Friday, June 19, 2009

Unfortunately, Steve Guttenberg does not appear in any of these

Scratch the life thing. Agoraphobia is less stressful. Odds, ends, and Woody Allen:

Crimes and Misdemeanors: Martin Landau acts the heck out of his role in this Allen movie mostly about a guy who slips further and further down the moral scales as he lets himself be convinced into offing his mistress. Meanwhile, Woody Allen plays the same guy he always plays-- he's the misdemeanor here. Eventually, the two converge, sorta. I guess it's not a bad film, but it's not my favorite.

James Bond, Sabretooth, and Billy Elliot play Jewish brothers who end up forming a community of Jewish refugees somewhere in Belarus, and have to deal with Russian partisans, harsh weather, and dwindling food reserves, not to mention Nazis. The performances are all pretty damn solid, and the whole thing is just shot beautifully. I quite enjoyed this one. Seems it's truer than most based-on-a-true-story stories.

Definitely, Maybe:
I will watch Ryan Reynolds in anything, even chick flicks. This one's got a pretty decent structure, at least, as future Reynolds regales his daughter with his romantic past, and she has to figure out which lady in the story is her mom. There were really only two ways to take the plot-- the obviously obvious way, and the obviously "twisty" way, and they went for the latter, but there's some decent writing along the way, and some very pretty girls. Also, Elizabeth Banks is becoming the white female Samuel L. Jackson-- she's in everything.

Apparently Woody hates this one, which is odd, as it's one of his most beloved. A black-and-white tale of a nebbish (guess who) unable to choose between his jailbait girlfriend or his best friend's mistress, and-- hilarity ensues!-- as well as truths about the human condition, as always. Um, I liked it. 'Nuff said. Moving on.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man:
Despite the title, it's not a Woody Allen movie, but a John Carpenter one! Sort of noir, almost a comedy, but not really, it's Chevy Chase's middlin' period, in which he plays a guy who gets turned invisible and runs away from Sam Neill. It's fairly good, rather than terrible! Hurray!

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist:
I only rented this because the title had a Thin Man reference, but that's about all I liked. Michael Cera's basically me if I was an actor instead of a recluse, but I can't see his career lasting past 25 if he only accepts "awkward teenager" roles. C'mon, kid!

Shadows and Fog:
This is Woody's Kafka tribute, or possibly Threepenny Opera homage, or both. Black and white, filled with... well, shadows and fog, it seems to be primarily about illusions in one form or another. Nothing quite makes sense by the end, but there's a veritable parade of famous people in bit parts throughout.

Sukiyaki Western Django:
A Japanese Spaghetti Western, and sort of remake of like three other movies. Shot in English, apparently, and featuring a gratuitous Quentin Tarantino cameo. Uh... Yeah. I didn't quite get what was happening in most of it, due partially to the dialogue being so quiet and everything else being SO LOUD, but the action was pretty badass.

Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat:
On its way in the mail seconds after David Carradine's death was announced, this forgotten imitation gem from the late 80s features the man himself as a powerful vampire who had formed a sort of vampire retirement community, feeding off fake blood, but naturally everything goes wrong when a human family moves to town and a vampire faction decides to go back to eating people. The real reason I watched it is because Bruce Campbell plays a Van Helsing. It is by far his campiest performance, but he at least provides some much-needed mirth. The lunacy of this film is brewing under the surface, usually going unacknowledged, but very much there the whole time.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Words about pictures

A life. A life would be good.

Broken Flowers: I'll watch anything with Bill Murray in it, and this travelogue-of-an-aging-lothario-who-finds-out-he-might-have-a-kid-and-so-goes-on-a-journey-through-some-women-in-his-life-and-maybe-undergoes-some-self-discovery works as a mystery with no solution, with clues that have no meaning save what we may give them out of a need for something. It's another suitable entry into the "Bill Murray states off into space" genre.

