Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bill is way behind on his so-called "reviews" that no one reads anyway

Rapid-fire capsule review time gooooooooooooo:

Choke: Deleted scenes are usually deleted for a good reason, but there's an ending they cut that, frankly, should be in this film. It's another Chuck Palahniuk work, with the poor man's Edward Norton (Sam Rockwell) in it instead of the rich man's Edward Norton (Edward Norton) this time. However, it's pretty fun, and worth watching. I mean, it's a movie about a sex addict who works at a colonial-themed park and may or may not be the clone of Jesus, so...

Dawn of the Dead:
I didn't go see Watchmen, but I did watch this directorial debut from Zack Snyder. Yeah, the remake with Ving Rhames and stuff. It wasn't bad... but, you know, it wasn't anything special. If you like your zombies to move a little faster, this is the one for you, I guess.

Dead & Breakfast: Two Carradines for the price of one in this (David and Ever), as well as Kendra from Buffy (also in Supergator, see below) and Tony Perkins' son. And some other mildly famous people who never really found that stardom they so craved. Also, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Where was I? Right. It's a horror spoof, of sorts, only it's not really funny, and what is there owes a lot to Evil Dead and Dead Alive (there are blatant references, even, such as the Evil Dead poster hanging in the room where the Comedian finds a chainsaw). And it's got some musical narration, which is interesting. If you like campy B-horror and you've got an hour and a half to kill, you could do worse. Much worse. Trust me. Violent fun! I guess.

Dilbert season one:
The strip used to be absolute gold every day, and this cartoon spinoff that aired on UPN that no one watched was equally clever and hilarious. Daniel Stern is the perfect beleaguered Dilbert and Larry Miller is the perfect clueless Pointy Haired Boss.

Enter the Ninja: I watched this expecting it to be absolutely awful and it turned out not half bad. Surprise! It's a movie from the early 80s about a white guy who is also a ninja who hangs out in the Phillippines and wrecks the shit out of dudes. The voices all seemed terribly dubbed even though I'm pretty sure it was filmed in English. Uh... that's all. If you want to see awesomely hilarious ninja-inflicted pain (the sound effect alone, my God) starring a guy who really looks like he missed his calling as a 70s porn star, then watch it. WATCH IT NOW

Get Carter: The original! That's right, Michael Caine, drivin' around, drinking Scotch, hitting women about the face, and getting his revenge! I think that's the plot. It... didn't work for me.

Grindhouse: Netflix Instant Viewing wins, simply because it has Grindhouse the way it was meant to be seen-- the theatrical double feature with all the trailers and stuff, that isn't available on DVD. This is the first time I've seen the whole shebang like this, and it was a glorious three hours. They cut out the fun lap dance scene in Death Proof, but whatever. Planet Terror is hilarious, awesome, and explosively gory, and Death Proof is, well, Tarantino. Great stuff.

Lake Placid 2:
Listen, I have a high tolerance for crap. But no. Just no.

Maniac Nurses Find Ecstacy:
I didn't actually sit through this-- but even on fast forward, it's too damn long.

Michael Clayton:
George Clooney is watchable in anything, even Batman & Robin, and Tom Wilkinson is flippin' amazing, but this bored me. A lot. And I don't see why Tilda won the Oscar, but whatever. It was about as fun as Syriana, which is to say, as active as a Pet Rock on barbituates.

From the creators of South Park comes the sweet story of a Mormon-turned-porn-actor-turned-superhero, and you know, it's actually pretty great. I'd avoided it before, but people whose taste in schlock I trust wholeheartedly recommended it, and I quite liked it, in the end.

This would've been a great little Mamet drama if not for the ending. Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of my favorite actors, these days, but even he can't save the nonsensical ending, where the hero wins back his honor by... beating the crap out of the MMA champion backstage? And cameras are watching? And security doesn't break it up? And no one knows why he's fighting, which is that the champ is trying to stop him from revealing the fights are fixed? And yet they give him the champion belt anyway? Even though they don't know why? Aaauuugh.

Silver Streak:
Gene Wilder is absolutely brilliant, and the addition of Richard Pryor being awesome surely helps, too. And Patrick bleepin' McGoohan is the bad guy! And Jaws is in it, with metal teeth and everything! And it's, like, this pastiche of Hitchcock suspense action films, wrapped up in a comedy road movie, and it's marvelously scripted the whole time, and superbly delivered, and Ned Beatty shows up, and it's awesome!

Sky High: You know, this didn't suck. It's that simple "teen misfits with superpowers band together and prove they're real heroes and coming of age and teen romance and angst and shit" formula, but it's also got Kurt Russell and Bruce Campbell. You can't go wrong with those two! Er, unless you're Escape from L.A. But it's got two Kids in the Hall alums and Lynda Carter and stuff too, so we're good. Everybody makes up for the main kid, who is the kid from Forbidden Kingdom, which was awful. Moving on.

On the Sci-Fi Original Picture scale of quality, this ranks well below classic fare like King Cobra, Boa vs. Python, Earth vs. the Spider, Manquito, Blood Monkey, Spiders 2... I think you get my point.

What Just Happened?:
This is the question I asked when this movie was finished. Stupid, unfunny, and pointless. Bruce Willis finally appears in a crappy movie-- but at least he was the best thing about it, Grizzly Adams beard and all. Hollywood seems too inept to satirize itself. Also, Sean Penn plays himself. I wonder what "method" method he went through to get into that role. "Please, please, only refer to me as 'Sean' on set, please."

