Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Recent Viewings - 5/9/2007


Well, I had fully consigned this movie to the eventual DVD viewing as I had missed the group outing to see it (everyone but me had the miserable sniffles and they needed a little step-and-fetch-it care). I consoled myself with the fact that the directors are likely to stuff the DVD with more extras than The Ten Commandments and Cleopatra combined.

Then it flopped. Rumors spread on the web that the movie company was going to break it up because people were walking out as the credits rolled on the first "feature." One of the guys who went on the group outing said 1/3 of the audience did leave at that point. Maroons.

So, I felt like had to catch it before it was altered from its original form. I'm still a quasi-purist about things like that thanks to a buddy who was an ultra-purist; he wouldn't enter the theatre if we were late and a single frame of the actual feature had already hit the screen. It could even be just showing the studio logo, but no, the film had started, we'd have to come back later.

"Planet Terror" is the first feature, by the talented Robert Rodriguez, and it's yer standard: zombies attack, hilarity ensues. It's fun, does the job, yadda yadda. The kicker, though, is the machine gun leg on the hottie, Rose McGowan (she has a face with a view). That really is something to see.


"Death Proof" was - dare I say it - typical Tarantino. Fun dialogue, good directing, and so on. And it's cool to see one of my all-time faves, Kurt Russell, have a go at it. He's probably one of the most underrated actors of our age.

Overall, I liked "Planet Terror" better than "Death Proof," but still had a good enough time to recommend Grindhouse.

Two of the fake trailers deserve mention as well.

"Machete" was a snort for parents of kids who've seen the "Spy Kids" movies, as he's essentially the "Q" (of James Bond fame) of the series. So to see him outside of the context of a kid's movie being a badass was a treat.

"Thanksgiving" has a scene where a cheerleader is jumping on a trampoline while stripping for her boyfriend. The slasher offs the boyfriend without her noticing. Then he sticks the knife up through the trampoline in a strategic spot just as she comes down doing the splits. In the audience in front of me, the girl on a date with her bf reflexively gasped and clapped her knees together. Have you ever noticed in movies where a guy really takes one in the nuts, you can see half the male heads bob? Well, I'd never seen a woman do that until that. It really was a cringe-worthy moment.

déjà vu

Denzel Washington discovers some scientists have created a time viewer/time machine that goes back exactly 4 days. He's just been assigned a case where the victim was a total hottie, and he's currently a lonely guy (as if someone who looks like Denzel wouldn't have women literally throwing themselves at him), so he decides to go back in time and save her.

Yes, the plot is preposterous. My wife and 10-year-old both pronounced its suckitude when the credits rolled.

But, I enjoyed it for the popcorn movie it was. If you've got the time (har har) and don't have anything against mindless movies with plot holes bigger the Current Occupant's gaps in logic (not to mention email records), you might give this a spin.

Fanboys - a warning: Don't even try to make sense of the time-travel aspect: it's silly. If you want a challenge in that regard, see Primer instead.

Marie Antoinette

I didn't think I was going to like Marie Antoinette; the reviews were tepid. Also, I thought Lost in Translation was kinda cute, but ultimately kind of ... dissipated. It was a nice try, but no cigar.

Visually, Marie Antoinette is a hell of a bon-bon. The dialogue is minimal and almost not needed. However, the soundtrack is indispensable, so turn it up. Come to think of it, it's like a live-action cartoon.

Sofia Coppola has that languorous, entitled attitude of a rich kid raised in the epicenter of a cultural hub, and it just suffuses her work. No one is better qualified to document the life of a woman-child with too much wealth and not much else to worry about.

This is one of the few movies I'll revisit in a few months to see if it yields anything from repeated viewings.

Night at the Museum

I see why the critics slimed this flick and why family audiences loved it. It's fun, sweet, and had after-school special life lessons.

Because of that, though, the film was kind of a slog for me. But then I'm not the target audience for this flick.

Sometimes films have to keep it simple and recycle some ideas because, after all, it'll be the first time some kids encounter them.

Thus, this is a nice film for the kiddies that you may want to watch. Or not. Maybe you can be in the next room watching:

Casino Royale

This really is a departure from the previous Bond films. Plus it's an "origin" film like Batman Begins.

We meet Bond just after he's killed someone under his "license to kill" double-o status for the first time, back when he was wearing suit coats off the rack and hadn't discovered the perfect martini.

Bond is really a bad-ass in this movie, and it makes the character more intriguing, plus it mysteriously transforms the existing Bond films by making some of James' behavior more resonant - a nifty trick, if you ask me.

The Bond women have always been interesting, but in this case it's kicked up a notch. Bond meets a girl worth falling in love with, and as hard as that should be to pull of in a Bond flick, they manage to do it.

After the gag in the "Thanksgiving" trailer in "Grindhouse, I didn't think I'd see a scene that'd make me as uncomfortable for a while. Well, Casino Royale proved me wrong. I had to stop the movie and get up and walk around for a while. You'll know the one I'm talking about when you see it.

If you've been putting this one off, put it higher in your queue. You'll be happy you did.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

To use Ebert's phrase: I hated, hated, hated this movie.

I'm a lefty (politically), but this was so far left, it just pissed me off.

There is absolutely no balance to the views presented, at all.

