Dec 13, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – Okay, this is a pretty weird movie, but it is Terry GIlliam. I didn’t like Time Bandits, I’ve yet to see Brazil (I guess I did them in the wrong order). I did like this movie. It’s certainly weird, it feels like the whole thing is puppets even though it’s not really. Just the quality of the sets and effects feels like a movie filled with puppets. The story is kind of clever, fantastical and a little all over the place, but I found it entertaining. The characters are completely unlikeable, which is a problem. The servants are either without personality or idiots, the girl is a brat, the antagonists are jerks, and the baron is just an ass. Presumably we’re not supposed to like these people, but it's hard to invest in even the fantastical lives of dipshits. But I did like it. Not love, not even like a lot, but like.

Sukiyaki Western Django – Damn, I thought I was going to love this! It looked like a japanese video game but western. It looked like Final Fantasy 3:10 to Yuma. And for some reason I felt like it was going to be slightly futuristic too, don’t know where I got that, way off. Sadly the movie doesn’t really work out for me. It’s kind of over the top, not kill bill over the top, but certainly heightened reality. Some of it is cool, shooting arrows out of the air and such. Some okay gun fighting. But most of the movie is more of an extended wtf moment. The plot is nigh incomprehensible, the acting is overbearingly japanese. That sounds racist, and it is, but I’m american and I’m not used to actors screaming nonsense at the top of their lungs. And I mean english nonsense, I’m not that racist. I’d almost rather the movie have been in japanese and subtitled, would have made more sense to me. But, not enough sense, through no real fault of it’s own, it’s just not for me. What style there was didn’t make up for the rest of it.

Battle for Haditha – I’m struggling with this movie. I know I didn’t like it, but I’m not sure why. It seems to me it’s either because 1) it’s poorly made; 2) it’s manipulative in an extremely shady way; or 3) I’m uncomfortable with the truths of war. I’m pretty sure it’s 1 or 2, but I can’t totally rule out 3, one doesn’t always know why one feels a certain way, right? I’m pretty sure the movie is poorly made. The acting is kind of awful for most of it, except toward the end one of the kids learns how to act. The tone is aggressive, though you could excuse that given the subject matter. #2 is tough, it’s basically about the real life story a couple years ago where an IED killed a few marines, and their comrades went on a fucking rampage and killed every iraqi they could find nearby. It’s an awful story, seems to shine a pretty horrible light on us and our military. The movie uses that and I can’t decide where it’s going. You don’t feel much empathy for the soldiers, despite the fact that one of their friends is literally blown in half. As such, it feels very negative toward the soldiers and toward the military. Throughout they are portrayed as soulless and uncaring. The part where #3 creeps in – is that true? This is an often enough discussed subject – do you have to become soulless to survive in that kind of environment. Can we wonder why our trained killers sometimes kill? But, at the same time, the movie seems too simple. And anytime a complex issue is portrayed in a very simple way, I decide it’s manipulation with a distinct viewpoint (or if you want to sound more political – a distinct agenda). The iraqi side too is over simplified. There are the bad ones who want to kill everyone, the one who was an iraqi army guy, then got booted, so starts killing americans, then wonders what the point was if it lead to the deaths of more iraqis. It also points out, rightly, that when the soldiers go on their rampage, it does nothing but stoke the people into anti-americanism in general and terrorism in particular. Those are not doubt all true representations of things that happen in parts of life over there. But the way it is given to me, it feels hacked together. Like every perspective was forced in. Like a student film hitting all the bullet points, but having no thread between them, no believable characters to support them. I don’t know, I’m sure I didn’t like it, I’m afraid it’s because I don’t like to think that people can be so disgusting, but I think it’s because the filmmaker was too keen to make me feel disgusted.

Observe and Report – Wow, what a horrible piece of crap! Every bit as bad as Paul Blart, except without the almost innocent charm of being an imbecilic movie. This movie thinks its funny, thinks its a parody, thinks its serious, and most laughably thinks its badass. Anna Farris is pathetic. Seth Rogan is a fucking asshole, and not in a fun way, just an asshole that you hope loses. If he gets shot in the face, I’m kind of okay with that. Stupid movie. Maybe not the worst movie ever, okay definitely not the worst movie. Not even in that category. But massively annoying because it thinks it’s cool and it’s horrible.

Adventureland – Huh, this movie has no right to be as good as it is. Fault the first – it stars the guy they got cuz they couldn’t get michael cera. The second – it also has the twilight chick who, while very cute, will always be the twilight chick. The third – ryan reynolds is the big star! These did not bode well. And in truth it’s really just an indie-feeling summer love movie. But in the end it’s actually good. Not great, didn’t make me cry or change my life. But I’m pretty impressed with its straightfoward honesty. It’s a little cheesy, events are a little too well structured for real life. But I still like it. Can’t really justify why, I just think they did a good job.

Year One – Y’know, when we all first saw this trailer, we all said “holy shit that is going to be bad.” Then by the end of the trailer we actually laughed like 4 or 5 times, and we were confused. Clearly this will be bad, but we legitimately laughed! Well, fear not, the movie is bad, and those 4 or 5 laughs were the entirety of the comedy to be found in this comedy. Jack Black is obnoxious, Michael Sera is funny precisely once – that berry picking comment in the trailer. The movie plays like the bible’s greatest hits, the only thing they didn’t have was noah building an ark. It’s all around boring, predictable, and not funny, boo.

