Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Glimmer Man - 1996 - Dir. Gray

You know, I don't watch a lot of Seagal movies. I can't for sure know why that is. I probably should, but I think I have a tendency to hang onto JCVD's broken English more than Seagal's squinty mutterings. So I may not be have the right to say this but I think The Glimmer Man might be the perfect Seagal movie. Well, maybe not PERFECT, but at the very least it's a well-oiled one. All the parts are in the right place and functioning correctly. And as a bonus we get a scene with Stephen Tobolowsky and Brian Cox as a stupid villain whom you get to see swim around in a pool. You have the Ivory Wayans and Seagal mixed up partner relationship, achieving everything required of it like Wayans eating powdered deer penis and Seagal... uh... I don't know, smiling on bemusedly as he proves Wayans wrong at every turn. Seagal's faux-sprituality is fairly present, which isn't so much a character trait as much as something that can spur on banter since Seagal's beliefs and wisdom generally bends to whatever he feels like doing in each particular scene. "Eh, the guys makin' fun of my prayer beads! Lemme mutter something then kick him in the head." But I suppose the movie is entertaining enough, It's exactly what you should get when you watch a cruddy action movie from the mid-90s. In a sense, it should be in a museum... for 90's movies.
I'm white and you're black but somehow we still get along!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reindeer Games - 2000 - Dir. Frankenheimer

You know, Reindeer Games is a movie with twists. It's a movie that is basically formed around the idea of having a lot of surprise reveals. It doesn't really try very hard to hide this fact, I guess it's not supposed to. I don't know much about Frankenheimer. He had a spotty record as a director, seemingly to have a tendency to direct films of THIS quality and then a bunch of movies that are actually decent. But let me get back to how stupid this movie is, first of all, the antagonists are morons. I'm pretty sure the movie makes a point of this. They are dumb truckers who want to rob a casino and hold Ben Affleck, a recently released criminal, hostage so Ben helps them out. Naturally, Ben Affleck outsmarts them around every turn and really only due to brute force and dumb luck are they consistently able to subdue him. I feel like that's usually the format for a Children's Movie. Where the villain is a blithering idiot or IDIOTS in this case. And I feel like when a movie sets you up to have a ton of twists, you generally see them coming like an oncoming truck and only notice how they grow in retardation with each reveal. If one can derive any pleasure from the film is Gary Sinese, who is not much of a villain in the movie, but is entertain to some degree... SOME DEGREE. Either that or the cast of character actors that pop up, and a sweet cameo by Issac Hayes.
Run as fast as you can! You still won't get out of this movie!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Primary Colors - 1998 - Dir. Nichols

John Travolta as Bill Clinton?! I remember as a young fella I thought this was the most incredible idea. And in 1998?! I mean, the man was still President at the time! Take THAT W. you're not the only one! Anyway, I suppose I thought the movie would be pretty corny and sensational considering the time of its release. It's actually got a little bit more thought in it than I was expecting, although Travolta is in way less of the movie that... well, the cover would lead you to believe. IN FACT, the cover doesn't even HAVE the lead on it. Well, some of them do. But it's the young African-American fella joining Fake-Clinton's campaign. It's sort of a classic story of somewhat naive dude realizing Politics is corrupt and awful as hell. I suppose, it's pacing and it's handling made it a step up above from the rest. Naturally the film isn't ALL about Clinton, it's all thinly veiled. But the way it depicts the Clinton couple is fascinating. Especially by the end when Kathy Bates, whose AWESOME in this, is screaming at the two of them about how much they've changed. That is the climax of sorts, and the movie allows for the slow boil. Nichols, a man who never really got on my bad side to begin with, has really begun to win me over. OH, and the movies has a nice chunk of goofy small time actors. OH! And I thought "JR" from Dallas was awesome in it as a Calm and Honest Politician. As was Emma Thompson as "Hilary Clinton."John Travolta's Penis AS Bill Clinton's boner.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Killing Fields - 1984 - Dir. Joffé

