Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Shot in the Dark - 1964 - Dir. Edwards

I have a rough knowledge of the Pink Panther films. I'm never really sure if I've seen one before, they kind of congealed into one large blob of shots of Peter Sellers falling over. I'm told regularly that this is the one to watch, though. And I have no idea as to whether or not I've seen it before. Some sequences felt familiar but I can't say with any confidence if I've seen them or not. I'm a fan of Sellers though. It's not exactly the top of his game (STRANGELOVE or BEING THERE!) but it's certainly a good example of his general buffoonery. It's obvious though as to why Sellers and Edwards worked together as frequently as they did. They both have awesome comedic timing. The opening sequence is probably one of the more memorable/impressive ones for a comedy in my memory. It's funny and wacky enough, I suppose. I think considering it's somewhat classic status, I expected to find it a bit more humorous and felt somewhat let down by the experience. Perhaps it's just dated because Sellers does make being a klutz watchable for the running time. And I do like the chaos and coincidence of the very end. So despite seeing somewhat let down, I feel like it would make for a pleasant re-watching experience and imagine I would find some more goofiness hidden about.
Peter Sellers discovering the Mysteries of the Universe.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our Man in Havana - 1959 - Dir. Reed

I got a kick out of this movie. I think especially looking back on it, it strikes me as super charming and impressively pulled off. I was a little baffled by an aspect of the ending. Mostly about how it's edited together... and to be honest, I still feel a little unsure about that specific sequence. It soured the end for me a little bit. After I got over my sourness and found myself still thinking about the movie, I take that as a good sign! It's funny, charming, and I was invested in it. It's got a bit of bite for it considering it's 1959. Alec Guiness is absolutely terrific. His daughter is cast a bit strangely since she's way older than the character seems to be written as. It's kinda of distractingly so. Although, I suppose having someone younger might be creepy with the Police Chief fella trying to get all up in her. :s Carol Reed is excellent at making movies that have a little bit of everything in them. It seems like a natural fit that he would work with Graham Greene on multiple occasions, considering how he jumped around in tone as well. OH MAN! This movie is pretty great. The plot takes the most satisfying turns and really keeps you involved. YES!
Quit looking so sly, Guiness!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wild at Heart - 1990 - Dir. Lynch

I've seen this before back in high school, at which point I got a hell of a kick out of it. As a Nicholas Cage fan, there's still a ton about this movie to be crazy about. It's a perfect role for Cage. Super campy, violent, loud, and a little bit like Elvis. The opening scene is the perfect summary of Nicholas Cage. BURSTING AT THE SEAMS. And probably as a Lynch film, it's definitely one of the more watchable ones. It inhabits the campy space of Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet. Where Lynch was weird but still telling a straightforward story at the same time. It probably helps that the movie is based off of a book. Like any Lynch film, a chunk of the movie is just weird people saying weird things (Jack Nance.) and as usual, Harry Dean Stanton is awesome. He's the most restrained weirdo ever. And actually is kind of sweet. Willem Dafeo must also be mentioned. When I looked back on the first viewing of the film, I couldn't remember much... but I certainly could remember Willem Dafoe. That creepy sonuvabitch with his awful teeth linger long after the movie has ended. That and Cage and Dern's awesome dancing. Lynch slips a ton of metal music in the film which is just a ton of fun mixed in with the Wizard of Oz references.
Always good advice.

How High - 2001 - Dir. Dylan

I like the Wu as much as the next white suburban kid born in the 80's. I'm well familiar with Method Man's antics. Not so much Redman. I have no real excuse for this... well, I do: I don't like him as much. And to be honest, maybe I'm not entirely interested in Method Man's antics either. So I suppose I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to. Now, if it were the RZA and Ghostface that would be NUUUUTTTSSSS! It's a stoner movie... It's an all right one... Maybe I liked Half-Baked more... I'm not sure I'd bother watching it again. Even in the most convenient format of "It's on TV." But I didn't not enjoy myself watching it. It has a really uneven balance of silliness. Everything seems somewhat muted... probably censored somewhat... and it really suffers because so much of the film is soaked in absurdity. I suppose both Method and Red carry the movie well enough considering their lack of experience at the time, but it's not exactly like they're stretching their acting muscles all that much. Jeffrey Jones shows up to be snide and Obba Babatundé ends up actually being the life of the party, which I suppose is impressive being that he's the "straight character." Mike Epps also makes an amusingly loud pimp.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! - 1984 - Dir. Richter

This is a movie I remember seeing parts of as a child. AND I NEVER FORGOT IT. I also never tried very hard to pursue it. I suppose I could see the writing on the wall. It's really goofy. It's funny. Then it kind of gets boring... with some bursts of wackiness... then it ends anti-climatically. I'm kind of surprised by how anti-climactic. I feel like there's a bunch of movies (mostly from the 80's) that are like this, but this is kind of the poster child for them. BUT MAN DOES IT HAVE A CAST! It's a Who's Who of Guys who played creeps in the 80's! So let me be clear... It had plenty of fun moments... you don't get a movie filled with these actors (and one actress [is there only one female in this?!]) and not have a great time. And the script is fun. The movie is directed with a sense of humor. It just really flags as it goes on. The thrill of everything that pulls you in dies off and you're just stuck in a room with a bunch of weirdos and nothing worth doing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tron: Legacy - 2010 - Dir. Kosinski

ALL RIGHT. I really like 3D movies. I also really like IMAX. Tron: Legacy convinced me of those two things. It got me through Avatar and it certainly got me through Tron. It can be kind of a short cut for me to be immersed in the world of the film and generally just to thrill the pants off of me when in the hands of capable fellas. I can't wait until I see a movie that I think it good in it's own right on 3D Imax. Because both Avatar and Tron would have pissed the shit out of me if I watched it on a TV. But let me focus on Tron, which the best part for me was (apart from it being in 3D on Imax) Daft Punk. Yeah, the music was the best part. I could have used more effort from every one else involved. Most of the action scenes are lacking and filled with more reaction shots than I cared for. Every time something cool started to happen (And to the movie's credit, that does happen a lot), it cut to a huge close up of someone looking awestruck. Jeff Bridges looks and sounds like he's phoning it in. BUT MAN, I still prefer that over the CGI version of him. Maybe it's because I don't have much experience watching those Zemeckis movies, but THAT SHIT IS HORRID AND FOUL. And there's SO MUCH OF IT! I suppose Garret Hedlund and Olvia Wilde were, uh... okay. Didn't really leave any kind of impression on me, apart from both visually fitting the part. Michael Sheen was unrecognizably atrocious... I couldn't wait for his character to go away. It's comic relief only in the sense that he makes jokes and no one else does, I found no relief only an empty hollow pain in my heart. When I saw the first Tron, I saw a world to be explored. I really thought this movie would be that exploration... and it was I do honestly think the Tron universe is interesting enough to warrant these movies... but what I found was a bored, cynical tour guide telling us about better sci-fi movies and books and then a decent laser light show. But hey, IMAX and 3D... I'm still a sucker for it. For some reason, I don't regret the experience. But my patience IS wearing thin.
Not as sexy as David Warner. (NASADW)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Love Actually - 2003 - Dir. Curtis

It's a charming movie, I suppose. I don't know... It's kind of a shapeless charming mess. I had fun watching it and it breezed right by. It doesn't really aim terribly high. In fact, the one point that actually bothers me is when I feel like it does aim high with the prologue and epilogue which kinda feel like they're trying to class up and otherwise shameless heart string pulling. I suppose it's like Crash, in a way, not just in the ensemble casting but also in the way it is a little more blatant in it's emotional manipulation. Crash used string pulling is to make a serious argument, though, which has made the film always grate my nerves. Love Actually is in the arena of light entertainment. It's a rom-com, at least. It's not overwhelmed with sentimentality, irony, or cynicism but manages to make a nice balance of each. I suppose it can be a bit mawkish sometimes. It manages to stay charming enough to avoid nausea. Martin Freeman and Joanna Page's sequence is easily my more favorite sequences. I didn't like it at first but the one with Andrew Lincoln is kinda clever. And Rickman and Thompson's sequence provides us enough bite to keep us from feeling like we're watching a hallmark card. I suppose Laura Linney's sequences sticks out a bit and also feels somewhat underdeveloped... but hey... they're jamming a lot of stuff into this one... Oh, and Nighy is a ball.
Nighy in evening wear

