Step Up 3D – Helllllllllzszs yeah. I’ve been so excited by this, you have no idea. Yes I’m fully aware that these movies are horrendous in nearly every respect. Acting, writing, non-dance-related filming and directing, all trash. But gawdamn is the dancing fun. It took a little while to get started, this one. I was worried 20 minutes in. But once the “battles” start, it gets pretty effing awesome. The 3D honestly isn’t worth it. In fact it’s actually a negative thing. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me, i was so excited, but 3D = half frame rate, and half frame rate for a fast moving dance movie is a fucking stupid idea. The 3D brings almost nothing to the dancing. Mostly they just do a lot of tutting into the camera, which is obnoxious. Besides some splashes in the water battle and puffs of smoke in the first battle, all the 3D accomplishes is fucking up the fast paced moves of the rest of it. Really pretty disappointing. But even with that being true, the dancing is great. They go back to the water thing solely because of the 3D, I’m sure, but it’s still cool. The final dance with the LEDs, while gimmicking, is fantastic. The choreography, though maybe not individually the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, as am ovie is really very good. And it has lots of people I recognize from dance stuff. In addition to dancers from SYTYCD – twitch, legacy, joshua, etc. I saw at least one choreographer dancing – dave scott, and I’m pretty sure lil c was in there. Plus of course people from the John Chu LXD and AC/DC crowd. It was totally fun, I totally wanna buy it (not that I ever bought the first 2).
Up In The Air – Oh I don’t know. This is one of those movies that doesn’t bring anything super original to the table. It’s a slightly different take an extraordinarily standard story. But it is cute, george clooney is charming, it comes off as heart felt despite its rote nature, and so it gets by. It’s like a cute well intentioned chick who’s just not that interesting, but it’s not a bad time to talk to her for a couple hours. (I don’t know when I started making woman analogies, that’s actually really weird) Clooney is clooney, the supporting cast is fine. I object to the moral, of course. These movies come out now and again, about a person (usually a man, probably always a man) who simply doesn’t need the standard idea of love and life to make their life good. Whether they are obsessed with work, or money, or a hobby, or being single, or – in this case – travel, they always learn at the end of the movie that love is the only way to make your life meaningful. Spoilers - the only difference here is it doesn’t quite work out the way he intends. But he lesson is learned nonetheless, and I find it to be a false lesson. Sure, it is true for most people. Through biology, family, or society, we have learned that to be with a person gives one’s life meaning. Absolutely, it is true for me. My life felt nearly pointless when I had the house to myself for 3 weeks. But that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone. And I object in a very fundamental way to the idea of moralizing the “worth” one a person’s life. Now, people make the film, those people can make the film about whatever they want. Make it about how the meaning of life is rubbing up against chain link fences, I don’t care. But this is a message we all nod and tear up and say yes yes it’s true. I think that’s pretty unfair to those who don’t feel that way, as if they are missing something, aren’t real people. It’s like how a religious person will look at an atheist and shake their head, like they just don’t get it, so sad, so sad. Well that’s ridiculous, and so is saying the only happiness is in another person. Happy is what makes someone happy, eff off if it’s not what makes you happy. But decent movie besides that.
Time Traveler’s Wife – So I have read this book, my thoughts were largely the same, I was just going to point to my review. But apparently I didn’t write a review, so… shit. The story, for those unfamiliar, is a dude who time travels to a semi-random time & location (usually ones important to his life) at random points. It’s mostly just a love story, however. Knowing his wife throughout her whole life (having time travelled back to her when she was little) and how that relationship and marriage works. It has a strong current of creepiness to it. He does go back and meet his 6 year old future wife, that’s weird. The movie cleans it up a lot. In the book she is literally begging him to bang her before she’s 18. I think he eventually gives in at 16 or 17. That concept (though written by a woman) strikes me as a strongly chauvanist sentiment. It’s an ego thing to want a woman to beg you to be with her. And while I can understand that fantasy in general, it’s uncomfortable that someone invented a woman to beg a man to do her, seems wrong. It gets worse – at one point he goes back and teaches younger-him to jerk it. Nope, I’m not kidding, that shit happens. The whole book is very sexual, it comes across as a trashy romance novel a lot of the time. Made me kind of squirmy since I listened to it on audio and so I had people saying all the dirty talk into my ears. But the movie wisely chooses to forgo those details. Besides the going back and visiting the young girl, it’s mostly a normal romance movie. It has an extra wrinkle that makes it more interesting and not just another romance. So if you are into that sort of thing, it’s worth seeing. i would say it’s great in any other way, though.