Angels vs. Demons – 0 for 2 this weekend! Didn’t expect this one to be any good. I was into Dan Brown briefly several years ago. I liked Da Vinci Code, though I imagine I wouldn’t now. I read two others, but not this one, and they were both fine. Though the NASA related one pissed me off. I guess that’s kind of the trouble with dan brown. Either you don’t know the subject matter he is ripping in to (or “exploring”) and you are learning from it. Except that you know perfectly well he makes half of this shit up, so you don’t know what is true and what is shit. Maybe the Illuminati formed in 234 and then bought a kitten in 455 and then pooped behind the altar at the vatican in 899. Or maybe I just made that shit up, but in dan brown stories, you have no idea. On the other hand, maybe you know about the subject, like Galileo or antimatter, and you are either bored to tears because you already know it, or you know perfectly well that the movie has bullcrap coming out of its movie shaped ears. So… what’s the point? It’s an average thriller, running from point A to point C, solving puzzle B on the way. It’s really no better or worse than national treasure. Except it is made with an extra 150 million dollars and is shinier.

The Taking of Pelham 123 – Huh, I wouldn’t call this movie good, it’s not necessarily 1 out of 3 for the weekend, but it is actually better than I thought. First off, I thought it was more horror. It’s actually kind of terrorism thriller, like Speed or something. John Travolta is kind of convincing, but he says motherfucker far too often, it’s silly. Denzel Washington is pretty decent, he has a pretty straightforward job, but it’s good. What else? I can’t really remember even though it was less than 24 hours ago. The beginning, the actual heist (if that’s what you can call taking over a subway) was more exciting, the rest was average. The ending was mind boggling. It pretty much completely undermines Travolta’s character that he’s such a genius and then such a dumbass. Really? That was the plan? Just… run that way? Oookay… maybe think that one through next time. Maybe think the movie through while you are at it.

Blazing Saddles – So I’m pretty sure I saw this many years ago, but I didn’t really remember it, so we gave it a shot. I’m pretty surprised at how not good it is. The core of the movie is great. The whole concept of a black sheriff and a racist town is really smart. And most scenes with Bart are good to excellent. But pretty much everything else in the movie is horrendous. It’s either cheesy physical comedy, stupid sight gags or corny character jokes. I think you just had to watch it in 1974 (and remember it) to like it. I think spaceballs is fantastic, most of its corny jokes are hilarious. But this just seemed stupid and pointless. Had to have been there I guess.

Spies Like Us – 80s movie I had never seen. It’s pretty fun. Not a whole lot going on there, feels pretty 80s with some of the humor. But I enjoyed it. Can’t think of a whole lot to say about it. Oh! It does have the “doctor doctor doctor doctor” thing! I never knew! Everyone knows that, and everyone gets that when they become a doctor. But I didn’t actually know what it was from. I didn’t actually know it was from anything. So that was cool. Besides that? Random movie, kinda fun, nothing big.

Raging Bull – Um… okay. This is a big famous movie I never saw, Rober De Niro is a famous boxer from real life (I guess famous, I don’t know him, but that isn’t saying much). I don’t really get why it’s so good. deniro and joe pesci defintely do good jobs, they are very convincing and they aren’t at all bad. But the movie itself? It’s nicely done, it’s in black and white which is pretty pretentious. But his life is just so boring. He beats the shit out of people to make money, he gets mad a lot, he beats the shit out of the people he loves, he gets sad, repeat. He’s just a big fuckhead who can’t control his fists. I didn’t see a lot of dimensions to him. The very end of the movie is fairly powerful. His scene in jail is very good, especially given that he’s in shadow. The stuff after that is kind of good too. But for the most part I just don’t think he had that interesting of a life. I guess it’s supposed to be more of a character study. In retrospect, it seems kind of like The Wrestler for 30 years ago. But the wrestler was amazing, and this was just kind of boring. Sorry :/

War Inc. – This is a pretty weird movie. It’s essentially a farce, sort of a near future, almost hyper real, parody of the world. Focusing on the power of corporations (kind of going with the shadowrun model where they are the global power instead of countries) and throwing in a lot of “wakawaka-istan” countries that the countries and america by extension are attacking and occupying. John Cusack is a hired killer, he goes on a mission and hijinks ensue. It’s not really particularly good. It’s not so over the top that it’s a comedy, but it’s ridiculous enough that it’s certainly not a dramatic narrative, even though they try to make one out of the relationships. It’s not really one of anything, or good at any of those things. It reminds me of Idiocracy in that it’s this ridiculous near future stupid world. But it’s not funny, and I don’t really give a crap about john cusack and some stupid pop singer. So I’m not left with a lot. Also, Joan Cusack is the most annoying fucking actor in the world, I need someone to punch her in her screaming face.

Scratch – Wow, I guess I really don’t care about turntablists. This is a 90 min documentary of the history of those guys who make the wikky wikky sounds. Seems like it should be interesting, that’s why I rented it, but I was completely bored. I just sort of happened, people came and went, introduced new styles or whatever. Super duper boring.

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