Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ocular Optometrical - Halfway To The Year We Make Contact

Some films i've watched in the past few months.
As always, when writing about any of these, I will try to avoid any big plot points, to avoid ruining them.

The Hangover (2009) - Opened with a Glenn Danzig song, which was a damned good start, but then got a little dicey with a bunch of homophobic frat humor. Even though most of the best gags are in the trailer, it was an entertaining enough comedy. Zach Galifianakis, whose stand-up material i find way too self-indulgent, is actually really good and subdued.

Good Humor Man - a little indie drama, most noteworthy for featuring Jorge Garcia (Hurley of LOST) playing against type as an antisocial menace. A good, slow & meandering plot, sprinkled with honest observations, and a bit of the 'Rivers Edge'. Some of the script is a bit too precious, but there is no lack of earnestness.

Land Of The Lost (2009) - way better than you'd expect. Galaxy Quest meets that Will Ferrell character with a little bit of that Danny McBride character sprinkled on top. Thankfully they left out the two kid characters too! The only Will Ferrell movie i've been able to stomach since Elf.

Science Is Fiction

Living Dead Girl - A decent French zombie film from the early 80's, which basically mimics the Italian zombie movies of the 70s. Why futz with a good formula? Slow walking euro-babes, gorey eye & throat stabbing, people standing around talking about the threat of zombie babes... A good film to organize your records too.

Coraline - Dark, creative, and beautiful. This will terrify most children, and open a deep vein of gallows humor in the right ones.

The Package - Caught up in a huge conspiracy, Gene Hackman devolves from a cracker-jack sargeant in the Army into a guy that knows how to look people up in the phonebook. A weird thriller from the 1989 that somehow looks like its already aged 40 years. Shakespearean thespian, Tommy Lee Jones co-stars in one of the 30 sub-plots.

The Man From Earth - avoid this shit. Take a single, largely uninteresting hypothesis of pseudo-science and hand it to a group of scene-chomping, community players to run it into the ground over and over again.

Champion - A documentary about the interesting character-actor with an off-hollywood past, Danny Trejo, featuring a bunch of talking heads waxing non-commitally about him for an hour. Edited like they were expecting to sell it to the E! Network, with redundant place holders already in place for the 3,000 commercial breaks.

Party Down - Season 1

Up (2009) - This movie made me sob uncontrollably... twice. During the 2nd half, the film tries to shoehorn a more traditional kids story in, and i got a little bit bored, but, over all, this is a great movie. The dog animation is stunning.

Drag Me To Hell (2009) - A fun piece of schlocky horror like only Raimi could deliver.

Candyman - I had never seen this and felt like it was regarded well enough by enough people that, as a horror fan, I should know what it was. It isn't bad. I appreciate that it has a new, original mythology and that the exposition unfolds pretty naturalistically. Even small touches like the pompous professor having already written a paper on the Candyman myth and dismissing it as passe material give the movie a lived-in quality. Candyman himself is an interesting villain but not quite as menacing as you'd want. There is a stiffness to the 90's ideal of cool, a stayed, detached, quip-dispensing standard, that informs Candyman even though he is written to be more passionate and violent. Virginia Madsen is a good hero, capable and adventurous, but the film does tread in some uncomfortable scenes of angry black people accepting a white savior because she's hip and not like those other racists; basically the liberal fantasy.

Terminator: Salvation (2009) - Loud and boring.

Con Air - I caught this on TNT, and it was the perfect TNT movie.

Mission Impossible 3 - Another TNT movie, and the only Mission Impossible film that i've managed to see all of the way through.

Mask Of the Ninja - Casper Van Dien fights ninjas in this classic 2nd-Unit film (a film where the crew that usually shoots all of the stunt scenes decides that they are tired of playing second fiddle and try to make their own film only to end up with a movie crammed full of flashpots, flame bars and air cannons). This movie features, not one but, two scenes at an asian massage parlor, both with dialogue about 'happy endings.'

Doubt - Meryl Streep gives an acting seminar. The rest of the cast and the film's plot struggle to make it mean something profound, but largely come up short.

They Came Back - An interesting French movie that takes the zombie premise of your loved ones coming back from the dead but excizes the notion that they just want to kill you. It asks some fun questions about the psychological impact of returning from the dead or accepting a loved one back after having already dealt with the loss, the burden on governments & communities of supporting them, and the underlying question of what their purpose is. The movie seems to be at a loss when it comes to moving beyond those questions though, and slowly fizzles out as it tries to inject a conventional plot.

