Jan 26, 2009

Voice Drawing

Ze Frank is an effin' genius.  You draw with sound, quiet is turn left, medium is straight, loud is turn right.

Jan 25, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

The Wrestler - Holy balls this movie was fucking fantastic!  It gets moved to the top of the list for this post!  It was soooo good.  The general idea, if you haven't heard (although based on my sold out 2:30 on a friday showing, I'd guess some people have heard of it), is a washed up old 80s wrestler is trying to make his comeback.  The wrestler (Randy the Ram) is played by a washed up old actor trying to make a comeback - Mickey Rourke.  It also features a washed up old stripper played by Marisa Tomei.  Maybe this seems redundant, but it is so good.  The layers and repetition of the theme throughout the movie are fantastic.  Rourke does an amazing amazing job, I almost cried watching him.  Everyone does a good job, including Tomei whom I've never really liked, and Evan Rachel Wood whom I have a hard time thinking of without puking in my mouth a little about that music video she made w/ Marilyn Manson.  But wow it's so good, the way they easy us into his life, and into wrestling manages to be shocking without being offputting because they ramped it up slowly.  I have absolutely no attachment to wrestling, I can name maybe 5 wrestlers from my childhood, and I only know them from the video games.  It was never my kind of thing, I just didn't have enough testosterone, I guess, so the subject matter shouldn't matter to me.  But I was completely enraptured by this guy's story.  My only real complaint about this movie is the camera.  It is filmed hand-held, I guess?  Because the quality is awful, for the first 10 minutes I was staring at the grainy speckles everywhere instead of what was going on, it looked bad, but I guess I got used to it.  At first I was also very unhappy with the handheld shakiness.  Shakiness doesn't bother me physically, it just seemed completely unnecessary.  But they do this thing where we, through the camera, are constantly following Rourke around a step behind him.  It really gives a fantastic feeling of being in his life, following him as he trudges from one place to another, with every grunt and groan and wheeze.  So I have to even give up on complaining about the camera.  I may still be euphoric about it, but it may be the best movie of 2008 (which is when it came out, even though poor old Tucson just got it).

JCVD - Huh, that was... interesting.  I saw this the same day as The Wrestler, which is funny given the theme.  This is Jean Claude Van Damme making a movie about himself, as himself, getting wrapped up in a bank robbery.  The concept is pretty great, and its much more introspective than anything he's done, obviously, so it does capture your attention.  But it's kind of all over the place.  There are some really good moments, and some really weird ones, and some really bad ones.  It's filmed almost sepia, almost old timey, which is fine, just a weird choice, maybe to make it seem like almost reality.  The intersection with real life is confusing and kind of unnecessary.  One step further from reality and it wouldn't have been a problem, but introducing things about his wife and child makes it uncomfortable.  His address to the audience in the middle of the movie is completely out of nowhere.  On it's face, separate from the movie, it's a fantastic bit of acting (probably wasn't acting) and is completely worth watching.  On the other hand, it is shoehorned into this elseworldy movie that literally stops for 10 minutes so he can look into the camera and tell us how he (and we) have fucked up his life.  It's captivating, but it is out of place.  I do like how the movie brings him down, he wants to be that action hero, but he's not, it's very humbling, and you can't help but respect that.  It thinks it has a fancy narrative structure - it doesn't.  It just plays with the order of events a little to fill in the gaps.  But it's fundamentally no different than a TV show showing you a dramatic event, and then coming back from the theme song with "24 hours earlier."  There's no twisting or art to the timeline, just gap filling, which isn't bad or anything, it's just not important.  It's a very weird movie, I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I think it has to be seen because it is so unique, I don't know of anything like it.  But that doesn't mean its amazing, I'm not even positive it's good.

