Feb 27, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Watchmen - Well, there's a lot to say about this one.  I think it has to be the most anticipated nerd movie of forever.  I mean, there's bad comic book movies, and good ones.  There's even amazing ones like dark knight that blow you away.  But nothing that matches the anticipation of wondering how this piece of art could possibly be put on a movie screen.  I'd say, for the most part, they did as well as they possibly could have.  It's impossibly complicated to get the details of a book like this.  It's dense, it's layered, it's reflective, you just can't put all that in 3 hours of movie.  They do a pretty good job, over all.  They hit the major points and the major themes.  It tends to feel a little rushed, trying to cram all that in there, it is missing the pacing of the book.  This is doubly true because of the book's playing with time and jumping back and forth, and how each character sort of got an issue or two that went into their story.  You could almost see the movie chopped up into the different bits, and it all crammed together, but I can't see how they could have done that differently.  The layers were hopeless, they left out the pirate stuff of course, no way there's time for that.  But there are other subtle things that they just didn't have time to flesh out.  The way the book parallelizes the heroes, the pirates, the newsstand guy, the psychiatrist, the crowd, it's beautiful, and you can't do that here.  Then there's the postmodern side of things.  This didn't bother me too much, because I'm not smart enough to see or analyze this in the book, but alan moore wrote this comic book as a reaction to comic books, the heroes mirror known heroes, the fights, and the costumes, the setting, and the themes are reactionary by their very nature.  So to see them glossed up on the screen, with the shiny costumes and the slickerthanshit fights.  It's apparently agreed that Moore was lampooning big over the top fights with his book, yet this movie slow motions, jump cuts, wire-fus its way to badassery.  You could say that zach snyder was doing the same parody, but I doubt it.  And the heroes are very pose-y, everytime they jump or land or turn around it's an action shot, which I really would have thought was parody if I hadn't seen the fights where were so clearly not.  But it sounds like I'm being critical, and I am, but this movie is 80% fantastic.  The actors doing Manhattan and Rorschach are really really good.  Rorschach's iconic moments are brought to life better than I could have hoped, he's most people's favorite character and I'm definitely in that group, it was awesome.  Both Manhattan's distance and epiphany are great too.  If I had one wish for this movie, though, it would be to redo the Manhattan time-shifting stuff.  That is perhaps my favorite moment in the comic book (besides the owl short story at the end of one of the issues), and I think it could have been done better.  It was done well, but if they had jumped back and forth more, had him announce the dates more, really gave you the feeling that this is all now.  Everything is happening now. I think I would have peed my pants.  Comedian is very good, Nite Owl is good, the rest I'd say are average to less than, I wasn't impressed with either woman.  The sex scene was.... awkward.  This is another one of those "maybe he did it so bad as an homage to things that were bad" sort of things.  The music is iffy, it has great songs that are very appropriate, but they interject so violently that they seem like a joke.  Maybe this is something Snyder really did as parody/homage (those two are similar, eh?), I can only hope, because some of them are laughable with their on-the-nose-ness.  There has been some fuss about the ending, but I'm okay with it.  Truth be told, I think it's a better ending than the comic, it makes more sense, it fits better, and it mostly doesn't change any of the characters' motivations.  Don't get me wrong, the book is better in every other way, but the ending seemed much more sensible in the movie.  On the other hand, it makes sense that the ending was so over the top in the book because Moore was going after ridiculous over the top comic stories, so shrug.  In the end, I'd say this was almost as good as I could have hoped for.  I feel a little dumb that this must be what it's like to put a classic piece of literature on the screen and lose a lot of the nuance, but there it is.  It's certainly worth seeing, it's great, but you gotta read the book too.