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Inside Deep Throat - 2005 - Dir. Baily/Barbato

I was disappointed with Inside Deep Throat. I don't mean to suggest that the release of Deep Throat should make a thrilling full length documentary by any means, but I suppose I would have expected it to be a little more interesting. They linger a great deal on the production of the film, which was really just produced like most other pornos at the time. There's little of interest there, no matter how loud the old men who were interviewed are. If anything, the backgrounds of those involved is about the most interesting thing to arise out of the "set-up" sequence. Especially Linda Lovelace and the Director. The documentary gets a little more compelling when the film is released but even then, I found it dragging. It just doesn't feel like this documentary should have crossed the hour mark. Perhaps the subject just isn't as interesting as it sounds. We spend the majority of the time listening to old men who were grips and other behind the scenes people rant somewhat incoherently. Despite it's best efforts, the documentary at times even makes the porno seem inconsequential, any recognizable cultural figures that show up do so briefly with little to say. Larry Flynt seemed to have only one thing to say and Gore Vidal has a bizarrely edited sequence and again falls to the wayside. There are few opposing voices, I can only remember one and he is pretty outrageously conservative (although I guess he would be), I suppose that is one of the more interesting moments and I could have gone for more of those types of interviews.

Friday, December 10, 2010

An Unreasonable Man - 2006 - Mantel/Skrovan

Knew very little about Nader apart from he was a presidential candidate for the Greens and he looked like a grump. I WAS RIGHT ON BOTH PARTS. So, hey, as any full length documentary can be when its on a subject you know next to nothing about... it was pretty informative for me. I had only meant to watch a little bit but it really drew me in and sat me down. The movie almost seems to have the attitude of "Oh hey, I bet you didn't know what a great guy Ralph Nader is..." Which I suppose might be kind of reasonable. Even the part that kind of trashes Ralph for stealing votes from Gore makes the Democrats look like massive jackasses. So it does strike me as somewhat biased in that the arguments against Nader and what he's done seem relatively weak and underdeveloped. It doesn't really amount to much more than fickle emotional people and a small number of clearly bitter people. So you know, the movie really is about how important Nader has been, rather than a straight-forward bio. It suggests that Nader doesn't have much of a private life as is. Which is kinda badass, I guess, in a rebel type lawyer role. So yeah, it pulled me in!
Oh look, it's Ralph Nader, and he's ready to fuck you up now.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Casino Jack and the United States of Money - 2010 - Dir. Gibney

I don't know why, I guess I've been in a Gibney mood or something. His documentaries are a breeze to watch and generally pretty entertaining. Sometimes I'm bothered by because they seem somewhat morally simplified... or one-sided. I try and watch what I've seen of his work as positing rather than telling a historical story. At times, especially as the film progresses, this feels like Democratic pornography, the corruption of Republican figures and right wing jerkwads. I think that might be the part that feels like slowest, just because it doesn't take long before it just feels like watching douches be douchy repeatedly. The first third, the rise of Abramoff and the Conservatives in the 80's is the most interesting. I suppose because radical student organizations being conservative is a somewhat fascinating beast. A hulking mutant with a nice, collared shirt and fiscal responsibility. I'm generally used to... you know... Hippies. So the movie just shed some light on a culture I don't think I really heard very much about. Jack Abramoff also is much more interesting at that time. His rise, his time as a movie producer... and basically how he goes from working with Dolph Lundgren to helping produce sweatshops, is just absolutely nuts.

Ketchup w/Jack Abramoff

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolat - 2000 - Dir. Hallstrom

Call me an insensitive cad, if you must, but as I watched this, I kept this thinking of something one of my teachers said about Shakespeare in Love referring to it as Weinstein's blockbuster for ladies. Chocolat is a little bit of the same... because it is also produced by the Big Ws. There's romance. Conflict. It's a little silly. Toss a bunch of doofy metaphors around. You got feelings all over the place. But there's some nicely talented actors keeping it all together. It's a blockbuster, ya know? If there's something that makes it a little more digestible to my palate it's that there's a fable/storybook quality to it. It allows for a cartoonishness of what's going on to seep through... you know, magic chocolate changing a stuffy town into a less stuffy town (and a sad Alfred Molina to a happy Alfred Molina). AND LET ME JUST SAY. I love watching Alfred Molina. He's great. He's especially great when he's making faces with a mustache on his upper lip. I can say with all confidence that he's my favorite part of this movie. I dunno, I went into it thinking it was going to be some dull, hyper-European meditation on love with chocolate as a metaphor. Instead, it was a goofy run of the mill blockbuster fable with Peter Stormare and Judi Dench. That ain't bad!
Get outta here, Alfred Molina! And take your frown with you!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson - 2008 - Dir. Gibney

I simultaneously liked this and was disappointed by it. I dunno, I like Hunter S. Thompson a whole ton. Simply by being a documentary about him, it sort of had me won over. I've read a good chunk of his work. Which is where I think some of my disappointment came in. The title ends up being pretty literal... They really do pretty thoroughly go over Thompson's work. It felt maybe a little too thorough for me. There seemed like a few too many As soon as Hunter starts producing less, the movie hurries quickly to his death. So the film seems specifically less concerned with his life than his work. I enjoy having chuckles with Pat Buchanan about stuff I read about in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail but I guess I kept finding myself looking for more. It's a simple chronology with others making comments along the way. Anyone looking for a biography or something more character driven may be let down. But I think if you're looking to get into Hunter without all of that pesky reading, this just might hit the spot. It was on Watch Instant, which was it's saving grace for me. As something that was free and convenient it was great. If I had paid for it, I would have been way more disappointed than I already am. It just feels less like a feature documentary and little bit more like a TV Special on HBO or whatever.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Last Year in Marienbad - 1961 - Dir. Renais

As Inception came out, I feel like Last Year in Marienbad kept popping up again and again. I had never heard of it before since I don't follow French cinema very closely apparently if it isn't going to rant about communism and have really bright colors... or have odes to film noir. ANYWAY. So this movie is fucking crazy. And it's a movie where there was plenty of warning that this movie was going to be real crazy... but they never end up being all that weird... (That reminds me... I wanna watch Inland Empire again. That movie was nuuuuts!) But this movie is pretty crazy. It's not David Lynch crazy. It's just a simple story that is told in the most difficult way possible. The editing and use of repetition in all aspects of the production make the film feel still very unique. And it keeps it interesting to be honest. The film moves by pretty... well... It's not slow. And you would expect it to be so. It's pretty fucking engaging, in fact. I was trying to put the pieces together the whole time. And it is filled with neat little touches in the way Renais works with sound and passage of time. And really... the repetition in this movie gives me boners. MORE THAN ONE BONER. If there was anything I struggled with, it was probably the music. It's a blaring organ. I guess it's okay... It made me very grateful for the silences... which is funny because I love loud blaring noises. Oh, and the acting is a little theatrical, I generally like really theatrical acting... and it fits in the movie. But man, nothing takes me out of a movie like people hamming it up. It's easy to understand why the movie is occasionally panned for being pretentious (It's sort of feels like the ORIGINAL Artsy foreign flick) but I certainly am more willing to get down with some "pretentiousness" more than most people.
Last Year in Marienbad: MORE THAN ONE BONER.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement - 1997 - Dir. Gazecki