Slumdog Millionaire - Now that's how you do effin' narrative structure!!  I had heard about how the movie was presented beforehand, but I was still completely blown away by it.  The idea, if you don't know, is a young guy on the Indian Who Wants To Be A Millionaire gets to the end because he has all these life experiences that just happen to have taught him the answers to the questions.  The story is really good.  This is partially because we, americans, are generally unfamiliar with the growing up and living in Mumbai.  The presentation of those images and that environment is dramatic, it's sad and amazing.  I had heard the criticism that if not for that, this movie is not as good, I disagree.  That is certainly part of it, but if this movie was about a kid growing up in Brooklyn (something like that awesome movie Chop Shop), it would still be fantastic.  Implementing this story are several pretty good actors.  There are no individual performances that come anywhere near the oscar stuff that is out right now, but as a whole they do an excellent job, particularly the younger ones who embody an innocence and hope in the one, and a power through darkness in the other.  The filming to serves the imagery and the story extremely well.  They are fond (maybe too fond) of crooked frames, but it's pretty cool.  Early on when the three find shelter in a shipping container and the focus is on Salim and Jamal and Lakita are blury sillhouettes in the background is beautiful.  In the end the story is a romance.  It's easy to be jaded about such things, romances are easily corny, especially if they rely on coincidence or fate or anything like that.  Certainly I would generally pish posh a movie with those themes.  But instead, for whatever reason, I was inspired and uplifted by the story, without any sense of cynicism.  I really really loved it.  PS the soundtrack is fantastic.  PPS the end credits are god damn fantastic.

Defiance - Good movie.  The movie looks very grimy and dirty and depressed.  Even in this amazing scenary, it's all grey and drab, which is good.  All the actors do a good job, no one falls down, Daniel Craig is very good.  It is a pretty amazing story, being true and all, the real life pictures they show at the end have a power to them now that youv'e seen their story, it's pretty cool.  I feel like it didn't blow me away, and I'm not sure why, because I can't identify anything that was really wrong with it, just kind of slow.  But it was still very good.

Five Graves to Cairo - Pretty cool movie, an old one.  It's WWII, the idea is a british soldier gets stuck in some town in africa just before the germans take over and thereafter poses as a waiter in the hotel under german occupation and takes up spying.  It's pretty cool, the main guy is very good.  Rommel (the german general in charge) is a little silly, he's kind of a joke.  The degree to which he gives away information, it's like a ridiculous bond or comic book villain who tells his plans.  The Italian general, too, is pretty stupid.  I guess he's comic relief, maybe it was funny at the time, but now it falls flat, not to mention pussifying italians.  But besides the two generals, it's pretty good, and not silly.  It's not one of those old movies that blow me away with the celverness of writing, it's fine though.  It was a good time.

Traitor - This was pretty descent.  It's just an espionage thriller thing.  It's pretty average, all around.  Don Cheatle does a good job, cuz he rather knows how to act, but it doesn't amount to all that much.  The story plays out exactly like you'd think, everyone does their thing, and you go home.  Nothing much to say, really.

Four Rooms - Ugh.  I guess the concept for the movie is okay.  This bellboy works in a crazy hotel on new years eve.  The movie is 4 acts (separately written and made w/ separate actors, sides the bellboy), each a different room of craziness.  Then, believe it or not, crazy things happen.  Ugh.  It thought it was quirky and clever and culty, but you can't try to be those things, it has to be by accident, otherwise it just looks dumb.  It wasn't devoid of humor, but I honestly barely smiled throughout it.  I have no idea how it even got on my netflix, boring!

Revolver - Um, I think I saw this before?  Parts of it seem so familiar, it must have been forever ago, though, cuz it barely seems familiar.  It's defintely my type of movie: I love Jason Statham, I love british gangster movies.  You can do almost anything with those ingredients and I'll love it.  This one is pretty good, not a classic, but good.  Jason Statham's narration is moderately horrible, but he's good otherwise.  I don't mind being in his head, but Ray Liota's head is one of the last places I ever want to be, let alone if I have to listen to him narrate it.  The style, dialogue, and general plot of the movie are as expected. There is a completely inexplicible use of animation.  And the animation is decent and half-cool, but shows up part way through for no apparent reason, and then disappears.  Oh, ok, I just remembered the twist to this movie, yeah I've defintely seen it, I don't know why it took me so long to remember.  It gets all psychological at the end, it's supposed to be about the ego and stuff.  I don't think it suceeds in this context, and even if it did I probably wouldn't put the effort into analyzing it.  But still, it's a good movie, I hate that if it's not in my blog I can't remember it, but I do like it.

