Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Descendants - 2011 - Dir. Payne

I'm a big fan of Payne but I always end up at his movies somewhat begrudgingly. I don't know why. So I begrudgingly made my way to the theater preparing to see what would be a really well made movie with thought behind it and everything. And it was! And you know what, it's not nearly as much of a bummer as it looks like it's going to be. I mean, a movie about a guy reconnecting with this daughters after the wife/mother is dying in a coma? That could've been... a hell of a time. Payne's know-how and Clooney's stupid ass running around keeps "hell" at bay. Clooney has really mastered looking goofy while sneaking/running and he's in full force in this movie. He's at he usual Clooney awesomeness, of course. Woodley plays the teenager daughter like an expert. She's clearly a source of friction but she's not a brick wall. Her character relents has tangible weaknesses, we can access her, which I feel like infrequently happens in these types of movies. It's a really well-paced movie, especially for Payne. I was pulled in and stayed in for the entire movie. The Hawaii locale makes for nice eye candy. I especially liked the plotline involving Clooney's cousins and thought it had a lot of impact in the film. It also allows us to see that sheriff from Twin Peaks with a goofy ass tan. Oh wait!? And can I say that Matthew Lillard was awesome in this? I can and will!

Limitless - 2011 - Dir. Burger

I have no idea why I watched this fucking movie. It's okay, I guess. It's worse than I thought it would be. I expected something a little tighter, a little smarter. I'll admit to being surprised at how doofy this movie ended up being. It's like the writer said "What if-" and started writing... and then realized that everything had to be tied up by the end and never bothered to go back and rewrite. Why is Bradley Cooper's climactic challenge a Russian mobster? Even on the Enhancement drug, he never seems like a valid threat. Even the supposed twist is so underwhelming that I'm baffled by how disinterested in it I was. I mean, it's a fun premise, but it just seems like Burger made no attempt to make it interesting or to dig deep. It's all drug addiction, Wall Street jerks, and Russian mobsters. Sometimes it seemed nearing Crank style ridiculousness which just seemed... strange. I guess, it was an attempt to jack energy into it. I'm not sure I really jived with it, though. It just felt like electrocuting a corpse. Bradley Cooper is okay, I suppose. It sorta felt like the entire cast was just made of nondescript good looking people. No one spurred much of anything. Probably he most interesting thing is Cooper playing a dweeb... which he does well... but it isn't THAT interesting. I dunno, I suppose it'll work as empty entertainment... but I'm sure you could do a lot better.
The hair desperately trying to get you to believe that Bradley Cooper is geeky.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lenny - 1974 - Dir. Fosse

I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this movie basically because I never gave much of an "eff" about Lenny Bruce. Understanding that he was an important early foul-mouthed comedian. He never really struck me as all that funny. The film gives me a little spanking for that. Much of the film follows Lenny's obscenity trials and I suppose I'm someone who has a good time watching some musings on our first amendment rights so I had a pretty good time with the movie. No, you know what? I really liked this movie. I got into it. It also helped not having any idea what happened to the man so the movie had nothing but surprises. It's filmed in the usual Fosse manner of having character interviews interspersed between sequences. Some of the party sequences are just awesomely assembled and are probably some of my favorites in recent memory. Hoffman makes for a great Bruce. He has a ton manic energy as very subtly shifts into out of control Lenny. It's fun to see it early on, where he's just brimming with the stuff and has no outlet. If I had to nitpick, the whole arch revolving around the Wife sometimes feels a little artificial. She's so unimportant in the second act that her role in the third sometimes seems a little unwarranted. But hey, I suppose Biopics have a tendency to do that, don't they!? Anyway, a fine film. A fine film, indeed!
Bruce struggles with the Solo Pull My Finger gag...

The Expendables - 2010 - Dir. Stallone

I was pretty psyched for this movie to come out but when it did... I made no attempt to go see it. It got perfectly decent reviews... but I think I just felt... out there in the universe, that this movie would not give me what I needed. I was right... The movie exists uncomfortably between the "seriousness" of Stallone's newest Rambo and the silliness of the 80's action flicks it's clearly influenced by. That struggle probably hurts the film more than anything else. It's not goofy enough to be fun, but it's goofy enough that it is hard to take it as seriously as it'd like us to. Apart from a decent car chase, there aren't really many interesting action set pieces to lift it up. As much as I might have felt "feh" about the new Rambo, I felt at least I was getting some kind of visceral experience. Expendables feels like the action is a lot of overly large boys brawling and firing weapons randomly. The Terry Crews second half of the film is a welcome pick me up but is so artificially inserted that it hurts. Hey, guys, forgot all that other stuff we were talking about: Check out Terry Crews with a big gun! Maybe it's the lack of charisma that makes Crews a sudden bolt of life. Stallone sorta lurches around in front of the camera, making dismal wise cracks with a mopey Statham. Jet Li ends up looking like the golden boy of comic timing compared to most of the cast. So... yeah, I could be happier with the movie. A lot happier. Will I see Expendables 2? Most certainly. I'm a sucker for the genre and I'm willing to see what the "best" and the "brightest" churn out. Even if it isn't that good.
They are have different Hat statuses.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Castle - 1997 - Dir. Haneke