I sort of went into The Killing Fields expecting a very serious mediation on what happened in Cambodia. Maybe I set the bar too high. Not that it was a hollow picture, it wasn't. It was stirring. But... I wasn't expecting it to be so... Bromantic. I know that's weird to say, but it was kind of distracting after a while, to see Pran kind of holding Sydney up to be some kind of... mythical figure. I don't know. The film's resolution is them reuniting. I guess, the movie is about their relationship... with the backdrop of the Cambodian massacre. It basically gets to a point, where I don't give a damn about Pran. He's kind of overly subserviant. Maybe in the 80's it was more reasonable to have an Asian man servant type character who is basically in orbit around a Sam Waterson but that just don't fly with me. And Sam Waterson's guilt? Tch. Pran is responsible for getting a boy blown up but we see Sam Waterson hang around his apartment feeling bad? Oh man, I'm getting on a rant. Well, let me just say, everything I've referenced is in the second half of the movie. The first half, the part where the two guys are together is actually an all right movie. We got Waterson, Malkovich, and Spaulding Grey, who are all great to watch. Ngor is actually really good considering his lack of experience and training. I can see why he won the Oscar. Mike Oldfield supplies a dated but pretty neat score. A strange viewing experience for me, perhaps I'm being cynical... but I don't think multiple viewings would change anything.
I wonder why everyone looks so sombe- Oh wait.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas Story - 1983 - Dir. Clark

MAN! I can't act like this movie doesn't charm the pants offa me every Christmas. I'm still baffled by how entertaining it can be. I think as I get older, different parts appeal to me more. I definitely get behind the parents more than I used to. They're probably my favorite part these days. I remember when I didn't have any clue about what was funny about the Leg Lamp. And that Mom is just SO DAMN CUTE! It never feels abhorently sentimental, but never NOT sentimental at the same time. It has just a perfect balance of both. And of not just about Christmas but what it means to be a kid around Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Muppet Christmas Carol - 1992 - Dir. Henson

I probably have seen this before. I can't imagine as a child who loved Muppets, I never saw the Christmas Carol, but I sure as hell don't remember anything about it. I was a little surprised by the LACK of Muppets, or perhaps, the lack of traditional Muppets. But perhaps I just have an extremely high tolerance for Traditional Muppets. ANYWAY, the film created new muppets for the three ghosts. I have to say, I loved the Ghost of Christmas Present. He was sweet as hell. I think what originally got me into this was that Michael Caine said this was his most memorable. I can see why. This must have been a ton of fun to make and he does a great job as Scrooge and plays it as honestly as someone might with real actors. Henson seems to have a lot of respect for Dickens and the source material while still being rather playful with it as seen with the minor addition of Robert Marley and Gonzo's take on Dickens himself. I think I would have almost liked MORE goofing around on the Muppets part but maybe that's just because as an older fellow, The Christmas Carol is a pretty tried and true bit of storytelling. I think a great deal of the fun is just seeing how each of the Muppets were intergrated into the classic tale.
Michael Caine looks INSANE!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dead Ringers - 1988 - Dir. Cronenberg

The movie starts out with creepy music and a series of drawings of early medical experiments and torture devices on a bright red background. It is not easy to tell which is which, if there is any distinction at all. Cronenberg can set a tone like no other. ESPECIALLY in the 80's where you could expect some degree of mutation and people being taken apart in the strangest ways. Although, perhaps of all of my favorite directors, I seem to be most critical of Cronenberg's films. Maybe because he seems to always get so close to exactly what I want to see but then somehow (for me) drops the ball. Or I don't know. Maybe I'm just picky. Either way, Dead Ringers certainly has the basic idea of PERFECT MOVIE. I think maybe it wanders a little bit more than I would have liked. Feels a little unfocused and a little loosy goosey, but MAN! Cronenberg kicks thematic ass like nobodies business. He's so good at loading the screen with visual metaphors and motifs. And they are ALWAYS right up my alley too. Like a lot of Cronenberg movies, it feels slow as hell. He plays with the idea of Jeremy Irons being twins a lot, and trying to decipher who is doing what. So it's a lot of fun. The addiction part of the film feels a little repetitive, especially after he makes the AWFUL instruments, which may very well be the peak of the film, Irons being dressed in red gowns in a very religious manner, hopped up on goof balls, about to mutilate a vagina. MAN, they don't make 'em like Cronenberg anymore. And certainly not with the class that man makes 'em with.
Oh man, it's a table of Vagina Nightmares.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior - 1981 - Dir. Miller