The Eye - Well, this was on okay remake as japanese horror movie remakes go, for most of the movie.  Of course, there's no reason to watch this, none at all.  Go watch the original.  It's not that this was badly done, there's just no reason.  Jessica Alba's acting chops don't make it a new experience.  On top of this, the movie gets ruined for two reasons.  I was happy for 2/3 of the movie cuz jessica alba was dressed normally and not running around in the sprinklers with a white t-shirt and bikini bottoms on for no reason at all, but then all of a sudden she takes a shower and gets dressed all sexy like and I was sad.  And then they changed the ending, hollywood'd it, boo.

Dear Zachary - Wow.  What an amazing documentary.  It's about a man, he was murdered by his ex girlfriend shortly before she found out she was pregnant with his child.  Then his parents tried to get the child back, but she went to Canada and there's a story about trying to get her back to the US.  There's more, but that's enough out of me.  There's also certainly things to criticize about the movie, but it's not worth it, it was too good.  Pretty much everyone has to see this movie.  If you have family you have to see this movie.  If you have a son or a dad or a brother or a friend you have to see this movie.  Bring tissues, you will cry a lot, I did.

Kids - Uck, this movie really was no good.  I went in knowing it was controversial when it came out due to its use of real kids, but I was completely prepared to find it interesting, to look past the shock to find a real movie.  The hook is a kid who has sex with virgins to avoid diseases but he actually has AIDS.  It's not really about that, though, it's mostly about a bunch of teenagers drinking, fucking, and doing drugs.  It's really stupid and gross.  Not gross like I can't stand the idea that that really happens, not gross like I'm so anti those things, just gross to watch.  And the characters are obnoxious as hell.  You can make unlikable characthers, but they have to be interesting.  These are just asshole dumbfuck kids who cuss and drink and talk about pussy all the time.  At their best they have boring childish conversations about sex or their lives.  At their worse it's just ranting and bad words.  The hook doesn't end up being all that important to the story, it's there, and I guess it's the point, but it's not used effectively.  It's really just bad, not edgy, not too much for my delicate sensibilities, just bad.

Rashomon - So this is one of the big Akira Kirosawa movies, none of which I've ever seen.  This is my first of a couple in my queue.  It's pretty good, but it does suffer from time period and culture.  The time period is mostly just an issue because of funny editting cuts and technology issues, nothing big.  In fact, its pretty amazing what he does for the time period, particularly the elements.  The opening scene with the rain pouring down on the shingles of this little fort is beautiful.  It's one of the most visually stunning things I've ever seen in a black and white movie.  The wind too, he does amazing things with.  The scene with the medium, his hair and clothes whipping around wildly (him whipping around a bit too) is really cool.  It's like that scene in 300 with the oracle, except way better, despite the replacement of a hot girl with a japanese guy in funny makeup.  Culture is a bigger problem, some things will just never make sense to a western viewer.  The hyena cackles of both male and female characters, the predictable treatment of a woman in that time period, the acting style and dialogue are all weird to non-japanese.  Nonetheless, the movie is pretty good.  I imagine in its time it was more mind-blowing, as it banks heavily on the idea of truth, telling the story of a crime from four perspectives, each very different, but containing similar elements.  That's been done a lot nowadays, generally worse than this was, but in 1950 I'm sure it was even cooler.

Rockandrolla - Okay, I guess I'm finally with the rest of the world in being slightly over british gangster movies.  It's all the same guy ritchie stuff, quick cuts, over the top brits, stylized (and generally unsatisfying) action, convoluted plot, etc.  Usually I feel like I can watch these to death and just enjoy the style of them, but they are wearing on me.  This one brings nothing new to the table, same ole stuff.  There are certainly cool moments, guy ritchie would have done well to summed all his movies after lock stock and snatch into one amazing ganster movie filled from top to bottom with badass or funny moments.  As it is, there are great moments dispersed among uninteresting characters and plot lines.  Those russians are pretty damn funny though.