I was about seven when this whole Waco business went down and I can say I knew only generally of what went on up until recently. I watched this pretty randomly in an attempt to inform myself on the whole business. I picked it because it was on Watch Instantly, but I lucked out because apparently this is the more trusted of the spate of docs to come out on the subject. They seem to try to be pretty unbiased (everyone has their chance to look like a nutjob/douchebag), but they clearly do believe and want us to believe to some degree there was a cover-up. To be fair, it really does seem like the FBI and the ATF were total fucktards and probably did all kind of terrible shit and then tried to cover it up. The movie doesn't make Koresh into a martyr by any means. He also seems to be a fucktard of a lesser degree. He didn't gas and burn children alive or anything... Just... possibly/probably... molested them... so he's a still a pretty awful guy. So yeah, I'm kind of worked up about the whole thing because of this movie. Especially since I didn't know the details of how it ended. I was pretty shocked and horrified to a degree that I don't think a documentary had me feeling in a long time. It's pretty slow at first. For a chunk of time it's just clips of politicians being political (Biden and Chuck Schumer look like dick weasels!), but it ends up feeling like a key ingredient to this big shitty soup that happened in Waco. It's a pretty informative movie. Feels fact based and uses mostly footage and clips to tell the story. It's a wild ride.
Heard any good jokes recently?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fright Night - 1985 - Dir. Holland

I feel like I'd always heard of Fright Night but really knew nothing about it. Just, I dunno, that it seemed to be pretty well known 80's horror movie. And that was all I knew of it. My interest was peaked when I found that it had a leaning towards the goofy and was apparently capably made. And yeah, it was capably made. Maybe not as goofy as I might have liked, but I like my movies pretty goofy so... so there. I have to say, Chris Sarandon makes an excellent 80's vampire. His smug goddamn face just being so self-satisfied throughout the whole production. There's a casualness about his performance that's really pretty amusing, without making him less of a threat. I mean, it's Jerry the vampire. Or Jer' as his assistant calls him. There's little touches like that that make the movie stand out from the cheaper camp horror movies. It even manages to give us some corny ass special effects for the third act. And man, I love 80's special effects. The best friend: Evil Edward is perhaps a double edged sword. He's memorable and fun but pretty regularly crosses the line into obnoxious and intolerable. For the first half of the movie, I was all WTF!? But I think after we cross a certain point, I began to understand what was going on with him. A fun horror movie... a little in the vein of "The Burbs" what with the premise, maybe the next best thing.
I'm having a great ttttiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmeeeeeee!!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yojimbo - 1961 - Dir. Kurosawa

I think this is my second or third time seeing Yojimbo. It's been on Watch Instantly and I just randomly threw it on one day. For I while I think it was my favorite Kurosawa flick, I'm not sure if that's still true. That's not to say I like it any less, I've just seen more of his movies. I would always remember Nakadai's weird ass expressions and creepy gun coddling and that definitely held. He makes a great foil to Mifune's shambling ronin and I think their clashes carry the movie through the second half very nicely. I think what struck me most this time around was the Music. I was able to remember the main theme but the other parts of the score are CRAAAAAZZZZYYY... and weirdly minimal. I have absolutely nothing bad to say of Mifune, who is doing what I always associate him with, scratching his face, being lazy, and then becoming suddenly badass. And there is a nice amount of badass-ery. The movie sets up so early that he can easily kick everyone's ass, it's just a matter of him deciding that the time is right. It's a fun movie... a little bit crazier than I remember (The Man banging on the Drum is wacky as hell!) but great nonetheless. It's always sweet to see Nakadai, Mifune, and Kurosawa all being talented together, too.
Awwww.... Hell, yeah!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone - 2007 - Dir. Anno

I try and not be too skeptical of remakes and reboots and the like. It must be pretty natural for people to want to take awesome things or things that could have been awesome and make them AWESOMER or, I dunno, relevant or something. I kind of grew up on Evangelion and it'd been kind of a while since I'd seen it, so I was having ALL KINDS OF EMOTIONS while watching this reboot/whatever of NGE. Like Evangelion-type emotions, with screaming and hurling myself around and clutching limbs. I know in the later films, all kind of shizz is gonna change, but for the most part I kind of felt like this movie stuck with the original series pretty closely. A lot of settings changed, some 3d popped up (sometimes feeling very awkward and sometimes being absolutely stunning), the story feels like it's been appropriately streamlined. Sort of like Anno had about a decade to rethink how to best tell the story. Probably what felt the most reworked were the angel fights. And they look SWEET. There are some explosions where you look at it and you're like: "HELL. That thing blew up." Really, it feels like anything involving the Eva was what got the most work (which is kind of funny because that's probably what I remember the least). If there was something that felt like an unwanted change, I would say it might have been the music. Maybe I just really wanted to hear some classic tunes, or maybe it was the Choir with lyrics that were... well... distractingly dramatic. I feel like a Choir is sort of the Ace in the sleeve you toss out at the most exciting part... I don't really want it to pop up three or four times.
Did you know Michael Jackson had a song called You Are Not Alone? I didn't.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Up in the Air - 2009 - Dir. Reitman

I suppose Reitman just really likes making movies where the main characters make decisions/arguments that are generally very difficult for us to swallow, all the while making snarky little jokes. I didn't see Juno but that's gotta be a thing, yeah? Anyway, Up In The Air follows that thing I made up about Reitman just now. I mean, I like snarky jokes. And movies that might challenge my idea of how to live a life. I'll sail that boat. That movie boat. But I can't say I gave much of a fuck about what was going on in Up In The Air. Perhaps it's was that Clooney and Reitman seemed to be going through the motions. Clooney, for example, is excellent at being charming but being kind of a douche at the same time. He does it with ease. It's like watching someone make Incredible Jumpshot again and again. Eventually, you just don't really care. No matter how Incredible the Jumpshot is. Sam Elliot pops up on cue bristling with wonderment and quiet dignity as usual. Even when things shake up the world of the characters, the movie just glides along, and I sit, unstirred. I feel like Anna Kendrick might have been the most surprising thing about the movie, mostly because I thought I would want to punch her character in the mouth but she sorta won me over. So how about that. I was entertained, I suppose, but in a way where I was just interested in seeing the story play out and really didn't give much of an Eff apart from that. I have to say, I liked Clooney's arc. It felt nice. Realistic, maybe. Anyway. NO STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT THIS ONE. Except Jason Bateman, who can play a hell of a Tool.
Clooney is worried about where to check his bags. YOU HANDSOME FOOL, YOU!

Tales from the Script - 2009 - Dir. Hanson

You know, I'd like to be a screenwriter. It's a thing I went to school for. Generally spend a good chunk of time each day working toward that goal. Part of me feels like this is a documentary for screenwriters. Mostly because I would have never heard of it if mofos hadn't kept talking about it on screenwriting newsletters/forums and whatnot. Also the music. It's got that bland, nondescript music that always seems to accompany employee training videos. I basically watched it as a would-be screenwriter, judging it's content and informativeness and the movie really seemed to play along with that. It's really straight-forward. Screenwriters talking about writing and the nature of Hollywood, accompanied by clips from movies involving screenwriting. We're not pulling any Herzog type shizz here. As someone who went to school for this biz, I was pretty familiar with the general tone and nature of what I was being told (I heard it almost every day in class). It's still fun hearing the anecdotes, though. And it did get me pretty pumped about being a starving screenwriter but maybe I'm a bit of sadist.
John Carpenter, just brimming with charisma

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tombstone - 1993 - Dir. Cosmatos