Lemme just say, in case, I haven't said it loud enough and with all the passion of my heart recently. I love Vernon Wells. That man... he understands exactly what needs to be done. He knows how to move his face to express emotion better than any other schmoe out there. In fact, I think the same could be said of everyone who worked on this movie. Everyone understood their job and could pull it off masterfully. George Miller just KNEW exactly how this movie needed to be made. And how many cars there had to be. And how loud the music needed to be. And how Brian May should still fucking make the music cause he's awesome. The end car chase is just sweet as hell. I was kind of surprised a movie that's getting to be thirty years old could pump me up so much. Maybe that just means I'M getting old, but MAN, this movie was the tits. And the villain!? King Humongous. That's just ridiculous. You don't see quality comic book villains like that these days. He was paper thin! But so THICK at the same time! Oh yeah, and Mel Gibson is in it. But who gives a damn, you know what he's gonna do, and he does it. And that's that. I suppose the Feral Kid was the weakest bit. But really, you'd expect a Feral Kid to be way worse.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2001: A Space Odyssey - 1968 - Dir. Kubrick

It's easy to pick on 2001. Especially for me. Not that I know some insider junk or have some perfect theory on the movie being flawed. I suppose because it's one of the best movies ever made if many publication can be believed. Because it's so heavily entrenched in the canon of our film culture. I think perhaps this is the first time, I attempted to watch the film with some sort of appreciation for what it was. I hit it a little too young the first time around and ended up not even watching the whole movie, assuming it ended between a commercial break... and yes, I watched it on television. So I figured I owed myself a decent viewing. Late at night, lights off. Without any sponsors. So what do I think? It's fucking 2001! MAN! What do you think? I feel like in some sense, I knew everything about this movie before I watched it. I can't complain. It's just so ICONIC. It looks good, it feels good. And it looks and feels like no other. Wait, it might look like Solaris, I'm going to investigate soon in that respect. For some reason, I really liked the acting in the movie a lot more than I thought I would though. There's the blankest, emptiness on the part of the humans. Also, for some reason, I thought the Heywood Floyd character was awesome... but I think it might have just been his hair.
In the future, shit will be confusing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Long Good Friday - 1980 - Dir. Mackenzie

Man, I really liked The Long Good Friday. I have no idea why I rented it. Or how it ended up on my queue. Perhaps the mere existence of Bob Hoskins in the film is the reason it appeared. I can't imagine why else. Apparently, a break-through role, it's easy to see why. It would have been easy to just play the role as a tough, but Hoskins takes it to a whole other level. He brings tons of humanity to the role without sacrificing any kind of fierceness, so when he turns into a mad dog, it's still a little scary to see. The film is perfectly engrossing, proving that a simple story and able story telling is all you need sometimes. The film also has a TON of actors in it who pop up in a bunch of places later on. A young Pierce Brosnan. Hatchet Harry AND Brick Top. Apparently, Soap is in it as well as a tiny kid. Indiana Jones Archeological Nemesis from Raiders. Lemmy Caution. And that's not to forget Helen Mirren who does her Mirren-best! I must also say, the scene in the abattoir was positively awesome. Oh hell, there's a bunch of awesome scenes in the movie! It was a completely satisfying experience!
Don't you fuck with Bob Hoskins! DON'T YOU FUCK WITH BOB HOSKINS!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Street Fight - 2005 - Dir. Curry

Cory Booker is in the news these days. Well, he's on TV, at least. The man is making appearances on all the hip shows the kids love. He comes off as friendly, likable, and intelligent. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT HE'S EFFICIENT TOO!? He knocked violent crimes down 40% or so since he took office as Mayor of Newark. He apparently wants to make it a less terrifying city for some reason. This was not the goal of the previous Mayor, Sharpe James, who is currently serving jail time for various kinds of frauds. In 2002, the little known Booker went up against the popular and long serving James. The result: STREEET FIGHT! The premise of the documentary was enough to pull me in. Even though, I have to admit that it feels a little amateurish at times, the film is engrossing. Curry paints a desperate and polarized situation in Newark. A city with great possibilities, as well as great corruption. He is never condescending to Newark or its inhabitants. We don't see jerks mugging for the camera or inarticulate loudmouths (well, not a ton, it IS politics after all) while at the same time showing us a different kind of political campaign. Booker nor James ever feel like a clear winner so the documentary holds us to the very end. It feels honest and fair, as fair as it can be considering James refused to be filmed. But we see Booker trade in some of his ethics so he can win, this is after all: A STREEETTT FIIIIGGGGHHHTTTT!!!!
Round One: Fight!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Murder By Death - 1976 - Dir. Moore

