Jul 29, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Babylon A.D. – Vin Diesel has never been in a good movie where he wasn’t named Riddick.  Fact.  This movie is really just a ripoff of Children of Men, but with less story, atmosphere, acting, moral, motivation, or dialogue.  But with 3 to 5 punches.  Not even good punches, not Riddick punches that’s for damn sure.  Not an overtly offense movie, just nothing.  Lame.

Drillbit Taylor – This is every bit the movie you imagine.  Some funniness, I laughed out loud a handful of times.  Standard nerds vs. bullies story.  Scalliwag to hero story.  Much like the last movie, not horrible, just barely worth even mentioning.

Shutter – Horror movie, I assume a remake of a japanese movie as they just happen to move to japan and get haunted by a japanese girl.  Nothing much to see here, the hook is “spirit photography” which is obviously stupid.  Somehow I’m more annoyed by a ghost that’s “detected” than just by a ghost beating people up.  The movie is fine, it’s not gory, mostly going for that creepy thing, a couple “action” scenes, but not really.  A fine trilogy of meh movies this week, each representing the height of mediocrity in their genres.

Gentleman’s Agreement – I like this movie!  It’s the last in my reporters series, this time from the 40s again.  The idea is a reporter is asked to write a big piece on anti-semitism.  It having been done to death, his angle is to go somewhere new and tell everyone there he is jewish.  To get a real-ish perspective on what it’s like.  Kinda corny, you might ask why not just send a jewish reporter, but then you might respond because the racists won’t listen to one, so it ends up being a very interesting decision.  The whole movie handles race (or religion, or both, depending on the perspective of those involved) surprisingly well.  At first it often seems overly simplified or over played.  But it’s honestly done extremely well.  Gregory Peck in particular, you can see the oppression on his face.  An oppression that is effective due to its nature, but also due to him being completely surprised he could be treated so badly.  Clearly not something he’s felt before, nor perhaps something that he’s understood for others before.  You see his discovery, his struggle, his confusion, it’s wonderful.  Maybe it was my own prejudice, but I did not expect an older movie to handle the issue so well.  Not that it says anything new, doubt it was even new then.  Also there was a lot of context I missed due to the time period, it’s just out of WW II, and it references people I have never heard of.  But it is just played out so real.  You might accuse it of being heavy handed, but I really don’t think so.  Sure, calling someone a kike is bad.  Not giving them a job because they are jewish is bad, duh.  But allowing the racist at the table to make his joke, who of us stands up against that in a business social situation?  Making “harmless” self-hating jokes is still so common.  Telling a the kid who is made fun of for being jewish “no, it’s okay, you aren’t a jew!” is a really fucked up and complicated situation.  Really good movie, I think at the top of my reporter movies and old timey movies.

One Missed Call – C’mon, this has 0% on RT!  I had to see it!!  Sadly, it’s not a 0% movie.  I know the RT system is kinda stupid, 0% just means no one thought it was 50%, which isn’t the same as a 0% movie, really.  It’s a weird aggregate math.  Anyway, it’s not a 0% movie.  Not that it’s good, obviously, the premise is about as asinine and derivative as you can imagine.  You get a voice mail of yourself dying, then you die.  It’s The Ring, sponsored by Nokia, pretty dumb.  Surprisingly the effects in the movie are kinda cool.  I mean not great or anything, but I like the style of phantasm, it was decently effective.  Nothing else to say about the movie, just a random horror movie with a worse than usual premise.

