Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mega long short review post

Here is a giant stack of my so-called "glib reviews" .

I may have changed my mnd on a few of these movies, on contemplation, but these reviews represent my initial gut reactions to said movies. The great thing about movies is seeing them again. I look forward to re-watching at least a few of the following.


Pervert's Guide To Cinema 

With the vaguely charming in a “Balkan way”: Zizek! as narrator. 

Directed by one of those female Fiennesseses. If you want to know what film 101 classes are like but don't want to audit a local class, watch this. Zizek gives interesting but typical and not radical in the least interpretations of Hitch, Tarkovsky, Wachowski Bros, and even George Lucas in one tidbit. It's all cheeky with him in the actual locations of the films he's on about in his very very Freudian (at least he really gets Freud unlike many film crits) anaylsis of Blonde women, erotic impulses, death drives and so on. Very old school "film school", though, usually the other half of your Profs were Marxist (no not commies... "marxist" in their socratic understanding/discussion of film and film theory) ... I think Zizek would be a fun lecturer to have in your film 101 year. 

But if you're already well educated, and well read (not that I've been keeping current with the journals, mind you, neither has Zizek, based on this) it might get a bit boring as there isn't much that's new if you've actually studied the films therein. Which non-film students won't have seen many of the cited pieces.



Vinyan directed by that Belgian  who made the uber creepy Calvaire ... Apparently children disappear in places other than the South Boston area (friggin Hollywood always with the lies) some did so apparently in the tsunami a few years back. The somehow HAWT and at the same time kinda creepy Rufus Sewell and his wife Emmanuelle (oh were my clothes "on," sorry) Beart ... the aforementioned French pastry sees a grainy image of the back of some orphan's head in a NGO video from Burma a few countries over. So they pack up and into the jungle. Never let white people in the jungle. Never ends well. Ending is very creepy, very.



The Wrestler   

Easily Aronofsky's proof that he can make an appealing to most people Hollywood movie (with a dash or vibe of Indie spirit mind you.) Rourke gave one of those great performances he can wriggle out when he wants to. As always, Marisa Tomei is a convincing stripper.



Frost Nixon 

Took some time to get going imho but was a film all about performance. fine turns from Langella and Sheen as well as the smaller roles... Rebecca Hall who I loved in Vicky Christina Barcelona has a great time as Caroline Cushing. Almost makes me want to go back and watch the actual interviews.












MGM When The Lion Roared

Almost 6 hrs of great MGM clips (lots of unreleased on DVD, rare outta print stuff) interspersed with ridiculous setpieces where Patrick Stewart walked about up and down staircases wearing more costumes than Stevie Nicks in the 80's. Taht part was overdone and super cheesy... but so was a lot of MGM fare, I guess, back in tha day. A lot of the stories from old timers like Jackie Cooper are rose coloured, but some are bitter and dark. The saddest part of the whole story tho is the ignoble end of turning the studio into a stupid Hotel chain. Kerkorkian makes LB Mayer look like Mother Theresa.


Silent Light 
The other day, by Carlos Reygadas. Not as good as his earlier film "Japon"... but still interesting despite it's slow moving story. set in Mexico, some Mennonites have family issues as Dad has fallen for a different homely woman from the one he's married to. Hilarity ensues (NOT) . Reygadas’ films will either bore you to tears or in my case stir something deep with his over long establishing shots and quirky verite camera. Stars Canadian author and vague acquaintance Miriam Toews.



Dollars 

starring the 70's specific combo of Hawn/Beatty, and directed by Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood, Lord Jim, etc) a cool little heist film with both Beatty, and Hawn working inside jobs so to speak. Ending seems a bit tacked on, but it's a lot of fun, and how many films are set in Hamburg?



Religulous 

It was ok. Bill Maher was more even handed than I thought he'd be... but oddly two of his best rants were in the deleted scenes. He needed to talk more about the political and social power of religion, and less about the stupid shit people buy in the name of faith. But overall it was better than I thought it's be.













Beneath The Valley of The Ultra Vixens, by Russ Meyer. funny spoof of Valley of the dolls, sort of, maybe actually a spoof of Beyond the Valley of the dolls, actually. either way... lots of Boobies, dicks and fucking, punctuate some offbeat pseudo folksy narration, as if it were some wild kingdom documentray about nympho housewives. droll cheeky. gotta be in the right mood tho'


5ive

as you might suspect 5 survivors of nuclear (it seems) war band together after they miraculously survive. Only one woman though, and she's already preggers. really bleak picture for the early 50's. I haven't researched it, but I'm assuming the dark ending was cut heavily in it's release, or the movie shelved. Like a really decent Twilight Zone episode. With requisite irony, cosmic jokes at the expense of human life.