This movie is FILLED with people. And I'll admit to not being a huge fan of Neil Simon but damn it, the man knows how to make some silly jokes. Although, the film really begins to get tedious after a while and I don't know how well it really fares once you get past the verbal humor. I feel like a lot of visual gags could have been done better and the movie in general could have had better timing. As far as the actors ability to crack jokes though, TOP NOTCH. It's also James Cromwell's first movie. AND HE'S AWESOME. I know he's just being a big doof but MAN, he was cracking me UP. Alec Guiness is also a ton of fun to watch. Peter Sellers was on and off. I'm not sure how well the racist chinese jokes held up. I was trying to figure out it if was making fun of Charlie Chan's racism or if it just wasn't being very imaginative with their own racist jokes. I mean, this coming from the man who made a living butchering a French accent, it's tough to tell. And I'm not willing to give Simon the benefit of the doubt either. So the movie ends up being a little half and half. Some parts are GREAT, some not so much. Especially as the movie drags on, I couldn't be very interested in the end since the movie projects that its basically jerking us around when it introduces the idea of teleporting dining rooms. Of course the end isn't going to be a real ending and the rant felt more like it was trying to be clever than actually clever. Oh well... good for a lark! :p
You leave Obi-Wan alone Columbo! He didn't do ANYTHING!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wendy and Lucy - 2008 - Dir. Reichardt

All right, I'm digging on this Kelly Reichardt lady. Second film of hers I've seen, also the second which has a nice bit of Portland footage which is always a nice bonus. Wendy and Lucy follows in the minimalist tone of Old Joy of having a lot of looks and silence. It depicts Michelle Williams or Wendy as she attempts to move up to Alaska with her dog Lucy. She gets stranded in Portland when her car breaks down. More problems arise as she is arrested for shop lifting and she loses track of Lucy. In the film we manage to see a lot of characters living on the fringe. People just scraping by, only doing slightly better than Wendy herself. Perhaps one of my favorite touches was the security guard, a benefactor for Wendy throughout the film, offers her some parting cash. While the sum is treated as a lot, it turns out to be only a few dollars. I don't think I liked it as much as Old Joy probably having something to do with the unending sadness throughout the film, never really feeling much of a lift at any point. But I won't say that's a bad thing. It's a captivating enough film and I did connect with it, just not as much I suppose. The endings IS sad, but there's something terribly reasonable and almost happy about it. But certainly not happy enough to not feel bummed out by the time the credits roll.
Will Oldham! YOU ARE CRAZY!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - 2005 - Dir. Gibney

Man, I'll tell ya! This documentary got me so damn steamed. Which I guess means its completely successful in it's goal. I mean, I'm sure there could be loftier ambitions behind the film, like to say, INFORM but for a good chunk it just feels like it's just demonizing those with their fingers in the Money Pie. The work is pretty cut out for them. I mean, most people don't need to be convinced at this point. So it's basically a parade of evidence. I think the documentary screws with the timeline, and by that, I just mean, it seemed to jump around a little bit, grouping the allegations and crime not by when they occured but more like subject matter. I'm not positive, of course, the film throws A LOT of information around at you so its a bit of a struggle to follow sometimes. Despite this, you have a broad understanding of what went on in the scandal. I was fairly uninformed about the whole proceedings so despite it only happening a few years ago, I learned a shit ton from the movie. It paints strong pictures of our "antagonists" out of Lay, Skilling, and Fasdow.

Luckily for this man, he was not one of the smartest guys in the room.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Synecdoche, New York - 2008 - Dir. Kaufman