Spun – Weird ass drug movie.  Hyper reality style, lots of quick cuts and fast forward moments accompanied by loud noises.  I can kind of give the actors credit for doing the job of wackos pretty convincingly.  Not that I’m a big expert on methheads, or whateverthefuck they are, but they fit the preconcieved bill.  These sort of movies are hard to judge, because they don’t really have any requirements.  It doesn’t need good acting, they merely have to act crazy.  It doesn’t need great cinematography , as long as it’s sporadic.  It sure as hell doesn’t need any sensible plot.  For the first bit I was pretty sure I didn’t like it, just too random.  But it did find it’s groove, for me.  It managed to find (very few) moments of quiet, and it paced the hyperness in a way that didn’t overwhelm me.  There’s not great depth to the movie, it’s not philosophy, but I did like it, I was hooked by the end, the finale montage is effective, even if it doesn’t really say anything except this is where everyone happened to end up at the end of the last 2 hours.  It’s certainly not for everyone, it’s not even really for me, I don’t have much connection with drug movies.  But it did work, for whatever reason.

Donnie Brasco – Never saw this one, it’s pretty well known.  It’s the kind of movie that was very good, but didn’t blow me away.  It felt like it could have, but it didn’t quite click all the way.  It’s well done, it’s very dramatic, and interesting dynamic between the FBI undercover and his mafia friend/boss.  It made for a fantastic interaction between Depp and Pacino.  But, for some reason, I felt like it should have been great, and it was just very good.  Not really sure why.

What Happens In Vegas – Not much to say here, it’s everything you imagine and nothing more (wow I just reread all these reviews, typically written over the span of a week or two, and realized I said the exact same thing about drillbit taylor).  Average plot, acting, writing, and humor.  I have no love for Kutcher and an active dislike for Diaz as an actress (though I appreciate her political stuff), so there was nothing for me there.  Definitely a few laughs, that’s it.

Choke – Yikes, weird movie.  The premise is a guy in sexaholics anonymous (or whatever it’s called), and then he has a story.  It’s really weird, and in some ways pretty outrageous (rape fantasies, lots of titties & sex, other stuff).  But I actually found myself not being annoyed by that, which I definitely would be normally.  I don’t like shock value things, they usually aren’t funny, and they are annoying on top.  But this somehow didn’t come out that way, it was so subdued and casual in it’s activity, it made it seem halfway normal.  Not really, but kinda.  The movie takes some really weird turns, the whole twist/push at the end is really strange, so much so that you can’t even really criticize it because it’s surreal.  If the movie thinks its deep, then I don’t like it.  But if it’s just a weird and interesting movie, then I think I do.

Real Genius – Finally I knock one of my primary failings as a nerd off the list (another is Blade Runner, that’ll come soon!).  This movie is pretty cheesy, the acting, the setting, the ending, it’s all very corny, but it’s fun.  The science is pretty cool, it’s all about lasers and they know enough to at least sound smart.  Truth to tell, for the big final solution laser, I don’t know enough lasers to know if they were full of shit.  I mean, I know the actual product was stupid, but they used a lot of words in a row to describe the laser, and they were all pretty well placed in context.  But just because I understand the words and the context doesn’t mean I know how ridiculous the premise of the laser is, I’m assuming it’s silly goose.  But anyway, it’s a fun movie, glad to have finally seen it.

Jul 28, 2009

JK Wedding Dance

So I guess this is the big meme of the moment.  Big like huge like gigantic.  I’m normally pretty resistant to memes, to popular things in general (which is a personality flaw, to be honest), but this is pretty unavoidably adorable.  Reminds me kind of a funeral where everyone wore sunglasses and swayed to Ray Charles music that I might have been to once.

Bee tee dubs, the meme of the previous moment which I had heard about but never bothered to look up was an artist who watched as United banged up his guitar so he made a song about it.  Cute idea, not a very good song, but I love using the internet in these ways.

