May 30, 2011

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Kind of a huge backlog here. I guess I was avoiding putting anything on the blog. Silly, eh?

Waiting for “Superman” – I think everyone has heard of this, it was big last year. A documentary about the public school system. It’s pretty depressing, not surprisingly. In addition to a lot of information, it also follows a few kids. Kids in shitty situations trying to get into better situations. They all go to one of these lotteries where 1000 kids try to get 100 spots at a school. The end of the movie shows them all waiting for results, and it’s fucking heartbreaking. Honestly one of the hardest things I’ve had to watch in a while. I’ve never been in that position, watching my future determined by a random drawing, it’s awful. The movie is very good though. There are things I’ve never heard of too. This idea that kids get put on “tracks”. A good kid, or a bad kid, gets his or her schedule set in his or her group. So kids who don’t do great get put in the not great group. And get put with the not great kids. Taught by the not great teachers. Given the not great opportunities. So what do they do? Not great! And so they fit in their group, and it all goes down the shitter. I guess this has existed for a long time, and though it’s nominally illegal now, it still happens. I assume it happened when I was in school? But maybe being in honors/ap type stuff insulates you from that by explicitly putting you in the smart kid classes. The mere concept of this thing kind of blows my mind. The conclusion of the movie is largely the common conclusion these days – charters and “experimental” schools. I’m not 100% on board with that theory, though. Not that I don’t think those schools are great, they are sometimes awesome. I would love for every school to be like that school in the movie. What hasn’t been explained to me is – is that possible? How hard (in money, or people) is it to make that school for that # of students? Now multiply that by the number of students in the country. Can we do that? Maybe we can, I honestly don’t know, but it does seem fishy. And secondly, these students in these special charters, here you have to fill out applications and go to lotteries and take 3 buses to get to school - they aren’t normal kids, and they don’t have normal parents. Maybe charters succeed because the students who go to them are motivated and their parents are supportive. I need someone to take many random groups of students across the country, force them to go to these alt schools, and see what happens. What happens when their parent isn’t willing to take 3 jobs then come home and read to them every night? What happens when the student doesn’t dream of their career path at age 8? I’m not so sure, I’m afraid the answer isn’t a happy one. I’d love to be wrong.

Catfish – Well how the hell am I supposed to review this? The whole point of this movie, well not the whole point, but a big part of the point, is to know nothing about the movie before you watch it. So, I guess I’ll say nothing about the plot? At all? I’ll say this much, it’s supposed to be a documentary. Watching it, the obvious question is whether it really is. The story seems ridiculously convenient. It’s a pretty crazy story to begin with, but i guess crazy stories happen in life. But to be just in so many right places at right times to film it is very peculiar. I’ll say this, if it’s fake, jesus christ good acting from Angela. If it’s real, it’s rather sad and borders on exploitive. But if it’s real, I think it is honest enough that I don’t necessarily feel bad for watching it, it’s not cruel hearted. But maybe it’s fake, and bothering to write a review of a fake movie is annoying. Not sure. If I didn’t go on the internet, I would say 95% it’s fake. People are so insistent, it drags me closer to 50/50. I still lean fake though.

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising – Jesus christ that was bad. A D&D friend recommended this to me. I don’t know if he was drunk or high (actually I do, he was a little drunk), but it’s horrible. The idea is a gaming group, and they kind of LARP their adventure, a little intertwined with their real lives. But it’s not good in any way. It’s low budget, so all the effects and costumes and acting and filming are bad. Presumably that would be ok if the ideas were good, but they really aren’t. It’s largely just worthless. There are some funny ideas. But they aren’t really. They are basically just the kind of ideas that we (we being people who play D&D) have all had while playing. And those games can be god damn hilarious, laugh my ass off, nearly pee myself funny. But, unfortunately, I recognize that it’s just not that funny out of context. And the ideas in this movie aren’t even as funny as mine, and fall completely flat in a movie. Bleh.

Tangled – Pretty fun disney movie, maybe the best in a while. Like all modern disney movies, it struggles against nostalgia. Nothing will ever be as good as the big 4, I think. The music certainly is always nowhere near par. Again, like all the modern ones, the music is much too poppy. But it is fun, the horse is great character. The adventure is entertaining to watch.

127 Hours - Yikes. Very good movie, beautiful scenery, amazing story. Certainly if it wasn’t true, you’d think it was kind of silly, no way that could be. The fact that it’s true makes the movie a bit of an experience. Having any connection to outdoorsey rock climby type stuff (though obviously never of that extent or spirit) makes it all the more impactful. James Franco does a great job. His biggest problem as an actor seems to be his never ending smirk, his ultimate laid backness that makes it seems like he just doesn’t give a shit about anything. But here he comes right up against the face of it and gets out alive, and he does that story justice. Very cool.

