Oct 30, 2011

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Hayao Miyazaki Edition! So we decided to watch all the Miyazaki movies recently. Unfortunately, I’m only writing this now that we’ve gotten through 90% of them, but oh well. Also – I didn’t watch Spirited Away because I had seen it before. Now I wish I had, to refresh, I remember thinking it was too surreal for me. And we saw Ponyo back when it came out. That one was also cute, also pretty weird.

My Neighbor Totoro – I think this ended up being one of my favorites. Two sisters encounter these forests spirits at their new house and have a few adventures. It’s very weird, there’s a flying cat bus (that’s a giant cat in the shape of a bus that you sit inside, not a bus for cats). But it was very sweet and had a heroic female lead with no romantic BS. What we noticed in the first few HM movies we saw is strong female characters whose movies are NOT defined by finding a man, which we loved. The fell apart in the last few we watched, sadly.

Kiki’s Delivery Service – Another really cute one, also one of the better ones. A young witch goes off on her own, has some adventures, and succeeds. There is a boy who likes her, but it’s not the point of the movie. The point is her finding her place in the world. It’s a lot of fun. Far too many shots of Kiki’s underpinnings for my tastes, though. Mr. Miyazaki has some serious issues with under age girls’ swimsuit areas.

Princess Mononoke – Holy shit, what happened here? We were just getting used to the cute thing of these last movies, and now this gore fest? the fuck? Dudes getting their arms and heads chopped off, blood everywhere, jesus christ. I actually really liked most of the movie, though. The way they did nature vs. man/technology/pollution was actually cool. I liked the action, and the blood didn’t bother me. Sadly, the movie goes to crap at the end. First of all Mononoke, who is a bad ass killer in the beginning, turns into a weak woman who needs saving, which pisses me off. And then they just wrap the whole thing up with the stupid love story and NO damn resolution of the man vs nature stuff. Boo.

Howl’s Moving Castle – I think this might be the best of the bunch. It does have a love story, which doesn’t thrill me. But it’s mostly the woman who is the strong one, in the end. But the fantasy of it is quite fun. Calcifer is a fantastic character. Howl is a whiny goth, but sort of in a charming way. It’s a very cool movie.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – Eh, not as good. Also a man vs. nature thing. Perhaps a better resolution than Mononoke, but the movie is a bit weirder and didn’t really connect for me. Also – a lot more looking up skirts while a girl flies around, Hayao. Not a bad movie, but low on the list.

Porco Rosso – This one is actually pretty fun, maybe #4 behind howl, totoro, and kiki. An italian air force pilot after WW I gets some curse that turns him into a humanoid pig. He goes around bounty hunting, being charming and surly. Things happen, there’s some fun plane action, some funny humor. This one ends explicitly without telling you what happens which is kind of cool, but you can kind of assume.

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro – Hm, one of these is not like the others. This movie is totally different from all the rest. I guess Lupin is an established character, so maybe that hindered Miyazaki. But it just seemed so different. The animation, plot, and humor felt american, not like Miyazaki at all. It was kind of slap sticky and silly, but not in the weird fantastical way that Miyazaki normally is. Felt more like an episode of inspector gadget than anything.

The Cat Returns – Now this is back to good Hayao stuff! This is exactly what I want from one of these movies. Whimsical, fantastic, fun, with a nice female heroine (still the problem of little girls with too short of dresses, sadly), varied characters and a weird ass world. This one is about a girl who gets pulled into a cat world – they are still house cats, but otherwise completely anthropomorphized, they talk and walk and wear clothes and use things. Crazy things happen, it’s quite kooky, and it all works out in the end. Great!

Castle in the Sky – I’m not sure about this one. We watched it in 3 or 4 parts. The first N-1 parts I wasn’t really digging it. I’m not sure why, it had the same sort of things that are likable about Miyazaki movies, but somehow I wasn’t on board. Yet in the last part, I was pretty engaged, amused by the pirates, happy with the events. Maybe the busy-ness of everything external to this movie distracted me too much to enjoy the first parts, which isn’t fair. Or maybe this one just isn’t as good as the others, not sure!

