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.

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