Oct 7, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Brothers Bloom – What a wonderful movie! I had heard it was good, so it’s not a surprise, but still. Though it is the guy who made Brick, and I hate that movie with a fiery flame, but everyone else likes it. It’s about these brothers, con men. It’s a love story, in a couple of ways, and its very charming. It’s got a quirky sensability, but not overly so. I was afraid at the beginning, these movies, wes anderson type movies, can go off the rails quickly for me. But this stayed true to the brotherhood core, and it was very nice. The whimsicality reminded me rather of Pushing Daisies, but not as fantastical. The cinematography might be the star of this show, though, which is a rarity for me. But there are some goregous shots in this movie. Single scenes or frames that make you just sit back and say wow that’s fantastic. It was really good. The plot itself is good, a little overwrought. I don’t like tricksy stories. You can’t trust a story that constantly lies to you (which is surely part of the point, as you can’t trust a man who constantly lies), but still I don’t love it. If not for what they did at the end, I would say they had gone one lie too far, but then it turned into something quite beautiful. Ruffalo, Weisz, and Brody each do a very good job. It’s not necessarily the best movie of 2009, as some seem to think, but it’s definitely very good.

A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints – I must have heard this was good, because the name and the description scream not for me.  It sounds really cheesy, a kid survives and finds a greater power guided him through or some crap like that.  But it really has nothing to do with that.  It’s based on a much broader autobiographical book, so maybe that element is in the book.  But there’s nothing like that here.  It’s just a story of a kid growing up in Queens and everything with family & friends is fucked so he runs away, and many years later he comes back.  It’s broken up between past and present, but that’s never distracting.  It’s a pretty heavy film, there’s no amazing events, his life is probably sadly common, but it’s still a pretty horrible one. So it’s a pretty good movie.  The guy who wrote the book & directed the movie is an amazing stereotype.  Seriously in 2008 he’s wearing a floral colorful shirt with the collar on the outside of his jacket. Jeez.  And he’s clearly no hollywood professional, but he happens to be friends with robert downy jr., and he has a group of actors and I assume producers that made up for his weaknesses. The weight of the performances is pretty strong.  And, now hold on to something, this is going to blow your mind and call into question all that you use as your anchor to reality and truth …. THE BOOF is actually a good actor.  No fuckin’ way!  He does have a kind of straightforward part, his character is kind of stoic a lot, it’s part of the story. But there are moments, and though I’m not reaching for my oscars, given that it’s the boof, I’m rather impressed. To reiterate the initial points, this movie isn’t about magic. This kid survives a shitty life and everyone in that life made an impact and stayed with him, and those are his “saints”, it’s pretty effective.

Touching the Void – This is a kind of weird movie.  It’s about this (apparently) very famous story of two mountaineers climbing up some crazy ass mountain and almost dying.  One is hurt, dangling on a rope, the other cuts him loose, thinking he has to save himself and he can’t help the other (which I can’t argue with).  It’s a pretty amazing story, naturally.  But there’s something extraordinarily weird about watching it reenacted, narrated by the guys themselves.  I was having a hard time with it, it seemed kind of cheesy? kind of forced? kind of fake? I didn’t like it.  THEN I stopped paying attention, I was doing stuff on my computer (oh em gee, monopoly city streets has restarted!!), and at that point I’m just listening to the amazing story told by these two guys, and the movie got better!  When I finally started watching again, it was with a slightly different view.  Pretty scenery, some visuals to accompany their story, and I liked it much more. So that was interesting.  It’s still a pretty slow movie, the story COULD be told in 20 minutes, this one takes 100. I wouldn’t rush out unless you are super into that sort of thing (I’m only marginally into it, despite my fondness for climbing, I have limited empathy for prideful jackasses on mountains). But it’s a good story if you want one.

