Queue Total

284 MOVIES (released titles only)

Note: Real spoilers are in black text on a black background. Highlight the black areas to read the spoilers.

Queue Numbers

#50- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

#100- Black Swan

#200- Mysteries of Lisbon

Last- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Subway (1985)
Directed by Luc Besson
Written by Luc Besson
Starring Christopher Lambert, Isabelle Adjani, Michael Galabru, Jean Reno

? there is a guy who is a thief and he may or may not live in the subway. also there is a band with jean reno as the drummer.

I think I got a lot more out of this than Leila did, but I don't disagree with the 2.  It was extremely difficult to follow, and having to see it dubbed rather than with subtitles didn't help (not least because the reading would have kept us more focused on the screen).  Lambert plays his retarded, optimistic, opportunistic small-time crook as a gleeful fool; and while it's over the top it matches the film.

There's a lot of Besson in the movie.  But it seems like he's much more consistent at making things look nice than he is at making them make sense.  By the end of the movie I understood most of what was happening but not nearly enough why it was happening.  By the end of the movie I had enjoyed watching many individual frames and scenes.

The Woman 
i didn't pay attention to the first 20 minutes of this movie and then i couldn't understand what was going on so i didn't really pay attention to the rest of it. i was basically annoyed that i had to sit through the rest of it. i found myself counting down the minutes until it was over. i missed the ending completely because i was involved in my sketchbook project whose deadline quickly approaching.... the best thing about this whole experience was seeing jean reno with hair and young and all punked out. also the music was not bad either.


Knowing (2009)

Warning this whole review is a spoiler. if you want to see this movie i pity you.

Writer: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: NICHOLAS CAGE!, Rose Byrne, and a couple of kids

a little girl puts a paper with a bunch of numbers in a time capsule in 1959. NICHOLAS CAGE's kid gets it 50 years later. it is a bunch of dates when tragedies happened, the number of people killed and the "gps coordinates" where this terrible event occurred.

The Woman
ok. let's get over the whole fact of why this little girl wrote down all these other terrible events when all anyone is really concerned with is the last one. and how there must have been tons more things that slipped through her little future seeing numerology, and how it's just a plot device to get MIT astrophysicist professor NICHOLAS CAGE to pay attention and believe in god. i sat through this in two sessions, and so coming back hours later i was not invested in the emotions of the characters at all for the second action packed half of this movie. from the beginning i was sitting there thinking to myself don't let it be aliens, don't let it be aliens, don't let it be aliens, aaaaarrrrrgh. it's aliens. there is a good concept to this movie. remove the aliens and the psychic predictor kid, and this is a totally scientific, plausible apocalyptic movie. you know what. i'll even give you the psychic kid back. not for the plausibility factor, but for the mysterious engaging factor. just take away the aliens and the noah's arc thing make everyone die and it would have been waaay better. then it would just be a rip off of cassandra's syndrome. 12 monkeys.

sorry adrienne, if you read this. i was with it until the second half.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gentlemen Broncos

Gentlemen Broncos (2009)
Written by Jared Hess, Jershua Hess
Directed by Jared Hess
Starring Michael Angarano, Jermaine Clement, Hector Jimenez, Halley Feiffer, Jennifer Coolidge

Nerdy, home-schooled kid goes to a writing workshop thingy where he meets some odd people and enters his writing in a contest.  His submission is stolen by a washed up author.  People, advertently or not, take advantage of him and he grows a little aided by his mom.

The Woman
fantastic! i thought this was better than napoleon dynamite. there were way more levels to it and it still had that kind of humor. the science fiction novella in itself was totally awesome. jemaine is awesome. hector jimenez, though already established as awesome due to his contribution known as "the jumping jellyfish" was oscar worthy. jennifer coolidge's fashions...are indescribable. it's like a 14 year old came up with every aspect of this movie and that is a precious jewel. moster most likely disagrees with me, but that is because he is way more curmudgeonly than i.  i would also like to point out if this guy never made any movies we would not have the beloved terminology of "virgina" for a local destination, discovered on an adventure to imbibe this bard's tellings.

 it kind of makes me want to read/write terrible science fiction novellas. up to this point i have only attempted mermaid stories when i was 13 (?) with the excellent co-author becky and i know that is beautiful gold. i have a typewriter. one of the keys doesn't work. it takes tiny paper. this could work.

Yeah, this was a not-so-much for me.  I understand why my woman likes it, but no.  There were plenty of funny bits which didn't add all the way up.  Most of the best material is relegated to the fantasy sequences within the kid's story, and I will say that one of the successes is how we can follow the broad strokes of that story through a few relatively short sequences.  The ending also rang true, at least, but it wasn't nearly as satisfying as Napoleon's final dance.

There is funny here, but too much is too cringe-y.  Angarano's Benjamin has an excess of naivete.  Home schooled or not, he spends a fair amount of time online and I can't imagine that he would be so bizarrely unsavvy either interpersonally or professionally.  With the exception of Feiffer, who's unbelievable in a different way, practically all of the supporters go too far over the top.  Some of the Lonnie stuff in particular consists of repetitive jokes which only work half the time, and I fear that the usually-perfect Coolidge has acquired some static on her phone-in typecasting.

One more screenwriter and this could have been great.  I just hope it doesn't prevent Hess from trying again.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead (2009)
Written by Jordan Galland
Directed by Jordan Galland
Starring Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia

a lazy guy is made the director of a vampire version of "hamlet". funny things go on. vampires.

This exceeded my admittedly meager expectations.  The premise is actually ridiculous enough to be funny and the whole thing landed right on what you'd expect from a modern B movie.

As a series of interconnected items, the plot has a level of complexity which one doesn't often see on the sharer of its target demographic known as SyFy.  There are actual subplots which resolve into the finale.  The chronicle is comprised of cockeyed conceits, but they make a fertile field from which funny flourishes in many forms.  Lines such as "The Random Vampire Laws" (or whatever; I didn't write it down and there's nothing even apocryphal on IMDB) land squarely in your gut.  The whole notion of Hamlet the Vampire is in its way genius; and the secret organization is amusing on many levels.

