Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Fly - 1986 - Dir. Cronenberg

What can I say!? I like this movie a lot. I've seen it a handful of times. It's great! Jeff Goldblum turning into a Fly? What's not to like? Not only that, but before he becomes a Fly, he turns into a hyper weirdo! The first shot is Jeff Goldblum's weird face! He manages to change tracks several times in the movie without making it feel strange or sudden. Able to hold both the Old Brundle and the Brundlefly at the same time. And the movie is just paced so well. It's all "BAM! Let's do this Transporter thing!" It's basically everything I like about Cronenberg at it's very best. Strange, body-horror, sex/pregnancy stuff that's weirdly funny the whole way through. AND RIDICULOUS SPECIAL EFFECTS! It has those nice 80's practical effects where they are treated like set pieces, like freakish ape and Brundlefly. There's nothing in this for me to not like. Actually, that once sequence where he's speaking and crawling on the wall always seems a little disjointed to me, but apart from that it's all good. Davis is great as our heroine. She's not one of those forehead-smackingly dumb or overly emotional. But she's not a cold-hearted/super hero female. She has great judgement and I think that's some too appreciate in a horror movie character. We also get a smirkingly fantastic performance from John Getz, who basically just plays the shithead role perfectly. It has a really nice cathartic ending, too. It's just an entertaining movie that deserves it's status. Also, Jeff Goldblum's hair? I mean... C'mon... Jeff Goldblum's hair!
This is why you can't leave a Jeff Goldblum in direct sunlight.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Star 80 - 1983 - Dir. Fosse

It was recommended and getting taken off of Netflix so I figured I'd best make I way to see Fosse's last film. It's... well, it's not All That Jazz. You can see how they were made by the same fella but Fosse's holding back directing-wise. The real centerpiece of the film is FUCKING Eric Roberts. Who is SO weird and pathetic and threatening all at the same time. I mean, I'm really impressed by how many terrible emotion balls that man juggled in this film. Fosse was clearly interested in his psychology rather than Stratten's, who deftly handles her growing fame. Even Hefner and the Bogdanovich are mild. Robert's Clingy Overwhelmed Boyfriend just goes mad in the light of these characters. This does flatten the scenes he isn't in which are usually just about how to handle Eric Roberts. The fact that we know how it will end and the lack of any other proper drama leads to a pretty slow movie. We want it to move faster than it does. We know where we are headed, we're just along for the ride. The nuances of his decline are interesting, I give you that but not portrayed THAT differently from what is a pretty familiar story. I say, a fan of Fosse, Roberts, or nutcases should follow up. But I'm sure you could find better stories about Stardom, Playboy Bunnies, and even creepy boyfriends (although perhaps the boyfriends won't be as weird of Roberts).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Catfish - 2010 - Dir. Joost/Schulman

I gave into the viral marketing campaign and made sure it seek out the film to find out it's SHOCKING TWIST. Which you know can't be that shocking because... well... it's a documentary. But I bit anyway. And the shocking twist is about as shocking as you might expect... and probably IS what you would expect it to be. To start off, let me just say that I wasn't a fan of our subject, Nev. He kinda... seemed like a douche. That aside, the premise of the film takes over pretty quickly and holds our attention as unlikable as I might have found our subject to be. It's paced slow enough, and everyone in the theater knows something shifty is around so a lot of the movie is seeing if you could figure it out before they do. Or at least, trying to solve the mystery. When it's revealed. It feels pretty good and it is actually handled pretty well considering. It's an emotionally satisfying ending, I suppose. A lot of people question the authenticity of this documentary... as well they should: It's a documentary. But honestly, with something like this I have no issue with thing re-filmed/staged/whatever. It's not like it is making much of an argument. To be honest, I found it engaging and entertaining. If it's completely fiction, I don't give a damn. A fine little piece of entertainment.
Why, hello! I'd like to Friend you on Facebook!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Conversation - 1974 - Dir. Coppola