Oct 23, 2011

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Thor – Meh. The movie is fine, its got some okay fighting. The opening thing in Jotunheim was pretty cool. It’s interesting, it wasn’t really a comic book movie. More of a generic fantasy movie. Which is fine, I suppose, even could have been a plus. But the movie just wasn’t all the captivating. Not sure why. I guess the acting wasn’t great on some counts. I never have really cared about Thor, that probably doesn’t help. In their defense, I really didn’t think they could make Thor into a movie. So the fact that it’s not horrendous is somewhat impressive. I do like that they made godhood into advanced science of the magical variety. Cuz having a god in the mix is just dumb. And the 9 planes being planets is cool. Movie was just kind of okay.

Commando – Aw, I thought this would be good. I had never seen it. I thought it was a war movie, it’s more like a kidnapping movie. It’s very cheesy and 80s. Lots of Mr. Freeze-esque lines out of arnold. But the action just isn’t that interesting. Maybe it was bloody for the time, but not really now. And it’s just sort of standard shoot guns, guys die, nothing creative. Kind of bummed!

Trick ‘r Treat – Ha, what’s anna paquin doing in this? To its credit, the movie tries to be more than just a gore fest. It tries to play with time and perspective to go back over the same events with different people. I can see how that seems like a good idea. Didn’t really work though, it was just too silly to get interested in the intertwining events.

Deadfall Trail – Another well intentioned movie. 3 guys go out into the wilderness, crazy mostly-not-supernatural shit happens, they go nuts and turn on each other. That has the potential for an interesting psychological type movie. But it feels horrendously amateur, something about the filming and acting, I don’t know. Didn’t think it was very good.

Hunter Prey – On the flip side, I reacted very positively to this one. It’s certainly an indie movie, but some how when I first started it it, I thought it seemed like a web sci fi series. And all of a sudden I thought, they, this is really good for what it is. Some dudes are trapped on a planet, chasing a prisoner, things happen. It’s very small, there’s only a few characters.  And in a sense the sets are small, not a lot there, but they do it out in the desert like they are on a remote planet, and it totally works. Such a smart way to give your small budget a big/realistic feel. The acting is rather decent, and though the effects are a little on the cheap side, they aren’t bad. Totally shocked that this was not a bad movie.

Hobo with a Shotgun – It’s been a while since I mentioned the Mother Night syndrome. That was a nick nolte WW II movie that I remember being very bad except for the quote “be careful what you pretend to be, eventually, you are what you pretend to be” or something like that. This movie, like the grindhouse movies and machete before it, pretends to be shitty. It succeeds.

Freakonomics – The movie version of this stuff wasn’t that good, which is sad. I really like the freakonomics guys, I listen to the podcast, it’s very good.  They are kind of crazy economists, and that does (to me) force a limited perspective on some issues that doesn’t really make sense. But the book is good, and this movie is meant to elucidate a few examples from the book. But they spend WAY too much time on the sumo thing, and the rest of the examples just aren’t done all that fascinatingly. Sad, I still gave it 3 stars on netflix just cuz I like them, but it’s more a 2 star movie.

Seventh Moon – Two people get attacked in China. Um… that’s all I got. It wasn’t good.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas – I realize no one thought this would be good. I just love the first one so much. In this one, 5 bad guys get turned and fight each other. The movie decided to go with bats, that was a weird choice. Bats aren’t really very scary. And they also generally can’t chew through steel cables. Yes, I know, these are magic vampire bats. But still, not very scary. Otherwise it’s an expected amount of blood, some boobs, and that’s it. Crap.

Brothers – This movie is pretty good. The shocker I think is Toby MacGuire pulling off the part of a troubled soldier returning from being a POW. When the movie first started, I’m thinking how can he even pull off being a tough soldier. But man does he get that haunted look in his face like nobody’s business. He’s pretty scary (much scarier, for example, than bats). The drama of the supposed love triangle isn’t what the trailer makes it out to be (stupid god damn trailers). Mostly it’s about him breaking down, and that is done well. It’s a bummer of a movie, I never need to see it again, but it is a good one.

Harry Brown – Who doesn’t like a little vigilante justice? Michael Caine (say it with me, in a british accent, “My Cocaine”) is an old man watching his neighborhood go to shit taken over by young hoodlums. Eventually says eff this and kills a few. It’s a weirdly prescient movie, as it features a huge riot, remarkably like the riots that happened a couple months ago in London, but that happened 2 years after this movie came out. Not that riots are a new thing, but it was arresting to see that. People do a good job, it’s generally a good movie. It doesn’t have much of an ending, but maybe stories like this just don’t have endings.