Harry Potter 7 Part 1 – Zzzzzz. Huh? What? Oh, sorry, I fell asleep just thinking about this movie. What a boring fucking movie. It’s like what everyone complained about lord of the rings – hours and hours of walking. Jesus christ, we get it, you jump from place to place and hide and search for stuff. But christ, did we really need a 2 and a half hour movie about “they go on the run, they have a little spat, they get a couple of objects”?? I’ll say – for the second to last time – that I loved the first book, liked 2 3 and 4, disliked 5, hated 6, but was convinced to like 7 by Jim Dale’s fantastic reading (the only one I listened to on audio). The movies I’ve always found pretty boring. Kind of entertaining, but lacking the only thing I liked about the early books – the charm. This movie, though, jeez, I really don’t know what people see in it. It just went on and on and nothing happened. I get they had to stretch it to make it 2 movies, cuz maybe it didn’t fit into 1, but why stretch to 2.5 hours?? Boring.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Holy crap, I really liked this movie! I’m not saying it was genius or anything, but I totally enjoyed it. The magic effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of ways to do magic. Harry Potter has a sad tendency to do it too sparsely and when it does it it looks like a star wars blaster battle instead of a magic battle. A lot of movies do it sparsely, honestly, cuz its probably expensive and hard to make look good. The only thing good about In The Name of the King movie a few years ago was the amazing teleportation effect, still the best I’ve ever seen. This movie does it all really well. From the silly flail your arms around to “form” the magic, to the symbols and shapes, to the CG of the effects themselves, I really think it was all really good. The rest of the movie is just average, of course. The plot can be predicted from the beginning. The acting is acceptable and no better. The main kid is kind of annoying, I get how people would hate him, but I don’t mind. Nicolas Cage’s horrendous cheesy acting actually fits in a way it hasn’t since the 90s. He goes over the top a couple times, but it’s pretty ok. The bad guy is good, the Criss Angel rip off is hilarious cuz I hate criss angel, the girlfriend is hot, it all works! Some of it was bad, “the prime merlinian” is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Along with “sorcerer of the 777th order” and a few other idiotic stuff. And I reeeeeeally wish they wouldn’t try to inject a scientific explanation to magic. Then again, the way that comes around in the end is cool. I don’t know, shocks me to death, I was sure this movie was flaming poop on a stick, but I totally dug it.

Gone With The Wind – Yeah, so I had never seen this. It’s… ok. Granted, it’s not made for me. I can see why people who want this kind of movie would like it. It’s very grand, epic, sprawling. Big sets, big costumes, big acting, big context. The big problem with the movie is every single character in it is a horrible person. The only exception is the friend, and she’s so pathetic that it makes it hard to watch. So I hate everyone, I don’t care if they die or love or hate. Scarlett especially can get trampled by a horse and I can’t imagine feeling sympathy. It’s a very hard thing to tell a story about an insufferable brat who only wants what she can’t have and uses every one in every way to get it. It’s doable, I guess, I can’t think of an example right now. I’m sure it’s been done. I’m digging The Borgias on showtime. That is filled top to bottom with unlikeable people. But it being historical and about murder and intrigue is way more interesting than a selfish dumbass who can’t get the husband she wants. Meh.

Brothers Grimm – Kinda boring. Sad, because there’s nothing really wrong with the movie. Some meh CG, but basically up to par. It feels, more than anything, like a Terry Gilliam adventure movie. Not as british in its humor, but the costumes and the world feel like that kind of fantasy. But in the end I really didn’t feel the need to pay much attention as I did other stuff. It’s a good background movie, I guess? Hey, I just googled, it IS a Terry Gilliam movie!

MacGruber – The netflix disc didn’t work. I take this as a sign from the one true god, your personal lord and savior, jesus mahogany christ, that this movie is not worth 2 hours. I sent it back and didn’t put it back on the queue.

Machete – Ummm… so I put this as 3 stars on netflix, I’m not sure why. I guess people know the story of this, right? Rodriguez (and tarantino) made the grindhouse movies, in between there was a trailer for this fake movie Machete. People loved the trailer way more than the movies (a fair assessment, grindhouse was shit), so they made it into a real movie. It’s danny trejo being a badass, choppin’ dudes in half, for 2 hours. Oh, and jessica alba’s ass. That’s pretty much the whole of it. It’s not any better or worse than you think. Can’t think of a reason that I gave it 3 stars. When’s Netflix going to get a “meh” # of stars?

The Fighter – The weirdest thing about me giving Machete 3 stars is that I also gave The Fighter 3 stars. It is without a doubt a better movie. But I don’t really care any more about it. It’s just another boxer movie. Underdog story. I guess it’s cool that it’s a true story. But it’s still the same story. Some good acting, a lot of family drama. But not really amazing, I’m not totally sure why it got such accolades. Christian Bale got all skinny and acted like a wacked out addict. That’s cool. But somehow it still feels 3 stars. Weird.

Logan’s Run – I had never seen this! It’s pretty good. It has the trappings of an old movie, of course. But holds up better than I would have guessed. I like a good distopia, as is well documented. There’s not much more to say about it, it’s good, I should have seen it earlier.