Hoffman's Julian acts as a perfect surrogate for the audience in incredulity if not in choice of bedchamber (or diversity of bedmates).  He delivers his lines in exactly the way we do here on the couch while watching movies which take themselves just a little more seriously and stands just outside those characters who are essential to the mythos.  There's an odd patient-dude who feels like a callback to Wes Anderson.  And there's Ralph Macchio, who just might be the worst actor in the whole thing.

This weird little thing might have found that line which predecessors such as Snakes on a Plane failed to find.

The Woman
i had really low expectations for this, but it was an extremely pleasant surprise. i simply put it on the queue because ralph macchio was in the trailer and we are huge ralph macchio fans in this house and it didn't look unwatchable. this was actually pretty awesome. the last two or three independent, low budget vampire comedy movies we have put on have been totally lame (aka "netherbeast incorporated") so i was a little jaded. this had loads of great lines, and it didn't remotely pretend to be anything other than what it was. which was a great low budget comedy. good job guys. i approve. vampires.

Monday, December 27, 2010

IP Man

IP Man (2008)
Written by Edmond Wong
Directed by Wilson Yip

Starring  Donnie Yen, Siman Yam, Siu-Wong Fan, Ka Tung Lam

In the early 20th Century, Master Ip is the preeminent martial artist of his city.  Once the Japanese invade, he's relegated to working in labor camps--his house is the one usurped for use as the Japanese military HQ--until he is challenged by that military to fight.  This is apparently adjacent to a true story.

The Woman
i specifically put this on the queue for moster. the fight sequences in the trailer impressed me, so i knew they would interest him. this was pretty much a kung fu movie, but with a WWII theme. you know, avenge and defend. i can dig. he was a pretty cool guy. and like i said, the fight sequences were choreographed really well. apparently it's a true story....mostly likely -ish. they've made a sequel, and i don't think i can dig because the ending was pretty clear in this. so there may never be an ip man2 review on this thing. we'll see.....

This was better than I expected, but I can't help feeling that it's more than a little romanticized.  Aside from the obvious question (If Wing Chun is so awesome how come he's the only practitioner, let alone the only master?), there are some other practical matters to ignore.  But it's a legend, so whatever.  It's a little more interesting how given that the character is such a revered figure he doesn't always fight honorably.  I think this is because he's fighting the invading force and is supposed to be a badass, but it's hard to respect someone who will kill a foot soldier after he's tapped out.

That said, it's possible to ignore the plot enough to enjoy the rest of the production.  Yen plays Ip as a cool, reserved customer even when he's lost control, and the choreography is enjoyable.  Production value in general is quite pleasing and provides a polished aesthetic.

I'd say it's worth it for the fighting, but you can fast forward or glaze over the interstitial parts.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)
Directed by Ricki Stern, Anne Sunberg

a documentary crew follows joan rivers for a year. it follows her struggling for work and tells the story of her past.

This was a great documentary.  It either did a really good job of pretending to show us everything; or it actually was a no-holds-barred approach.  There were plenty of difficult moments from which the camera did not shy away.

The year covered in the film started pretty badly for Joan; but it then included both her Apprentice win and the picking up of (what we presume to be) her show on E!.  We really saw the roller coaster and how much she pushes forward and always looking for work; and we saw some pretty frustrating things for Joan both personally and professionally.

Behind the scenes stuff was good if not always great.  There was a little too much shakicam and zoom-in-for-the-big line, but so what?  The cameras were where they had to be when they had to be there.  The filmmakers used just the right amount of stock footage to get their point across while making me want to seek some older Rivers stand up.

Put all these elements together and you get a fascinating look at someone who's a comedy icon regardless of gender.

The Woman
yet another good documentary. i love me some joan rivers though. it was an interesting look inside her life. lots of funniness and some very emotional interviews too. which is something i've never seen before from her. she is one hot tamale though. sharp as a whip. i appreciated it's honesty as well. i couldn't imagine working as hard as she does, doing all she does in a day and i'm more than half her age. i do think she gets away with alot of the stuff she says because of her age. meaning, even though she hasn't changed since she started the general public is more accepting of an older woman being "vulgar" and brutally honest. it ends with her opening for rickles, and all i could think was jesus, what a show that must be!

State of Play (2003 BBC)

State of Play (2003)
Written by Paul Abbott
Directed by David Yates
Starring John Simm, Kelly Macdonald, Bill Nighy, David Morrissey, Polly Walker, Marc Warren

Follows one newspaper's investigation into two seemingly unconnected deaths, one a young black finagler and one a research assistant for an up-and-coming MP (who was having an affair with that MP).

This is a six-hour BBC miniseries; and in Britain when you have a show that's an hour long it is actually 57 minutes.

The Woman
fantastic!!! this is just yet another example of why british tv rocks tocks. six episodes of a mystery that just keeps on giving. i just wrote for fifteen minutes about this and then it was lost. so now all i'm going to say is this was way better than i can imagine the movie is. cutting four hours out of a mystery that gives for every minute. i can't see it working. WATCH THIS! fuck russel crowe. and what i had written before was funnier mourn the loss of it.


Jumping into the action with an inexplicable murder of a relatively unimportant person and flowing easily into the next case, we were hooked by the second scene in one of the back rooms of Parliament.  As the narrative shifts between groups of characters before settling for the most part on the newsroom the sense is always one of purpose.  The production finds just the right note between gritty reality show and polished film. The level of tension is pitch-perfect for the duration of the story.

At its essence this is the story of six fairly intelligent people working more than full-time to figure out an extremely complicated situation, but in the entire runtime the viewer doesn't feel left behind. There are no diversions, only things which take longer to connect. We get some real details into how the investigation works and how the reporters manipulate people and situations to get at facts.  The piece doesn't shy away from the gray areas associated with the case and as the story continues to unfold each character conveys his or her standpoint on the multidimensional field ethics and morality.