I always sort of felt like it was my responsibility as a screenwriter who keeps writing westerns to see Tombstone. I hesitated because 1) I generally don't like most American or Modern westerns and 2) If it was good (Unforgiven), I would get all pissed. It's kind of like a lose-lose situation. What ended up convincing me was the cast. The movie is LITTERED with goofy ass actors I love to see pop up. Stephen Lang. Terry O'Quinn. Paul Ben-Victor!!! I'm tempted to just keep listing them, but I'll restrain myself. I feel like I could just yammer on excitedly about mildly popular 90's actors (BILLY ZANE!), so all I'll say is that it was a joy (A JOY!) seeing Powers Boothe be a evil douchebag in the Wild West again (I loved him in Deadwood). Anyway, I do feel tempted to point out, I don't think I actually really liked the movie that much. It was maybe fun for me to get excited about actors and there's some really exciting bits... but there's also a lot of boring crap and my excitement generally fizzled out after the O.K. Corral show down (which is a SWEET show down). Too much of the action is shown through montages of guns being fired and men yelling. Amusing in it's own right but I kinda wanted the pay off to be more than a little amusing. Michael Biehn is awesome though, probably the only thing that grabbed my interest after Kurt Russel's bad-ass/ridiculous "You called the thunder" speech. In fact, the movie is surprisingly silly considering how serious it seems to be taking itself and how long it is. It's too slow to be a fun action movie... but Sam Elliot is still fucking awesome and probably worth seeing. Oh and Val Kilmer is ridiculous. I will watch him do anything for any length of time.
Kurt Russel as Wyatt Derp (OMG LULZ!!! :D )

Monday, September 13, 2010

Daisies - 1966 - Dir. Chytilova

I basically only watched this because threeframes did a bunch of gifs of it and I was like "Hey. Cute New Wave girls. Okay, then." I suppose I'm kind of a sucker for the ladies that seem to pop up in New Wave movies. I'LL ADMIT IT. It's a Czech film from Vera Chytilova. I know next to nothing about Czech cinema, but apparently she was a bit of a deal. I could see why. Daisies is a fun romp with a lot of memorable sequences. Like most films of the genre, it feels super long even though its under ninety minutes. You know, when you have a movie that forgoes narrative to just have women doing surreal things, it tends to drag. It feels a little bit stronger thematically than some others I've seen without getting super preachy. I appreciate that the movie stays pretty light-hearted. And there's a lot of food and eating in it, so that's another plus. It's not a new favorite but I feel like I may grow to like it more as time passes. In particular, I'm looking back fondly on it's use of sound effects. They have a rocky start, but it really brings a lot of character to the film. Sometimes, I would have appreciated less filters and New Wave trickery but I think eventually I was even won over in that respect. The film, aesthetically, was basically an explosion of color, noise, and camera tricks. If you get down with that for 74 minutes. Be my guest.
Women after my own heart.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sherlock Holmes - 2009 - Dir. Ritchie

I started watching the Jeremy Brett series just in time to get indignant and mad at the yet-to-be released Guy Ritchie flick (Flick being the important word there). I suppose even before that, I had an idea of what a Sherlock Holmes movie should be and all the over-the-top smart-assery didn't fit into my idea. So I have to admit being pretty narrow minded and skeptical. I'm hesitant to say the movie won me over. I was begrudgingly entertained. It's hard not to be. Jude Law and Downey are real charming guys. Ritchie keeps things moving along. The movie functions more as a blockbuster than a real Mystery. There's never any particularly thoughtful moments. Holmes is kind of a Machine in this. He never stops, staring blankly at everything, dissecting it. When his type of thinking is brought into the fight scenes, it's actually pretty fun, but I can't help but feel like I prefer my Holmes at a more easy pace. This is most certainly paced like Ritchie's ever endeavors. The performances and script both kind of reek of him as well. Again, not bad things. I watched Snatch and Lock Stock quite a few times. I suppose it just makes it hard for me to get too excited about anything. It's just everyone doing everything they do well. Except Jude Law. He is extraordinarily handsome. Oh wait... the structure of this movie is totally slipshod. I could feel myself getting yanked around after the first act.
Man... Robert Downey's abs are weirding me out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine - 2010 - Dir. Pink

Probably like a host of others, I stopped watching Hot Tub Time Machine a little after the first act. I, however, stopped watching because it wasn't dumb enough. I felt like I should finish it up and did so a day later. I feel like the title really does give you an impression. It's hard not to say "C'mon, it's Hot Tub Time Machine" to anyone who points out how stupid it looks. I suppose, the problem is that the movie isn't as stupid as it looks or sounds. Once you get past it's goofy-ass premise, the movie is a lot more down to earth than is good for it. Our progtagonists are aimless bums. Mostly depressed and hating their lives. Apparently, sulking is really funny. >:| The film even broaches suicide a number of times. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE discusses Suicide and DEALS WITH IT. Then we also get to spend big chunks of the movie watching shitty things happen to Rob Cordry and John Cusack be depressed. And Cusack just looks EXHAUSTED the whole time. Even when he's supposed to be kicking ass, the man just looks tired. I usually really like Cordry but too much of the movie has him carrying the bulk of the energy of the group and he grows tiresome pretty quickly. Duke and Robinson fare a little better probably because they don't have much to do apart from make wisecracks. I have to say, I enjoyed watching the majority of their scenes. But with the addition of a Black-Eyed Peas song being performed at the end, we end up with nothing more than a mediocre comedy making 80's jokes when we could have had a geniuenly clever homage to the 80's goof ball genre.
This is the silliest Cusack gets in this flick.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tokyo Zombie - 2005 - Dir. Sato

I was still kind of craving Zombies after Phantasm so I decided to give Tokyo Zombie a try. I didn't really know much about it other than I'm a fan of both leads and it was directed by the guy who wrote Gozu. Oh, and it was about Losers fighting Zombies... who really seem to be the only people who are fighting zombies these days. The movie is one of those insanely frenetic types where I story rushes around throwing jokes, violence, and camera tricks while based in no kind of reality. Sort of a descent of Miike, maybe. I always feel like the downside of these types of movies is that they move SO SLOWLY. And this is really no exception. It's kind of shocking how long thirty minutes can feel. It's entertaining enough, but you just feel like the movie goes ON and ON. Obviously aided by the fact that the movie shifts gears somewhat violently halfway through. Both Asano and Aikawa are lovably, dopey enough. I'm not sure I ever really gave too much of a shit whether they lived or died. Generally, the movie is just amusing to watch, it has some real clever bits now and then and sometimes it's so absurd that it's mesmerizing. But it doesn't really dole out any real satisfaction. A somewhat empty experience. I don't regret the viewing, but I wouldn't recommend it unless it's premise and cast really appeal to you.
Asano is doing all his "Brain Thinking" right now.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Phantasm - 1979 - Dir. Coscarelli

I had a craving to watch something real gory and thought maybe this might do the job but I'm afraid this really wasn't THAT kind of cult movie. I mean, there is the sphere with blades that shoots blood out, but there isn't nearly enough of that. I mean, it's a horror movie so there's still some good stuff in it, especially some silly crap like the wiggling finger in the box. I'm trying to not factor in too much of my disappointment of the lack of gore in the film. That really is usually not something that makes up a great deal of my critical opinion. I suppose, the fact that the movie doesn't have a lot else going for it doesn't help. It reminded me a lot of a movie that might be on MST3K. Well... Coscarelli is actually pretty good at times. I feel bad putting him in the same box as a MST3K type director. He's definitely is goofy on purpose... but MAN, the acting is so hard to watch sometimes (Even when/if it is campy). Just the shitty low-budgetness of it takes me back to Boggy Creek or Hobgoblins. The storytelling is pretty rickety, even for a movie like this. The final moment, I can get behind. I'm not sure I would actually bother to watch another movie of the series, even though I am a little intrigued by certain aspects of them (More Murdersphere, hyper-convoluted storylines, the decision to have MORE REGGIE). In fact, it SOUNDS like the other movies might be better than the first. Maybe kind of an Evil Dead type situation.
Probably the best thing about the movie, and I think they Don knew it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Salesman - 1968 - Dir. Maysles