The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

It was ok. I watched it through but had a hard time being engaged by it. Really well shot, and the various periods looked cool, but overall... uh meh.



"Battle In Heaven". Watched Carlos Reygadas' 2nd film 

The dude really likes to film ugly people having sex. if you can get past that (and you may not be able too) , a very interesting film about guilt and it's nature. weird weird little movie.



Notorious

HBO vers of the Life of Biggie Smalls. well done for what it is. enjoyable and oddly lighthearted despite the fact that 2 of the main characters die. (non-spoiler if you are up on yr 90's rap history)



Cargo 200  Directed by Alexei Balabanov. 

Set in late 1984 and based on actual events. Very cautionary tale about drinking in boozecans where Soviet Police hang out. Not for the weak of heart. some very messed up sexual violence and completely insane people (Police Captain) doing absolutely anything they feel like including framing friends for murder of immigrants and kidnapping of young virgins, holding them in chains in your room with the corpses of other acquaintances.



Bright Young Things (from Waugh's "Vile Bodies") 

The Jazz age was a fun time to be an aristocrat... of course punctuated by alcohol/drug induced tragedy, and old families suddenly with no money, and the war and all. chin up though cheerio, pip pip and all that. decent if a bit stagey in the performances. Captures the era and the debauch pretty well.



The Naked Prey by Cornel Wilde. 

Great white hunter becomes the hunted, but manages to hold a platoon of Bushmen at bay while he runs for civilization. great use of wild kingdom-y stock footage, and actual use of native languages and mores without being too exploitive.



ManHunt

the recently released Fritz Lang Film Noir: Another Great White Hunter (Walter Pidgeon, who is  the only movie star ever from my home province) movie, but in this one, Pidgeon almost kills Hitler, but instead is chased through pre-war England by Nazi agents and Scotland Yard until the war actually starts. great comic noir, with dames, (Joan Bennet forced to say the awesome-est most cornball schlock in an olde British Hooker accent) bullets, and be-monocled Nazis.



Joe Strummer: the Future is Unwritten.

Very in depth about Joe's past this biography. some annoying Julien Temple tropes (slick but pointless montages mostly) but overall a very solid history of Joe Strummer, before during and after the Clash.



(the new) Star Trek 

 Thumbs up with some small quibbles. Time travel? Aren't we tired of that in the ST franchise yet? and the whole plan of the bad guy was a bit lame. also are Romulans the new Vorlons? what's up with that Vorlon freighter. kept jarring me. Really really liked all the action and actors though. I thought everyone did a respectful job. Bones was especially bang on. I'm very glad they did not fuck this up.  The inevitable sequels better not have any more time travel though. Bring on the Klingons!



Outlander

Well, hell:  a very decent SF/Fantasy/Monster flick. old school in the way the monster angle is played... scarier when you don't see it, but when you do it's pretty cool. CG/SFX is great in this  flick. Vikings + Aliens = AWESOME.... Good SF, and good Viking picture at the same time. Jim Caveizel (sp?) is stoic and speaks only when needed.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Glib reviews of random DVDs

Went on a movie binge yesterday, watched 3 movies... I've been not watching very many movies in recent weeks, only a few a week... Too much good TV that I've been trying to catch up on, while still doing things in life other than flopping on the couch and watching whatever.

First up was: "Island Of Lost Souls" Easily the best adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The Island Of Dr. Moreau." Astonishingly good makeup and special effects. This was obviously an "A Picture" in terms of set and costume as well. Very well done, with no score at all, just a bit of room tone, foley, and the odd bit of dialogue.

Especially awesome were Charles Laughton's Super Villain monologues. He was obviously having a good time with the role. Very much a Saturday or Sunday afternoon movie. Super enjoyable.



The same cannot be said however for "Underworld: Awakening" (or Underworld 4 if you are keeping count) or maybe They could call it "Thanks for the paycheque and the cool raincoat." It's been less than 24 hours since I watched it, and I can barely recall what happened other than some flashes of Kate Beckinsdale wire work.



I'm really not sure why this has a 6.5 rating on imdb, it's barely a movie, let alone part of a franchise. Spoiler: Werewolves are the bad guys again.

I hope the catering was good. Not even campy enough to be fun. Boring.


Finally after a break to level up two of my D&D (Pathfinder) characters, I watched the oft-recommended to me, at work, by those who've seen it: "Poetry"

The film is ably directed by current Korean darling director: Chang-dong Lee
Lee has a great "Peeping Tom" style of film making here in this tale of an often elegantly dressed older lady who looks after her ne'er do well teen grandson, and works as a maid to supplement her income.