Witnessing their successes and defeats I found myself as giddy or frustrated as if I were a member of a team perfectly assembled from the seemingly endless talent pool available to the BBC.  Bill Nighy's editor has the best barbs and (political correctness aside) is an actual manager.  Looking back at how he manipulates his staff in their varying levels of professionalism it's easy to see an overall strategy as he plays them against political machinations which only he can see.

At the conclusion of this masterwork we were left utterly satisfied.  Six hours of material and nary a missed moment.  The only question I still have is: Who the fuck thought they could turn this into a two-hour Hollywood movie?  Oh yeah, Russell Crowe.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Days and Clouds

Days and Clouds (2008)

Writer: Silvio Soldini
Director: Silvio Soldini, Doriana Leondeff, Francisco Piccolo, Frederica Pontremoli
Starring: Margherita Buy, Antonio Albanese

So, this woman's thesis (I'm not sure if it's a masters or a PhD) is accepted and she's really happy.  Then there's a really big party where most people have a blast.  Then she learns that her jagoff of a husband was forced out of his own company two months ago and they have no money.  She gives up the dream for which she labored for at least ten years and tries to contribute to help out.  He does as little as possible.  She gets a second job and he becomes a handyman.  He gives up being a handyman and she finally fucks the boss at her second job.  They have a big fight and then they reconcile.  This is exactly like real life...if you're upper-middle class and live in a beautiful Itallian hillside city.

The Woman
hated it! i guess i have a hard time with italian movies. if i wanted real life, i wouldn't distract from my own by watching movies. the male lead in this was the biggest piece of poo. he was too proud to stop spending money or get a job, but not too proud to live off of his wife who was working two jobs to support his unemployed ass, and who gave up the most important thing in her life to get the second job to support his machismo. ass. every time he did anything moster would exhale a sigh of total frustration. i told him i hoped he would just kill himself, because he was so pathetic, but unfortunately that never happened. gross. grrrr. and it was too cold to crochet so if i didn't eat that bowl of chili for lunch it would have been a total waste of two hours.

This was not good, but it wasn't poor.  There were some beautiful shots which were aided by--but did not rely solely upon--the beautiful scenery.  The acting was quite good, down to the minor characters.

I know this is probably the point, but the story was just too exactly real.  We really didn't want them to stay together because the husband was just such a fucking tool.  True love conquered, but what did it conquer?

It didn't constipate me.

Blood Done Sign My Name

Blood Done Sign My Name (2010)

Writer: Jeb Stuart, Tim Tyson (book)
Director: Jeb Stuart
Starring: Little Ricky Schroeder, Nate Parker, Afemo Omilani, and lots of minor characters from "one tree hill"

racial tension escalates after a vietnam war vet is killed by some racists shortly after he arrives home. true storaah.

The Woman
tv movie. afterschool special. this is a good example of a preview duping me. i thought this was going to be more dramatic and powerful. i don't want to diminish the importance of this event, but the film was just not up to par. there were too many characters doing separate things i got confused on what the focus of the movie was. this could have been two different movies and it would have been better. one on the white preacher preaching tolerance and equality to his congregation, and the other about ben chavis leading. i gave it 2 stars out of 5. in netflix terms that means "i didn't like it"

Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat (2009)

Writer: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox (to get that womanly perspective?)
Director: Peter Bilingsley
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Vince Vaughn, Malin Ackerman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk

three couple friends are convinced by a fourth struggling couple friends to go to a couples counseling retreat for vacation. hilarity ensues. message: sometimes marriage is work. hahahahahaahahahahahahaha!

The Woman
this wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. that, of course is not saying it was good by any means. this was like the "lost" of vince vaughn movies. there were all these issues brought up, and all these characters that were introduced that never went anywhere. on further examination, i think all the male characters were douchey, except maybe, holy crap, vince vaughn. his douchey exterior was just a facade, blocking his beautifully sensitive, loving side. kristin bell should have never gotten back together with jason bateman because he was a super anal controlling douche who crushed her will. there was also the whole beginning is, by comparison, waaaaay funnier than the ending. everything was wrapped up nice and tidy and happy and cheerful. yeah! everything worked out! eh. vince vaughn movie. if you think he's funny (which i might find suspect) than you could possibly like this movie. i will say i would chose vince vaughn over douchey mcdouchstein a.k.a. ....shit, whats' his name...hold one moment please... dane cook! now that guy. man, is he a hack, i mean, funny. sorry to go off on that tangent. anyway, i don't know why i put this on the queue. for realsies, but i take full responsibility and that is the first step isn't it?

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Changeling (2008)

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffery Donovan

LA in '28. a woman's kid goes missing and the corrupt and greedy police give her the runaround and try to convince her the kid they "return" to her is hers. incorrect!

Ya know, I had some trepidation going into this one; but it turned out to be pretty alright.  I never saw Girl Interrupted, and I was wracking my brain to remember another "drama" in which Angelina played.  The closest we could come up with was Hackers, which doesn't really count.  But, whatever, really.

Supposedly based on a true story, I find it difficult to believe that in real life every end was tied quite so neatly; and having eleven endings to do so did a disservice to what was a pretty well-paced first 110 minutes.  While I have no difficulty in believing that the police were exactly as corrupt as they were shown to be there should have been some more weight behind the people working to "help" her.  Both the Malkovich character and the lawyer were obviously in it for their own political / PR gain.

That aside, empathy is easy to find here; and there's plenty of responsibility to share for that accomplishment.  A lot of it comes from my own feelings of paranoia and pig-distrust, but there were no missteps in the technical side of the production or the acting.  We weren't quite getting 100% from Malkovich--we still got more than enough--and while we did get 100% from Joile her 100 equaled whatever we were getting from him.

Again, whatever.  The "facts" behind movie will probably frustrate you, but it's still worth watching.

