Saturday, March 20, 2010

Movies - Reviewed, Dissed, Petted and Called 'George'

The Invention of Lying

Saw this trifle of a movie. The premise is fun, and it starts off promisingly, but dammit it lapses into a riff on religion (and Judeo-Christian religion as usual) that's yer basic atheist 101 stuff. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you will dig this movie. If you don't, you may or may not dislike it.

I did get a chuckle or two out of the "ten commandments" scenes - the commandments themselves written on the tops of two pizza boxes - because the crowd starts asking questions about what exactly do some of the commandments mean - like is the thing about killing only about people, or does it include animals, too? That part alone is worth a watch, so when this is broadcast on TV, sit through at least that section.

Here are some of the commandments (borrowed from this site, which is a Mormon blog, btw, so if you want the fun of bullshit religion compared to horseshit religion, there's your page):

* Number 1: There is a man in the sky who controls everything
* Number 2: When you die, you don’t disappear into an eternity of nothingness. Instead, you go to a really great place.
* Number 3: In that place, everyone will get a mansion.
* Number 4: When you die, all the people you love will be there.
* Number 5: When you die, there will be free ice cream for everyone, all day and all night, whatever flavors you can think of.
* Number 6: If you do bad things, you won’t get to go to this great place when you die.
* Number 9: The man in the sky who controls everything decides if you go to the good place or the bad place. He also decides who lives and who dies.
* Number 10: Even if the man in the sky does bad things to you, he makes up for it was an eternity of good things after you die

So, if you are a person of faith and don't mind wading through a half hour or so of newbie atheism (and I say this because I think there are more sophisticated expressions of atheism than the mocking stance "you and your pretend god" assumed by many of the fresh converts), you might find this movie entertaining.

This is it

I'm sorry, but the pedophile I don't really miss looked like a tired 50-something-year-old trying to do the things a young man could do. The only rocker I know who can pull that off thus far is Mick Jagger.

Yes, like everyone else, I played the hell out of Off the Wall and Thriller. And just like Gary Glitter's pedophilism stained the one hit wonder "Rock 'n Roll Part 2" for me (and Arthur C. Clarke's writing - he moved to a country that allows the diddling of young girls so he could continue without getting arrested), I will never hear "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" without thinking of the spotted one rubbing one off with a minor next to him in bed. Sorry if that was vivid, but as a parent, it really cramps my nougat.

The guitarist, Orianthi, is hot, tho; both babewise and axewise. We got the CD from the library and all the ladies of the house deemed it silly on the basis there's this screaming articulate guitar matched with pedestrian female vocals and less than mediocre songs. I concur, but I think she has promise; she just needs the right producer.


This chestnut of a movie kept popping up on lists, so I finally had the library yank it from the ether for me. It's the movie William Friedkin made after getting directorial clout in the wake of The Exorcist, so he hired Roy Scheider from his The French Connection days to remake the French flick about a bunch of guys who were hiding out from the law hired to drive old dynamite that had degraded into very unstable nitroglycerin over the mountains in very old trucks.

Yes, things go boom, but when they go boom is the fun.

Today's movies have reset my patience for exposition, because the whole first hour of the film is seeing where all the guys started out - all pretty high - and how far they fall to end up in the situation they're in. I could barely keep my finger off of fast forward, but was afraid I'd miss something important. I didn't. You could skip to the part where the oil well fire starts and not really see a different film.

I had fun watching it, though, so if you're looking for one more thing to put on your Netflix queue, it's worth the 2 hours. (Or 1, if you skip.)

The Amateurs aka The Moguls

Wherein Jeff Bridges as a Ralph Cramden kind of guy, who always has a scheme for getting-rich-quick, comes up with the idea of making a porno. He recruits folks of his tiny hometown (where not only does everyone know everyone else, but they know their family history back a few generations) to aid in the effort - even the "having sex while others film it" part - and hilarity ensues.

Apparently Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and Michael Traeger (writer/director) were dipping into the same synchronicity story well - which I believe exists, more on that at the bottom of this post - though Traeger beat Smith by 3 years.

Had you asked me how plausible a plot like this was when I was a younger, much more naive man, I would've said it's preposterous that people who know each other that well and know they will have to continue knowing them for the rest of their lives would make a fuck film together. However, experience has taught me that you never really know the depths of the freak next door - until you know. And, my wife once befriended a young woman at work whose peer group/circle of friends screwed around with anyone and each other as casually the rest of us would purchase a drink from a coke machine. Since those folks exist, this movie is plausible. (Think about it, though; would YOU do a porno? Assume someone you know would see it at some point.)

I still think that the emotional fallout would eventually make some people move out of town, if it were a small town like I grew up in.

Law Abiding Citizen

This movie was the water-cooler buzz movie around work last week, to my amazement. It wasn't on my radar at all until one of the guys brought it up in a meeting at the thing to see. Serendipity place it on the new releases shelf of my library that very day, so there I was, watching one of the unplausable flicks I've seen in a while.

I have a gift for suspension of disbelief that could raise the Titanic. My wife is the one who mere seconds after something unrealistic happens in a movie (that's trying to be 'realistic') mutters "oh come on" (or, if no progeny is around, "bullshit"). But unless you really float a plot hole so large a star could waft through it and not melt the celluloid, I tend to not notice until the movie's over, when my mental review starts. A few times during Law Abiding Citizen I rolled my eyes. How can they spend so much money and not have any left for a decent wordsmith to go: hey, there's no way someone could build a prairie dog village under a prison.

