Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ocular Optometrical - Catsup

The Bank Job (2008)
- a fun heist film that follows all of the tropes of the genre, but the characters rise above the usual types, and the added scent of realism from the 'based on a true story' additions make it a solidly entertaining film. - 3.5/5
Iron Man (2008)
- This is an awesome 3/4 of a superhero film. Robert Downey Jr. owns the Tony Stark character, and the effects are beautifully realized with the proper degree of restraint. But as well handled as the origin story is, the big villain and final battle are completely punted, and the further i get away from the sugar rush of seeing Iron Man race military jets and blow-up tanks, the less satisfied I am. It's very worth seeing, but i just wish someone had stepped in to polish the 2 or 3 phoned-in pages that prevent this from being a perfect adaptation. - 3.5/5
The Devil Dared Me to (2007)
- New Zealand comedy about a man destined to be a stunt daredevil. It's got a lot of the violent sight gag humor that seems very indigenous to the kiwis and should be familiar to fans of Braindead (Dead-Alive) but it's very seldom laugh-out-loud funny, maybe dragged down by the sluggish plot & underdeveloped characters. It's a shame that the most entertaining section of the film is the Jackass-style collection of insane stunts that play behind the final credits. - 2.5/5
Crank (2006)
- It's an unapologetically male-fantasy-centric action film that asks you to check your brain at the door. It doesn't take it self seriously but also doesn't go cheap on the choreography. Empty calories but the sort that you're happy enough to spoil your dinner for. - 3/5
Zombie Strippers (2008)
- I should have learned my lesson by now that "zombies in a _blank_", no matter how entertaining that madlib looks, isn't enough to deliver an entertaining film, but I think i've been spoiled by just how wonderful all of the 70's euro zombie films are. Zombie Strippers has decent production values, cinematography and make-up FX but is more than happy to devolve into the T&A-driven student film you expected. - 1.5/5
Smokin' Aces (2006)
- A huge cast of actors lost in a frightening maze of tonal wrong-turns. After harvesting a cartoonish bunch of characters and laying out a juicy grindhouse plot, Smokin Aces proceeds to take itself entirely too seriously, asking us to emote with Hollywood cliches distraught that their schwarzeneggerian rampages ended in misfortune. As low as its ambitions, try as it might, Scorsese via Guy Ritchie this ain't. - 2/5
Fantastic 4 (2005)
- I never liked the comic characters and i'm over the age of 10, so i'm sure the producers didn't have me in mind when they made this. - 2/5
Into The Blue (2005) - 3/5
- It's that Jessica-Alba-in-a-bikini movie and it's surprisingly well made and kind of brutal in spots.
Dukes Of Hazard (2005)
- this film harnesses the hypnotic draw of a car wreck. - 1.5/5
Vampirella (1996)
- The original comics were drawn by some of the best artists working in the horror pulps but the stories were always dull and stupid, so, given a Roger Corman level of production value, this movie requires a fast-forward button. - 2/5
Taxi To The Darkside (2007)
- The USA has its collective head in the sand about the fact that we are kidnapping and torturing human beings on a frightening frequency. Taxi To The Darkside works hard, sometimes to its own detriment, to avoid inflating its claims and picking the juiciest examples. There's a good chance that its not even the film's fault that i'm not shocked by its claims and thus not as moved to outrage as i expected i'd be. There's a good chance that I have just been slowly assimilated into the culture of inhumanity and can't even recognize the extent of the damage that my way of life does on the world. ugh. - 4/5
Hannah Takes The Stairs (2007)
- Hannah Takes The Stairs is a part of the digital camera & digital distribution revolution that really opened up the medium of movies to new voices, especially those that are interested in small dramas about characters that had been underseen in Hollywood. Basically it elevated the film school set into the realm of making fully realized and widely seen movies. Written, directed by and starring a group of young adults, Hannah Takes The Stairs accurately depicts a class of Americans I'm very familiar with, the post-college crowd learning the ropes of the real world, figuring out the job vs creative spirit thing, and relationships vs sex. There are probably a lot of people that aren't interested in the problems of these middle class, white people, but i enjoyed the honesty and accuracy of the writing which i was able to relate closely with. I hope the digital revolution allows more people to create autobiographical narratives and represent their own stories with as much versmilitude. - 4/5
Rose Red (2002)
- A fun TV-movie about a bunch of psychics spending the night in a haunted-house, loosely based on the true life Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The house is well realized with effective special EFX. Most of the problems stem from the movies' format with the extended run time forcing padded out subplots and the occassional recap of events for those just joining us, and the appeal to a general audience deflating most of the scares. I think my standards might be low on this one, but if it were shorter I think I would have really liked it. - 3/5
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (2007)
- I honestly didn't think I was interested in the premise at all, but a lot of critical hype later, I found myself enjoying the depiction of a paralyzed man blinking out his memoirs.- 4/5
Mouth To Mouth (2005)
- An okay performance by Ellen Page and a mechanically well constructed script doesn't overcome my prejudice against the film's fetish for & cartoonish portrayal of the hobo-punk lifestyle. I never symphathized with any of the characters and never believed their situation. - 2/5
The Savages (2007) If you forgive some of the quirky background story for the two leads, you get a real, gutwrenching film about mortality and dignity. - 3/5
Last Days (2005)
- Every time i try to acknowledge that Nirvana wrote some pretty effective pop songs, I run up against the cult of Cobain that wants to pretend that it was the genius of the Seattle rock group and not a confluence of a shifting demographic focus and marketing that transformed the pop radio landscape. So, even though I'm a huge fan of Gus Van Sant's films, watching Michael Pitt wander around in a stupor, mumbling to himself, pretending to be a disaffected rock star, was even too much for me. If Cobain actually behaved as Van Sant portrays his surrogate then I may stop trying to appreciate Nirvana all together. - 2/5
The Orphanage (2007)
- A superbly crafted, atmospheric Turn Of The Screw type tale that immediately recalls The Others & The Devil's Backbone. If it wasn't for the unncessary final coda, I would have given this film a 5. Highly Recommended - 4.5/5
Wraiths Of Roanoke (2007)
- Growing up around "historic" Virginia, I was intrigued by the idea of marrying some of the moldy sites I was forced to tour as a grade-schooler with a little phantasmagoria but the 1st thing that comes on the screen when I hit play was "A Sci-Fi Channel original film," and tedious mediocrity followed. - 2/5
Anamorph (2007)
Apparently people are still trying to make 7even in 2007 and they're suckering good actors like Willem Dafoe & Clea Duvall into participating. A serial killer creates horrible tableaus using the bodies of his victims that recall the imagery of Francis Bacon and he's obsessed with Dafoes' solemn detective. Every crime scene is an invitation to the next until the killer's grand scheme is revealed, but like most of these films, nobody bothered coming up with an ending that really made sense or even managed to truly shock. Straight to video with a vengeance. - 2/5
Son Of Rambow (2007)
- I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was unfair in boiling down the plot of Son Of Rambow into a few kids remaking Rambo in my "most anticipated summer movies" list. The movie is more interesting than that. A highly creative but oppresively sheltered young boy befriends a loose cannon peer and together they create their own, imaginative film. Many of the characters are undercooked, leaving some of the subplots frustratingly unclear, but the central theme of the two boys' friendship never loses focus. The energy and sentimentality of the film conquers all. - 3.75/5

1 comment:

cz said...

Made my way over here via ISM. I really enjoyed reading these reviews, and thus am adding Rambow and Diving Bell to my netflix queue now, where I wasn't interested before.

Also, will be subscribing to your blog via google reader, so please keep up the good work!