The Woman
this wasn't bad for a jolie flick. i have problems with her. she annoys me. but i guess eastwood cancelled her annoyingness out. it started to drag three quarters of the way through and i think it was taken a little too far down her life. there were approximately three different parts where it could have ended and i would have been satisfied. her end speech was a little too schmaltzy for me too. it was at that point that i began to mock it. but i think all together it was a solid three out of five, which lately, with us, has been no small feat. i'm glad we watched it. i can always appreciate a lady who stands up for herself, especially against the man.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Killshot (2008)

Writer:  Hossein Ameini, Elmore Leonard (book)
Director: John Madden
Starring: Micky Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Thomas Jane, Diane Lane

Hitman sees some of his idiot brother in small time crook.  They botch a robbery and try to kill all the witnesses. Two of the witnesses are an aspiring carpenter and his soon-to-be-ex fife.

The Woman
this was absolutely bleh. it went on forever and nothing happened, and i didn't care about anybody. they all should have been killed in the end, but unfortunately they weren't. don't watch this movie.

It's really interesting to me how Elmore Leonard books are adapted in so wide a range of manners.  To think that Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, LA Confidential, and Out of Sight all came from the same style of writing is actually pretty neat.  And one of these days I'll sit down with one of those books in an attempt to deepen my opinion.

But this one was just crappy, and given the thickness of the other movies cited I have little choice but to blame the filmmakers.  I actually thought Rourke did a pretty good job; and I could hear a bit of Aboriginal North American Flophead in his dialect.  Diane Lane is Diane Lane, and she probably had some sort of final payment on something coming up.  But nothing else was really worth it.  Mr. G-L has come a long way since Third Rock and he fucking made Brick.  But here he was waaaaay too over the top and his character was utterly unredeemable.

Leila's right that this thing went on forever, and that's almost an accomplishment given its less than 90 minute runtime.  But there was no point to this.  There were no hooks, no teeth, no interest.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Writer: Roald Dahl (um BOOK), Wes Anderson, and Noah Baumbach (screenplay)
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman

a crafty fox has a hard time living down his promise of a safe life free of stealing that he made to his wife. after many fox years of a boring life he decides to steal from the three farms in the neighborhood owned by the meanest farmers anybody has ever heard of ever.

This was a not-so-much for me.  I am a great admirer of Wes Anderson, and it often takes two or three viewings for the entire message to sink in; but this one really felt like Wes-light.  It was very interesting technically, and the odd way in which the story was presented was done consistently and immersively.  But there were no teeth to the story.

I can't speak to the adaptation because I don't know the source material, but this thing felt SO MUCH like a Wes Anderson movie that it seems to me there wasn't a lot of faith to go around.  His characters are practically archetypes: The Royal/Zissou guy; the Etheline/Elanor lady; the not-exactly-Chas guy;... But again, there wasn't as much depth.  It took me a couple of times to see the beauty in that big final shot in Life Aquatic but much like that tiger fish I knew it was there and I kept diving for it.  I just feel no desire to put that time into this one.

I will look forward to his next one, however.
The Woman
i loved this movie. i love all wes anderson movies. i think this was just exactly his genre. his movies are always presented in a storybook form soooooo....ummm. there you go. although i think ash was just a manifestation of max fischer i didn't care because i love myself some max fischer and if he is prolonged in the character of an adolescent fox so be it. i have never read the book, but it seems to be fairly obvious that anderson made it much more his style when adapting it for the screen because it just oozed him. i think we may have a fight over rating this. why don't we own life aquatic?

The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
Written by Paul Mayersberg, Walter Tevis (book)
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Starring David Bowie, Candy Clark, Buck Henry, Rip Torn

Alien creature falls to earth somehow.  Employing a lawyer as a mouthpiece he uses his alien knowledge to build something of a corporate empire.  He meets and marries (?) a woman and builds a company town in the middle of nowhere.  The government becomes wary of the success of the company and then some shit hits one fan or another.

Major Woman
this made me realize how sick of movies that end in long sequences that make no sense. this whole movie was difficult to follow and maybe by the end i was just tired from thinking. it was incredibly long. i was beginning to think it would never end. that said it wasn't a horrible movie. it was very deliberate. so i guess that's something. it was restored beautifully by criterion. at least i'm pretty sure it was. it looked like it was filmed last year instead of 1976. david bowie is fantastic. you get to see his penis.

Ground ConMOster
This film tells a pretty typical alien-on-Earth tale in a way which is slightly to greatly atypical for any point in cinematic history which I've experienced so far.  The story itself begins simply and it expands organically until everything and everybody unhinghes to a greater or lesser degree.

The movie is far less an obvious product of the 70s than The Lathe of Heaven, but it's fairly easy to tell from a point 30 years in the future.  That said, a top-notch restoration presents a very smooth, consistent production in which regardless of setting everything appears to be of a piece, and not in a Transformers way.  Direction here was beautiful all around, from performance-instruction to some excellent, unassuming shots.  One of the easy telltales that this is not an American film is that nobody seems to care if the audio and video are perfectly synchronized.  Another easy way to tell is that there are boobies when there should be boobies.

There are few missteps in the other departments, either.  Characters are fully-realized, even if you never quite know what Bowie's deal is.  They do many inscrutable things but we never believe that they do them for simple reasons of moving the plot along.  This is evident because there is some ambiguity built in to the long end a slow second act and while some of my conclusions have less confidence than I would like I don't think that this is nearly as big a problem as my woman does.  There are plenty of "how" questions which aren't answered; but it's the "why" questions which are important, and those are never misunderstood.  This movie made me think, but more importantly it made me want to think.

Finally, I--especially I--would be remiss in telling you that your anticipation of viewing Mr. Bowie's penis will not go unrequited.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Push (2009)

Writer: David Bourla
Director: Paul McGuigan
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans

people have super powers and stuff. the government wants them i think. i think the government wants to experiment on them to make their powers stronger. it's kind of like a cold war thing, but with super powered people. there is a lot of attention paid to this drug thing that no one has survived but this one chick. yeah.

Is this the movie that I said had atypically clear action sequence direction?  I'm not sure.  I think so.

There is no reason to watch this.  It wasn't particularly anything, bad or otherwise; but it's been done better before.
The Woman
this movie was incredibly forgettable. we watched it 4 days ago and i'm having trouble remembering it. i compared it to "double dragon" the movie. it was badly planned out, and it was very convoluted (this may be because of my waning attention to it) it was also longer than it should have been. i have nothing else to say on this subject.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon (2009)

Writer: Michael Haneke
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Christian Friedel, and a bunch of other german actors.

this is about a german town in 1913ish. it's mostly about the families of the baron, a doctor, the midwife, one of the baron's farmers, the pastor, and the schoolteacher. there is a lot of focus on the 900 children who are really creepy too.