The Good Shepherd - God dammit!  I've seen this one too!  Grah!  See, there was a whole period of time, at least a year, from a couple years ago where I didn't write to my blog, and apparently I saw every movie ever in that time.  I didn't have the energy to watch this one again.  It's too damn long, and really what I remember about it is a resounding "meh".  I don't remember the details, I couldn't tell you the plot, but meh felt familiar, so I'm going with that.  Probably a decent movie, probably decently acted, probably very interesting historically.  But for almost 3 hours, I'm sticking with meh.

El Cantante - Okay, it was extremely unlikely I wasn't going to be happy with this movie.  Even if it was 2 hours of drivel, it was drivel to a salsa sound track, so I was sold.  The movie is about Hector Lavoe, one of the foundations of salsa in the US.  Marc Anthony plays Lavoe, he does fine, it's really just singing (he's good at that) and acting high, which was fine.  Jennifer Lopez plays his wife, she has to do more work, she's the narrator (as told through an interview she did shortly before she died), she's got more range to cover.  She's not bad, she's not good, she's fine.  The plot is remarkably boring.  It is every single other musician movie you've ever seen.  There's a dude, he's talented, he meets a chick, he meets a producer, he gets famous, he crashes and burns, end of story.  End of every story.  It was only a tiny bit interesting because I like the music a lot (the first time that's ever been true of one of these musician movies).  Notably lacking, by the way, was dancing.  Neither of the leads bothered to learn to dance.  Anthony doesn't even try, and Lopez just shimmies and thinks its dancing.  There was some dancing in the background for half a second or two, but that's it, which was very disappointing.  But the music is great, I really like Marc Anthony's voice, so it was still a good use of time for me.

X-Files - I Want To Believe: Meeeeeh.  There's really nothing interesting about the X-files anymore, 's why I don't like Fringe.  This is basically just a long episode of the X-files.  Nothing all that important happens.  I guess the motivation for Mulder is an overarching thing from the series, and the fact that their bangin' made the.... three remaining fanboys squeal.  Besides that, what's here?  An okay story, a slight mystery, a classic "is it or isn't it?" open-ended phenomenon.  Boring.

In The Valley of Elah - Actually this was good!  There's no lack of iraq movies these days, and most are saying something that's already been said.  Covering PTSD is a certainly worthy subject.  Tommy Lee Jones is doing his standard character these days, but he's very good.  Everyone is good, really, even the real life soldiers playing soldiers.  The mystery isn't much of one, but it's almost not even the point.  It's pretty sad, very... mellow?  but not in a relaxed way, just some word that I can't think of.  It's quiet, and slow, but serious, and demands attention, but not intense.  Serioslowquienonintese?  Yeah I dunno.

Comedian - Huh, this was different.  I've never been into Jerry Sienfeld, his act was decent, the what's the deal stuff was funny.  But I'm firmly in the 10% of people who never liked the show, not even a little bit.  This movie isn't about him being funny, though, it's this behind the scenes, inside baseball, quiet look at stand-up comedians.  It's really very good, lots of little opinions that are worthwhile, the story of the new up and coming comic is interesting, especially cuz I've never heard of him, and he's obnoxious.  It's not a funny movie, it's just interesting, defintely worthwhile.

The Duchess - Wait, why the hell did I rent this?  Why the hell was it anywhere near my queue?!  I thought at first it might be to ogle Kiera Knightly, but then I remembered that I don't really like her - she's too skinny and her lips look like plumped sausages.  I thought maybe i just picked things from the bluray list, but there's plenty of bluray on my list.  Maybe it's just old intincts of getting every movie I can and sorting out what I want to watch later, I dunno.  I thought about all this while I inexplicably watche the movie anyway.  As for that, what can I say?  It's one of those movies, it was silly and melodramatic and had crescendoing music and all that.  So... that makes it a good one of one of those movies?  I guess?

