Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Waterworld - 1995 - Dir. Reynolds

Notable flop, Waterworld seemed engrained in my memory as the first movie I remember that was a joke. I'd never seen it, but it's infamy seemed to nag at me all these years and so I took advantage of it's Watch Instant status. Naturally, it's not as bad as it's built up to be. It's actually surprisingly capably done at times considering all the poo-poo that is said about it. The problem is that it's just boring as hell. I don't give a good god-damn about Kevin Costner in this movie. And he doesn't want us to care about him! Most of the other characters exhibit similar levels of apathy. And you know, I didn't care for Dennis Hopper as the villain. And I love a good Dennis Hopper. BUT EVEN HE WAS BORING! I needed him to be a little more evil... a little wackier. He just seemed crabby, disgruntled. In fact, the high point was Kim Coates playing more of a nut than he already does. But the movie just kind of trudges along (or wades...) scene after scene. There's a vague search for land but clearly that's just an excuse for Costner to bond with the kid and Tripplehorn (Both of which are in Big Love!). The bonding is about as generic as you would expect from a movie like this. It has some nice action sequences. I won't lie. And some nice post-apocalyptic sets. I wouldn't go out of my way to say you should see it, but it's a reasonable distraction.

Monday, May 30, 2011

ABC Africa - 2001 - Dir. Kiarostami

I've only seen one other Kiarostami film previous to this, it was not a doc so they don't exactly compare. It feels a little funny to critique the documentary about children dying of AIDS but I thought this could have been a little better! I guess, really my primary issue is that it looks like Kiarotstami just edited together a mildly organized vacation. The reason it looks that way is because that's what it is (sorta, he went location scouting and ended up just using that footage). This does two things, one bad, one good. On the bad, there's a kind of haphazard feel to many portions of the movie. It just FEELS like something that wasn't intended to be a movie. On the flip side, however, it also seems to convey a kind of atmosphere that perhaps a planned doc might lose. There's a spontaneity about it as if we're wandering side by side with Kiarostami. Even the portion that takes place in complete darkness contributes to this flow. He doesn't interrupt it with voice overs or heavy handedness, letting his footage speak for itself. The film is especially adept at capturing moments when it's at its best. However, I am of two minds because when occasionally it fell into moments of Kiarostami home videos, I felt like it was doing injustice to a topic that deserves far more respect.
Lucky kid... I wish I had a hoop...

A Fish Called Wanda - 1988 - Dir. Crichton

I knew next to nothing about this movie apart from the fact that it was long overdue that I had seen it and that it had the same cast as Fierce Creatures. I'm a big Python fan so I think I expected the most from Cleese and Palin, but honestly, Kline fucking KILLED IT in this movie. He's so STUPID in this movie. In the best way. I was surprised he won an Oscar for his role but he deserves it. He's so incredibly manic and loud, but it is pulled off so well. I'm still smiling about the way he moves around in this movie. The rest of the cast performs admirably. Curtis playing straight (I suppose that's predictable with her being a lady). Cleese playing a goofy straight. Palin playing a nut whose efforts to kill an old woman makes up the subplot. It's not exactly groundbreaking by any means but is just a really strong comedy with a strong cast and a satisfyingly manic climax. It's just really well put together at times and is just so good at consistently raising the bar of the silliness. I'm sure it has great replay value as well. I can imagine I missed plenty of jokes in the dialogue being that it comes at you pretty quickly. If I had to toss a complaint out there, it can be a little slow and perhaps some of the silliness is dated, but the movie is more than twenty years old at this point and I think it's impressive that this movie aged as well as it has.

John Cleese has a terrible genital disorder.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Exiled - 2006 - Dir. To

I had a bit of a To exploration phase in college. It wasn't long-lived. I think I went through three or so before losing interest. His movies were the epitome of confusion for me. I rarely could follow what was going on. I could rarely keep track of the action. There were a lot of spinning and smoke and crap flying everywhere. It certainly seemed nicely directed, but the movies felt like 90's action movies that were a chore to follow. Naturally, I popped this on my queue because of it's western like description and deciding to give the man a chance after so many years. Exiled still has the 90's action movie feel but seems to be a lot more simply told than To's other films. I could follow what was going on in the movie. One of the reasons for that is probably because it's not hard to guess what WILL happen in this movie. Everyone does the thing they should. Unless it was an action sequence in which case it was all spins. He seems to get close to a ballet type choreography but I feel like most of the time, it's just spinning. They're visually nice, but I have absolutely no kind of emotional reaction to those sequences. I just wait until they are over to have figured out what has gone on. So it felt like a pretty good movie to get someone started on To. It's fun, charming at times, has an equal share of good and confusingly directed action sequences, and it's easier to follow than his others despite some goofy plot divergences. Probably if you can't stomach that or don't want to, I imagine you should stop right here.