Paintball – Sooooo, some people go to play paintball in the woods. Then some people start killing them. They are in some game they didn’t know they were in, and have to get out. It’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, actually. For an indie movie it actually looks really good. If my friend had made this movie, I’d be thrilled for them. At the end of the day, it’s another “oh em gee, you are in this crazy totally-possible situation, how do you get out” movie, which isn’t my thing. It’s not even like I would seek this movie out, there’s nothing special about it. But bonus points for doing what it meant to do, I’d be proud of myself if I made it.

Assault Girls – 3 Japanese girls play some sort of real life video game. Kind of like final fantasy, in real life. The crazy dude player seems very FF to me. It’s very shiny with its digital set pieces and digital almost everything. Some of the effects are pretty cool, especially given that it was presumably low budget. It’s kind of neat, the idea of playing a video game like that. But at the end of the day, it’s fairly narrow in scope and not all the captivating.

Labyrinth – I think I saw this once, maybe, or maybe just parts. But seeing it now, it’s pretty good! Bowie is freaking weird, I knew he was in it, I didn’t know he was a bad guy, or had such a major role, or that it is essentially a musical staring him. That’s all kind of weird. But the puppetry is very good. It’s sad because all the puppets totally hold up. They look as good as they ever did. Now, maybe you don’t like puppets, fine, you wouldn’t have liked it then either. But if you appreciate that style, they look every bit as cool. The CG effects, however, look like ass. I wish they hadn’t put them in, they were totally unnecessary. Jennifer Connelly is good for maybe the only time ever (for me). It’s fun, it’s a good movie.

The Dark Crystal – On the flip side, this sucked. Granted, some of the puppetry is amazing. Probably the best I’ve ever seen. But the main character is correspondingly awful. And the story and acting are just pretty crap. I’m glad I know what skeksis is, now. Sometimes it comes up in nerd culture and heretofore I had missed the joke. But that’s really all this movie did for me.

Tron: Legacy – Not as bad as I thought it would be! Not nearly as bad, honestly. It just looked so bad. I’m not saying it’s amazing, but I’d give it above average. It’s fun, it’s flashy, it’s got little ninja flights, it’s got great music (the one thing everyone seems to agree on), the acting is fine. The CG jeff bridges is horrible. Maybe you can excuse that in the digital world, cuz he’s some crappy digital version, I could buy that, and they could explain it away in the movie. But the fact that he looks like that in real life is really weird. But besides that, honestly totally a good time.

Conan the Barbarian – Um, I know this is supposed to be great. This is the original I’m talking about here. But the fighting is super lame. No one ever thought the acting was good. The story is a decent take over the despot type thing, but obviously nothing special. I don’t get why this is supposed to be great?

Exam – Hm, weird british movie about 8 people who go into a room to take an exam to get a job. It’s kind of a psychological thriller. It’s entirely in this room, entirely with these 8 people, the administrator, and a guard. For the most part, I actually quite liked it. It was very small scale, but kind of a cool exploration of this really weird situation. But in the end, they didn’t know where to go, and went somewhere stupid. It gets too crazy, and then has a “twist” that’s not interesting, and a conclusion that makes no sense at all.

44 Inch Chest – Weird movie. Some guy’s wife cheats on him, so he and his buddies kidnap the other man and beat the living shit out of him, interrogate him, and terrorize him. That’s really the whole movie. At first it seems like just a fantasy reenactment movie, written by some guy who obviously was cheated on. In the middle for a bit it starts to seem more interesting. But then it ends kind of uninteresting again. Didn’t really get it.

The Accidental Tourist – I’m not sure where I heard this was good, but they were wrong. It’s about a guy who writes travel books. He and his wife separate, he meets this kooky (and I mean KOOKY) woman, has a relationship, eventually has to decide between the old wife and the new woman. It’s monumentally boring. That’s kind of on purpose. The man is very monotone, not only in voice, but in personality, and in spirit. He is a nearly dead person, which is why he has trouble with his wife and is attracted to the kook. It may sound like a good idea to make a movie about a boring guy, but it turns out that just makes a boring movie.

Oct 6, 2011

Youtube captions

You gotta be can we do you think if we can make a should just be alone?! Hahaha.

Oct 5, 2011

Stop motion ninjas

Stop motion went through a real slump for the past couple years, it just all seemed samey. But this stop motion choreography stuff is great.