The Woman
i gave this movie two stars only because my sum total experience was "didn't like it" this is mostly because i do not know german turn of the century history because being an american in the american historical education system foreign history is deemed unimportant. especially a more contemporary history. WWII pretty much encases and over shadows anything else in european history. anyway, back to the movie. this movie was very intelligent. it was filmed beautifully. the plot was linear an made sense (which has been hard to come by in recent movies). there was just all this stuff i could tell i was missing because i'm not german. the children were consistently put down and abused, but they kept rebelling and doing terrible things. i guess this is where fascism started it's rise, so says the description on netflix, but i didn't get 80% of it. i still don't.  hence i missed the point of the movie. it was like i could actually see the stuff sailing over my head. i could run my fingers through it, but couldn't grab it. it did make me want to read about it, which is a good thing. i just wish i knew things while i was watching it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

After. Life

After. Life (2009)

Writer: Agnieszka Wojtowitcz-Vosloo, Paul Vosloo, Jakub Korolczuk
Director: Agnieszka Wojtowitcz-Vosloo
Starring: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, and Justin Long

a schoolteacher in a relationship on the rocks gets into a car accident and ends up at a funeral home. is she actually dead?

The Woman
this reminded me of "poison ivy". the plot and writing like a lifetime movie but it's just a little too racy to be on tv. 13-16 year old girls who love v.c. andrews would like this movie. there was a lot of christina ricci boobies and if you look just a little harder in a scene or two some fly-away peek-a-boo bush. the "mystery part about her actually being dead or not was fairly evident, and the ending was totally dumb. just look at the title. there you go. if you like that kind of stupid...well.....yeah. truly eh. so eh i have nothing left to say about it.

It's Complicated

It's Complicated (2009)

Writer: Nancy Meyers
Director: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin

divorced empty nester finds herself having an affair with her ex-husband and having fun doing it.

The Woman
this was alright. it was better than i thought it would be anyway. i fear empty nest syndrome and my kid is only two. i like to think that it is actually like a rebirth when you're only responsible for yourself again. what a strange transition it must be. it probably helps enormously that this writer/ director that focuses on the love lives of women in their 50's/60's always makes her characters loaded and successful. this movie was good at pointing out the complication of relationships of the entire family dynamic when divorce is the way life has been. what things were missed. i.e. the glory of family dinner. i also found it weird that this woman would revel in having the love drama of a highschooler. who wants to deal with that crap at that age? the empty nest thing apparently went into her head and suddenly there was a mid-life crisis thing going on at the same time. i don't know. it's complicated . not really, but it's funnier if i leave it at that. a solid 2.6666666666666 stars

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Writer: Eric Roth (screenplay), F. Scott Fitzgerald (short story)
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchette

Screwy-looking baby is born, baby-sized but with geezer symptoms.  He grows and loses symptoms and gains erections and does some things.  One of the things he does is a Fanning-cum-Blanchette.  He's a selfish jackass.  She's a selfish bitch. The end.

The Woman
it actually makes me laugh that this was a SHORT story. 2 hours and 48 minute movie, but short story. they must have taken it page for page, word for word, except the present in this piece of garbage was 2005 during katrina, for which, i'm pretty certain, f. scott fitzgerald was not around to see or write a short story about. this was the curious case of why the hell is this movie so long and why won't it end? i was actually giddy when it ended and rejoiced in the fact that it was finally over and i will never have to subject myself to it ever again. i laughed with moster about an hour in that we should take the advice and moral of the story and not waste our lives away by finishing this movie. seriously, this was about as predictable as an episode of "airwolf" or wait! no, better. it was as predictable as an episode of "full house"! yes! that is it! why didn't full house get any recognition by the academy? i see these two things as interchangeable.

it took ten minutes of voice over bullcrap for brad pitt to tell the audience that cate blanchette was hit by a taxi, when from 3 minutes before the scene you could tell that was exactly what was going to happen. i was yelling at the screen "get on with it!" we get it already! i couldn't wait for one of them to die. i was kind of hoping it would be waaaaay messier than it actually was. they both deserved to suffer. i suppose cate blanchette was wasting away from cancer, but still. more pain please. i want something comparable to my ass pain from sitting on the couch. perhaps a pleasant trip to vietnam in the late sixties? a napalm accident. horribly maimed by a land mine. fingers and most of the legs turned to meat chunks falling from the sky. back to cate blanchette's cancer. was it entirely necessary to keep going back to her whining incoherently from a hospital bed? cut most of that out and it could have been an 80 minute movie. eeeehhhh. i'm going on too long about this myself. if you haven't seen this don't bother. she's a bitch and he's an ass and they don't live happily ever after.

needless to say we both got up frequently an left the room and didn't even care to pause it.

The makeup in this production was above average.


Taken (2008)

Written by Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring Rob Roy, Jean Grey, Shannon (God's friggin' blight on Humanity)

ex cia(?) guy's 17 year old daughter goes to paris and gets abducted by human traffickers. he goes out to find her. he kills a lot of people. car chase. fight scenes.


This is a standard super-solo-retired-cop-gets-revenge movie.  On the one hand, direction brings atypical clarity to frenetic action sequences; on the other hand it's a little too much in the much department.  Including the music in the prologue, exposition is clunky and overwrought.

There's something to be said about walking along a forest path somewhere like New England or the northwest, where even within the individual days of a season the goings on vary widely. The trip to the end of this movie took us along a ruler-straight desert road where the only things that change are the detritus left by passing motorists or the occasional abandoned vehicle. 