The Mutant Chronicles – Holy fucking christ!  What a horrible piece of shit!  Wooooowwwww. Honestly amazingly bad! It’s some sort of future, and some mercs go to kill some weird mutant monster things.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Thomas Jane is the lead “actor.”  Somewhat surprisingly, Ron Pearlman is in it.  Holy shit, did you just buy a new house, surprisingly, John Malcovich is in it.  It’s really really bad.  The whole thing is digital, I don’t know if there’s a single real set in the whole thing. And all the digital has a cheesy sheen that screams fake. It’s not *bad* CG, but it is obviously CG and there’s not really any interesting visuals.  It’s the blood that’s amazing though, it is so bad! I’m not exaggerating here.  I know I exaggerate a lot on this blog, it ought to be called temple of the hyperbole whore, I know. But this is the worst blood in any movie ever.  Horrible ketchup physical blood is better. Midnight Meat Train digital blood is better.  This looks like someone used photoshop CS1 to pain the screen red.  It is so shiny, so separate from the background, so globby, so ridiculous.  I think I actually exclaimed out loud I was so shocked by its awfulness. And no this is not “so bad it’s good” kind of bad, it’s just bad.  It’s not hilariously bad, it’s just bad.  Jesus, so bad!

Cavite – I didn’t like this one either.  It’s kind of that big budget movie a couple years ago where some guy is forced into terrorism because of his family or something.  It’s also kind of like Saw where some hidden power with control over you makes you do stupid or horrible things.  Freaking stupid.  I never like those movies that force you the viewer into trying to resist an omnipresent power, I hate it. It’s cheap, unfair, manipulative. The only trick here is it’s indie, in the phillipines, and… that’s really it.  Not good.

Used Cars – This is a kinda cute 80s movie I had never seen (we’ve been going through the 80s providing a proper education of my childhood).  Kurt Russell (wearing a metric shitton of makeup) is a used car salesman, his boss dies, the competitor tries to take over, the daughter shows up, and hilarity ensues.  It’s pretty corny, and it gets very over the top at the end, but it’s fun. Not a whole lot to say about it besides that!

Paprika – Yikes, weird ass japanese movie!  It’s a semi futuristic, dangers of technology, warning kind of movie.  But because the technology involves dreams and the subconscious, it quickly gets wackaloon. It’s like a normal japanese anime, but made by michael gondry, which is just like, fucking crazy squared. Honestly, too crazy for me.  I was kind of into it, and some of the imagery is cool, but in the end I was mostly weirded out and not really captivated in any way. It also has some japanese pervyness toward the end that was strange, but not so bad. I don’t know, it’s not bad, it’s kind of worth seeing, as these movies (surreal, dream like, or weird anime, take your pick) tend to be, but I wouldn’t say I loved it, I’d kind of say I didn’t like it, if put to it.  I did love the theme song of the dreams, though, I might have that stuck in my head for a day or two.

Man on Wire – This was a pretty good movie. I’ve been meaning to see it for a while, but subtitles typically stand in the way of me watching something because I can’t do other things at the same time. But I had 3 subtitled netflix movies on my table, so there ya go. It’s the story of this crazy mopho who tight rope walks between the twin towers. The movie is structured pretty well, from the get they are planning the caper, and it is very much a caper. But interspersed is how they got there, other tight rope walks, and the cast of characters. There are some weird moments, they introduce people in odd ways, and some of the reenactments are corny as all get out, but over all it is good. The story itself is hard to deal with. On the surface, it’s an amazing thing what they did, can’t really be denied. On the other hand, he is 100% legitimately crazy, and I’m not sure I want to give that credit. He has this life long fantasy affair with the twin towers and is the one crazy person in the world to get to do something about their ridiculous obsession. For every one of this guy, there are 10,000 nutjobs who rant on street corners or marry rollercoasters. So let’s not pretend he is filled with divine greatness, he is crazy, and he has a skill, and luck found his story going this way. In principle, you can’t support what he did. He used public resources (cops), endangered lives (people below him), so that he could pull a stunt and get famous. Fuck him, that’s an asshole move.  But there is a level of grandeur because that is so far beyond what any of us will ever do with our lives, you can’t help but stand back and gape. There is a strong quixotic element to his quest, though I don’t know if you can call it quixotic if the quest succeeds. The movie is strongly aware of that, perhaps Phillipe is too. But there is a kind of creepy desperation and fundamental level of fantasy that is troublesome about this man. That doesn’t mean his story isn’t interesting, but it might mean I don’t want to honor him by watching his movie and making him more famous. I’m honestly not sure what I think, no one will ever do what he did, for obvious reasons. He has a place in history, and this movie becomes almost as much a fond farewell to the towers as it is a story of this guy, and that is important. Maybe without 9/11 he would just be a crazy guy. Instead he memorialized these monuments before we knew we’d lose them, and that’s pretty crazy too.