Jul 22, 2009

Comic Book Reviews @ The Temple

Blankets – Huh, I was not expecting this.  I heard about this back around valentine’s day as it’s a kind of love story book.  But it’s a big book (though actually a very quick read), so I kept stalling, plus it just didn’t seem like it would be that good, despite all its praise.  But it’s really a beautiful book.  It’s about a guy, his life as a kid with his brother, his life as a teenager falling in love for the first time, and his life coming out of from under the weight of a christian upbringing.  None of these stories is that close to my life, but somehow the story hits solidly.  The book is half poem, half painting, which is a stupidly obvious thing to say about any comic books which are quite literally those two things, but this one does both so well.  The art is simple in one respect, the people don’t have a lot of detail, it’s kind of wistful.  But the fantasy he dreams up, his imagination, his drawings, depiction of love, or fear, are absolutely beautiful.  The writing is also simple, he’s just talking to you, saying what happened, but there are moments of introspection that are, if not revelatory, at least genuine and emotional.  It’s kind of a sad book, there’s bits of hope at the end, and a feeling that makes it all okay, because he’s okay with it.  It’s hard to describe.  But it’s a very heartfelt book, he captures emotion better than maybe any comic I’ve read, it’s really good.

Maintenance by Jim Massey & Robbi Rodriguez - What a funny little book!  It's a very short series, I don't know if by intention or if it just wasn't popular, but it only has 10 issues.  It's about these two maintenance guys working in some sort of evil comic book villain think tank or research center.  It's basically a comedy, it's pretty silly, but I laughed out loud at least a couple times an issue.  It's too bad it's so short, cuz it was really pretty good.

Wasteland by Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten – The first issue of this book was so fantastic.  I was 100% on board with the world, with the guy, with the mystique, all of it.  I loved it.  But as the series went on I was really kind of disappointed.  The art style is cool, but is damn confusing when action starts happening.  It’s black and white, very shaded and cluttered.  The narrative jumps around a lot (which is neat), but that means i have to figure out who is talking now to whom and what they are doing meanwhile.  I really just got lost a bunch and it sucked.  The overall arc of the story didn’t really impress me much either.  I only read to issue 19, and it was okay, but it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.  With this story arc over, it might move to the more mystical stuff the seemed so cool, but I probably won’t find out, sadly, as I don’t think I’ll read anymore.

Serenity: Better Days by Joss Whedon – The second Firefly comic, it’s alright.  I don’t remember loving the first one either.  The truth is reading Joss Whedon isn’t nearly as fun as watching.  And without the really great cast to bring the characters out, witty dialogue is as often corny as it is clever.  It’s not bad, it’s still a good world, but it’s certainly not as good as an episode.  The art is good for the most part, I’m not a fan of the extra realistic cover and internal cover art.  I can’t stand when things are based on real people, they try too hard and either get them creepily close, or get them creepily way off, either way it’s no good.  But oh well, I own the rest of the firefly universe, might as well own this too!

Black Hole – What a weeeeird book.  The premise is there’s this disease, sexually transmitted, that gives you mutations.  It doesn’t kill you, or disable you, you just get weird bodily features.  A tail, a lumpy face, an extra mouth, just mutations like that.  So the people with this get outcast of course and the book follows a couple people who have or get the disease.  Minus the disease, it’s kind of just a teenage angsty comic, with an exaggerated reason to feel like an outsider.  I was into it for a while, but it seemed to me not to develop into enough.  It didn’t have enough feeling for me, the story arc wasn’t satisfying.  There were moments that were great or shocking, but overall the strength of the book didn’t hold up against the weirdness.

Jul 13, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Eagle Eye – No news here, this movie isn’t very good.  Interestingly, it’s produced pretty well.  There’s no big effects, but what’s there is good, and there are some nice car chase explosioney type things.  People act (and are written) adequately, nothing is super corny.  THE BOOF is fine, though I just realized that it’s the boof, starring as the boof, played by the boof.  He’s the same stuttering (no no no no no no no no no no!  go go go go go go go go go!), in over his head, every-young-man kind of character as in transformers.  It’s the fundamental premise of this movie that’s crap, and that’s no surprise.  It’s like the matrix without the matrix or the effects, it’s like a spy movie without any real intrigue, it’s like enemy of the state without… no wait, it’s like enemy of the state.  Hell, the computer actually says “enemy of the state” out loud twice, apparently lacking Irony version 2.0.  These movies where some agency is so powerful, sees everything, controls everything – it’s not only silly and plays on paranoia and technofear, it’s also just dumb, cuz if you can see everthing, can hack any computer, can use any electronic, can make power lines snap with freakin’ technokinesis (I just invented that word, I’m pretty proud of it, I should figure out what technopathy would be), what the hell does it need with the boof and boofette?  Silly movie.