The Woman
this was ok. i was kind of expecting better. it was pretty typical action flick. liam neeson's part could have been played by arnold schwarzenegger, or bruce wilis, or any one of those mid-nineties action guys. this reminded me of "commando" a lot. it was that kind of movie. replace shannon from "lost" with alyssa milano. it's kind of disappointing as a besson movie. the bar is set a little higher for him and he failed to reach it by a mile or two with this one. very shme. forgettable.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Fame (2009)

Writer: Allison Burnett (screenplay) Christopher Gore (original fame guy)
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Starring: a whole bunch of kids you'll probably never see again except in guest spots on "law & order" and "CSI" and that chick that was on "so you think you can dance" that one season a couple of years ago... twitch's partner i think

this beautiful piece of cinema follows the students of new york's performing arts highschool from their audition day through all four years of their matriculation. beautiful.

The Woman
this was like watching over four years of a soap opera edited down to and hour and a half. you barely know who the characters are, you don't give a crap about any of them, and you only have a vague picture of the stories of each character. the original "fame" was so much better in portraying character development. even though the same things happened in this one it was piss poor. i didn't even pay attention to the big show scenes. you know why. i didn't give a poop. i used to love watching terrible movies like this a.k.a center stage, the prince and me, crap like that. stuff obviously made for teenage girls, and i had that same sick glee about watching this, but it wasn't even cheesy enough for me to laugh at. it was just bad. and they dropped the whole part about the ghetto kid knocking up the rich bitch ballerina. that was the best part of the original. am i right?

it also took me half of the movie to figure out when they would say "P.A" they weren't talking about pennsylvania.

i shall continue thinking of b.d. wong's part in "the karate kid part 2" when i think of fame. yes indeed that puts a smile on my face. "kamiko-chan come to the dance tonightah. aaah, bling youl fliendah" yes indeed.

Valhalla Rising

Valhalla Rising (2009)

Director:Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Roy Jacobsen
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Maartin Stevenson, Gordon Brown

a super tough mute viking slave guy escapes his massuhs and winds up with a group of christian dudes who all collectively somehow end up in the new world. oh and he also has a little kid following him.

The Woman
boooooooooooring. it was like "aguirre, wrath of god" except it was no herzog film, it made much less sense and with about 90% less dialog. the lack of dialog spotlights the horrendous, bore a hole through your skull, feedback soundtrack which does not warm my heart to this movie. one- eye, the viking slave guy, is no doubt, bad ass, and i see the point the movie makers were trying to get across, but jeebus moose-teebus it was boring. i enjoyed the moments of extremely graphic violence and gore. a.k.a disembowelments, but these moments were incredibly few and far between. it was mostly just silence, and feedback. i didn't see the point of giving the historical text in the beginning about christianity taking over and all that. that was the only part of this movie that was obvious. in fact, the only reason i know the guys were vikings at all is the name of the movie, and the summary from netflix. boo hiss.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Hate Valentine's Day

I Hate Valentine's Day (2009)

Director: Nia Vardalos
Writer: Nia Vardalos
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett

a flower shop owner who loves romance, has a set of rules about dating. to keep the romance alive she only dates people for five dates and then stops seeing them. enter john corbett.

The Woman
this was actually ok for a romantic comedy. it was predictable, but fun. maybe i was just in the right mood to see it, i don't know. i like john corbett. i think he's a cool cat. i also have an extremely soft spot for "connie and carla" also predictable, but somehow i can ignore that part. so. yeah. if you like any of the above keywords, you may like this movie. you just, like "connie and carla", have to ignore the last quarter of the movie.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marie and Bruce

Marie and Bruce (2004)

Director: Tom Cairns
Writer: Wallace Shawn (screenplay &play) Tom Cairns (screenplay)
Starring: Julianne Moore, Matthew Broderick

a couple who are on the verge of leaving each other

The Woman
i would not call this a comedy, or funny in any sense of the word. this was HORRIBLE! i had a hard time watching it all the way through, not only because it was bad, but the many things i need to get accomplished before the middle of december were beckoning. i ended up across the room at my table more than once because i just couldn't take it. basically, the couple, hate each other. he's boring as hell, and she's a raging bitch to him. the whole movie revolves around their boring meaningless night where she wants to confront him about how much she hates him and wants to leave, and he is totally oblivious because he's too busy going out to lunch and a party with his boring friends. the party scenes were extremely uncomfortable and hard to watch. it was like being at a party where none of the conversations interest you and you just want to break out with a flame thrower ant torch the whole building. i've experienced those kind of parties and was glad to be leaving them first hand, i don't need to watch them in a movie. maybe that's how i feel about this movie. like one long boring party where there is not a soul worth talking to, and you keep looking at your watch, counting down the time for an acceptable time to leave.

it was also too neurotic new yorker personality for me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Linda Woolverton(screenplay), Lewis Carroll (wrote a book of the same name)
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter Burton

A teenage Alice is starting to realize that she can be her own person and resisting "the man."  Running away from what's supposed to be her engagement party, she falls down the rabbit hole and becomes embroiled in the politics of "Underland" which she doesn't remember having visited as a child.

The Woman
this wasn't bad, but it should not have been called "alice in wonderland". there was also something missing that we discussed yet we still couldn't quite put our fingers on and it keeps me from calling this good. the art direction was very tim burton, but very colorful. the way the mad hatter was presented irritated me a little. i don't know. it kept my interest through the whole of it, but again, something is bothering me.... it was exactly what i requested being ill on the couch. "something brainless that i don't need to think about" also the MESSAGE was very apparent through the whole thing. MESSAGE!

better than "planet of the apes" but i think tim burton needs to go back to his roots and stop doing things that have strong reference material. it makes the public weary and lose faith in your abilities when you present us time after time with stuff almost completely unrecognizable from our beloved memories of the originals. do your own thing, or have you run out of ideas so completely.

This was fine, but so what?  I really didn't care about this movie.  This is Burton, so if you can get past the omnipresent CG you'll find plenty of beautiful visuals and setpieces; and even a couple of artsy shots of "dark" scenery.