I think this was being taken off Netflix so I popped it on. I like Haneke. He seems to enjoy making movies with neat hooks but remain interesting throughout. Often challenging. And you know... Kafka's all right, I guess. Haneke's style mesh really well. It's kind of a strange movie to comment upon because, like the book, it ends mid sentence. And it kind of drones on... so without an ending, you feel like you just witnessed a series of pointless events. Or at least... the movie is repetitive. We watch K bang his head against the bureaucracy of in several different forms. Then it ends. We could play the game where watching the movie could mirror K's experience. But I don't feel like playing that game, even though, you know... I wouldn't be surprised by Haneke pulling that. The movie is fun (to me) though. I like watching that kind of conflict a Man against an overly complicated system. Haneke is more subtle than others, the system doesn't visually loom and scream at K. It crawls. We're treated to several walking sequences. Back and forth. Characters shift spasmodically at times. There are plenty of Funny Games alum about which is fun to see (Plenty meaning three). If this sounds like its up your alley, it probably is. It was up mine. I like Haneke can make a hell of a movie, so there!
Am I in Funny Games, right now?

The Dead Pool - 1988 - Dir. Van Horn

FEH. I'm not a huge Dirty Harry fan. Well, I've only seen the first one apart from this and I don't remember anything about it. I mean, I like Clint. But I suppose the series suffers from too many rip offs or something. It was the original, you know. But by the time this movie came out... I don't think that's an excuse. This is just goofy as hell. Jim Carrey and Liam Neeson are in it. And they are both just... dumb... Carrey bows out pretty early on but Neeson is a train of obnoxiousness because clearly, that's what the movie calls for. So I blame the movie on Liam Neeson's bad acting. The series seems to be winking at the audience at this point ("An Asian Partner!?" "You better watch out, Det. Chang or whatever!"). I can't say I was particularly amused or interested in the movie apart from the initial premise... which is very much the premise of a movie that will not be that good. Gambling on Celebrity deaths. Movie making. Serial killing. FEH! I just... it feels SO dated. TO the point where it's just painful to watch. Patricia Clarkson's all right, I guess. And Clint, too! Their scenes are probably the better ones... Maybe. I dunno. It's a bad sign when I'm considering the romantic subplot to be the better part of the movie. Oh man! And that ending is so disappointing. FEEEEEHHHHHH!!!!
Liam Neeson is probably teaching Clint Eastwood something in this scene.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't Be A Menace - 1996 - Dir. Barclay

You know, I remember this movie from back when... but I never really showed any interest in it. A general bias against the Wayans, I suppose. Well founded if we take the Scary Movie series into stock. I ended up watching it simply because I've recently moved to Los Angeles and for some reason it seemed appropriate. I was in the mood for silliness. AND MAN it delivered. I had a fine time watching this. Maybe I just thought Shawn Wayans overly naive and mild protagonist was funny as hell. That guy... and the repeated jokes about his Dad just charmed the shit out of me. It's pretty upfront about being a parody. The plot is secondary to them just making sure they get every stereotypical sequence out of the mid-80s to 90's street gang movies. So I suppose... it's not well-made in the traditional sense. It resembles the modern Family Guy style parodies that we have been getting, but it just feels less churned out. It feels like they are amusing themselves rather than mugging at the camera. At times, I wish maybe it felt a little tighter... maybe a few less winks for the audience (yeah, they do do SOME mugging [I guess I'm just not a huge fan of mugging!]). But overall, I got a real kick outta the movie. Maybe I'll rethink my feelings about the Wayaneseseseseses.
The Frame of the movie Bernie Mac is in.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Into the Abyss - 2011 - Dir. Herzog