Body of Lies – Funny I watched both of these on the same night.  This one is obviously better, more of a Syriana + ….. oh I dunno any middle east spy movie in the past 5 years.  Here’s the thing with intrigue movies, you have to be intrigued.  And that can be not even the movie’s fault, you might just not feel intrigueable.  I didn’t tonight, too distracted, too weary after eagle eye, dunno.  Maybe the movie just didn’t do a good job of bringing me in, that’s certainly possible.  It’s kind of tightly done, it gets from place to place quickly, probably too quickly.  Feels kind of scattered and all over the place.  Too much going on, too little cohesion.  This movie isn’t bad at all, you just have to care to think it’s good, and I didn’t end up caring.

Australia – Blech.  What a god awful movie.  This movie lets you know right away that is going to be atrocious.  In the first 10 minutes there’s a horrible cheesy bar fight scene with hugh jackman.  And then the worst moment in the movie happens when nicole kidman sees something she doesn’t like and looks into the camera (away from what she should be shocked by and staring at) and makes the most over the top scandalized face I’ve seen in a movie.  The movie had lost me by then, I should have turned it off, it had no chance.  The rest of the movie isn’t as awful,  but it’s still not good or even decent.  The first half is, without exaggeration, City Slickers 2: The Quest for Curly’s Gold.  Okay, some exaggeration, but not a lot, mostly that there’s no one named curly.  The second half is just a trite melodrama, get your kid back, tame the wild husband, live in the crazy scenario, crap movie.  The one bit of interest is I don’t know anything about the impact of WW II on Australia and its people, so that was interesting.  But that was seriously 10 minutes of the whole thing.  Crap movie.

Heat – Okay, so I really wanted to see this after Dark Knight cuz everyone said how they were similar and everyone always says how great Heat is.  And finally I get to see it!  And I’ve already seen it.  Sigh.  I really hate when I do this.  I did still watch it, because someone else hadn’t seen it before, which was good because even though ever scene seemed familiar, I couldn’t tell you what was going to happen next.  That’s why I write these things down, I’ve already forgotten what I thought of all the movies in the last batch.  Anyway, Heat.  Very good movie.  Very cool cops & robbers dynamic, follow both stories, draw parallels between their lives.  Big showdown between De Niro and Pacino is good (certainly better than Righteous Kill).  The famous bank scene is good, though I’m not sure about the best evar.  The ending is great, it is very much a batman thing, this opposed forces with a tinge of respect and mutual understanding.  It’s an old movie, no one needs me to tell them this, but it is good.

Max Payne – So Max Payne the game had two things going for it – noir style and slow motion.  This movie does an okay job with slow motion (well, in one scene it’s cool anyway), the rest is pretty average.  It’s just too late, slow motion isn’t cool anymore, it’s either the Matrix, 300, or boring.  Meanwhile the movie for some reason completely forsakes the noir thing.  Maybe they thought it would be too corny, I can kind of get that, it might have been.  But I’d like to think it was possible, and it would have been cooler.  Instead they have this silly demon crap that I don’t understand the purpose of.  It’s not like Max Payne is so interesting of a character, he’s kinda just punisher with less guns and more slowness, so I don’t care to watch him for 2 hours, you have to give me more, and spooky demons aren’t going to cut it.  On the other hand, it’s not that badly produced of a movie.  It’s horribly acted, Mark Whalberg is doing his horrible bland half yelling acting the whole movie.  No one else is any good.  But the action and effects are all pretty well done.  As just a vanilla action movie, it’s not really that bad.  And the style they did choose to go with, this sort of dark, constantly-snowy, bleak city thing, is pretty good.  So, see this movie on cinemax cuz it’s an action movie and you are bored.  Do not see it because you played the game.