Some terrible things happen to this resilient stubborn old lady. The camera never flinches from being on her tail through triumph (actually going to a poetry class she heard about) and tragedy (learning that she has early stage alzheimer's) as she struggles to find some honour, a little joy, kindness in her life.

It's a languorous picture that understands that moments of poetry are fleeting at best. I'm looking forward to going back to check out more of this director's oeuvre.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Glib Movie Reviews Of Random Movies redux

I haven't been updating this blog, but have started a sister blog on my transition.

This blog hopefully I will keep throwing some movie reviews up, and some of my own stuff from the Youtube as well.

Some random reviews follow:


Big Fan. Patton Oswalt does a DeNiro esque turn in this film that sjows you the real dangers of being a sports fan. Getting beat up by famous athletes. surprising on many levels, especially the depth of Oswalt's performance. great little movie. 



Three Monkeys. latest by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Not quite as awesome as my recently reviewed films of his: Climates, and Distance, but well worth seeing if you like slow artsy gorgeously shot fare. I do. Just didn't connect with this one quite as much. A chauffer for a politician does a favor for said politico, comes to regret it as his family gets even more messed up than it already was. Interesting take on mother/son relationships.



"Climates". University Prof and his much younger Girlfriend breakup in very realistic (read: dysfunctional)  manner amidst beautiful scenery at the beach. His life meanders on through crappy weather, and more crappy weather, he hooks up with an old flame in a weird weird rough sex scene. Eventually he tries to win back the ex. then it's over. Ceylan has a real gift (he acts as the main guy too) for subtle silent acting and getting the most out of good actors simply emoting during conversation, or alone. I highly recommend this or any of his films based on the two I've seen.  I have dubbed him "The New Turk-ovsky on the block".



Argentina continues to crank out awesome motion pictures. Haughty bottle Blonde has a car accident, goes into a fugue state for most of the picture, some people help her out, eventually she's fine. There's obviously more to it that that, but then my review would be all spoiler. Well done quiet acting on many fronts. Very similar to the films of Carlos Reygadas imo.



"Distant" - Turk film about a dude whose cousin from the sticks comes to stay with him in Istanbul. They both spend a lot of time deep in thought, staring at things and thinking. Occasionally people say stuff. Then it's over. Somehow this is all completely riveting. I learned some things about Istanbul, like they are way ahead on this recession business. They've been having the economic crisis for sometime etc.



Moon = Great little SF movie with another awesome turn from Sam Rockwell. It's no fun being a replicant, except when it is. Nice choices by the film makers, writer in this great addition to the "Outer Space is Driving me crazy" Genre.



Hurt Locker. Very solid Iraq movie about bomb disposal guys. Who obviously need to be a little nuts and at the same time very competent. Not an easy balancing act. Sort of a Generation Kill 2.



The Drowning Pool. Sequel to "Harper" with Paul Newman reprising Ross MacDonald's hard ass zen P.I. Not quite as edgy as Harper, but still a lot of fun! Directed by Stuart Rosenberg (of Cool Hand Luke fame etc) It's a grittier much less sexy Big Easy before the Big Easy in many ways. Good soundtrack, Big Sleep like non plot has Newman's Harper Bogarting his way around Joanne Woodward's character's weird family. 


tried to watch "Ex-Drummer"...  first movie I've turned off part way through in ages. Couldn't get into it's "look how avant garde we are" style. :blergh: No ratings.

"Public Enemies" by Michael Mann. Solid film if a bit soulless ( I blame Bale there, he wasn't up to Depp's level in this outing.) Very entertaining though and a very decent look and feel to it. Some great operatic moments in the gun battles etc. Definitely Mann's (maybe since Heat) best in a while imho.



Cruel Gun Story back to the 60's Janus/Criterion Japanese noir box set for this one. Directed by Furukawa  iirc, stars Shishido Joe(Tokyo Drifter, Branded To Kill etc) as a thug released from prison to do a big armored car robbery for the mob. double crosses abound in this straight forward and often funny look at post war criminal elements in Japan. movie takes no prisoners, rockets through the story 123 abc. good fun.



Finally got around to watching "State Of Play"... the movie not the series. Well crafted silly political thriller. Been awhile since there's been a decent newspaper movie. Good acting all around. Solid script, though I figured out the twist early on, they played it just right in terms of story beats.



Watched Jarmusch's "Limits Of Control". ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz... 
My least favorite Jarmusch film. And yes I've seen them all. Pretty? yes. Story? Kinda. Nothing much happens in this movie. Though there are a few nice boobies. The cameos touted in the trailer come off weak with the actors barely trying.