I always forget Coppola did this. It's a lot quieter, less ambitious, and less... well... less dynamic than say Apocalypse Now or the Godfather films. But to be honest, this probably ranks up as my favorite film of his. I had seen it long ago and entirely forgot about it. It's a taut, character-driven thriller. Hackman, always excellent at making unlikable characters watchable, draws us in as Caul. The film is a nice reminder of how enjoyable a movie can be when you have a strong character leading us. Caul is faced with a conspiracy but the majority of the film isn't about him unraveling the conspiracy. Rather, we are given almost all the information up front, but it follows Caul as he struggles with himself regarding the information he has. Information he doesn't understand but struggles to without leaving his safety zone. Generally, I suppose, people get all up in arms about the sound design. I'm not really sure I know very much about it's place in sound design history so I won't really speak on that. But hey! It's got a lot of great sounds and uses sound really well. Which is good based on how much of the film is about sound and HEARING and EARS. Anyway, the ending is great. Pitch perfect. And we also get to watch John Cazale act which is always dandy. And Harrison Ford! As a douche!
Hackman trying to understand toilets.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Paranoids - 2008 - Dir. Medina

For some reason, I was really excited about this, even though the trailer set it up to be a kind of run of the mill, artsy loner type movie. And it is. From the overly ponderous opening shot, which I feel really only has a tenuous connection to the movie. It's the kind of opening shot where I feel like I can hear the director say "Wouldn't it be cool if..." From there we get to explore our Protagonist and how much his life is shit. He's shy, with a crappy job, and he can't do what he loves cause he's screwed up, and he also does too many drugs. It's the usual bag. I think Hendler does a really good job doing that and it's directed well, but it's familiar territory. Throw in an old friend who has become successful and is a complete douchebag, things get slightly more interesting, but not much more. Some familiar story-telling tropes get thrown into the mix. I shook my head when the experienced older fellah started giving advice. It's kind of like an Urban Argentinian Garden State, which has good points and bad points to it. It was never an unenjoyable experience and I certainly didn't feel like the film spoke down to me or insulted my intelligence, but I don't feel like it really pushed or pulled me any one way.
Oh yeah, babe, blur your arms for me some more!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Graveyard of Honor - 2002 - Dir. Miike

A Miike remake of a Fukasaku film seems like an appropriate enough thing to exist. The two men certainly have their similarities. Although, let's not fool ourselves, this is a Miike movie. It is unendingly violent, loud, and strangely enough slow and boring. The man just seems to want to show us someone who can't not hurt people all the time. So, you know, we're never really rooting for the guy. We're just waiting for him to hit the wall. And good god, does it take forever... more than two hours of this jackass screaming and doing insane shit, getting fucked up on drugs. There's an arc of a kind. But the film is like a Punch and Judy show, where the character is a vehicle for violence and that is kind of the long and the short of it. We don't really get many insights into why or even a goofy quirk (like say Ichi the Killer might throw that our way). We're just dealing with a violent dude in a violent movie. This isn't Miike at his strongest. It's not his worst. There's some fun sequences... but they can be pretty far apart. Pretty, pretty far apart. So, I dunno. If you wanna watch a lot of fighting and blood and screaming (that actually sounds more appealing then the movie is), check it out. I think you could do better though.
Guys! I'm Batmmmaaaaaann?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Omen - 1976 - Dir. Donner

Probably better and more engaging than I thought it would be. Anytime you have the main conflict of a film be whether or not parents are going to kill their child. I mean, you generally want to see how that turns out. Having Gregory Peck play the father helps a ton, too. Sure, it's no "To Kill a Mockingbird" or anything but that guy brings his shit wherever he goes. Also, Jerry Goldsmith's score is a classic 70's horror score. Probably makes the movie. I mean, it's not exactly a "scary" movie. It's certainly tense enough and has plenty of strong sequences. It also doesn't rely on the pale five-year-old boy to bring the scares. In fact, what I kind of appreciated was that to some degree the film doesn't exactly ever condemn Damien. We're never like "GET THAT MOTHERFUCKING KID" because he doesn't do anything. Awful shit just seems to happen around him. So when Peck is debating whether or not to kill his son, it seems more like a debate because we haven't just watched scene after scene of Damien dismembering people with an evil glint in his eye. The kid is a kid, who just happens to be the son a Satan. So yeah, it's a pretty good movie. It's not a stand-out by any means, but it seems like just a very solidly made picture. And David Warner is in it too. That never hurts.
Quit bein' such a prick, kid!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Iron Man 2 - 2010 - Dir. Favreau