MAN! I had a pretty good hunch that Synecdoche, New York would be depressing and dreary... that still didn't really prepare me for it though. I suppose expected something along the lines of Philip Seymour Hoffman putting forth tons of effort into something that inevitably fails but the film isn't terribly interested in failure, in fact, it seems to chalk it up to that being awfully small scale. I also didn't factor in how friggin weird Charlie Kaufman could be. I don't really know how I forgot how quirky that sonuvabitch could be. Or I don't think I forgot. I didn't realize that he would also be such a friggin' quirky director as well. And pretty damn capable if you ask me. He plays a ton with the passing of time, never in a flashy way, with the same deft hand that writes all those screenplays. It also helps that he has a pretty incredibly cast. I mean TOM NOONAN!? No, seriously though, he's got some great people on board. Samantha Morton was just awesome (and perhaps my favorite) as was her somewhat doppelganger Emily Watson. Hope Davis has a few scenes of complete ridiculousness. And Tom Noonan is pretty bitchin'. Daniel London even has a tiny role as a doof. But naturally, the movie is all about Philip Seymour Hoffman and the bastard can play a sad, neurotic man whose falling apart like nobodies business. The film has a lot going on, and I'm not going to act like I understood it all like say, the house that's constantly on fire. But I can certainly appreciate it, even if it's DREARY AND FULL OF DREAD!
AWWWWW!!!! A precog!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Virgin Spring - 1960 - Dir. Bergman

Man, sometimes Bergman can just direct the hell out of a movie. I forget that sometimes. The Virgin Spring is definitely one of my more favorite of his. I had always remembered that Last House on the Left was a remake or based on an Ingmar Bergman film, which always stuck out in my mind. The plot clearly lends itself to a more gory version, three herdsmen after murdering and raping a girl unknowingly seek shelter at a farm which is owned by the girl's family. The Family realizes what has happened to their daughter and vengence is seeked. Naturally, Bergman's version is not a Swedish Old Boy but at the time the rape was extremely shocking. Tame by today's standards but still leaves quite an impact. The film has some really beautiful set-ups and there's a series of just incredible tableau. Max Von Sydow plays the girls father and damn if the man can't glare. Thematically the film has a bunch of interesting things going on with paganism and Christianity. Apparently, that was a time in Sweden's history where Christianity was just forming and paganism was on the decline. It definitely adds a extra level to the whole piece. ALSO THE ENDING IS AWESOME! I always like it when a film can illicit a vocal response from me. When that water starts flowing, so did the noise. Bring da noise, Bergman!
YEAH MAX! Teach that fucking tree a lesson!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Charlie Wilson's War - 2007 - Dir. Nichols

I don't know why, I was feeling in a terrifically political mood this morning and decided I needed to be charmed and amused at the same time. Charlie Wilson's War hit the spot like nobodies business. The press for the film made it seem like I was going to watch Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks be romantic at each other for an extended period of time. Thankfully, their relationship is rather understated and, at best, professional in a very PARTICULAR way. We see way more of Hanks hanging out with Hoffman. Which is awesome. Their first scene together is hilarious and has all the timing of... well... something very well timed. The story moves along well enough. It's subtle in it's insinuations of 9/11... or... maybe not so subtle as I think about it. They do anything but come right out and say it. Clearly, Wilson worried about the power vacuum that would form but not nearly enough. The movie felt somewhat un-biased, although it seemingly attributes numerous achievements to the Democrat Wilson that he may not have earned, but it also does not spend much time demonizing although I must consider the amount of characters talking about killing Russians without a blink of the eye. Nichols is a sly dog, we know that though.
Watch out Tom! Ned might lead you into a room and have a great monologue at you!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Caged Heat - 1974 - Dir. Demme

I didn't really dig this too much. I actually stopped watching it at one point which is fairly rare for me. It's not that is was particularly bad. In fact, if I think about it, it seemed interesting enough for a Women in Prison flick. Having a nice amount of quirky and tongue-in-cheek elements to it. But I dunno, I think a lot had to do with the production quality, but REALLY: What could I expect? it's a Roger Corman exploitation flick, so I think this is Standard Operating Procedure. I think I also warmed up to the movie a little bit more after watching Corman give and interview about it. It definitely made the flick seem a lot more charming. And there are fun/interesting parts to it as well as some pretty snazzy editing. It's Demme's directing debut and he's clearly working on a style. He does some really neat things with sound which ironically is in general of a pretty incredibly poor quality. There were a few scenes in the movie that were completely indecipherable. The Warden was probably one of the more interesting bits in the film and I wouldn't have minded a bit more of her. ALSO, Erica Gavin of Vixen! fame plays one of the lead protagonists. That lady is such a goofy actor, I get behind her 100%!