Changeling – I really wasn’t expecting to like this movie.  I’m not huge on period pieces, I’m not huge on jolie, I do like eastwood, but I hated gran turino, so my most recent memory is negative. The trailer just looked like jolie pouting for 2 hours, meh. Turns out the movie is pretty good.  It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s a solid 3 stars on netflix. The story is more involved and more engaging than I anticipated. The reflection of 20s/30s treatment of women and police corruption is quite staggering. The movie goes on a bit too long, I’d say, I don’t know that it needed all 2.5 hours. But it is a well made movie, to be sure.  The acting is pretty good from most people. A couple of the kids, one in particular, is kinda awful. I actually thought this one kid was so bad that he was acting well as a kid who was acting badly in order to lie to the police. But, no, he’s just a bad actor, oh well. You can’t fault the filmmaking, the style, the lighting in some scenes is fantastic (though I don’t need to see jolie peeking out from behind the shadowed brim of a hat ever again). It’s a pretty solid movie, all in all, worth the time.

Tron – I had never seen Tron! Nerd fail + 80s fail! It’s kinda corny, eh? I’m sure those graphic would have blown my ass off in 1982, but it’s obviously funny looking now. Then again no one really does graphics like that anywhere else, it’s pretty singular. I do like how it looks like 80s games, that’s a weird kind of nostalgia, media that reminds you not of the first time you saw that media, but of the media that you did see that influenced it. The story is corny too, but it’s classic and you can’t really hate on it. After the matrix the idea of being in computers isn’t uncommon, but this idea of anthropomorphizing programs in some sort of metaphorical digital space is pretty fantastic. The only analog (no pun) I can think of (surely influenced by Tron) is the matrix in Shadowrun. And I love that concept, so how can’t I love this? It’s really very much the same and very cool. So, the acting is cheesy, the graphic are dated but very unique, the world is very cool. I can’t say it’s an amazing movie, it’s too silly, but it has it’s place and it’s kinda cool.

The Host – Blech. I thought there was some sort of cult following around this movie. There’s going to be a sequel after all. But it’s pretty much crap. Any time the monster isn’t on screen its unbearable. Horrible acting for a boring story. The monster is fine, kind of a standard monster with the splayed mouth that’s become so popular. The monster doing monstery things makes the movie watchable for those few minutes, but then he goes away and I forget why I am watching. Dumb movie.

The Girlfriend Experience – This is a weird movie. It’s steven soderbergh being “experimental.” It stars sasha grey, a real life porn star, as a call girl, explores her open relationship with her boyfriend, her life as a call girl, and has a good deal to say about the economy (it is set about a year ago). No one (besides grey, if you even count her) in the movie is an actor, they are all real people acting in some analog to their real lives. It’s largely unscripted and improv’d. It’s not really a whole movie, though, it’s very short, and it doesn’t do anything in depth. It is kind of snippets of her life, kind of a fly on the wall thing, which is reinforced by the fact that all the conversations, being improv’d and unskillfully acted, are boring and trivial. It’s almost like a reality show, in that it has no real content. Her relationship with her boyfriend is given to us without explanation or context, so when it hits rocks we can’t interpret the damage. You could argue that’s the point, i would argue it’s a bad point. Grey, besides being astonishingly attractive when she doesn’t have so much make up on, actually does a pretty decent job, everyone else doesn’t really, but they aren’t horrendous necessarily. I think my favorite part of the movie is actually the editing.  The transitions in and out of scenes (especially since the scenes are near-randomly ordered) is really fantastic, I was very impressed. But the movie as a whole is just a little meh, there’s not enough going on to be interesting, I think.

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