Midnight Meat Train – What a horrible piece of shit!  It’s just an normal horror movie, there’s a bad guy, there’s a good guy, there’s lots of blood.  The good guy is a little more of a go getter, which is good I guess, somewhat different.  In fact by the end he becomes quite a scrapper, which is the only cool thing about the movie.  Cuz the whole point of a movie like this is of course the gore.  And the gore is horrendous.  It is the shittiest CG I’ve seen in a this-was-actually-in-the-theaters movie in a long time.  Horrible glossy digital blood (300 had this problem, but it was droplets, as opposed to the pools of it here), crappy CG parts flying out of people, shitty body contortion effects, crap.  The physical effects (when they deign to use them) aren’t interesting, because they are left for only the plain stuff, none of the “big” effects.  Just a useless movie.  I won’t “spoil” the end bits, but I don’t need to be specific, the point is just that they think they are putting in a clever twist that, I guess?, introduces some sort of moral ambiguity.  Mostly it introduces more stupidness.

House Bunny – Wow, okay.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I only rented this cuz of pretty girls.  Kinda true, kinda I just have to know how bad some things are.  I rented Midnight Meat Train, after all, and that had nil boobies.  As is usually the case with “hot” girl movies, they aren’t really hot.  I think I remember Anna Farris being hot, back in those parody movie days when she was a brunette, not so skinny, not so tan, not so collagen.  She’s not now, though, not even a little.  Didn’t really like anyone in this movie, except that red head girl.  Besides the fact that I do think she’s super hot, she had a pretty funny character.  She had this dorky cute thing going on that was remarkably genuine for such a fake movie.  It was forced, to be sure, but I really enjoyed her most of her nerd phase.  Admittedly, when she tried to be nerdy it failed as often or not, because non-nerds just can’t write good nerd jokes.  This is a thing of mine, in fact.  I never liked any of the nerd shows, Freaks and Geeks I found unauthentic, Napoleon Dynamite I found obnoxious, others I can’t remember I’m sure.  That’s why I looooove Big Bang Theory so much.  It is absolutely written by nerds, they have nerd toys, they reference nerd things (not JUST star wars or star trek), they dress, talk, act like nerds.  And their nerdness isn’t forced, it’s honest.  And the jokes aren’t forced, they are actually kind of subtle jokes you have to get to find funny.  Not in an obnoxious elitist way, just in a nod in your direction kinda way.  Wait, I’m not talking about this shitty movie anymore.  I dunno, it’s shitty, move along.

Mildred Pierce – Been a while since an old timey movie, but I watched all three netflixes this weekend.  So this is about a married woman w/ kids whose husband leaves and she has to make her way, by herself, in the 40s, with a vagina.  Well, the actual framework is someone gets murdered, let’s figure out how via long flashbacks, but that wasn’t really the point for me.  The first half of the movie is pretty cool, she has to find a way to take care of her kids, eventually becoming a business woman and being successful, I liked that part, it was interesting, not an easy road, easier than it would be in real life, she didn’t exactly dig ditches, but still interesting.  The second half is about her relationship with her brat of a daughter and how she’ll do anything for her.  This half is horrendous, not because it is horrendously done, but because I hate all the characters, including the main one for her patheticness, and it was just annoying to watch.  I appreciate the value in watching people make mistakes and finding meaning in it.  And no doubt for a parent, especially a mother, especially one who has had a trouble child, this movie will have more resonance.  But for us blessed childless few – :) – you just want to kick the kid in the head and be done with her.  So the movie lost me, not badly done, just not made for me, I suppose.

Jul 4, 2009

Fallen Princesses

These are pretty cool, the plastic surgery one is off for me, it has no resonance, it’s just kinda gross.  But the rest are good.


Down, down-forward, forward + punch, baby.

Jul 3, 2009

Smooth Criminal in Rag Dog Kung Fu

This is pretty damn awesome.  Don’t go watch the original, though, it doesn’t really match up, it’s still cool though.