Observe And Report (2009) - i liked this okay. i have very low expectations when it comes to comedies these days. i think the cast did pretty well, and, at any given time, 1/2 of the humor lands while the rest leaves you shaking your head. A lot of the film relies on that sense of disbelief when jokes are taken well beyond the limit of good taste, and while that is sometimes cheap and immature, it is more interesting than your usual bout of well worn homophobic frat jokes.

Andromeda Strain

Troll / Troll 2 - Troll 2 is celebrated as one of the worst films ever made, and it's bad, but bad in the sense that a bunch of non-filmmakers got together and tried their hand at it. It's badly acted, scripted and shot, but its honest and fun. Honestly, that doesn't mean it doesn't drag or get willfully stupid at times, but i can roll with 'shot in the park' over soulless, Hollywood dreck any day of the week.

Next Day Air (2009) - This was awful and NOT the loveable stoner comedy that the commercials advertised. All of Mos Def's scenes are in the commercial. Everyone plays this as a broad comedy but at the same time want to be "real" so they shoot and beat people, a lot. It reminded me of the weird disconnect in tone of 'Smoking Aces.'

The Girlfriend Experience (2009) - Soderbergh's movie that pretty effectively blurs the line between drama and documentary by casting porn star Sasha Grey as an escort and interviewing her character with questions you could easily have for a porn star. It's not bad, but it could have explored a few more ideas to prevent it from feeling slightly inconsequential

Star Trek (2009) - This was the sort of film that Star Trek producers have been trying to make since Star Wars came out, a film that is action packed, funny and full of wonder about space travel. I'm not really a Star Trek fan, but i've been around the geek block long enough that i've absorbed most of the show's mythology, so i got all of the references in the movie. The movie has some nagging plot problems and plays the humor too broad in some scenes (anything involving Simon Pegg for example) but it's all easily overlooked in deference to the sharp pacing and clever service to both fanboy and normal audiences. Critics who insist that this film somehow betrays Roddenberry's original vision of a stark humanist celebration of hard science can come down out of the clouds, take an honest look at the television and film history of Star Trek and acknowledge that just because space ship battles and bare-chested fist fights are done poorly doesn't mean that they're not the main focus, or that most of the movies involve fuzzy, feel-good, Christian fantasy.

GI Joe - Resolute (2009) - If you played with the 3 3/4" GI Joe figures. watched the cartoon or read the Marvel comics as a kid, then you owe it to yourself to see this. This is essentially an anime adaptation that manages to distill most of propety's mythology into a satisfying movie with the added notion that bullets and explosions can harm the human body.

Crank: High Voltage (2009) - Good schlocky fun. It gets a little Manswers/Maxim at times in the way that it celebrates misogyny or racism and then lets itself off of the hook by winking but I don't think you could take such an anarchistic approach to storytelling and remain politically correct.

Wolverine (2009) - Committee filmmaking of the worst kind. Hugh Jackman does a very admirable job of throwing himself into the role and really trying to carry this piece of shit by himself, but was doomed from the start by an awful script.

The Loved One

Caprica (2009) - I wish that Ron Moore had started this series at the same time that he was doing Battlestar Galactica so that he would have had a dumping ground for all of his terrible ideas and BSG could remain pure and kick ass. This is poorly made hokum deserving of the Sci-Fi channel.

Geisha Assassin
Fanboys (2009)
Watchmen (2009)
Knowing (2009)

Monsters Vs Aliens (2009) - This just gave me a headache after a while. Lots of shouting and disorienting 'camera' moves. It reminds me of the first time I saw people playing Street Fighter Vs Capcom 2 at an arcade and it made me feel too old to ever grasp the hyperactiving on display.

Friday the 13th (2009) - Given a bankrupt idea like remaking Friday the 13th in 2009, this is the movie that you will end up with. The only thing that this movie added was an unwelcome self-awareness that leads to the inclusion of the 80's cliche rich asshole, subversion of the slasher film sex rule, and violent slapstick humor from Jason.

The Last House On The Left (2009)
The Haunting In Connecticut (2009)
Notorious (2009)
Taken (2009)
Donkey Punch
The Burrowers
Land Of Plenty
Tokyo Zombie
Tell No One
Frozen River
Double Dare
Advise & Consent
Rachel Getting Married
Still Life
The Signal
War Inc.
Extreme Movie
Stoned Age
Little Children
The Good Night
The Verdict
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
The Ten
Final Destination 3
Blue Sunshine
Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired

1 comment:

pipecock said...

saw a drive in double feature of the raimi flick and last house on the left on sunday night, very appropriate flicks for that setting.

kingston loved Coraline, what does that say about him? about my parenting?!?!?!