October Sky - I often start thinking of what I'm going to be writing in these dumblittle reviews as I'm watching the movie.  As i started watching this one, I was thinking I'd say "I've been meaning to watch this for the longest time, I'm glad I finally got around to it"  About halfway through, I realized I had to change that to "dammit, I've seen this one already too"  So apparently I did it again, at least it seemed awful familiar.  It's still a good movie.  It's a nice story, and everyone does a fine job.  Nothing amazing, of course, but a good ole family movie.  Wish I hadn't wasted this weekend's netflix on a period piece and a repeat, but there ya go.

Jan 5, 2009

Comic Reviews @ The Temple

Superman: Secret Identity - Oh man, what a wonderful book.  This is an alternate superman story, the story of a kid named clark kent (his parents thought they were hilarious) who suddenly developed superman powers for real.  The 4 issue series goes through his whole life, pretty much, and it's really fantastic.  It's just a simple story, very introspective, lots of first person, but it's just so nice.  At first Id idn't think I liked the art style, too photorealistic, but by the middle of the first issue it seemed absolutely perfect.  I'm not sure what else to say except to repeat it's wonderful.  I usually put these things in order I read them, but I put this at the top of the list because I didn't want to see it at the bottom.  So good!

Planetary - This is another Warren Ellis book, like Transmet (which, in retrospect, I'm loving even more).  It's a short run, 25 issues or so, about these planetary investigator types.  They hunt down powerful artifacts or people or creatures kinda thing.  There is a over arching plot that is all mysterious, too much so.  He puts you in media res a lot and I was confused by it.  I was kind of torn, I wanted to be really into it like you might get into Lost, but it ended up more like Fringe where I just didn't give a shit.  It sped up at the end and got a little better, but I feel like it was discardable over all.  It was a good try, but it just didn't come together for me.

The Spirit - Since the movie is coming out soon, I decided to read some of this.  The Spirit was basically the first superhero/detective comic.  It was created by Will Eisner (you know, the guy after whom the Eisner award is named).  It is, apparently, considered the foundation of modern comics by a great many people.  Unfortunately, it came out in the 40s, so it is pretty much horrible to a modern reader, or at least to me.  It's very talky, too much narration, kind of the comic form of overacting.  On top of that its racist, its got this character Ebony White, The Spirit's driver, who is drawn like the worst charicature you can imagine.  I honestly couldn't get through more than a few 9 page issues.  A guy named Darwyn Cook came along in the past few years and redid The Spirit for DC.  It keeps the main elements, which I guess is an homage to the original, but doesn't make me love it.  Unbelievably, they kept Ebony White, though they drew him normal.  I honestly don't feel anything for this book, if it wasn't The Spirit I wouldn't care at all, once again I only made it through a few issues.  Hopefully the movie does something interesting with it, but that is looking increasingly like a steaming pile of poo on a black and white stick.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - I never even considered reading this comic, since the movie was so dumb.  But I heard from comicy type sources that it was actually good and the movie did it a disservice.  The comic is by Alan Moore (Watchman, V for Vendetta, lots of other things), and its a short one, 3 quick series.  The characters are a lot more interesting than the movie.  Nemo especially, is a british hating bastard.  Quatermain is a a doddering old pussy, though, nothing like a sean connery character, which isn't necessarily bad, just totally different.  Hyde and the Invisible Man are good, also unrepentant bastards.  The woman, miss murray, is unfortunately not at all interesting.  They played her up in an action way in the movie, maybe that's not necessary.  But all they did is hint in the book, didn't take advantage of it, boring.  The plot of the first series is far more appropriate and good in tone, but a lot of that character development happens in the second, even though the martian thing is silly.  The third bit is very typically alan moore, which is to say it is WAY too much information except for the most committed, and also overly sexual for mostly no reason.  I only read the first section, and skimmed the rest, it's not for me.  Over all the first two are certainly worth it though.

Pedro & Me - I've been wanting to read this one for a long time, and it was totally worth it.  It's the story of Pedro from the Real World: San Francisco.  A young gay guy with HIV who wen on the show to spread awareness, and made a pretty big impact on popular culture during that time, and died shortly after.  I didn't watch the show until many years after it came out, so I don't think the impact of the story, and the realness of it, really hit me.  Plus I was young enough not to pay attention to serious things as much.  But I still remember liking that season better than any other, and liking Pedro.  So now I read this and it's interesting and dramatic and very very sad.  There's nothing to do about it, you know the ending, and you just hope he touched as many people as possible to try to prevent their choices from being his.  But it's very sad, made me want to cry, but it was very sweet and very good at the same time.