Pride & Glory - Well, this movie wasn't as bad as I guess I was expecting.  Every cop movie since the Departed has really just been a pale imitation of the departed.  And the last couple I've seen have been truly bad.  This was decent, though.  Norton and Voight actually do a good job, for that matter farrell and the other brother do well too.  The story unravels in a weird way, its completely absent of twists, which shouldn't be a bad thing, yet somehow it was offputting.  It was just like we were meandering down this road that only went one way and there wasn't much point to it.  The ending, too, was kind of just "ugh, yeah I guess that had to happen."  I think in the first 30 min I was bored, in the middle hour I was thinking this isn't have bad, then at the end I realized it was a long way to go for nothing.  Some good individual performances though.

The Darjeeling Limited - I'm not really into the whole Wes Anderson thing.  He has some nice moments, but the overall quirkiness is too much for me.  He's a big fan of horizontal pans in this movie, all the damn time he's swinging that bad boy around to look at this or that.  I do love the opening 2 minutes, bill murray missing the train, adrian brody running in slow motion to catch it, it was beautiful.  Then they used that device too much and I got sick of it, but oh well.  The movie over all is a little wandering, but it's supposed to be.  The characters aren't likeable, but they arne't supposed to be.  So ... good job on that, I guess, but I still don't really dig it.

 W. - In the first two minutes of this movie, I said to myself, wait, it's 2009, who cares about bush anymore?  I think we are all done thinking about him, this movie could only be watched last year.  But for 30 minutes I thought hey this isn't bad, they are doing things without being blatantly obvious, there are subtle parts that could easily have been followed up by a forced line, but actually leave you to remember youself.  And then for the remaining 90 minutes I realized that this movie wasn't even relevant in 2008.  It's the most rushed, hurried, forced review of bush's presidency.  It crams his stupid little faux paus into random contexts.  The cast is weird, I didn't realize rice was so nasely, powell was so rumbley, or cheney was so dreyfuss-ey.  They are all doing impressions, and none are really that believable.  It has this weird thing where it's basically parady, but it's not at all funny, didn't laugh once.  And it's not thought provoking, bush wanted to please his daddy isn't exactly mind blowing.  There's really not much redeemable here.

Feb 23, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

The Reader - Pretty good movie.  I'll say the affair part of it didn't do much for me.  It gave the movie an interesting structure, but that's just a way to tell the story, not a story.  The story, however, is very interesting.  I've not seen something about the time after WW II in Germany.  It must have been a frightening confusing time.  It's scary to ponder, though I come down firmly on one side of the debate, I assume most of us do.  Point is, if any one of us had been in Germany in 1942, we'd have been nazis.  Just sayin'.  Most people didn't fight back, germans are not inherently any better or worse than the rest of us, therefore most of us wouldn't have fought back, maybe we'd have participated.  It's horrible, uncomfortable, but how can I say I'm such a strong person I'd have found a way to go against everything around me?  Some of us would have, for sure, but me?  I'd like to think, but can't say.  What it must have been like in Germany after everyone had that conflict, and that guilt, and the need to punish, it's a striking setting.  I feel like they could have done a lot more with that, it didn't have as much weight as I would have liked, it was all transmitted through the lens of their relationship.  So I liked it, I don't love it as much as everyone else seems to, Kate Winslett did fine, but I wouldn't have picked it out as an amazing performance.  Nothing like Streep's in Doubt.  I haven't seen the rest of the actress nominations, sadly, so I can't compare.

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - Movie or TV show? dunno, but I wanted to extoll its virtues, so I'm calling it a movie.  I wasn't sure if I've already talked about it, so I had to search my blog, wow I call things horrible a lot.  Anyway, i think everyone knows about this, but if you don't, GO WATCH IT NOW.  I saw it when it came out on the internet, I downloaded it to watch it every few weeks, and now I finally got around to buying the DVD, which is fantastic!  The sing along commentary is hilarious, the featurettes are cool, but oh em gee the fan-created applications to the evil league of evil are amazing.  So good!  I'm looking up a number of these people, they are absolutely funny, well acted, well written, well sung, I was blown away.  I didn't even realize they were fan things before I clicked, and then I certainly didn't expect them to be so good.  But yeah, the actual show is amazing too, I forget how much until I rewatch it again and am stunned again.