The message was super-typical "find yourself through your dreams" and the plotting itself was superficial and linear while feeling inexplicably rushed.  It's not surprising at a very small majority of characters were acted with any amount of reserve.  We're supposed to excuse that because everybody else is one form of crazy or another, but it really doesn't have to play that way.  Everything was schticky or schlocky; and we already knew that Tim Burton is married to Helena Bonham Carter (that would have been a better title for this film).  The idiotic dance at the end served no purpose but to annoy me into the bathroom.

We watched this out of rotation, which is a pro/con.  We don't have to watch it again; but I could have lived another year without seeing it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Mother (2009)

Written by Eun-Kyo Park, Joon-ho Bong, Wun-kyo Park
Directed by Joon-ho Bong

Starring Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won, Ku Jin, Je-mun Yun

a slow kid is arrested and manipulated to plead guilty for the murder of a teenage girl in a small town in korea. his mother, knowing he is incapable of doing such a thing, begins to investigate the crime herself to free her son.
Another better-than-average outing from our friends in southeast Asia, this film brings us an interesting perspective of how some people are assholes all over the world and some people aren't, but possibly only at first glance.  Quality direction drives us through a story that I don't think could have been produced in this country.

Acting might not be quite the tops here but I doubt seriously that the talent pool over there is nearly as deep.  That said there are no prominent pustules, only a small area of abating acne on some of the supporters.  The leads are all great and their characters are even a little too believable.  Unlike White On Rice we have a genuinely-handicapped Asian person who is played for neither sympathy nor laughs.  And the mother, whose life plan didn't include any child let alone a slow one, treads her horrific path with as much  honor and humility as she can muster.

As we watch her journey, there are enough obstacles to both Schrodinger and the cat that we alternate between guessing and gasping until practically the last, beautifully composed frame.
The Woman
 i don't know what is going on with the mentally handicapped asian movies in our house, but this one was far superior to "white on rice". originally, i thought this was going to be much more suspenseful than it actually was. it was more a study of motherly devotion, and it was kind of sad. that said, it was still a really good movie. directed beautifully (i'm starting to think all asian movies would settle for nothing less, and i think american directors should catch on. even if the plot sucks, if it's got beautiful art direction and very deliberate framed shots viewers might get distracted enough and at least have one good thing to say about a cruddy movie) i also didn't see the direction the plot was going in because i was so wrapped up in the journey. being a mother myself, i felt for the overbearing mother, and the angry and annoyed son, irritated by the way she treated him like a child. good movie. two hours well spent.

White On Rice

White On Rice (2009)
Written by Dave Boyle, Joel Clark
Directed by Dave Boyle
Starring Hiroshi Watanabe, Justin Kwong, Nae

Asian man with hobble-along Asperberger's hobbles through life on various crutches.  He does many things which do not improve how most people view him.

The Woman
i thought this would be way funnier than it was. i only laughed a couple of times, but somehow, i think if you are first generation japanese this might be funnier. there seemed to be a lot of cultural clash that didn't hit home for me because i do not know any japanese, japanese people. it was amusing, but shme. the lead character, jimmy, really did seem mentally handicapped. he was like a much less functioning japanese napoleon dynamite. the less functioning part is why it wasn't really funny.

I don't usually enjoy what I call the Chris Farley School of Comedy (i.e. making fun of stupid people because stupid people are inherently funny) but that wasn't even the problem here.  With the exception of a few chuckles this just wasn't funny.  I think it was supposed to be more Gervais-style awkwardville but it failed more miserably at that not least because it was impossible to empathize with any of the primary characters.  Just because the guy meant well doesn't excuse any of his behavior and I really don't understand how we're expected to leave this experience with any optimism about his future.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Lathe of Heaven

The Lathe of Heaven (1979)

Written by Diane English, Ursula K. LeGuin (book)

Directed by Fred Barzyk, David R. Loxton
Starring Bruce Davison, Kevin Conway, Margaret Avery

this dude can change the past with his dreams and when his psychiatrist figures it out he tries to manipulate his dreams but he never learns how to word his demands correctly so things don't come out the way he wants them

It's been a grillion years since I read this, but it seems to me that they did a good job of capturing the concept behind the story.  To an extent it plays out like a Twilight Zone episode; but it's deeper and more SF than that.

This is a PBS production, hampered as much by budget as by the era in which it was made.  Music, effects, "technology of the future," and architecture are all presented from that indelible light.  (Of course, the same could be said of SF from any time period.)  With that in mind, everything was competent at least.  Conway is a real piece of garbage as the "dream specialist," and it's good to see that 30 years ago Bruce Davison was doing a much better job in making the equivalent of SyFy original movies.

I really liked this book and we've (well, I've) been waiting for it to come in the mail for much longer than the standard two year  interval.  I don't think I had expectations to be met or dashed, but I did get value out of watching this.

The Woman
this was rife with plot holes. if dude changes the past when he dreams how is it that the doctor can remember the past before the guy changes it when no one else does? all arguments fail. time paradox. then, about halfway through things get really abstract and i lost what was going on. things changed, things didn't change. things go back to the way it was three pasts ago. his chick keeps disappearing and reappearing. he somehow stops the doctor, but that was done so badly i have no idea what he did, or how he did it. i've never read the story so i have no reference point,but i think it was just the kind of story that translates bad into "movie" when you don't have the character's constant inner monologue to anchor what is going on around him. i didn't like this, if you can't tell.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


JCVD (2008)

Written by Mabrouk El Mechri, Frederic Benudis, Frederic Taddei, Vincent Ravelec, Christophe Tupin .  Belgish credits are weird.

Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri

Starring  Jean-Claude Van Damme, Francois Damiens, Jean-Francois Wolff, Karim Belkhadra

Having a pretty rough time of things, Jean Claude Van Damme (JCVD) goes into a post office in Belgium (many of you may know that European post offices are also banks) and becomes embroiled in a hostage situation.