Friday, December 11, 2009

The Return of the Pink Panther - 1975 - Dir. Edwards

I'm a little torn by The Return of the Pink Panther. On one hand, it is ridiculous and silly. However, it is also intensely boring. It's a little puzzling and I'm not saying the "plot" aspects of the movie are boring. Oh no, not at all. Sometimes, Peter Sellers falling down and knocking crap over could only be so funny. Alternatively, it's also the best parts of the movie. On occasion, it's set up perfectly and seeing the sonuvabitch ruin an entire room is awesome. His opening and ending battle with Cato is an example of the best parts. As is when he is "disguised" as a telephone repairman. The overly long sequence in the hotel room, however, I could have done with significantly less of. Since Clousseau is basically distracted the entire film, the plot manifests itself with Christopher Plummer, who is perfectly charming. The film has a funny dichotomy of burgling being an intensely delicate procedure, where Clousseau is a huge klutz. I imagine that's intentional. I was also a fan of Herbert Lom who basically had to make the same joke funny in every scene he was in. While Sellars is, of course, hilarious. I feel like I would watch the other movies in the series for Lom, to see how fucking nuts he really gets. And hopefully we won't be subjected to any more which gun is the lighter and which is the actual gun jokes.
MAN! The Monkey is showing NO RESPECT!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Minority Report - 2002 - Dir. Spielberg

I don't really get the craze about Minority Report. All right, maybe calling it a craze is a little over-the-top. It does seem to do incredibly well, however. I dunno. I feel like I really dig the movie for a good chunk of it, I think until the plot really gets moving. Watching Tom Cruise evade police and try and prove his innocence, MAN, I've had enough of that. The premise is neat. Although, that must make a little bit of sense only because I'm a sucker for the Philip K. Dick. I'll admit that I haven't really been a huge fan of Spielberg siiiince- Actually, I looking at his filmography, I haven't really been a fan of his action/sci-fi movies since Jurassic Park, but movies like Catch Me If You Can, hey man, I won't complain about that! Anyway, I felt no drive to give a damn about what was on screen, all of the futuristic looks and gadgets felt old and tired. It didn't even feel like it solidified in a single vision of the future. The action is forgettable. It's not an awful movie by any means. Just a tired one. If Spielberg is so supportive of the blockbuster, why's he got to make his two hours plus. All these damn shallow movies (Transformers, I'm looking in your direction) should just admit they're trashy and try and clock in at 90. Now I'm being unfair. Minority Report has an interesting story to tell, it's just not a terribly interesting movie. :p
Tom Cruise operating the future computer, although I would be just an interested to see him operate just a normal computer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Husbands - 1970 - Dir. Cassavetes

So Husbands begins with photographs of four men, flexing. TONS of flexing. Then they are at a funeral, one of the men has died, and there are three left. Then three men begin to drink and they do not appear to stop. The film is completely raucous. The beginning portion contains screaming and singing and running around in the most ridiculous manner. It's three men being reduced to children, or perhaps even reducing themselves to children. There's an intense craving in the men to be someone who they aren't, and the film might in some ways document their failure to be anything but: HUSBANDS. The film is exactly what I've come to expect from Cassavetes. Long, wandering scenes. Lots of jokes and laughing, although I can't say the laughing really comes from me. But I am entertained. There's so much childishness and liveliness... I love to think about where the honesty is in a Cassavetes film. Although the existence of it is probably futile, there is still something terribly engaging about trying to find it. I would want to watch the film again, despite it's length and its sluggish pace (but we must've come to expect that), there's something appealing and hypnotic about it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The NeverEnding Story - 1984 - Dir. Petersen

Most people of my age probably have SOME kind of association with NeverEnding Story. I probably had less than others, referring to the Luck Dragon as a flying dog and whatnot. It didn't leave much of an impact when I was a kid. A few scenes came back to me as I watched it but the film was mostly unknown to me. It's easy to see why the film was such a big deal: goofy-ass special effects, tons of escapism, and plenty of creatures. The story isn't terribly impressive although I was happy to see the parallels between the quest and battling depression and lethargy. As with all kids movies some of it is subtle and some of it is beating you over the head with it. The movie basically moves you from set-up to set-up for the special/creature effects. Which are still neat to this day. Considering its a mostly German production, it has a Grimm fairy tale feel. Naturally, the movie can be pretty slow and when you get right down to it, I was happy as it ended. Having long past the point where we were seeing anything new or interesting. The film peeks pretty early, perhaps for me the meeting of all the weird big headed, multi-faced people. Although, I guess I'm neglecting some bright spots with giant turtles and goofy crap like that.
I could've used way more Teeny-Weeny and his racing snail.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gozu - 2003 - Dir. Miike

