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.

Steamboy:
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.

1 comment:

Zom said...

Interested that you don't rate No Country. I have some sympathy with your opinion, I found all that talk of it being the Coen's most mature movie borderline offensive. I mean, why? Because it was about men and guns? Because it wasn't particularly funny? Because it was recognisably, straightforwardly about the sorts of things men have traditionally found important in cinematic storytelling?

That said, I thought it was a considerably better film than Burn After Reading.