First of all, let me say that it's totally crazy that they bring up Taunton in this movie. I was totally blindsided by my place of birth in this movie. The documentary follows four different Bible salesmen as they peddle their wares in snowy Boston and sunny Florida. The film ends up focusing on one salesman in particular: Badger as he struggles to get his foot in the door. He's definitely one of the more lively of the four and they Maysles seemed to luck out because he has a kind of break-down as the film progresses. The tone isn't nearly as depressing as it might sound. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to watch, Badger's jocular behavior can be alternately comedic and tragic in the same sequence. For the most part, the Maysles don't go out of their way to impress any kind of emotion on you so I feel like I could definitely watch this more than once and get something new out of it each time. It's not as outrageous as their better known Grey Gardens, but it definitely has a similar charm. People rambling on endlessly. Badger's Irish brogue. And a great deal of the film is watching these men try and close sales, which can be endlessly entertaining. The faces of some of their "customers" are priceless. The amount of stress one woman seems to exude is incredible. Almost always the Salemen push on, even though it can be a brick wall.
Come give Poppa a hug!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Macbeth - 1971 - Dir. Polansky

I don't know a whole lot of all those classy Shakespeares out there but Macbeth is certainly one I'm more familiar with. It's probably one of my favorite ones as well. I couldn't tell you how much Polansky's version strayed from the original without checking the wikipedia entry (which I did) but I know the broad strokes. Now that ignorance has been established, I thought it was okay. First of all, the opening scene is awesome. I get behind cryptic imagery like nobodies business. In fact, I just really liked the Weird Sisters. IN FACT, visually, I got behind the movie. It nails that filthy, gray, medieval look with strange bursts of color. It even has a trippy 70's hallucinatory sequence (which is okay). I think the acting felt a little bit on the weaker side though. It's not bad, but I suppose it didn't feel terribly memorable except for Francesca Annis who played a bitchin' Lady Macbeth. And I suppose Jon Finch certainly takes a subtle hand with Macbeth. I can't help but feel I would have liked to see him explode when the time came a bit more. Polansky has a bunch of the soliloquies delivered via voice over, which makes plenty of sense and is certainly the more cinematic choice. However, it was a little distracting at first and I can't help but feel like I wouldn't have minded the actors having a little bit more fat to chew. A fine adaptation, but I'll take Throne of Blood over this any day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grizzly Man - 2005 - Dir. Herzog

Grizzly Man seemed to have made a big splash when it came out years ago. At least, it seemed that way to me. I wasn't as familiar with Herzog as I am now, so I didn't pay it much mind. Having seen a ton of his movies at this point, I can tell you, it's not one of my favorites. I imagine it's probably so popular because it's a lot easier to digest than a lot of his other movies. It certainly has a lot more popular appeal than some of his other films. Certainly, he does an excellent job putting the film together. It's assembled from clips of Treadwell's own footage as well as Herzog going around speaking with people about Treadwell. It still has a lot of the Herzog touch including a weird ass Doctor (maybe my favorite part) explaining the nature of Tim's death and Herzog listening to the audio of Treadwell's violent death, then telling a friend of Treadwell's to destroy the tape and never listen to it. I feel like the former, especially, reeks of Herzog. One of my favorite aspects of his documentaries is his casual yet jarring appearances and side comments. And of course, Grizzly Man has plenty of his highly poetic/philosophical German accented voice over. It's a terrific documentary, but perhaps it just didn't grab me as tightly as his others.
It is tremendously difficult to find a picture of Timothy not "popping a squat."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mikey and Nicky - 1976 - Dir. May

I really liked this movie! It's often spoken of in the same breath as Cassavetes films and May was notorious during this shoot for running cameras for hours while Cassavetes and Falk just probably dicked around (or weren't even on the set, apparently). The film is a little more plot oriented (a little more) following a single evening as two old friends walk the streets when Nicky (Cassavetes) fears retribution from the mob after stealing their money. It's kind of funny because from what I know about the two men, their characters are kind of reflective of them and since they'd work together many times before the movie feels completely natural. May's shooting technique definitely lends itself to this as well. I feel like Cassavetes is a master at being a likable jerk. It's an unsentimental portrait of two men who work for the mob. Past the violence and the paranoia, it's about how these two men exist and how they interact with the world. Perhaps my favorite aspect of it is the past, how their friendship with each other is the last connection they have to their childhood. The ending is TOTALLY satisying, which goes along way because the movie is so guarded with it's characters intentions. So the ending feels TERRIBLY cathartic. (SPOILER) And I particularly like that to some degree Nicky even keeps up the sense of a facade (TAKE ME TO A DOCTOR, YOU BASTARD!) as he begs to be let in. The whole movie is just so well-made and satisfying to watch.
Jeez, Cassavetes! Clean up your act! This is SHOW BUSINESS!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inception - 2010 - Dir. Nolan

All right, lemme just say, right off the bat, I liked Inception. A lot. A WHOLE LOT. It's a beautiful, captivating movie. Two and a half hours flew by. Great acting. Good plot. Fine pacing. An interesting premise. Dug the soundtrack. It was like a live-action anime with all the negative connotations eliminated. But I wasn't crazy about it. Not rabid. I didn't leave the theater feeling like there was a hook in my neck and it was ripping me from the ground I walk on. That's sorta what I wanted from the movie. And I don't actually think I was asking too much. Nolan's done it more than once. So I was technically disappointed. People keep talking about how intellectual and brain-y the movie is... but that's where I felt lacking. It didn't stir me. It didn't get my brain a-turning in that sense. I didn't feel inspired by thought. Yeah, I suppose it's heady in comparison to a summer blockbuster. You know, you have to WATCH and LISTEN to the movie and then there might be some action scenes. If you have to pay attention to an action movie, does that make it intellectual? Maybe I'm biased. Maybe because I've had a boner for Dream and Dream theory since college, I felt like I was walking down a well worn path. I'm perfectly willing to admit that. I guess, I wanted Inception to blow my mind. To make me ponder dreams and reality. Instead, I kinda got a heist/action movie with a backdrop of the subconscious. So that's my complaint: Inception didn't blow my mind. But really, (changing gears) it's a brilliant movie. If my standards weren't Blade Runner-high, I would have fucking shat my eyes out watching this. AND THE TRIPLE LAYERED ACTION SEQUENCE!?!?! WTF! THAT'S AWESOME! Even if the snow dream felt a little uninspiring by comparison, the fact that he even thought to put the film together that way is awesome. I mean, I even feel like a dick for even complaining about the movie, but what can I say?

Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon Levitt are seen on the set of Christopher Nolan's new film 'Inception' in Los Angeles, CA.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Crazies - 2010 - Dir. Eisner

EH! It's okay. For a mainstream horror movie, these days, it shows a refreshing amount of restraint. Perhaps in the theater, I might have even been held RAPT by it, but I saw it on a couch and just enjoyed it. It walks a path we've been down before without falling back on excessive camp or violence to keep us entertained. It just keeps moving and keeps the tension high. We've just got some biological weapons. People go crazy. Guy has to do heroic things to save loved ones. You know, that WHOLE thing. And Timmy O is playing a Sheriff again! I like Timothy Olyphant because he can be kind of lame. He's makes for a good hero. He's real good at pulling out the badass card when he needs to, but most of the time he's kinda, I don't know... doofy. Not unlikably doofy. Just... sometimes it makes sense when people don't respect his characters. Oh, but I haven't seen Justified yet. The movie has a lack of a significant/specific antagonist throughout, you know, just faceless gasmask guys, which is actually kind of neat until the end where these three red necks kind of wear the bad guy pants, somewhat undeservingly. Oh! I liked Joe Anderson as Deputy Whatever! Reeeeaaalll good Deputy. I would say Anderson and Olyphant save some of the more cliched or ridiculous exchanges just by being real dandy actors. So yeah, a pleasent enough way to spend an afternoon!
This man will do ANYTHING for a Klondike bar.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tokyo-Ga - 1985 - Dir. Wenders