I had a bad enough feeling about Iron Man 2 that I didn't pursue it in theaters, despite having a good enough time in the first one. I did well to save my money. Iron Man 2 is a simple illustration of why I am often hesitant about super hero movies these days. First of all, we spend chunks of the movie without a reasonable threat to our protagonist. Except that he's dying... which really just spurs on Tony Stark to act more like an asshole and create tension between himself and his pals, which is the sole point of drama in the film. Sure, there's some Russian guy who is dispatched less than half-way through and Justin Hammer who is so goofy that it makes Sam Rockwell's comic relief the high point of the film. There's absolutely no build up to the climax. Oh great... the final bad guy is... Many Robots? Even the locale is just a series of random environments. The film just fucks around, winking at fanboys and nudging everyone else. The film takes the easy way out of every situation whenever it can and simply runs off of it's assumed charm and light-hearted manner. In the end, it just feels tiring and boring. And naturally, for some reason it thinks it needs to be more than two hours (by a minute, but still, we couldn't have pulled in a hour forty-five for this... it only deserves 90 minutes anyway). There aren't even enough action sequences to really even warrant that running time. It's mostly filled with watching a unsympathetic rich guy mope around and crack wise.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lars and the Real Girl - 2007 - Dir. Gillespie

I had put off this film for a while, fearing it would be a two hour examination of how pathetic and delusional one man can be. Sort of like an emotional car crash, where you can't turn away from the wreak of a man in front of you. It's actually more like a really nice bus ride with old people. It's charming, slowly paced, and any bawdiness is enveloped by it's charm. Assuming the old people aren't the filthy disgusting type of elderly people. The film rarely gets mean, rarely gets too sentimental. It doesn't really take many risks once you get past the premise. It actually ends up just being a much nicer movie than one might expect. Lars' delusion never gets cringe worthy and is often more about his progress to healing than his illness. Sure... I dunno. I suppose if you're looking for hard drama or... well... anything harder. You won't really get it from Lars. Solid performances from the main cast keep it from feeling to light and fluffy. They play it honestly and rarely cheap. The harder to swallow moments come from the townspeople... who as less developed characters, often highlight the Hallmark Card sentiment line that the film is toeing. It was a pleasantly light surprise, the kind of film that really sets out to do a certain job and does it very well.
Get the hint, Gosling! She's trying to read!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Capturing the Friedmans - 2003 - Dir. Jarecki

If you like movies about Child Molestation, then this is the documentary for you! It creeped me out, which I suppose isn't a stretch considering it's subject: the convicted Father-Son team of child molesters in suburban Long Island. Perhaps what ends up being the most disturbing aspect of it is the film's own ambiguity in regards to whether or not their guilt is justified. It doesn't take a strong stance exactly, but simply repeatedly suggests that all is not what it appears. So by the end of the film, we're left hanging, having either seen the up close and personal lives of a family where two of the members committed awful acts OR the jailing of an innocent. To be honest, the family dynamic exposed by the plethora of home video the Friedmans' kept is unnerving enough but to have the insinuations of child molestation underneath is the Icing on the cake. The terrible, terrible cake. Their constant clowning throughout the process, either as a bizarre way of coping with the situation or just... I don't know what, becomes pretty surreal at times. Either way, it's a well-crafted documentary and Jarecki seems to have pretty surprisingly open access considering the situation (that he got the home videos and interviews at all seems lucky). Worth the watch if you want to feel unsure and unsettled.