Dead Alive:
I really really really didn't like any of the Lord of the Rings films, or the King Kong remake, so this is my new favorite Peter Jackson movie. It owes pretty much everything it's got to Sam Raimi, in that it seems like it's trying to top Evil Dead for sheer horror lunacy. And I think it succeeds. Not just because it's officially the goriest movie ever made, thanks to using up oceans of fake blood, but because it goes completely mental in the brilliant third act, after a slow, slow build-up. But we get mutant zombie baby violence, lawnmower violence, womb-on-man violence, and lawn-gnomes-on-bleeding-cavities violence. That's my kind of violence.

Die Hard:
So it came as a surprise that I never actually saw this. I mean, I know everything about it-- it's so engrained in the public consciousness-- and I've seen the ending a bunch-- but most of it was kinda new to me. And it's probably one of the best action movies ever made, with a fantastic villain from Alan Rickman and awesomeness from Bruce Willis, back when he had hair and stuff. Well-scripted, even if there's a large portion in the middle where Bruce is just kinda sitting around and not doing anything.

Edge of Madness:
I only watched this because I've been crushing on Caroline Dhavernas since Wonderfalls, and... it's boring boring boring. A period piece drama with a tinge of mystery... and I didn't give a damn about any of it, sorry.

There was a story in here somewhere, but it went off the rails about halfway through, with some bullshit mythos stuff that tried to explain stuff, but that was entirely unnecessary. Will Smith's character arc is not earned, but done out of convenience. Jason Bateman plays the same guy he always plays. Meh.

This also had some fun gore in it, and cool makeup effects. It's a cheesy, purposefully shlocky B-movie horror flick with some cameos from horror icons like Robert Englund and Tony Todd. See it if you like that kind of thing.

I would've liked this better if Netflix Instant had given us the subtitled version instead of the awful dubbed version, where Jean-Claude Van Damme doesn't even voice himself, I'm pretty sure. Otherwise, it's his best movie ever, playing himself as an action star who's lost his edge, is losing his daughter, and finds himself in a hostage situation where the police believe he's the perp. He has to try to live up to what everyone sees him as-- his family, the cops, his captors-- when he really just wants to be a guy. I had some issues with the ending, but Van Damme's performance is excellent. I could tell from his face alone.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior:
I admit, I pretty much slept through this whole thing, but I think I absorbed it by osmosis. ... Pass.

Mister Foe:
Or Hallam Foe to everyone not in the US, this movie is completely despicable. I only watched it because I have a crush on Sophia Myles, alright? But anyway, it stars Jamie Bell as this messed up peeping tom who does some really lousy things and suffers no repercussions, and Sophia Myles as a woman who takes a liking to him for no discernable reason whatsoever, especially after she finds out about some of those really lousy things. It seems everyone in this movie is either an idiot or an asshole, and I don't like those types of stories. At all.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop:
Die Hard in a mall. With a fat guy! Fat guys are always excellent physical comedians, which doesn't entirely make sense. Otherwise, this was dumb dumb dumb. I hate awkward comedy, especially when it's shoehorned in. This could've made for a good 80s-style action comedy, but they managed to dumb it down to its basest levels.

Point Blank:
It's kinda stylish, but instantly forgettable. Lee Marvin doesn't kick as much ass as I assumed he would. Needed more ass-kicking.

Terminator/Terminator 2:
I had not seen these in years and years, so running a double feature was a fun idea. The first one's a great chase flick with some monster movie tropes and time travel conundrums thrown in. And the second one, of course, is one of the biggest and best action flicks ever, and one of Arnold's best. Does the new Terminator have skull-laden grounds and laser guns? Because it should.

What About Bob?:
Is another Bill Murray movie I hadn't seen in forever. Anyway, it's about a super-neurotic fellow who learns to cope with people and the outside world as he drives his psychiatrist insane. But! I want to talk about Charlie Korsmo, who plays the kid here. I think this lad made like four movies ever before he went into MIT to be a genius. Those movies-- Dick Tracy, Hook, etc-- are all great, and feature some of the best and/or most popular actors ever. Man, what an awesome life this kid had when he was like 12. Hot damn.

Young People Fucking:
I'm sure this was only popular because of the title. But anyway, the script is actually pretty good, and some of the acting is... well, surprisingly better than I thought it would be. It follows a night of hawt sexxorz among different couples-- the friends, the exes, the first date, etc-- and features some pretty good dialogue. I mean, it could work as a stageplay. Almost.