Word Wars - Cool little documentary about the Scrabble circuit.  It's cool, the people are every bit as weird as you would expect.  The history is interesting, the drama is meh, the culture is interesting.  I'm not a crazy scraabble person or anything, but it was neat.

The Comedians of Comedy - Pretty funny.  I love Patton Oswalt, I like Zach Galifianakis, I'm not really a fan of Brian Posehn or Maria Bramford.  There's nothing much intersting here, it's cool to see their nerdy habits, they have some good stories, Patton's really the only funny one though.  But if I'm going to watch a movie about a comedy tour, I guess I'd rather it feature nerds than black guys, hispanic guys, women, hicks, black women, douches vince vaughn knows, or dane cook.

Helvetica - Okay, clearly I was watching documentaries while working on a Saturday, huh?  This one was pretty cool too.  It's about the font, which is pretty amazingly common.  It's the history, the general use, some font theory which was actually neat, and the modern (I guess you'd have to call it post-modern but then I might have to punch you) reaction to its use.  I'm no graphic designer, obviously, but it was a cool movie.

Little Miss Sunshine - This movie started out rough.  The characters are just too quirky, too idiosyncratic to be believable, likable, or tolerable really.  For the first 1/3 or maybe even 1/2 of the movie I was just not sure I could sign on for these peoples' story, I was thinking the movie was overrated.  But by the end it really pulls it in, and the pageant scene is just so genius that it would be worth it even if it wasn't a good movie.  The characters calm down and act more normal as the movie goes on, the story comes together, and the acting and writing in the pageant stuff is fantastic.  It's a sweet movie, very family kind of movie.  For all its disingenious forced character setup in the beginning, it's a very geniune family by the end.  I liked it.

Burn After Reading - Wow, this movie fails on nearly all counts, which is really sad.  I like the Coen brothers a lot, I like Pitt, and Clooney.  There are other actors I don't know the name of I like too.  The plot doesn't seem bad, the acting is fine, there are many pieces of a good movie, but somehow it just fails, it never comes together.  I was uninvested, uninterested, just bored.  The movie ended and I just thought... really? that's it?  The only parts of the movie I much like are the briefings of the boss played by that bald guy, they are kinda funny.  The rest of it is just amazingly... meh.

Mongol - Huh, not bad!  It's basically Braveheart with some Gladiator, except with Mongols.  Epic story, coming of age, the leader of a people, love, family, principles, all that.  I suppose if it were just another movie it wouldn't be particularly notable.  But it is an interesting context that I've never seen before, though if you blur the details things are pretty much the same.  It's well done, though, the land is beautiful, the filming is beautiful, the people are all very convincing, the action is decent - some of it is really pretty great, though in parts it feels like they ran out of choreography, as the filming gets kinda lazy.  The blood must have been digital, it was too bright and gloppy.  It's not a revolutionary movie, it doesn't bring anything new to the table except its background.  No idea what kind of fidelity it has to its history, I have a hard time believing truth is quite as dramatic as fiction.  But I still liked it quite a bit, defintely worth seeing if you want an interesting ancient war type movie.  I guess its supposed to be the first of a trilogy about Genghis Kahn's life, after this I'd totally watch the next two.

88 Minutes - Ugh, nothing to see here folks.  It's a completely average thriller with Al Pacino.  It's not all its fault, I'm pretty much done with thrillers.  You need to either be a stupidly violent and gorey horror movie, or you need to be distantly plausible or interesting.  This is obviously not the former, and its defintely not the latter.  Evil masterminds with evil masterplans that can be everywhere at once and know the hero's every single choice ahead of time to properly plan the reaction, it's just tiresome.  You don't want to figure it out, cuz who cares?  You only have the information they give you, not as if you were there, so why try.  And you hate yourself for saying "if I was there I would do this or that" because no matter what you do the evil genius would have already planned for it.  As for this movie in particular, it's just average, "twist" is average, pacino is average, meh.  The only interesting thing was that the red head from Mr. Holland's Opus grew up to be pretty, if too skinny.

