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.

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