Probably sedated for what people expect of Herzog these days. You know, being that it's about people on death row (that's the starting point, at least). The man has respect for his subjects and the topic of the death penalty. And it clearly shows, there's no goofy voice over, no albino alligators. So if you are going in with that narrow view of what to expect, you may be a little disappointed. It feels like his older documentaries. It's not a somber Death Penalty film by any means but more of an document of how a group of people are coping with the aftermath of a violent crime. Herzog's strengths do really show in this picture though. I feel like he has a great eye for America. It's depicted with great admiration but he is still very aware of its blemishes and never shies away from them. His tangents are more controlled, more thoughtful. I admit, I'm pretty biased. It's Herzog doing what he does best, being himself, so I had a great time watching it. I like that we get to watch a movie about people on Death Row and we don't have to hear about Death Row the entire time. I like the amount of perspective given from the criminals, to the victims, to an almost complete stranger whose rants Herzog clearly fell in love with. It just feels like a refreshing documentary on perhaps a somewhat tired topic.
This guy is so mad to be stuck in such a tiny picture.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

13 Assassins - 2010 - Dir. Miike

I'm so biased towards this movie that it's painful. Samurai? Miike? Yakusho? That's it. There we go. Yes, I would like to see this action movie please. The movie is basically setting up the huge forty or so minute set piece at the end. We get to know our awful motherfucking antagonist. The Badasses that are going to kill his ass. And then them planning on how to do it. Even then... when it happens... there are still tons of surprises that make you say "GODDAMN IT, YEAH!" It's just a really well put together action movie. I am so impressed with Miike. That guy has a lot of range. Sure... it's generally a pretty violent range, but he feel fleshes out of the spectrum of violent movies. And Yakusho... perhaps not typically cast as an "Assassin," he still plays the Leader of the Pack with APLOMB. The man gets so passionate about the assassination that he cries a little at the thought of it! Yakusho is also so good at bringing silence or a quietness to a role. He's an excellent contrast to Miike bombastic style. And when the film explodes by the third act... it feels good. Naritsugu is a great antagonist. A complete sonuvabitch. And I can't help but like a bad guy who gets overly philosophical about all the awful shit that he does. So, yeah, it's just a really tightly made movie about some samurai killing a real dick.
I'm Koji Yakusho and I'm gonna FUCK YOU UP!

Carre Blanc - 2011 - Dir. Leonetti

Saw it on a whim at the AFIFest. All I knew about it was that it involved an overly strict corporate future. And you know... that appealed to me. The film is exceptionally well handled. I think especially considering that this future has some pretty outrageous ideas on how to function, the whole thing could have blown up in our faces like most dystopian future films. I think one of the reasons it works so well is that we never delve too deeply into the mechanics of it. Leonetti seems to know that less is more and letting us scratch the surface while we must imagine the rest gives the film a lot of steam. Naturally, this makes it a little confusing and... but I would say it's an ultimately rewarding experience if you stick it out. There's also a really nice vein of comedy flowing through the film which gives it a significant sense of balance because the film can be pretty fucking dreary at times. It's fucked up enough that gorehounds, pessimists, and the like would probably be kept satisfied but approached in a thoughtful enough manner that you can feel like you're not just watching a Clockwork Orange knockoff or whathaveyou. In particular, I do really like what the film suggests about cut-throat tactics in modern day life and I appreciate it's lack of heavy-handedness. Sometimes, I feel a little dissatisfied with where our protagonists are left off by the end... but all in all, a really satisfying experience.
He... Hellooo?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Night of the Hunter - 1955 - Dir. Laughton

This is my first time seeing it in years. It's a natural edition to someone who is beginning to get into "FILM" and I did so in my early years. For no particular reason, I decided to revisit it. Probably one of the most well-known "under-rated" movies. Certainly not spoken in the same breath as the classics of that time, it's a movie that seems to be catching up. It's a strange creature. Part hilarious, part creepy, part beautiful. And sometimes it's just boring and crappy. It's certainly not what you would call a "well-made movie." All those elements prevented it from hitting the big time, and probably create a barrier for most people going into it. The movie feels more like a silent movie. Sneaking lighting cues from German Expressionism, we're also treated to some pretty broad, campy acting. It fits in this strange beast, but the kids can be somewhat rough to watch at times. Mitchum steals the show which is apparent very early on. He's still probably one of the highest ranking movie psychopaths in my mind. Switching between somber and cartoonish with unbelievable ease. I knocked the movie a bit, I realize that. But it really is an enjoyable watch. Like I said, it's a strange beast from another time. But I wish we had more strange beasts like this one.
Oops! Do you kids smell a Toot?