Evelyn - So this is some random movie with Pierce Brosnan (strike one) about an irish court case that overturned the resoundingly moronic law that you had to have two parents to take care of your children, even if one dropped off the face of the earth, but wasn't known to be dead, resulting in a bunch of orphaned kids because one parent buggered off.  It was pretty descent, it's a nice story, it's sweet, Brosnan manages to tolerable, the little girl is cute.  It's nothing amazing, but it doesn't really have to be, it's just a happy little story where a dad fights for his kids.  Irish accents are cool too.

The Witches - Uh, what'd you do to this book?  I only read the book for the first time a few months ago, and just now watched this, ugh.  There's not really much good to say about it, it was a cute book, but a dumb movie.  Maybe it couldn't have been made into a good movie, maybe it's too weird to be watchable.  Acting wasn't good, they changed it to be hollywoody, added some things that made no sense and had no reason, the mouse puppets were kinda cute, but that's about it.

Feb 21, 2009


Some guys graduation film.  The content isn't all that captivating, for me.  But the method, wow.  He made it using over 6000 individual paintings.

Feb 8, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Push - Wow, this was way better than I thought it would be!  I went in only hoping to see some cool telekinetic fights.  I was pretty afraid it would be another Jumper, which I went into hoping just to see cool teleporty fights (but it was so bad otherwise, it made it hard to enjoy).  This movie makes you wait a loooong time for the fights, almost everything cool comes at the end and you saw part of in the trailer.  What surprised me about the movie is I totally bought into the mythos of the world.  The different powers, the agency that creates/restricts them, the "free agents", all that, it was pretty cool.  It was kind of full of holes, and the plot is not spectactular.  It's seriously formulaic, point a to b to c, no surprises.  It's also really wordy and there's so much setup and story pushing that you don't get nearly as much action as I had hoped for.  The acting was just average superhero movie acting.  But between what action there was, decent effects to go with it, and a world I surprisingly was into, I dug it.  Seriously, though, nazi origin?  Whhhhhyy?

Taken - Heh, Liam Neeson is a bad ass.  This movie holds no surprises for you, it is exactly what the trailer sounds like, but it's pretty cool.  The first 25 minutes exist solely to introduce you to his badassery, and give him a reason to go ballistic.  The rest is beating the living shit out of half of paris to get his daughter back, and it's pretty awesome.  It's not that the action is really so cool, or the moves are so great, or the chases are so original, they aren't, they are good, but nothing you haven't seen in Bourne, Bond, or whatever.  But there is a level of viscious no holds barred-ness that makes it pretty damn cool.  Oh, and I didn't realize that Luc Besson, who did the 5th Element (glee) and who did this, also produced the transporter films.  Huh, I guess that's why I liked it.

Stepbrothers - This movie is verrrrry hit and miss.  The premise is obviously dumb, and the whole trajectory of the plot is so offputtingly dumb that it's hard to pay attention to the jokes.  The jokes are there, though, and pretty funny.  I laughed out loud plenty of times, there are moments that are really hilarious.  So I can't decide what I feel about it.  If you put together a 30-45 minute clip reel of the hilarity, it would be huge.  But is it worth watching the rest? Eh, if you are bored on a weekday night, you can defintely have a worse time.

London - Wow, what a piece of crap.  The first 75% of this movie is just pothead rambling about god and pain and experience.  Except not in a pothead style, more in an angry jacked up coke head style.  It's totally obnoxious and amateur.  At the end there's a tiny kernel of worthwhileness.  A messed up relationship that will always be messed up but that's hard to stay away from.  But that's not particularly well done either, it's just the only positive thing I had to say.  I got this one cuz Jason Statham was in it, but all he did was scream and yell, completely stupid.  Movie sucked.