You guys wanna have a shoot out or something?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tears of the Black Tiger - 2000 - Dir. Sasanatieng

Recommended to me by a friend who knew I liked strange westerns, this certainly fits into that category. Campy and melodramatic, it follows the love of a notorious henchman and a governor's daughter. As expected, their love causes conflict in their respective circles. Bloodshed and tears ensue. I found out afterward that I was watching Miramax's heavily edited version (apparently they kinda gave the movie the shaft). Apart from a rather sudden ending, I didn't clue in on it but I think like... twenty minutes or so were cut out (I saw a 90 min release where the running time is listed at 110). It's a fun, playful movie, dipping now and then into some classy melodrama. It moves along swiftly enough, although the flashbacks feel a little tedious now and then. The action is certainly well done, exciting or silly enough in the beginning, then pleasantly violent at the end. Visually, it's very strong. The real gem in the film is the acting. Everyone treads the line between camp and silliness, never crossing over too far in either direction. My particular favorite is Mahasuan, who has an overly masculine voice and the SILLIEST fucking mustache. Silly moustaches aside, the movie generally shows a bit of restraint. Now and then it explodes (see below) but it always good enough to reign itself back in and be a real film. It's not exactly mind-blowing or spectacular, but just a very satisfying and visually appealing entry in the world of Camp.

Sunsets are FUCKED UP in Thailand.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kairo - 2001 - Dir. Kurosawa

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is one of my favorite directors, but Kairo/Circuit/Pulse always tripped me up a little. It was one of his more talked about films, kind of making a cult splash over on this shore resulting in what was probably a shitty remake. I've seen it once before and was bored. It didn't seem nearly as interesting as his other movies. I had always kind of assumed I missed something or that I was a little distracted during my viewing (which I was). So I gave it another shot, years later... this time around, my opinion is about the same. The initial premise of the Spirtual World leaking into our own through electronics as well as the theme of disconnection in our MODERN WORLD are interesting but they don't really seem to manifest in an interesting way. I'm willing to admit that many of my favorite Kurosawa films share similiar problems with Pulse. For example, the plot develops strangely, often making it difficult to keep up and causing some pacing issues. He often blends genres but it doesn't seem to work out this time around. He hops back and forth between horror and drama without really giving either the attention they might deserve, resulting in sudden horror sequences (that to be honest, didn't really get me all that much) and pretty on-the-nose dialogue as characters consider their mortality. I think to some degree it feels too much like a straight J-Horror movie. There's no real playfulness about it. Not that I require playfulness, but it helps and always felt like something he did very well when handling tough or intellectual subjects. It's clearly a Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie and in that, it's probably more interesting than your usual J-Horror fare, but I feel like it's a poor example of what he can do
AAAUUGGHH!!! C'mon man, clean up after yourself!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bright Star - 2009 - Dir. Campion

I don't know Fuck all about Keats! Or them POEMS they keep talking about. I ended up seeing this primarily because I'd seen Campion's Passionless Moments in school and it had always really stuck with me. I'd figured it was time to see her larger body of work was like. I think what appealed to me about her short film was what I liked most in Bright Star. Just short, quiet moments. Beautifully shot. And there is plenty of time allotted for those moments. Especially when they are first falling in love, which threw me for a loop. The parts I liked most were the Romantic parts. When Keats begins to die, I got pretty bored. Maybe because it becomes so clear that he will die so early on, so... I dunno... I wanted him to get on with it. Oh! But I did get a kick out of Paul Schneider as Browning. Schneider just pops up all over the place and he always does a fantastic job! Abbie Cornish does a good job of being somewhat unlikable at first and then seemingly growing on us. Ben Whishaw seems to have a somewhat easier job of being the tortured artist heartthrob. I'm not sure I really emotionally connected with the film. I would often find myself a little confused and distracted by the actions of the characters, but I was so out-of-place in this world that I think I struggled to keep up. Nonetheless, I enjoyed most of the film. It's just very visually satisfying and I feel like the plot is subdued enough to let our eyes just hang out and enjoy.
The Agony of being a Poet...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mon Oncle - 1958 - Dir. Tati