Whiteout - This book was pretty good.  It's sort of a murder mystery, set in Antarctica, so I had a critical eye of course (like I'm such an expert).  Far as I could tell, they did a good job researching, though.  The story itself is good, pretty straightforward, but entertaining.  The art is black and white and it's interesting how he worked in the fact that most of the scenery is white, unlike most black and white books.  I think it works very well.  It's going to be a movie with Kate Beckinsale, not sure hwo I feel about that, but maybe they'll do an okay job.

Nixon's Pals - Aw, I had higher hopes for this one.  It's about a parole officer for super criminals, which is very clever.  This normal guy (seemingly, though he can sure take a beating) has to check in on super villians after they get out of jail.  Unfortunately it didn't turn into much for me.  I think maybe this kind of idea has to be a long running series so it has time to develop the character, as well as time to introduce many interesting little stories with his various parolees.  As it stood, it was a one-shot with one quick overarching story that didn't let us feel like we were watching his life, and the main story wasn't all that great.  It's not bad, it's just disappointing.

Animal Man - The main draw for this book, for me, was Grant Morisson breaking the 4th wall.  So much so that by the final issue of Morrison's run, he (the writer) has a conversation with Animal Man.  It's interesting, playing with that aspect of reality.  But reading it in 2008 (it was written in the late 80s), it's not that interesting.  For most of the book it's just an average super hero book, though he goes to some effort to make Animal Man much more normal than a superhero.  He has a wife and kids and a day to day life, but then he tries to save animals.  Animal rights is a big part of the book, pushed by Morrison's own beliefs apparently.  That's good, certainly to someone of my mindset, but it's also a little simple in 2008.  It's not strong enough to be a strong statement nor clever enough to be a fascinating one.  So, it was an ok book, but I was mostly bored until the last few wall-breaking issues.  The book went on after that with other writers, getting a little weirder, and then apparently going horror and "adult"  I didn't bother to read those, the character wasn't interesting enough for me.

Strange Girl - Read only the first volume (4 issues) of this.  It's a clever idea: the rapture happens, and some humans left behind on a demon-controlled earth have to survive, including the main character.  She has magic and a demon friend and it, so far, is a actioney wise cracking comic.  It's cool, I like the way it's drawn, it reminds me of something I can't think of.  But it didn't totally catch me, and now I imagine I won't spend the money to get later volumes.  Maybe if i find them cheap some day, but I won't rush out and pay 13 bucks each.  It's cute though.

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Doubt - Holy balls this was good.  This is based on a play, nominally about an accussation of molestation in a 1960s catholic school.  It has absolutely amazingly incredible performances from Phillip Seymour Hoffman (the accused) and Meryl Streep (the accuser).  The moments between them are just astounding and completely worth seeing the movie by themselves.  The rest of the movie is still very good.  I left the movie thinking it was one of the best things ever.  Over the past day the shine has worn off a bit.  I think the performance of the 3rd lead is just good.  She serves a purpose, sort of an innocence, and also a stand-in for the audience being tugged between these two powerful forces.  Unfortunately that makes her one-dimensional, gives her little personality.  Plus, some of the other performances aren't great, but they hardly matter with Hoffman & Streep anyway.  Oh, the mother of the boy is great though.  The main themes are pressed upon you very strongly.  But it's done very well, so it doesn't feel forced, except a tiny tiny bit at the end.  Moreover, there's themes throughout that aren't at the fore-front, but are important.  It's really a very good movie, it's not tops for me this year, but the two lead performances might be.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons - Hm, well, it's a good movie, but it's defintely not amazing, it has a lot of things wrong with it.  The digital effects, as amazingly beyond they are what we've had in the past, are still not good enough, because it's a drama.  If you had those effects in a scifi or a fantasy, they'd blow my mind.  But in this serious drama, they are still untrue, and distracting.  Both at the beginning and end of his life, they take me out of the movie and seem cheesy.  Also, the context of the movie is hit and miss.  They are very much in the context of society in world war I and II.  But then all of a sudden they COMPLTELY lose track of society.  No mention of civil rights (despite the 3rd most important character being black), no mention of vietnam, despite the last two wars, no mention of anything after 1945, until the end.  It was odd to me.  The acting is fine, I think Cate Blanchet is very unattractive in ths movie, but whatevs, I'm sure other people disagree with me, she did fine.  Although old lady her was bad, I didn't like hearing her talk.  Oh, also, try not to think of the fantasy of the movie, cuz it doesn't work.  Why is he born small but old?  Why does he get young like that?  Why does puberty happen like that?  It's not consitent, and it doesn't work, I tried to ignore it, but it's constantly asking you to rethink it when you try to reconcile the year and their ages.  This sounds like I hated it, I didn't.  There is a charm to his life that is interesting, but not three hours interesting.  It's good, it's good, it's just barely good enough. 