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: As Kevin Smith gets older, two things happen: his films get raunchier, and his films get more sentimental. This is his crassest movie yet-- don't watch it if you have shame-- but it has a soft, nougaty center of actual heart, which is the reason I keep watching his stuff. So, yes, there are poop jokes and wangs and all sorts of stuff. But it's really a love story-- and if you can get past the sex comedy pretense, it sort of works. Also, Brandon Routh has, like, a scene and a half, and yet he delivers more dialogue than in all of Superman Returns. Also also, Craig Robinson steals every scene he's in with pitch-perfect delivery, and owns the entire movie-- it's worth seeing just for him alone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In which Bill verbally fellates Woody Allen

Man, I'm behind on my movie-capsulizing, and my memory ain't what it used to be, but let's try to get these things straight.
So I liked Vicky Etc Barcelona enough to check out some other Allen works that were instantly streaming, and here is what I remember of those:

Manhattan Murder Mystery: This is the one that made me a believer. Made in the early 90s, it stars Allen, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, and, hey, Diane Keaton!  in a bizarre reunion with the Woody. It's about bored, older Manhattanites who stumble onto what might be a murder. It's rife with Hitchcockian suspense as well as Allenian hilarity-- I have never seen such tension on the screen at the same time as I was chuckling at the jokes. Absolutely brilliant. Also, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo from teen Zach Braff.

Love & Death: So then I sought out this one, a comedic take on Russian literature. I've never read anything Allen's spoofing, but I majored in English, so I know how to fake it. A ludicrous farce, this movie out-Mel-Brooks-es Mel Brooks. It was made in the 70s, from Woody's "Diane Keaton period." I love how everyone speaks with a Russian accent except ol' Woody, playing the same guy he always does, in another ridiculous situation. Great stuff; loved it.

Alice: Here comes trouble. Now we're in the "Mia Farrow period;" Woody does not appear onscreen, and everything's a tinge more dramatic. This is apparently, the description tells me, a takeoff of Alice in Wonderland, but I didn't really notice; it is, however, a strange urban fantasy with appearances by every actor ever, as Chinese herbs cause bizarre transformations for Farrow's Alice; but the true transformation, by the end, must come from within. It was okay.

September: My three seconds of research informs me this is a Chekovian chamber piece, or "bottle episode," where a handful of people are thrown into a single setting and drama happens. We get unhappy people trying to be with each other and failing at it; the existentiality of the universe is revealed; and yet, they look forward to the titular month anyway, always pushing at the future. It was a bit boring, I have to admit; very stage-like and theatrical, in that way. Not bad; Allen movies are always written well, I've noticed, but it didn't thrill me. Apparently he filmed this at one point with actors like Maureen O'Sullivan and some scenes with Christopher Walken but then threw it out and started over with Sam Waterston and stuff. Hmm. Maybe the  original would've been kookier.

Regardless, my opinion of Woody Allen has skyrocketed now that I've actually taken in a decent sample of his stuff. Amazing dialogue and some neat little themes woven in from time to time. I shall seek out more, more, more!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Mo Moobies

I'm sure I'll get off this movie kick eventually.

21: I liked Jim Sturgess a lot in Across the Universe, one of my favorite films of the last ten years, but even he can't save this paint-by-numbers production. A group of MIT kids are trained by the devious Kevin Spacey to count cards and make thousands off of Vegas casinos. But then trouble brews, naturally, and the universe attunes to the laws of screenplay mechanics. Thoroughly mediocre.

Burn After Reading:
And then there's this one, which is like Coens-by-numbers. A couple of idiots get mixed up in something and try to profit from it, and disaster strikes, because all of the people on the other side are also idiots. In the end, maybe one person gets lucky and everybody else suffers. There are some pretty funny bits (Brad Pitt doing his "mysterious face" is hilarious), but then there are parts that feel completely extraneous. Really, I was expecting a death-by-dildo and it never came. Bah. At least it was better than No Country.

Raising Arizona: Another Coens production, one from twenty long years ago, that I've never seen. Nicolas Cage at his most watchable, bolstered by the makes-it-look-easy Holly Hunter and the always enjoyable John Goodman. Add in wacky baby hijinks and an apocalyptic biker and you've got a movie that falls right into the solid middle of the Coens' oeuvre.

Same Time, Next Year:
My God, this was fantastic. I'd never heard of it-- just turned it on 'cause it had some Alan Alda-- and man, I was pleasantly surprised! Nothing would really separate this film from its counterpart on the stage, and yes, Alda does use a few of his Hawkeye-isms, but the entire movie rests on him and Ellen Burstyn convincing the audience that they're changing as people over the course of 25 years, as their characters meet for an annual affair. The dialogue's marvelous.

And here's an anime I'd never heard of, but it's from the guy who did Akira, so you know it's good, right? It takes place in a steampunk Victorian England, with factions fighting over who will have ultimate steam-y control of the future's armaments, with one boy caught in the midst of the struggle. Also: jetpacks. Really awesome stuff.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona:
Woody Allen's latest, this eschews his usual love triangles for a sort of love rhombus, shot in beautiful Spain. Javier Bardem takes a great role as the impossibly charming Spanish painter who sweeps all the ladies up in his wake. Penelope Cruz won the Oscar for playing Bardem's ex-wife, but I really don't see why. Anyway, it's all cleverly written and shows that Rebecca Hall is going to become quite famous and respected one of these days, but the story starts to fall apart for me as it gets closer to the end. And then it just... ends. Also, there's third-person narration, which is an intriguing choice that irked me at first, but I grew to like at the end. So yeah, it's worth watching.