I have mixed feeling about Tati. I've only seen Playtime previous to this, but I feel like I have a general idea as to how he functions. First of all, he's a genius. Second of all, he's really hard to watch. Both Playtime and Mon Oncle have been some of the hardest comedies to watch. They are just so slow... and not particularly funny. But they are just SO FUCKING CHARMING. They just ooze charm. It looks SO GOOD too, which is important due to the lack of dialogue... and the dialogue that is there, it's not really important. It's just there is support the action, like the score would. The humor is pretty old-fashioned, Hulot is of relation to the Chaplin/Keaton characters, but he seems to lack the drive and the manic-ness of them. I think that ends up being a bit of a double-edged sword. The lack of goal and drive for our protagonist is probably the leading reason why the film drags as much as it does. I do love the general premise of that type of character being thrown into a manic, technology driven world. So I dunno, I feel like if you are in the mood to be charmed, looking for a very simple humor and feeling particularly patient: This movie will hit the spot. Visually incredible too. I especially like the shots of Hulot's building.

Always turn your fish on for important guests!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Amarcord - 1973 - Dir. Fellini

Of all the "Great Masters of Film," I think I struggle with Fellini the most. I dunno. His films are very watchable and obviously they deserve some level of respect... I suppose I just don't really care all that much to see them. I'll sit and watch 'em! No problem with doing such an act, but I don't know... I just don't seek them out and aren't very emotionally involved with them. He can be a blast visually. And he makes a fine joke. And I'm pervy enough to get down with his... inclinations. I suppose, Amarcord seems to be the most charming of his films that I've seen. Anyway, it's a fun movie! It's mostly a series of light-hearted sequences with goofy townspeople. We somewhat follow a young fellow who happens to be coming of age and his various pseudo-sexual romps (The Tobacconist sequence probably being the most memorable). The movie is paced very nicely considering it's meandering nature. I feel like films like this can often too strained. There are obviously some more serious bits but they are underscored or result in humor by the end. There's also an insane hooker in it! The wikipedia entry makes me feel like there's way more to the movie than I give it credit for, which I'm sure is reasonable but wikipedia entries will do that, won't it?

Sigh... Italian People...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Severance - 2006 - Dir. Smith

Severance doesn't really bite as hard as it should, or make us laugh as much as it probably should either. It's probably unfair to compare it to Shaun of the Dead so I won't do that. But apparently a lot of people do so, I guess it was at a time where British people couldn't make a violent comedy without the comparison on this side of the pond (still the case, maybe?). The movie simply doesn't do enough to break out of the horror genre, so we're left with a horror movie with an unusual amount of jokes in it. There are an appropriate amount of cringe-worthy moments and moments of tension (the bear trap stands out as a high point in that regard). It sort of falls apart by the third act but I feel like that is a pretty common problem. The movie fails to really bring anything to the table with the whole weapons manufacturing idea. It's simply a function of the story, there's a few throwaway lines here and there that might suggest that we'll go deeper but we don't. And it seems to be implied that the villains were murderous brutes anyway so... I dunno. The movie is just very ordinary. One can watch it with a minimum of effort. The story-telling is goofy, jumping from different character perspectives (we see a dream sequence of one, hallucinations of others [both to stir up interest more than anything else]). Dialogue is clever enough on the upside, I certainly wish more horror writers had Moran's ability with dialogue. It would make the genre more bearable. If anything, the acting is the only thing that stands out as a clear positive. Everyone sells their somewhat stereotyped characters well (they are pretty straight-forward horror tropes, I have no problem with this though). Particular favorite is Tim McInnery, who I just enjoyed seeing a little older after so much Black Adder.
Women who are upset in Pits.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party - 2005 - Dir. Brinkmann

I'm the kind of sucker who would watch a movie just to see what Stephen Tobolowsky is doing in it. Granted, he's probably not doing anything terribly interesting but I'm always checking in to make sure. I think Birthday Party ended up being what I expected it to be. Entertaining, sometimes a little disappointing, and probably a little more sentimental than I might have liked. Well, maybe the sentimentality isn't the problem. In fact, it should be expected that when a movie is a bout an actor telling stories on his birthday, that there is going to be sentimentality involved. I suppose maybe at times it seems a little forced or a little on the nose. Tobolosky is often calling for toasts to various people and things. And there's something that just feels a little too set-up about Stephen standing in front of a room telling lengthy stories. Cameo appearance by Anna Farris seems very bizarre since she hardly is featured but is one of the few who speaks directly to the camera in private. Sort of like showing off that Anna Farris is around. But they are entertaining stories for the most part. Maybe not as profound as he might make them seem, being that we're separated by the screen, simple story telling can often lose it's power. The tone of the movie is at it's best when Stephen is more relaxed, cooking sausages rather than when he's clowning about in front of a crowd. A nice way to kill some time and certainly needed if you like watching Tobolowsky.