Shutter Island – Meh. I’ve written a bunch of these in a row, and i’m out of energy to put anything into this review. The movie was spoiled for me by KATG before hand. But to be fair, Keith had never seen it, he just guessed what the most obvious “twist” could be, and he was right. It’s a fine movie, I guess. No, not really, actually. It’s not bad, but it’s not even quite fine either. If it wasn’t that DiCaprio and Scorcese were involved, I never would have watched it, it looked like a crap idea. But they didn’t bring much to improve that. Everyone acts fine, the dialogue is written fine. The movie looks cool, very muted and grey. The story just isn’t that interesting, I couldn’t get invested. Not much else to say.
Afghan Star – Documentary about Afghanistan’s equivalent of american idol. Kinda fucking crazy for a country that was not allowed to dance or sing for most of the 90s. From a filmmaking sense, the movie is fine. It’s not particularly masterfully crafted or anything, but it serves its purpose, just getting us the story. It follows a few of the contestants. There are all manner of interesting elements to it. The competition seemed to both divide people along tribal lines (voting for contestants from their region) and bring people together. There’s a clear euphoria and celebration of the freedom to enjoy music again. Among the women especially, they revel in the ability to go unveiled at the taping of the show, because Kabul is more liberal than the other cities. It’s an odd feeling, watching these people. They are clearly desperate to change their country. At the same time you don’t like everything you see in them. The contestants want to be rich and famous. Even with their minor fame, they are infatuated with it. if they were any other person in an american context, they’d be douchebags and we’d hate them. But you want so much for these people to be free of the tyranny, you accept that they are going to be douche for a couple decades. One of the contestants dares to dance on stage, which pisses the whole country off, including the other contestants. The shortsightedness of fighting for your right to sing, then telling someone that dancing is plainly evil – it’s very confusing. One can only hope our shitty cultural waste like american idol can drag oppressed people out. Certainly being obnoxious is preferable to being enslaved. But it is conflicted seeing it all play out.
Julie & Julia – Ugh, no thanks. I had heard that the Julia part was interesting and the Julie part was trite. If anything, the opposite was true for me. Julia was obnoxious. Her story was kind of interesting in a cultural history kind of way. But Meryl Strep’s impression of her was hard to listen to. Maybe that’s what Julia Childs really sounded like, and if so i never want to hear her say a full sentence, it was awful. Her story wasn’t really that interesting anyway. Julie’s story was kind of interesting, to those who are so minded, in a new media sense. I am so minded. I think new media is pretty interesting and a blogger turning her silly little quest into a book and a movie is pretty interesting. On the other hand, Julie’s a very unlikable character and an unlikable person in real life (from what little I know), so that’s not exactly a big win. The movie wasn’t patently offensive or anything, but it wasn’t worth my time either.
The Lovely Bones – Huh. That’s a weird one, eh? It’s a murder-solvin thriller, a ghost story, the fantastical imagery of What Dreams May Come, the creepyness of Little Children, all wrapped up into a very strange package. I can’t necessarily call it inconsistent, it is consistently what it is. But it’s such an odd mix of genres and atmospheres that it’s hard to find your place. One might argue that’s entirely appropriate for a movie about the ghost of a little girl who is murdered (and we are left to imagine what happened before the murder) by some fucked up old bastard. I can’t say it’s a bad movie, it does what it’s going for well. It just sits really weirdly with me. Can’t really say I enjoyed it either. I’m finding it hard to judge. I think it is worth seeing in as much as it is different. But it is so schizophrenic, so jumbled up, I don’t know that you’ll enjoy it.
Rivers & Tides – This is a documentary about an artist. Not really a scupltor, but that’s the closest I can think of. He kind of sculpts with nature. laying out dirt, or leaves, or wool, or sticks, in patterns and shapes that interact with nature in some way – flowing down a river, covering a rock formation, hanging from a tree. What he does is quite beautiful. It’s all very transitory, he’ll make an elaborate structure on a beach, knowing full well that in an hour it will be underwater. It’s part of his thing, which has a tinge of pretentiousness, to be sure, but is nonetheless kind of cool. The movie itself is rather boring. And by rather I mean very. It’s slow as hell. I mean, there’s a lot of just video of his art blowing in the breeze or whatever, and that’s all nice. But there’s a lot of him philosophizing, which I don’t find particularly interesting. It’s an hour and a half movie that honestly could have been done in 30 minutes. What he does is very very cool, certainly worth showing, just not worth talking about for so long. A cut down version of this movie would be an absolute recommendation. At 90 minutes, I don’t know, at least skim through it to see some of the stuff he makes.