The Hangover – Maybe more surprising than Logan’s Run or Gone With the Wind – I hadn’t seen this yet! I just never got around to it. Everyone said it was so fantastic, I just couldn’t imagine how a silly movie about dudes getting drunk in vegas could be that great. It is pretty fun though. Not like blow my mind best comedy in 10 years fun. But definitely hilarious parts, maybe the funniest movie of last year fun? The structure is pretty entertaining, not directly seeing any of the wild night, just the results and retellings. The humor manages to be more than just dick and fart jokes. Not that it’s high class, but who wants high class humor, this is funny humor, so that’s great. Not so sure about the sequel. Sure, this one convinced me, it was funny, but how much more can they go to that well? But hey, maybe they found a different well.

Clash of the Titans – Meh, not that I expected much of this, but I didn’t get much. Ran around, stabbed things, made loud noises. Kraken got released, etc etc. It’s big budget, very flashy, all that. Seems like it should be enjoyable just for that. But I mostly half paid attention, oh well.

CJ7 – This is a movie by that Stephen Chow guy. I like his movies, I really like Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. They are lots of fun, have a silly sense of humor, and cool ninja fighting. This one is about a kid who finds this little alien. It’s kind of a fun kiddy movie. It does have some very very small amount of ninja stuff. But it’s not really very good. The kid stuff isn’t fun enough, the ninja stuff isn’t barely there, the kid himself of annoying. Oh well, go back and watch Shaolin Soccer if you want this kind of movie.

Despicable Me – Fun, I guess. Kind of an average dreamworks movie. Sad, they don’t make BAD movies, some of them are pretty good. But they do live in a pretty big shadow. This one is cute, it’s sweet, it’s funny. I don’t need to see it again, I don’t think you need to run out to get it, but if it’s around, it will be a good time.

Predators – Man, why wasn’t this awesome? Nerd-dom was so excited when Robert Rodriguez announced this. It had the recipe for awesome. I loved Aliens, because it had so many people to kill. A cast of characters, with different violent skills and personalities is fun. They can get picked off, so you can see cool fights with cool deaths, but the story can keep going. This movie SHOULD have been that. I mean, adrian brody was obviously an awful choice. But besides that it seemed like it should have been a lot of manly man fun. But it was mostly boringly boring fun. Not bad, I still gave it 3 on netflix, I guess, but it’s been a few days now, and I can’t think of much that I really liked about it.

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief – Not worth the time. I love greek mythos. But I’m moderately familiar with it, so nothing in this movie was interesting! Kind of a problem with God of War at times too. The cool thing about these young adult fantasy books is being introduced to all the stuff about the world. Creatures and magic and rules and etc. But this is all stuff I’m familiar with. Best case scenario, it’s an awesome realization of creatures and magic I know about. Worst case scenario it’s a boring rehashing of stories that have already been told. Closer to the latter than the former, I’m sad to say.

Black Swan – Boo. What a waste of a movie. Look, you can’t just make a movie to be weird and that’s enough. She’s a wacko, I get it. She’s a wacko from the beginning to the end. She gets wackiER, but she’s still a wacko. This is supposed to be a suspenseful thriller –there’s neither of those things! It’s clear she’s crazy, so there’s no suspense about what is true and because none of it’s true there’s no thrills. Why the hell should I give a shit what’s going to happen to this girl if half the time she will shake her head and it will end up being a hallucination? The only way this kind of thing can work is if we don’t know she’s crazy, and that train sailed years ago preceding a string of movies with an untrustworthy narrator (and by narrator, I just mean whosever perspective we are seeing things through). There’s just no reason to care. Plus, bee tee dubs, skinny ass ballerinas moving their grotesque alien skinny ass bodies where you can see their shoulder blades and, I’m pretty sure, their kidneys, are even grosser than people peeling their own skin off. Didn’t know that before this movie, now I do. So, I guess it gave me that.

Bad Lieutenant – Pppt. This is an older movie, Harvey Keitel is a corrupt cop. He goes around doing corrupt things. Stealing from criminals, demanding sexual stuff from stopped motorists, doing lots of drugs, etc. There’s an overarching story with his gambling on some games that are probably famous between the mets and the dodgers. And then some stuff about an attack on a nun. But the term “arch” is used loosely. He’s just a bad guy who does bad stuff. It’s more of a window into him doing bad stuff than a story. I don’t think it’s all that interesting, really. I guess I should be pleased with Keitel doing a good job, but it doesn’t seem like that big a deal to be a shitty guy for an hour and a half. The nun thing is nearly an afterthought, though it makes for a slightly interesting ending.

Resident Evil: Afterlife – Right, well, that was a piece of crap. Can you believe they made CG nacho cheese dogs that looked worse than the original nacho cheese dogs from the first movie? Buncha crap. I seem to remember there being a couple cool fight scenes, but they obviously didn’t stick with me.

Wall Street – Never saw this, needed to watch it so I could watch the sequel. Maybe it made more sense in its time. Now it’s just a story about a douche who gets all high on success, then realizes he’s a bastard and switches sides just in time. Yeah, it was reflecting that mindset that was prevalent in the 80s (and hasn’t exactly died down). I was hoping it would have interesting reflections on today, but it just seemed kind of average. Maybe we are too abused by real life financial assholes to be shocked by it happening in a movie, dunno.

No comments: