Saturday, February 07, 2009

Netflix Diaries: 2/4/09 - 2/6/09

Well, well! Another interminable stretch of time has passed on this empty desert I call a "blog," and nothing new has been posted. I guess I haven't had much to say. Or perhaps I did and didn't feel like saying it. And then, I suppose, there's those things I wanted to say that I've forgotten.

This post, however, may be the first in a series. I say "may" because I get distracted and/or bored quite easily. But here's the deal: I just signed onto Netflix this week and have begun watching seemingly endless hours of marvelous and horrible cinema through instant streaming on the ol' Xbox 360. This will be the place where I blather on about what I watched. Because I know my imaginary audience craves an infinite stream of my amazing opinions! Off we go:


Maniac Cop: One of the few Bruce Campbell movies I hadn't yet seen, this mid-80s horror/thriller is a terrifically bad movie. Once again, Bruce plays a guy who only really becomes the hero by default, and then proceeds to do nothing really heroic, though I guess he at least sort of distracted the Maniac Cop by getting punched in the face long enough for said Cop to accidentally impale himself. But sure. It's not a very good movie, but it's got some fun stunts, some neat cameos (Sam Raimi! Jake the hillbilly from Evil Dead 2! Jake LaMotta!), and, of course, The Chin. Oh. And Shaft is in it. So it ain't all bad.

No Country for Old Men: Seriously? This won Best Picture? Geez. I'd been looking forward to seeing this for aaaages, and finally got the chance. Well, I didn't like it, really. At all. I usually love the Coens, but this one did nothing for me. None of their signature sparkling dialogue was to be found, and long stretches of plodding, plodding, plodding actually started putting me to sleep. Josh Brolin is a cipher, Javier Bardem's haircut outperforms him, Tommy Lee Jones is living furniture, Woody Harrelson is Woody Harrelson, and Kelly Macdonald's lovely Scottish lilt is nowhere to be seen. These people can do better. Really. But at least it keeps up the streak of me really not enjoying the Best Picture winner, like, ever. Since Forrest Gump, at least.

The Omega Man: Now, here we go. As devoted a fan of Chuck Heston as I am, having adored just about everything in which he's ever starred, in fashions ironic or otherwise (gotta love El Cid, the Naked Jungle, Planet of the Apes, and, of course, Soylent Green), I had never seen this. Oh my, am I glad I have. This is probably the best of Heston's "dystopian sci-fi" films, as he plays Robert Neville, the last man on Earth-- or is he?-- who spends his days cruising around town, hallucinating, talking to himself, watching Woodstock footage over and over, and shooting up robed, albino mutants with a submachine gun. When the plagues came, some of the infected turned into weird, hooded Puritan monster men who want nothing more than to rid the world of science and technology and revel in their dark ages-- but they've gotta kill Chuck to do it! And he ain't havin' none of that.

Really, this film is just ten kinds of awesome. Heston wanders around shirtless when he's not dressed like Jon Pertwee in Doctor Who, plays chess with a bust of Caesar, and falls in love with a blaxploitation caricature who-- gasp!-- begins to show real depth before the inevitable tragedy. But yeah, this movie's loads of fun, a veritable 70s masterpiece. Suck it, Will Smith in I Am Legend.

The Thing: No, I'd never seen this either. Yeah, this is the John Carpenter version, which is improved upon the original in that it has 1000% more Kurt Russell, Keith David, and Wilford "Diabeetus" Brimley. A bunch of dudes in Antarctica go paranoid when a shapeshifting alien invades their base. Excellent bottled premise, loads of creepy stuff going on, some great tension-ramping, and absolutely brilliant creature effects, especially since this came out 27 years ago. Kurt Russell's finest film? Maybe... this or Captain Ron, surely.

On disc:

Sunshine: This is that 2007 movie directed by Danny Boyle and starring the Scarecrow and the Human Torch on a journey to reignite the sun. It sounds awesome-- I love me some helionauts-- but the lovely Bradburian premise only gets it so far. At first, one thinks the movie is a well-shot, indie arthouse space flick. But then it becomes a disaster movie, and then some kind of thriller/slasher picture, and then I wasn't quite sure what the hell was happening at the end because of how confusing the shots were, and then it was over. All in all, it was decent, I guess, but it never really pulled together for me. Scarecrow and the Torch hate each other, then they try to save each other, then they hate each other again, but it's all about the "mission," and, yawn.

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