Turn It Up - Huh, 0 for 2 so far.  This, instead, is an amateur gangster movie.  The story itself isn't all that bad, if unoriginal, but the acting is atrocious.  Seriously painful to watch, espeically by the lead.  There's basically nothing worthwhile in this one.  Rented this one because of Statham too, and it was a bad choice again.  He basically just played his gangster character, but without any of the writing or style or character to his gangster OR action movies, it was pointless.

Akira - Finally a decent movie this weekend!  I've never seen this, and it's one of thsoe big classic animes, so I figured I should.  It's pretty good, it's pretty japanese.  Mystical energies and lots of screaming and surprised faces and hair-blasting explosions.  I can't say that if I didn't know it was, that i would have pegged it as a classic.  It's pretty good, but it's not amazing, I would have called it a standard japanese epic.  It's hard to put it in its context, since its 20 years old, maybe it was different back then, maybe I've played too many final fantasy games.  The animation is certainly 80s, looks like it could have been a Voltron cartoon.  I don't know, I feel like I should have been more amazed than I was.  But maybe it's just one of those transitional movies that if I was paying attention in 1988 I would have been blown away by this new style of storytelling.

Dark City - I actually really liked this movie.  It had come up during a rewatch of the Matrix, so I was afraid it would, unfairly or not, seem like a poor repreoduction of its theme which wasn't original even before the matrix and is kind of played out now.  But I thought it was a pretty interesting way to do it, a little more focused to excuse its potential lack of broad scope.  Despite knowning the twist (and I'm not sure it really ever was one, even originally), it was tense and interesting to watch.  The script is good, and everyone does a good job, even keifer sutherland with his weird squinty-eyed funny-breathing half-a-hunchback doctor, even jennifer connely which is the first time I've ever said that.  It's pretty cool, I like it.

Bottle Shock - Well that was kinda weird.  This is the story of the 1976 France vs. California wine competition in which CA won, pretty much shocking the shit out of everyone.  The subject material is great, of course, I didn't know the details of the story (I didn't even know about the story until the movie came out).  The movie itself isn't fantastic.  It's got a really weird quirkiness to it that seems totally out of place.  It's not awful, it's just weird, the opening scene has this plunky little quirky music fand a basically unintelligible conversation both due to its volume and its out of context content.  The focus of the movie ends up being on the nasty hippy son and the grumpy crotchety ass father, which turns a good story into an average movie.

High Tension - In the end, this is a pretty average slasher movie.  I think the hook was supposed to be a good main character.  In that she's not your average dumb dunce blonde, she's kinda buff, kinda ballsy, she generally (say, 75% of the time) doesn't make stupid horror movie choices.  And I guess that was good to see, but it didn't make the movie.  The slashery gore is pretty normal except for one part that's just stupid.  The last part of the movie is something else that I admittedly wasn't expecting, but it doesn't save the movie either.  I guess it makes the movie slightly more memorable over an average slasher, but that's it.

Righteous Kill - Man, I thought this was going to be better.  I thought the premise was not to play games, I thought it was a situation where the viewer knows the story and the fun is seeing how it got there.  Halfway through (maybe I'm slow) it becomes apparent that that's not the point, they do want to play games, and it looks like its going to be a lame one.  Then they play another trick that I was defintely not expecting that was very cool.  So I'm mixed, I don't like the first trick and I'm worried they think it was clever, but I do like the second trick a lot.  De Niro and Pacino do well anyway, so do the ancillary people.  I guess, after typing it out, I do like the movie, but it wasn't fantastic.  And the end was too long.

Feb 2, 2009

Erudite Ferrets

It's apparently the new lolcatz, which ps I have been against since the second one was created.  These, however, are hilarious.  Unfortunately, I know about it, which means the meme is already dead.  Move along.

Video Games Will Make You Muslim!

Uhh... I.... but.... I don't... you can't just... I... sigh.