Lions for Lambs - Well, this is a nice idea of a movie.  I love the stucture.  It parallelizes three stories: a reporter interviewing the ambitious warmongering senator, 2 hurt and trapped soldiers in Afghanistan, and a politcal professor talking with a disallusioned student, with flashes to the education of the 2 soliders.  I think the strucutre works really well, espeically involving the soldiers.  The politician part of it is strange, I get the idea, it's really separate from the rest and it's at a higher level, which is cool, but not smoothly implemented.  The story is effective, I think.  The points are... not genius.  That's the trouble with a war-time movie, by the time you finish making it, everyone has already said what you have to say.  So unfortunately the script comes off a little naive.  But, the structure is so nice that it delivers the relatively straightforward message in an effective way.  I like it, it's just dated already, which is rough.  average movie.

The Sea Inside - What a sad sad movie.  It's a based-on-a-true-story of a Spanish man who has been a qudarapalegic for most of his life and wants to die, but can't legally.  Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men, which is why I rented this) is the lead, and he is amazing.  Most of the movie he uses only his face, of course, and it's amazing to watch.  The only time he fails is when the script fails, which is a bit of humor that felt very weird to me.  Its not just that it's not particularly funny, it just feels funny.  But then, that is part of his character too, so I guess it all worth it.  There are many good performances here, not a single person is the weak link.  There was a few moments in the film that I really appreciated the choices they made in not saying things.  They left stuff to implication, not that it was hard to figure out, just that they didn't feel the need to say it, which so many movies would.  You hear from multiple sides, though the film obviously believes one way.  And though there was really no new point of view, it's all been said before, I thought they were all fascinating anyway.  You even get very effective side stories that manage to find importance amongst all the high drama.  It's a very good, very sad movie.

Seven Pounds - Hey, this was better than I thought!  I'm not sure why I thought what I thought.  When I saw the trailer some time ago I thought it looked good, but recently my interest in it evaporated.  So it was actually good.  It's kind of half a mystery, so I can't talk about the plot much, but Will Smith is a man on a mission involving several strangers.  Despite half the world saying the ending is so obvious by the first 5 minutes, I didn't understand until much later on.  Will Smith really does quite a good job, he is a man defined by struggle and frustration and regret, and it totally comes through.  Other people do quite respectable jobs as well.  The script is good enough, nothing amazing.  The ending is very powerful, it's an amazing set of choices that happen, it really affected me.  I watched this on the same day as The Sea Inside, so two crying movies in a row!  Anyway, I wouldn't necessarily rush out to see it, espeically given the torrent of oscar movies, most of which I still haven't seen.  But it's defintely worth a rental someday.

Mamma Mia - Wow this was not a good movie at all.   I don't know if it was the movie, or if the musical was bad too, but yikes.  It was so freakin' girly, there was so god damn much prancing and screaming, the young ones really said "oh my god!!!!"  With the two triplets of girls/women it was like Yaya sisterhood and traveling pants combined into one Super Awful movie.  Seriously, this movie was gayer than Rent, and Rent was about AIDS.  The music isn't really for me, but that wasn't my problem.  The singing was in general mediocre to bad (ahem, Pierce Brosnan), but even that could be forgiven if it was set up well.  The best musical adaptations do interesting things with their set pieces, their transitions between real life and song, their choreography if it applies, etc.  This movie did virtually none of that.  There were exactly two cool moments in the whole movie: dudes dancing in flippers, and parallel triplets talking on beds.  To be fair, the plot was actually kind of shakespearian, like a comedy with lots of miscommunication or mistaken identity (kind of) type stuff, but oh well, it didn't work.  sucky movie.