One of my long forgotten (as much as one could forget a film like Gozu) film loves, I unearthed Gozu as an attempt to explain my tastes at a certain point in my life. MAN! I feel like as much as I remembered about this film, I forgot all kinds of things (ie. soup ladle). Slowly, as I watched the film, it all seeped back. Apparently, the film has a lot like Miike, being unsupervised on such a low budget film, running wild. I'm hesitant to believe all the stories but things like improvised scenes and giving the writer only a week to write it give the movie a neat little touch. It is unflinchingly outrageous, but doesn't always feel like its trying to be shocking like Miike's Visitor Q. The film flowed much faster than I remember it. In fact, in retrospect, it probably moves a lot faster than Miike's shorter films. Impressive considering it's two-hour plus (barely) length and what I feel is films like this tendencies to drag. It does have a very satisfying feelings of having traveled a very long way. As the film ends, I remember how it begins and am surprised to have been watching the same movie. Although, I do think perhaps the film could have been edited quite a bit. I'm rather surprised at the films length considering how... well... unnecessary some scenes are. But the films has a distinct feel, and I wouldn't want to touch it.
High five!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Get Carter - 1971 - Dir. Hodges

From Mike Hodges who brought us Croupier, his first project was Get Carter, which is also Alun Armstrong's first big role. He looks surprisingly non-Alun Armstrong-esqe, although a little bit is shining through. But I suppose the big deal here is Michael Caine, who scowls his way through the film like nobody else. Entertaining enough, the film holds onto it's cards very tightly, which kept me interested even when the story was a little tough to follow. You get a lot of characters thrown at you and a somewhat difficult web to make out considering Carter is being thrown off the trail numerous times. It's mostly easy to follow, I think as I look back though, I still have no idea who the first person he killed was after he discovers the plot. Carter is cold AS hell, though. Which he is more than willing to acknowledge. Killing basically ANYONE remotely involved in his brother's death. He's positively charming as a sonuvabitch, too. The film in general squeezes in enough light moments that it doesn't exactly feel suffocating. I have to admit, as the Carter unravels the plot, the movie does begin to lag a bit. Watching him try and solve the mystery is a little more entertaining than his vengence. Although the final sequence with the whiskey bottle was a bit satisfying.
Hey now, Michael Caine! Looking a little badass, aren't we?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox - 2009 - Dir. Anderson

I've been excited for Fantastic Mr. Fox all the way since when Wes Anderson was first connected with the project. I suppose maybe I was a little disappointed, I think a lot of doubt was raised by the trailer. The movie won be over however. With a terrific amount of charm and some fine directing. When I get right down to it, I liked what I saw. But I think as I headed into the third act, I realized "This is it." I couldn't help but crave a little bit more. Maybe since the film dodges between Adult and Children mode a little bit. The Child had fun but the film kept taunting the Adult me with Wes Anderson-isms, keeping him watching but never fully satisfying him. There's not a ton as far as character development goes. I can help but feel that Mr. Fox both learns and neglects his main lesson. I think perhaps the scenario with the Wolf sums up the movie very much. Well-crafted, beautiful... but it feels perhaps shallow. I won't deny that I believe that film requires a second viewing on my behalf. It would be a pleasure. For my eyes and my childlike self got a kick out of the movie. The movement of the characters is incredible and flows so well and Anderson isn't shy about showing off either. There's plenty of sneaking and dancing sequences, all of 'em kicking ass. As well as some great stand-off sequences and some spaghetti western nods, I can't help but recommend it.
OH NO! Someone killed Giant Bill Murray!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Miss Potter - 2006 - Dir. Noonan

