins), this is a rousing tale boasted by a blistering pace, peerless acting from everyone involved, and emotional complexity. The situation is certainly unique; how does a man cope with spending a life sentence in prison with his father, who he wasn't on the best of terms with? We see Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) run through the full gamut of emotions here as he clashes with his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite) on how to survive in prison as well as what "justice" truly means, and just as they make headway, the latter dies of a medical condition.
The movie covers a lot of time and territory in just over 2 hours, to the point where the progression of events occasionally feels rushed, but it's a story few won't feel affected by. We go from the setup of the characters (complete with a forceful filming of a clash between the IRA and police officers), to the arrest of people suspected of terrorism, to the unbelievably mean and unjust torture and coercion by police, to the first trial, to the prison life, and finally to the second trial and exoneration of the victims. Through it all, director Jim Sheridan never lets the momentum flag, and his single best scene may very well be the "fire tears" moment where prisoners demonstrate a moment of solidarity for a fallen inmate. Emma Thompson, though a bit underused, also delivers a rousing courtroom speech that hits all the expected notes without feeling too manipulative.