Speed Racer - This movie was a surprising amount of fun.  It's not amazing, but it was defintely fun to watch the races, and the story/acting served their purpose.  It's certainly visually distinct, but I don't really appreciate what they wanted to do artistically.  When things are moving fast, it looks fairly fantastic, the races are cool and the "car fu" is great to watch.  When things move slow they look a lot cheesier.  I understand it's supposed to be a big cartoon, but sometimes the backgrounds looked like a 3DMax scene overlayed with car stickers.  In addition, they did this flattening of the field thing (I watched the making of) where everything is in focus at once, characters, foreground, background, and it looks like a cartoon.  Which is true, and I didn't have a problem with it, EXCEPT when they used people as wipes.  Ugh, it looked horrible.  I know it was on purpose, I know they thought they were doing something cool, but it just wasn't, it was horribly cheesy and they used it way too often.  But, really, except for that nothing bothered me about the movie, and a good portion of the rest was good, so why not?  fun movie.

Karla - Well this was a creepy movie.  On first blush it's annoying, cuz it's the redhead from that 70s show trying to prove that she can be dark and edgy, which all sitcom actresses do.  But then it's just a creepy movie about some horrible people.  I guess it's a true story which, as always, makes it kind of more interesting.  I'd say the actors do an okay job, the script isn't bad.  I don't feel like it's a good movie, but it's an okay true crime movie.  Tells the story, creeps you out, shocks you a little bit with the epilogue at the end, cuz it kind of totally invalidates the whole movie.  Not sure what that was about, but it was obviously on purpose, so ok.  Not stand-out, but it's a decent movie.

Kung Fu Panda- This was surprisingly good.  When I saw the trailers I thought it was going to be awful, so it took me a while to get to it, but I kept hearing it was good.  It's verrrrry slapsticky.  Pretty much every joke in the movie is a fat joke or a fall over joke or a punching joke.  There's no depth or cleverness to it.  Yet, I kept laughing!  I kept thinking to myself I should be over this, I shouldn't still think this is funny after an hour and a half, but I did!  The choreography, to my uneducated eye, seemed very well done.  It reminded me of Avatar, like maybe real fighters drew this stuff up, cuz it was very convincing.  I don't think it's a classic animation, I don't think it will be one of those I watch more than once, but it was certainly worth the once.

Hard Eight - Huh.  Well, this is a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, who made Magnolia (meh) and There Will Be Blood (wahoo!) and others.  It certainly feels like it, it's kind of... bland, but in a dramatic way.  Bland is the wrong word, people move around with silence a lot, they stare at each other a lot, they speak slowly and distinctly at each other, and it's all very drawn out.  But it is good, it's tense and enjoyable to watch.  And though its slow, it's a "slow burn" with a dramatic unraveling of the events.  Philip Baker Hall is pretty fantastic, Reily and Paltrow are good, Jackson has the problem that he's kind of playing the same character, even if he does a fine job of it.  I should probably rewatch Magnolia someday, maybe I'd like it after being hardened to his style a bit.

Triplettes de Belleville - What a weird little effin' movie.  It's a french animation, done largely with an aeon flux exaggerated humanity style, but the other half is this old timey, dour faced, ridiculously obesely proportioned characters, it's very strange to watch.  It's mostly without dialogue, and what there is in in French, and my DVD didn't want to show subtitles.  But it's really amazing to watch, it's just so weird.  It's sad and fascinating and sweet.  Then it kind of turns into a different movie in the second half.  It gets this quirky level of action, it has a fantastic chase scene that is slow and clunky and deliberate and ridiculous.  The style moves around a bit, and I noticed in the credits that many different studios worked on different scenes.  In particular there's some 3D in the middle that completely takes you out of the movie (even though there's 3D throughout, but only as part of the scene, not as the whole thing).  But besides that there's really nothing wrong with it, it's really great.