Miss Potter was a fairly sweet movie. I have difficulty begrudging it very much. So I won't. While clearly not speaking to my demographic, whatever it may be, it is "a sweet movie." Not too sweet, mind you. Just sweet enough. I can see why perhaps it didn't make a huge splash, I hadn't heard of the movie until recently and with Zellweger and McGregor involved, you'd think I might've known about it. But the movie seems to lack the extravagance you might expect a biopic of a upperclass British woman. Naturally, all of the class battles and blushing and all the stuff that comes with the territory, but the movie is smart enough to shove it aside most of the time. Focusing rather on Potter's relationship with her characters as well as Ewan, who is delightfully shy. Noonan previously directed Babe and he clearly has a feel for charm. I mean, it's friggin Peter Rabbit, though! How could it NOT be charming!? The film delves into animation now and then. In a rather tasteful manner. Never too show-offy or lingering. It's enough to create an appropriately magic touch to the whole process of Potter's creation. A fine movie if it's what you're in the mood for!
Renée practicing sucking her face into her face.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Standard Operating Procedure - 2008 - Dir. Morris

Ahhh... Errol Morris. Is there anything I won't watch you make a documentary of? The Man knows how to do it. If you have an idea of how he puts together a story and an argument, you have an idea of how the movie plays out in a sense. I don't mean to sell him short, but just like Handke has a bag of tricks, Morris does too. Although, I must say, it was terribly strange to listen to Danny Elfman lay down some Philip Glass type tracks, BUT I DIGRESS! Standard Operating Procedure covers the well-known abuses that had gone down in Abu Ghraib. Naturally, the more you learn about the situation, the more fucked-up it becomes. Highlighting how mostly moral and competent soldiers began giving high-fives in photographs of soldiers in "stress positions" and whatnot. The film doesn't make excuses for their behavior, but it does suggest that perhaps some people who were higher up, might (JUST MIGHT) have escaped blame for creating a situation where soldiers who were untrained to be guards thought that making people masturbate and whatnot was Standard Operating Procedure. Although, there is that one fellow, who did seem to be fairly reemed out. :p The film also goes in the nature of the photograph, what it reveals but what it hides as well. As engaging as anything else Morris has made, it shows that he's just as adept at tackling current events as naked mole rats.
All right, Huddle up, guys. Now... what do you guys think about making the prisoners masturbate for us?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coffy - 1973 - Dir. Hill

MAN! I was trying to watch this movie and Netflix kept screwing with me so I had to call it quits! So I had to watch it in two parts. Coffy is known for having a tough lady protagonist (PAM GRIER!) and how it didn't glorify the Pimp/Pusher lifestyle. It was an all right movie. Fairly capably made considering the low the bar can be for exploitation films. It's very satisfying as far as a vengeance movie goes. I was constantly digging it whenever Coffy was busting some ass. Pam Grier is an awfully foxy lady. I wasn't expecting her to be nearly as foxy as she turned out to be. And, yes, I'm going to continue to call her FOXY. You're just going to have to deal with that. And there's a MASSIVE cat fight that is totally awesome. It might have been the high point of the movie. I mean, it's just terribly shameless and Grier kicks some real lady ass. Also the film highlighted the skills of Sid Haig, who was great being a henchmen. Easy to see why this was such a "well-respected" blaxploitation!
Damn Pam Grier... You foxy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Milk - 2008 - Dir. Van Sant

Shamefully, I didn't know who Harvey Milk was when this film was released. Although, I must say, it certainly made the ending a lot more surprising. :o I think there's a few interesting aspects to this movie. One of which is how Milk operated to begin with. The film is fairly honest and upfront about Milk's tendencies and occupation with creating headlines. He's a little manipulative in some ways. Not that it's bad, he just seemed to be very good at stirring up controversy and knowing what to do when it came knocking. Penn plays it off as a little smug, knowing. Not really malicious, but someone who knows how the media and the system works. Like how he defuses brings a march to City Hall and then setting himself as a pacifier. He's sly. The movie acknowledges this. But it makes Milk constantly seem in control. His struggle is always progressing forward. It never seems like things are not going to go his way. I think that's why it's so surprising when Dan White murders him and the Mayor. Especially since White was not firing the shots as much because their ties with Homosexuals but more because he was seeking vengeance. I guess, the movie seems to be aiming to be a little more epic than it really was. It's really a very hopeful story, and I'm nitpicking. I guess I felt a little thrown a little bit. Milk never seems to be the figure the movie wants him to be. His story doesn't escalate as high as the movie leads you on to believe. But the performances were great. And I'm usually not a Sean Penn fan, it's kinda surprising to watch him grin and smile. He's usually such a morose bastard. So really a very enjoyable movie even with what might be a slightly mismatched tone.
Josh Brolin and Sean Penn: Masters of the Artistic Lean

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