Worse, there's this whole whiney, "I'm a victim" tone to the movie. They even take a detour to point out that the detectives they hire to find out who the board members are are gay. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the point of the film, yet there we are, spending about ten minutes on it. (It had the skank of "the obligatory gay character" to it, even.)

What's even more aggravating is there's an angle excised from the film that's found in the deleted scenes where they take on DRM and such. That slant was much more intriguing and would've given the film added depth. But no, the girls are in love, donchaknow.

Kevin smith and Matt Stone of "South Park" fame are about the only good things in this. They are both gripping, intelligent, and always entertaining. If you can see this as a cheap rental or some way where you're not paying, it's worth it to just fast-forward to their parts - and hit the extras which contain more of them than what you see in the film.

As for MPAA ratings themselves, like most people I'd like to see a rating for truly adults-only films that wasn't a pariah where no one will accept ads for them and so on. But that's the newspaper, radio, and television industries (plus focus and pressure groups) doing that, not the MPAA. No matter what that rating would be - X, NC-17, or MA - it would mean "no kids allowed" and it would be shunned by the various media. So, in my view, the MPAA isn't all that much to blame. They have some complicity, but after all, they really just rate the things.

The issue is even more insignificant than that. A big "unrated version" stamp on a DVD usually spikes sales and rentals. It's an advertising bonus.

Further, I usually agree with their ratings. When I've compared "unrated" versions and their R counterparts, the stuff they cut was often very adult; the cuts were appropriate.

Now, if we couldn't get those uncut versions, I'd be singing a different tune.

Kevin Smith has a point that I sorta agree with, though. Unless it's a porno (and by that, we all know what I mean - the point of the flick is to show sex), all films that contain adult stuff should just be "R". As an adult, I don't really need the extra protection from an extra trust or slash. I would be cool with that agreement.

The one thing the MPAA SHOULD do is give specifics as to what they feel should be changed to get a different rating. They don't because they feel that would lead to claims of censorship. Well, let's call a spade a spade and get on with it. It is in a very broad sense, but the filmmaker has the choice whether to make the cuts or not. All of the filmmakers in the movie said it would be helpful to know exactly got them the dreaded NC-17. I agree.

Children of Men

I almost didn't see this one because I just no longer have the desire to a see a movie that's gonna be a bummer and a drag all the way through without any redeeming features.

There are a handful of directors - Joan Campion for one - who make unrelenting bad times at the movies, and that's made me gun-shy. They don't seem to grasp the fact that tragedies have to have a component that makes the strain on your emotions worth the time.

Well, Children of Men is bleak, but it leavens the grimness with humor and a riveting story. It's poetic to a degree.

It reminded me of another bleak film that somehow transcends the horror and manages to be moving: Soylent Green. Children of Men is a much better film than Soylent Green; I just wanted to give you a reference.

Good flick.

My Super Ex-girlfriend

Boy did this ever get panned, but it's a built-in, must-see for fanboys. Uma Thurman as a pissed-off supergirl? C'mon.

The reason it got panned, I suspect, is that it delivers its premise beautifully, but the ending is cliché. If it had an interesting twist near the end, it would've been golden.

As it is, it's still a nice, light popcorn movie. If the genre does it for you, make sure you see this.

I also have a crush on the actress Anna Faris of "Scary Movie" fame. She's like a lot of the big box office stars where even though she plays a role well, her personality always shines through. I'm entranced every time she's on the screen.

Warning though: even though it's PG-13, it's got some strong stuff in it. I would make sure any kids watching are at least 13.


The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

I keep meaning to see "Grindhouse." I'm really not very into that kind of movie, but most of it was filmed in Austin, and everyone here says to see it just for the fun of recognizing your favorite places. The Omelettry near our house--a great cheap breakfast dive in a 60's style building--was closed down for a week for shooting.

We saw Casino Royale, and it was indeed a notch above the usual Bond fare. I especially liked the scene where M gets tired of Bond's wandering loose and has him chipped like a housecat. But oddly I can't figure what disturbing scene it is you're thinking of.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Oh wait. THAT scene. Yeah, okay.

Anonymous said...

Homie, don't see a film just because it was filmed locally. I, myself, went to see Smokin' Aces for that very reason (I live not far from South Tahoe), and while it was moderately cool to see local sights on the big screen, it was also moderately annoying to see that they had misrepresented some of those places. (I won't go into detail, but it was obvious to those who know the area.)

So there was no net gain to the viewing experience. And the film sucked weasels.

Sya said...

I saw Casino Royale when it first came out and it definitely made the Bond franchise interesting again. I was about to give up on it after the rather insipid Pierce Brosnan flicks.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...


I'm sure you're right. I enjoyed Slacker, but they got so much of that right--the scene at GM Steakhouse (motto: "Steak and abuse!"), for instance, made use of a local oddity rather than just using the place as a backdrop--that it was fun to see as a local.

Yahmdallah said...

The one film that was filmed where I grew up was "Dances with Wolves." So, it's fun to see the big South Dakota skies and rolling plains in it.

Sleemoth said...

And if you ever visit Yahm's (and my) stopin' grounds, you'll see big signs proclaiming this fact ("'Dances With Wolves' filmed here."). We're talkin reflective metal, state-funded offical signs, as if a Civil War battle was fought there or somethin'. In Yahm's apt words, "The cultural black hole of the universe."