I liked Tokyo-Ga. Although, I really feel like this is sort of a movie that I like without reason. It's kind of wander-y, unfocused, meditation on... stuff Wim Wenders was thinking about while at Tokyo. Connected loosely and supported by nice long, wide shots. It's not really a movie I go crazy about or really recommend to anyone. I just like it. It's beautiful. It's thoughtful. And it seems pretty personal. It's not really a movie I get excited about though, I actually took more than three months to watch it... a long time when you're paying for Netflix. I mean, a video-diary on Wenders' trip to Japan and part Ode to Ozu... That's something I really need to be in a particular mood to watch... and I think Ozu is awesome and makes for a terribly interesting... but STILL. I guess, my point is that it can be kind of slow. Even is the majority of it is really interesting. I mean, the whole bit on golf and Pachinko as well as the interview with Ozu's camera assistant and Chishu Ryu. There's a part with Werner Herzog that I was totally pumped for but they spoke in German without subtitles... which was kind of disappointing. I was a little thrown as to why they didn't translate it but there were languages all over the place. It opened with I think Tokyo Story subbed in French... Wenders would tell you what the Japanese people were saying in the interviews and he spoke English throughout. So I dunno what the Eff was going on.
Tokyo is just Blade Runner without flying cars and less Harrison Ford.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Predators - 2010 - Dir. Antal

I haven't seen the AvP movies. Apparently, this was supposed to bring the dignity and save the Predator from that supposed travesty. I dunno. I feel like Predators are just silly looking motherfuckers... even in the first one. Don't get me wrong. I really like the first one! But Predators are goofy fucks. I don't think they really warrant "saving." I think its completely reasonable to have Predators face off against anyone. Batman. American Indians. Dracula. I'm sure they have, too! They're just really perfect antagonists. They always want to have Face-Offs with the quiet somber warrior who kicks ass. They like hunting, always allowing the protagonists to eventually get the upperhand so there's a proper thrilling showdown. Predators like drama and thrill as much as the audience so we don't have to spend time wondering why they haven't killed the heroes. They're biding their time. It's what they DO. Rants about (possibly) fictional aliens aside, Predators is an all right movie. At some point, I got the incorrect assumption that the script was written by teenagers. I don't know why. But it's very fitting. Not written by the same teenagers that might have written Crank. The fictional teenagers in my head saw Predator, was confused as to why a movie about aliens hunting tough dudes in a jungle wasn't ONLY about aliens hunting tough dudes in a jungle, then proceeded to write the movie is should have been. That is what this movie feels like. And I have no problem with that. The end product is a perfectly entertaining action/sci-fi flick. There's plenty of silly crap in it. Sometimes it just feels like guys running around a jungle with plastic guns... but it's fun. And it's exciting. Not surprising, certainly. I feel like Topher Grace's character is proof of that (I still really liked him though.) and I could have done without Larry and his fat head showing up but he... well, it's still kind of nice to see him doing less somber stuff. The cast is pitch-perfect. Appropriately global, there's mofos from all over the place with ridiculously stereotypical movie names. The Japanese Yakuza guy is appropriately mysterious and silent. The Southern US Prisoner is appropriately racist and goofy. Nothing every feels too forced or wooden though. It goes to show what decent actors and a little bit of effort will get you. The movie is just as fun to watch when Predators aren't about. I was a little skeptical of Brody what with him being a tall lanky guy who plays piano and is mad at his brother Owen Wilson but he really manages to put on the Tough Guy Hat. I mean, I liked him a lot! Sure, he's not HUGE like Arnold, but he's got the 'tuuuuuude! Wow, jeez, I guess I had a lot to say about Predators.
"Hey guys, I'm hunting Predators."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

King of Kong - 2007 - Dir. Gordan

I saw this two years ago and I just wanted to watch it again. I get a real kick outta this movie and it was still tons of fun to re-watch. While I'm sure Billy Mitchell is a Grade-A douche, but from what I've read Gordan drops a few facts for story telling purposes (TO HEIGHTEN THE DRAMAAAAAA). I don't really mind because the story they do tell (however abbreviated) is just plain awesome. You WANT Mitchell to be a villain and Weibe crush him in the end. There's a sense of these people caring about some really petty small stuff and obviously a lot of comedy comes out of that. The idea that Mitchell has a group of psuedo-cronies that he has do his bidding is awesome when the backdrop is just an arcade or someones living room. However, the fact that these people feel it so fully makes you kinda get behind him. I don't think it really sells competitive gaming as much as it sells why these grown men are acting this way. Weibe is grasping for something he can control and be successful at. Day is stuck with the role of referee of something he created and loves but clearly wants to move on. Kuh and Sanders are consistently falling short of his own goals, doomed to play second banana, and you see their dissatisfaction with this. The doc takes the time to explore the characters rather than the acts of gaming and scores, and that's why I find the film do damned engrossing and entertaining. And why I wanna punch Mitchell RIGHT IN THE KISSER!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Trash Humpers - 2009 - Dir. Korine

I was pretty excited about Trash Humpers. Not TOO excited, mind you, being that I had a pretty good idea as to what the film was going to be like: grainy quality, loud noises, people dressed as old people humping, shocking transgressive type humor. It's not always tons of fun to watch. Everytime Korine let out that high pitched scream laugh... UGH! And he certainly does it a lot. So yeah, it can really test the patience sometimes. It runs under ninety minutes, though. You know, something I can appreciate. I can also appreciate the nocturnal urban/suburban landscape. There's some really engrossing shots that carry the mood of walking around at night. I feel like for me, sequences ended up being really terrific or dull/tiring. I definitely feel like the movie gets better as it goes on. As it skirts away from the psuedo conjoined brothers and heads more towards ridiculous type Gummo figures (Sleepy trumpeter being my favorite), I definitely got on the bandwagon. Also the sequence with the haggy prostitutes probably contains one of my favorite cuts in cinema of all time. Korine approached this movie in a way I really appreciate when he made this movie, whether or not it ends up being fun/easy to watch (which I hardly feel is what one should expect to begin with). Scenes were mostly off the cuff and filmed in a short period of time as he and the actors ran around vandalizing and being perverts. I mean, that's just an awesome way to make a movie! And then edit the bitch on a VCR!? As someone who dealt with VHS for most of my life, that's a look I can appreciate.
You know... Movies!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Micmacs - 2009 - Dir. Jeunet

I hadn't seen a Jean-Pierre Jeunet in a while so Micmacs seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to see. AND IT WAS. I feel like it's the most Jeunet movie of all of his. I wouldn't say it's the best, but it's certainly in line with the rest of his oeuvre. It's charming, most of all. Probably it's charm overshadows most of what might be wrong with the picture. It's pretty predictable for one. It's pretty easy to forecast the plot step-by-step once you figure out the premise. There's not really a whole lot of conflict in the film, either. We basically watch "the Micmacs" successfully fool two arms dealers for two hours or so, really only at risk for about like... ten of those minutes. But it's Jeunet, so its actually still entertaining despite these fairly major storytelling flaws. The way they go about fooling them is imaginative and clever enough to keep me watching. I won't give him all the credit. The actors do a great job keeping up with Jeunet's cartoon-y tone. I think the contortionist was particularly impressive, a character I think I would normally find annoying and DID, but she kind of won me over as the film goes on. Additionally, Nicolas Marie was HILARIOUS. He's a perfect villain for the film, every time he gets enraged, I laughed. You wanted him to get F-ed in the A.
Dominique Pinon! STOP BEING GROSS!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Naked Gun 2 1/2 - 1991 - Dir. Zucker

This movie is a classic for me. I've seen it a bunch of times. I dunno if its my favorite in the series. I think I've accidentally seen it more than the others though... Or maybe the third one. It's ridiculous! Sure, it's corny, stupid, and immature. BUT ITS TERRIFIC! It's Perfect! And Robert Goulet is in it! AND THAT'S THAT!!!!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Auto-Morphosis - 2008 - Dir. Blank

