Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bill's favorite films of 2009 (the list so far)

Still many more films to see. But so far, here's what I liked the most. Alphabetical order:

(500) Days of Summer
Black Dynamite
Crank 2
Whatever Works

My expectations! They are high!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Words I use far too often in my writing

1. However
2. This
3. Is

Example: "This is, however, the way I write."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Film flam

I only want to do stuff-- like write these capsule film review things-- when I'm supposed to be doing something else, like, you know, getting a Master's Degree. Screw that. Movies!:

88 Minutes: I get that mysteries and thrillers need some red herrings in there, but this movie is nothing but red herrings, to ridiculous, plot-devouring lengths. Other ridiculous lengths? Al Pacino's hair. Good gravy, it's a terrifying bouffant, and probably got paid 20 million for this. The hair, not Pacino.

It's a low-key con man movie with John C. Reilly, before he did nothing but absurd comedies. It's alright. Moving on.

District 9:
So this movie cost like a tenth of Avatar or something, but the effects work is phenomenal anyway, with real alien aliens and crazy violence. I wish it had stuck with the documentary style throughout, but I can see why that would have been difficult to maintain. Mostly, though, I didn't like it-- 85% of the dialogue is just the man guy screaming "Fuck!," after all, and it doesn't so much end as slap on a "To Be Continued." There's not a lot of story here, but the violence is well done, and the apartheid theme is very apparent. Give Blomkamp the Halo movie now.

Everything Is Illuminated:
Slow going, mostly in Russian, but just funny and moving enough.

Frank Langella really doesn't look or sound like Nixon, but here, he is Nixon, somehow.

Ghost Town: Ricky Gervais stars in a romantic comedy in which he can talk to ghosts, and it really goes through the regular screenplay motions, and relies too much on some of that awkward humor Gervais likes so much, but it still turned me into a blubbering wreck by the end and I don't know why. So I ended up liking it a lot. That was odd.

Good Dick:
This, however, was shit. Jason Ritter plays an idiot, and Marianna Palka-- who wrote, directed, and stars-- plays some damaged porn addict he tries to woo. The characters' interaction doesn't feel real, or make much sense at all, and it's one of those films where you can't root for anybody because you want everybody to get hit by a bus at some point. Sure, in indie movies, everyone's a fuck-up-- bleh.

Human Nature:
Maybe Charlie Kaufman's worst movie? I can see what he was trying to do, but the script could use another pass. Still-- Dinklage!

Let the Right One In:
I'd rather this than Twilight. What appears to be sweet puppy love in this is actually deeply disturbing when you put any thought into it at all, and I like that that's the point. It's tops as far as Swedish vampire flicks go.

Man Bites Dog:
Nothing is more disturbing than this, however, the blackest of black comedies, a faux documentary about a serial killer where the main actor's family, playing his family, had no idea it was a killer picture, and showcasing just how completely insane this killer guy really is, following him around on his murder sprees, watching him give friendly advice, mixing drinks called "Dead Baby Boys," raping, killing, and, as the movie progresses, dragging the film crew further and further into his dark vortex. There are a few laughs, but mostly, it's satire that stabs instead of tickles.

Terminator Salvation:
Well, it was better than Terminator 3. McG was clearly trying to make this Children of Men, only with killer robots. The story feels completely empty, though, and the set pieces aren't particularly clever, so it's all just sort of there.

I bawled like a baby at about three separate points in this movie. All of the elements feel completely incongruous-- floating houses, lost explorers, boy scouts, talking dogs, rare ostrich creatures-- but it all comes together in a beautiful way. Just change the name of the Best Animated Feature Oscar to the "Pixar Award," already.

Vantage Point:
Listen, if you're going to base your movie around a gimmick-- like showing a crazy incident from multiple perspectives-- don't throw the gimmick away once you get to the third act. That feels pretty lazy.

Wall Street:
So... greed is... bad?

Whatever Works: Maybe Woody Allen's best film in a decade or more. Sure, it's an old script, but it's because of Larry David that the whole thing comes together. He plays the "Woody Allen" role here, but where Woody's characters are usually nebbishy, passive, easily walked over, David is callous, direct, forceful, though he still ends up letting things happen, rather than express any true sense of control. He somehow falls into marriage with young runaway Evan Rachel Wood, and as her family comes to claim her, they too fall under New York's bizarre sway, and everyone is sort of transformed by the end-- finding whatever works and sticking to it. Meanwhile, it's goddamn hilarious.

World's Greatest Dad:
Who knew Bobcat Goldthwait had it in him? He wrote and directed this, and did a pretty fine job. Robin Williams plays the failed writer father of a kid who dies by autoerotic asphyxiation; Williams fakes a suicide note, and accidentally creates a nationwide movement worshipping his son as anything but what he truly was. Williams goes along with it in a bid for success, but-- well, naturally it all falls apart, though said destruction appears triumphant in the end, with a fantastic usage of "Under Pressure" winkingly telegraphed.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
Well, it was better than X-Men 3? I guess? I don't know why they keep shoehorning 50 new mutants into every movie, or why sense is the first thing thrown out the window, really... Bleh.