Up in the Air

Maybe it's only me, but I keep wondering what it is about George Clooney movies. They often have a great premise, great production value, and seem to always be going somewhere interesting, but when the credits roll, I've not yet been overwhelmed by "wow, what a flick."

I should say that I think he's a great actor. I mean that: great. He does all the things a star should do: rivet your attention; when they're in a scene, they're the one you look at the most; and I never catch him acting. I believe he's who he's playing - which is not necessarily typical for a pretty boy.

The only flick of his that I walked away from without that feeling of having bought an entire CD at full price only to discover the one hit was good and the rest was filler was Three Kings.

Full disclosure, this movie has the kind of ending I don't typically like. So, most fellow movie aficionados might actually like it. (Keep in mind I was apparently the one person who liked Daredevil.)

Therefore, I leave it up to you to be the judge. I recuse myself.

Oh, I loved the trailer, btw. It's now officially my favorite thing about the movie.

The Fourth Kind

I didn't read one good review of this flick, but the trailers (hmmm, a theme here) were so wonderfully creepy, I hoped against hope.

Sorry to say this movie fits that sad category where it's so bad, it's just bad.

They use a device where Milla Jovovich tells you she's an actress playing a real person, and that we'll be seeing and hearing the "real" woman she's playing throughout. Well, it's obvious that the "real" parts are acted too (similar to the primary flaw of Will Smith's Ali), and the fake/real device careens from annoying to laughable and back again.

Oh, and all the scariest stuff in the trailer.

This is one of those where if you are home ill and it comes on the TV, and you'd have to get up to get the remote to change the channel, it's worth getting up. You can refresh your beverage while you're at it, if you need further reason to save yourself.

Where the Wild Things Are

I enjoyed this mildly while watching it; though my teenage daughter hated, hated, hated it. Never before as a movie was playing did she continually say, "I hate this movie," and "Are you as bored as I am?"

The five-year-old LOVED it. And I can see why. It's one of those films that just nails its storytelling for the intended audience. It tells the story on their level in a way I would've have believed had I not witnessed her watching it. Every single leap of logic and what follows next fits their little view of the world.

I was concerned that the monsters would creep her out, as they creeped me out just a bit. Having seen the whole thing, though, the movie walks the line perfectly between their being just menacing enough to be monsters, but muppet-like enough to keep it "safe." Even during a scene where Max hides from one of the monsters who's mad by being swallowed by another.

The reason my teenager didn't like it is valid: it's largely a sad tale about a lonely boy who is neglected by his mother and more or less ignored by his teenage sister.

However, the way he copes - imaging himself the owner of the world and the king of monsters - totally speaks to my youngest. She would leap and cheer in the right parts, rapt the whole time with a smile on her face.

So that's my recommendation. If you've got a four- to eight-year-old, give this a spin, and decide which parent (if you have that luxury) gets to ride shotgun. However, if you are above that age, you might wanna devote your time to something else.

Thus far Spike Jones has proven himself a pitch-perfect movie (and video) maker. I can't wait for what he does next.

TLD: The Synchronicity Story Well.

I came up with this concept as a kid, even before I knew what synchronicity was. Several times I'd had a great idea for a story, only to see it show up as a movie or comic book within a couple years. Throughout my life I've seen time and time again where either I, or someone I know who tries to concoct fiction, comes up with an idea, only to see it come to be somewhere in the fiction universe - and, again, usually close enough to the time I'd first heard or thought of it, that it seems too coincidental.

Now, you might be thinking that somehow myself or these other idea people somehow placed their story idea somewhere, or talked about it somewhere, where someone else got ahold of it and ran with it. I immediately discount anything that's "gotten out in the wild."

No, I specifically mean ideas I didn't tell anyone, or it only exists on my scratchy notepads hidden in a drawer of my house. Or ideas I heard in the privacy of someone's house or car, that I never uttered a word about again - hoping the person who told me would one day happily announce publication or a script sale.

I believe there's this "well" of story ideas out there that if you're listening for it, casting about for a story to bring to life, you will "hear" it and tap into it. But everyone else who's trying can hear it, too. The moral of the story is that the first one who gets it down in paper - or the one who first gets it sold - wins. So, if you've got that great American (or British, or Armenian, or Japanese) Novel rolling around inside of you, get it out!


Whisky Prajer said...

I'm a fan of Up In The Air (NOT Daredevil, even though Jennifer Garner's shoulders could recommend just about anything). I was even knocked out by the soundtrack -- nothing flashy, but just in the same cool key as the movie. I can see how people might think it overrated. I would too, if the competition weren't mostly crap.

Yahmdallah said...

Did you like the ending?

Whisky Prajer said...

I did. I wasn't surprised by it, either. In fact, now that I think of it, the women in our group (there were six of us) seemed the most stunned by it. This piece and the comments below it, sum up a much of our post-show conversation [contains SPOILERS, of course]. I see one guy calls out Clooney's character for getting gob-smacked, but if I would call out a weak spot it would be Fermiga's character, for being surprised by his door-stop appearance.

Anyway, I was completely delighted to have seen a movie that generated such a lengthy and enjoyable conversation as this one did.

Whisky Prajer said...

"six of us" -- three couples, that is.