It's an entertaining enough movie! In some sense, the movie feels a little bit like Harrod Blank is just showcasing his art car friends. Which he kind of is. It's just interview after interview of art car folks talking about why they're doing what they're doing, their various theories about life and art, etc. He's just lucky he was some entertaining friends! Which he clearly knows, being that this is like... the third art car movie he's made. Some of the sequences are more entertaining or interesting than others. He definitely has a good sense of what to include and how long to linger on each person. Sometimes maybe he was a little TOO liberal in the editing room but I never really felt bored or that we were lingering too long on a particular person. The Big Horn guy is AWESOME story and the Carthedral, as well. I think the nature of film causes it to drag a little bit near the end, so I admit thinking it was a good move to keep the running time under ninety minutes. I mean, I suppose for what the movie is, it works perfectly well for what its trying to do. It's fun, I can't say much more than that. OH WAIT! Harrod is featured in the film. Which is kind of screwy, considering he has a sequence just everyone else. There's something that feels somewhat disingenuous about that... I suppose with a doc that was trying to take itself more seriously, I think this might have been a major problem but I was pretty capable of just shrugging it off.
AMERICA: The Motorcycle

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Fallen Idol - 1948 - Dir. Reed

Damn it, Carol Reed can direct a helluva movie. I feel like this had everything against it. Well... it's main character was a Kid. I think that was primarily what was against it. BUT ITS AWESOME! I might even like this more than The Third Man. It's a basic film-noir except everything is kind of turned on its head. The nature of the murder, the fact that it's told through the eyes of a child, basically the whole premise! The whole framing of the story through the eyes of a child just creates a CRAZY layer onto the whole film. The nature of truth and right and wrong. The kid isn't annoying either. He's actually kinda of likable. I think that's because he ends up being an interpreter of events. It's like the best use of a child protagonist. And MAN is it thrilling! It's excellent at setting up events and holding off on them for as long as possible. The mind REELS with the possibilities as the film continues on. And it's morally ambiguous enough that often times, it's difficult to tell what will happen, something that feels a little bit like a rarity in films of this time. And the ending is completely satisfying, something else that feels rather incredible. You know, it's just a well-made film that takes a lot of risks and really pulls through, I'm a little surprised that it doesn't seem to get as much notoriety as I would expect.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Be Here to Love Me - 2004 - Dir. Brown

I didn't know much about Townes Van Zandt when I noticed the documentary on Hulu. I had heard one song and gathered that he was perhaps the saddest man in the world. This may not be true, but the fella was certainly troubled. Obviously, I have a much better idea of the man's life. Not really a strong idea of what he was about though. I think what felt most lacking about the movie was his own connection with the music. The film seems to have two tracks: one for his life and one for his music and it feels like they run parallel to each other but seem to rarely meet. Sometimes, the film just seemed like a collection of events, stories, and impressions. It doesn't feel like it attempts to really say very much. Of course, I guess, Townes own personal behavior and mental disorders might make it difficult to have a steady footing. Considering one of his more popular songs he claims to have written in his sleep. But I guess that creates kind of a hollowness at times, even when there are very emotional people on the screen. It does "sell" Townes though. We see him as charming and charismatic. Obviously, I'm more interested in his music. And there's actually a great deal of footage of him. Performing and at home which does give us some intimacy with a rather elusive subject.
Hey I'm Townes Van Zandt, you, uh, wanna get crazy?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo - 2009 - Dir. Oreck

I was pretty excited about this movie being that it was about bugs, Japanese people, and uh... well mostly those two but it also had a pretty sweet trailer. It was the most interesting film in SIFF as well. ANYWAY, I suppose I got about what I expected. Lots of crazy footage of insects and then NIHONJIN talking about them. I'm a sucker for less straight-foward docs and lemme tell you, this was up my alley. It's beautifully shot. There's are just some incredible moments in it. OH! And Japanese children are adorable. It's really thematically strong and it doesn't really feel like it's beating you over the head with much. It gets a lot across with just it's tone. I'm a little confused by what appeared to be an English release had a Japanese language voiceover. It made it supremely distracting during the Insect footage, being that I really wanted to watch the footage but was tied to the subtitles, which I struggled to focus on. I have to admit, as is the case usually with more lyrical docs, that the last third tended to drag a bit. It kept having moments where I would be "THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME ENDING!!" only to find we still had a ways to go. So it was an admittedly slow but really engrossing and beautiful documentary.
That's an awful nice net you've got there, sir.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life & Debt - 2001 - Dir. Black

The recent bloodshed in Jamaica led me to watch this. I knew that it wasn't the best off of countries, although I didn't really have any specifics apart from they're poor and regularly invaded by obnoxious white people. Two fact that the film is very fast to point out. I have to say, I didn't appreciate the distinct sense of guilt the film tried to impose upon me by putting me in the shoes of those Sandals type tourists. It had such a hostile and aggressive tone towards the viewer, it made me kind of grumble a bit. Not that they don't have a right to be bitter, by any means, but I don't see why I should receive that brunt of the sass for taking the time to watch the film. That aside, the film did enlighten me on the specifics of Jamaica's poverty. Not that it's a surprise that America and the World Bank could be generally insensitive and often times trying to create policy to profit off of another country's poverty, it was a surprise that Banana Companies had a hand in it. In a very proactive way, too. I guess, the phrase "Evil Banana Corporation" just didn't really form in my head. UNTIL NOW!!! So the film was a good primer I suppose if you have a real vague idea about the economic situation in Jamaica. I'm not sure if it really got me too emotionally invested, but I find it's a rare doc that can pierce my HEART OF STEEL!
Jamaicans CANNOT spell Death correctly.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Frenzy - 1972 - Dir. Hitchcock

I have no clue why I put Frenzy on my queue, but it was there... So I watched it one day. It's one of Hitchcock's last films and... eh... It's okay. There are definitely some bits of camera work that are TOTALLY awesome. The scene where the camera pushes into and then out of the apartment was SWEEEETTT... as is the opening. I would probably say my favorite aspects of the film are the two leads. Especially, Barry Foster whose an overly friendly but perfectly psychotic murderer. It's really not a surprise when he turns out to be the killer, but hey... I'm not sure Hitchcock films really pull too many surprises these days. Even though it's a little goofy, I kinda liked the scenes where the Detective has dinner with his wife. They're these really strange asides with that kind of "wah-wah" Hitchcock humor. I felt like the storytelling could be a little... unnatural feeling sometimes. The Detective asides were kind of indicative of that. It kind of felt like we would follow a character until he kind of ran into a dead end and then we'd switch to something more interesting. I suppose that's not uncommon but it felt a little rough around the edges sometimes and like some things were there to just fill time. Not an entirely uninteresting film, though. I little dated at times but it definitely has entertaining points.
Oh no! She's got a slug on her mouth!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Amadeus - 1984 - Dir. Forman

I haven't seen Amadeus since back in the day but MAN. This movie is sooooo good! It's like the perfect Oscar-type movie. Usually, I say that in a kind of derogatory way. BUT THIS MOVIE. Probably all the Mozart that plays helps. I mean, that music IS drama and I mean, it's no secret that Forman can direct the hell out of a movie. Especially when he's got sweet actors. Tom Hulce is RIDICULOUS! And F. Murray Abraham. AND Jeffrey Jones. But Abraham has to sell Salieri as a villain and as someone you can actually sympathize with and he really does deserve all the praise and awards he got. You really do hate Mozart with Salieri. At least, I did. I mean, where does that guy get off!? Being a big talented douche. And Hulce is so sneaky about about Mozart's collapse, you even feel bad for him. I mean, YOU FEEL FOR BOTH OF THE LEADS even as they clash. And as someone who knows next to nothing about the creation of music, the movie still is nice enough to hold your hand without feeling like you're being sat down and have it explained to you. I suppose if I had to find a criticism, the last act DOES feel a little rushed. The movie is almost two and a half hours and it doesn't really feel like it drags but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some speedy editing going on at that point. But really, it's a minor, minor complaint in what is just a really well made film.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Death at a Funeral - 2007 - Dir. Oz

Hey, I suppose, this was funnier than I really expected. I wasn't expecting much though. Sort of a mediocre British comedy but it had some refreshing elements. I suppose a lot of it came from it's amorality. Characters commit AWFUL crimes without really considering the write or wrong of it all, so the movie can move along at a pretty brisk pace. I mean, there's still an awful lot of the plot elements that are just mediocre crud like feuding brothers and the stubborn dick who wants the taken girl. There are so many different elements going on that if something isn't interesting, you only got to deal with it for a few minutes and then they'll be a whole blackmail plot or Alan Tudyk on acid (which is more entertaining than it sounds!). Peter Dinklage is AWESOME by the way. I'm always pissed when he plays the stereotypical bitter dwarf. That man can ACT. I feel like the film also has a pretty likable straightman in Macfadyen. Those characters are generally so boring in these types of film but he manages to inject some life into Daniel and his scenes are often more interesting than many others. So, uh, yeah- It's an okay comedy. I laughed at how surprisingly dark it could be for these types of films. It wasn't boring at least.
It's a loose Alan Tudyk! Catch him before he stars in a Joss Whedon production!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Third Man - 1949 - Dir. Reed

That's weird. Apparently, I haven't seen a movie released in the 1940's since I started this whole thing. ANYWAY. I have fond if not faded memories of this movie. Back in my high school time, I watched it and basically exploded with love for it. Then I never watched it again. So I figured, HELL. Let's see how it holds up. AND IT HOLDS UP SO WELL! Maybe even better than before. Orson Welles is the obvious attraction in the film, he's basically to Big Faced sponge sucking up all of my attention. On this viewing, however, and reasonably so, I became pretty enamored with Joseph Cotten. He's such a goofy dope in the movie. Basically the best protagonist you could ask for in this situation. Even when he's in "I'm gonna solve this mystery"-mode, he's charming the pants off of me. In fact, I might say that's what really feels great about the movie generally. It manages to have the best balance of tone. Dipping between morose film-noir and a kind of joking sense of humor within the same scenes without any kind of notable clash. ADDITIONALLY, Karas' score is absolutely awesome. But you know, anything with a zither is awesome. And you know, the movie just looks awesome. Even with all the goofiness, it still manages to have the most menacing and beautiful shadows. TERRIFIC!
How did such a classy chap turn into such a slob!?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kick-Ass - 2010 - Dir. Vaughn

You know, I ended up liking Kick-Ass more than I thought I would. I feel like for the most part, it's a really well made movie. It's certainly not a movie for everyone. There's a certain... moral and ethical grey area you have to be able to exist in. After all, a little girl does a lot of terrible things and has a lot of terrible things done to her. That little girl, Chloe Moretz, carries a lot of the movie. I mean, she's just fantastic. The film works a lot with the idea of childhood and well... mutations of it. Relating Hit Girl's stunted growth with that of any ordinary comic book nerd. Nicholas Cage, as always, is just awesome as hell. That man just seems to be able to read the kind of film he's going to be in and knows exactly what to bring to the table. Sure, he doesn't always seem to fill the "Big Daddy" suit. But that's almost the point. The movie never really advances past these characters living out comic book fantasies. They are always doofs in suits. And I feel like that helps so much in the tone of the film. We accept them for the doofs they are and are able to move on. Whereas in a film like Spiderman and Watchmen, I kept falling out of the reality because I felt like I was supposed to treat them like superheros... like great men and women. In Kick-Ass, we are only asked to treat them like people. And often times, it made it more exciting. I didn't know where these people stood morally, I could guess sometimes. But the movie functioned in a really pleasant gray area that constantly kept me on my toes. Red Mist's arc in particular was pretty interesting, how it toed the line between good and evil and was never... It was gray. And I really think I liked it. If you're able to enter into what is clearly a comic book world with comic book morality, I feel like you end up with something that has a pleasant amount of depth, even if sometimes it has goofy moments.
Kids these days! :/

Friday, April 30, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop - 2010 - Dir. Banksy

I didn't know a ton about this doc beforehand. I think to some degree I had lost interest in Banksy after his big show in LA. I dunno, I got the point, if you get me. He's still neat. And the movie certainly spurred a bit of interest back into him and street art in general. There's a whole fuss about whether or not this is a hoax and the various levels of hoax-ery involved in the film. I'm gonna be upfront and just say I don't I don't give a damn. The documentary is interesting enough and suggests enough neat things about the nature of art and business that I could care less about what aspects are just pranks and which aren't, I suppose this is because in a sense, not matter what, Mr. Brainwash is a prank of a kind. The man and his exhibition, is street art and pop culture vomit. It's a product of our world. But I won't rant about that. I COULD. But the doc is interesting enough. Every so often, as I found my attention lagging, it pulled me back in. So it's a bit of a roller coaster. It manages to talk about street art without sitting us down and telling us about it. It tells us through the story of Thierry, who is charming and amusing enough to watch for the hour and a half. He also has a really neat arc which also reflects the arc of street art in general in a lot of ways. Whether or not he is a real person, and to be honest, I enjoyed going into the movie thinking he was, he is a fine guide into this world.
So there's Banksy... turns out he's the Grim Reaper!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Horatio's Drive - 2003 - Dir. Burns

I like the idea of roadtrips. I'm a big fan of 'em. I suppose that was kind of the driving force of any interest I had in the film. Cause, I dunno, I'm not a huge fan of Burns. I like his National Parks business, but I think... I dunno, the man can be awfully dull, especially if you don't have much interest in the subject matter. So I figured the first transcontinental road trip, would be something that I would get behind. But I dunno... It was still pretty dull. I wanted it to be more exciting. There were charming parts and interesting ideas. It's wasn't terrible. It was just slow. I had to watch it in two parts. It makes some really neat comparisons to the development of America and the American psyche and Jackson's trip. Oh man! There are two grand-daughters of his and they are just... not fun to watch at all. I liked the idea of there being two other cars making a trip, but that doesn't really pan out to be much more exciting. It's something that kind of peters out around the beginning of the third act. I mean, there's something really exciting about the premise and I suppose Burns makes it as exciting as possible while still being pretty fairly historically accurate. It's okay, I guess. It hasn't really changed my mind about Burns, but hey, I'm glad I learned something about history I guess. FEH!!
The 1903 Honda Civic

Monday, April 26, 2010

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence - 1993 - Dir. Lustig

I have kind of a funny theory. The less Bruce Campbell is in the Maniac Cop trilogy. The better the film will be. NOW, I suppose that depends on your opinion of 2 and 3. But I feel like it would be tough to find someone who likes the first one more than the other two. First of all, Jackie Earle Haley is in Badge of Silence. He sorta a big deal nowdays, right? I don't know. It's a goofy movie, but it's entertaining as hell. It's got the perfect mix of fun and... I don't know... campiness. It's not like it's a real movie. But it's never so boring that you wish it would just end... It's just the perfect length. I mean, it's just a well-crafted B-movie. That's sort of the thing about Larry Cohen though. He's great at making these movies. I think he's a great writer. He can find the balance of the perfect tone. I dunno how much of Lustig's voice really fit into the picture. I haven't seen anything that hasn't been written bu Cohen. But it feels a lot like a top notch Cohen flick. Which is probably a compliment to Lustig, knowing the strengths of the script and the weaknesses. I mean, of course, things don't exactly make tons of sense. Like... SHIT IS RETARDED. But I had a great time watching the movie, I mocked it. But I feel like if you can't have a sense of humor about what's going on. You probably aren't the right audience.
I'm Ted Raimi, Reporting for the News.

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