The Woman
this was fantastic, and not in the way i expected it to be. i had to stop doing my fiber art because i was so wrapped up in it. though it seems to be a vanity "comeback" movie he has totally earned it. he doesn't paint himself in a very good light either. he's a flawed, has-been, aging, action actor who hit the big time for a fleeting second and pissed it away. i hope he gets lots of roles out of this movie. not only do i think it was way better than "the wrestler" i think van damme did a better job than mickey rourke.

i put this on the queue because we love a van damme movie in this household. i thought it was going to be a van damme movie making fun of van damme, but it turned out to be quite a great film. it kind of shocked me in the way that "rambo: first blood" shocked me. an action film that's actually got some substance to it, but is usually perceived as a brainless blood and guts and explosion movie. i may go as far as to say this was not an action movie at all. it was great to see jcvd speak his native tongue, and maybe that is why he could emote better than i've ever seen him do before. his performance was completely believable to the point where i had to keep telling myself this is not a true story. (clever trick on his part using his real name and old interviews and speaking about his actual career. also the little digs he gets in about people like john woo.). the more i think about this movie the more i like it. mad props to you, sir. i applaud you, and i hope you get some fulfilling roles out of this experience.


This movie exceeded my expectations on every level.  It was smart, interesting, well-directed and acted, and really quite good.

I don't know how much of the backstory is true, but his problems weren't played for laughs at all.  The divorce/custody hearing might have been a little over the top, but people are bastards when they're getting divorced so maybe not. And when we get to the actual meat of the film--far earlier than I had thought to expect--things unfold in a depressingly realistic way.  There's not a lot of urgency to the pacing here, which again makes sense, and I like how we get to see the politics and general infighting of the Brussles police. While this part is maybe a little more typical (one cop who's actually thoughtful vs. the trigger-happy SWAT guys) it doesn't play out like Die Hard, for example.

I really liked the acting, as well.  I think we see sides of JCVD which hadn't been uncovered before.  Among other things, this film was probably intended to showcase some other chops and I genuinely hope it was successful.  There's one neat little spot where he breaks the fourth wall and it, too, is quite effective.

So, yeah.  An excellence 4 when we were expecting an awesomeness 5 is a very nice surprise.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cirque du Freak: the Vampire's Assistant

Cirque du Freak: the Vampire's Assistant (2009)

Director: Paul Weitz
Writer: Paul Weitz (screenplay),  Brian Hegeland (screenplay), Darren Shan (series of books)
Starring: John C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia
The Woman
i was pleasantly surprised at this movie. i thought it was going to be totally stupid kids movie, but it wasn't. the first clue was the amount of time "shit" and "ass" were used. it had that lemony snicket's surprisingly interesting shock to it. it was no masterpiece by far, but it had a lot of sarcasm in it and i can dig. i like john c. reilly. it was definitely the first in a sequence because it had that just scratching the surface-ness to it. you know there is a lot more to all the details going on in the story. i didn't put this on the queue because of how stupid i thought it was going to be, but now, if they make another one i'll totally be on the couch for that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

The Human Centipede (2009)

Director: Tom Six
Writer: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura

a siamese twins surgeon specialist guy decides to create a human centipede connecting anus to mouth. three abductions and one very long and detailed surgical procedure later.....human centipede

Wow?  Wow.

This is one of those things which sidestepped my expectations completely.  I was expecting a low-budget schlock-fest but really this was almost perfectly-realized.  Production value is shockingly high.  The story is nicely linear and each actor is quite perfect for his or her role.  The two women play porn stars (maybe) and they act like porn stars.  But since the vast majority of their line-readings are moans that's perfect.  And Dieter Laser is just fundamentally creepy.

The story/message itself is a matter for interpretation by each viewer.  There was definitely some shock for the sake of shock, but I like to think that the lead is a surrogate for the filmmakers.

Good, sketchy times. I dug it enough to appreciate it and I will absolutely watch the sequel. 

The Woman
this was great! it held my interest the entire time and i had no clue as to how things were going to develop. i feel sort of like this is in the same vein as "hostel" but way better. more naturally disturbing to me, instead of hostel which seemed to try too hard for shock value. i have never seen anything remotely close to this sort of a plot and i love that. tom six must be one highly "disturbed" person to come up with something like this in his brain. or just obsessed with people eating poops. it was halfway between outrageous camp and horror. i think it's awesome.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010)
Written by Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling (book)
Directed by David Yates
Starring Those three kids, every other British actor except Colin Farrell

after dumbledore is killed in the last installment, harry, ron and hermione drop put of school and go on a mission to find and destroy the rest of the horcruxes (objects in which voldemort has placed a piece of his soul). meanwhile, the death- eaters, the ministry of magic, and pretty much everyone is looking to kill harry potter. lots more danger, lots more death and violence.

It's difficult to view this as a standalone film, but it's not impossible.  I suppose the better question is, "is it worth it to view this as a standalone film?" and the answer to that is an unequivocal "no."  So in 50 words or less, with a slightly different ending the movie could probably stand up on its own.

Much like the book, this movie is chock-full of important exposition with some relatively short excursions into action.  Each of these is played for the necessary overall effect, and as an adaptation it's first or second out of the 7 films to date: There were some changes for the good, like Hedwig's more-glorious death as well as some that didn't make any sense at all to me.  One was the reversal of a couple of lines which I feel actually really changed the scene for the worse; and another spans most of the action setpieces and I'm not sure if it was done for time or for (believe it or not) budget.  Regardless, the movie does a better-than-average job of bringing the story to the screen.  I'm interested to see how long the second film is because where the first book provides plenty of cuttable "and then they went here stuff a LOT goes down in the last 300 (out of 800) pages.

While Watson is certainly the strongest actor of the three, none of them are anything less than great or (dih), anything near as poor as they were at 11.  Aside from the obvious improvements in the younger actors, practically every competent British character actor was employed by this production, and in a role which perfectly suited his or her talents.  Excepting direction by a hair or two--personally I think Cuaron's dark touch was the most suited to the material--this trend continues through the rest of the production.  Effects have come a long way since motherfucking Jar Jar Binks to the point where almost everything is seamless; and the production value throughout is consistent in style and quality.

As the curmudgeon, I can only close this by saying that the movie didn't disappoint me as badly as I expected it to.

The Woman
i read these books only once so by the time the movie comes out i only have a vague recollection of what went on in them. i tend to do a lot of "oh, yeah"s. i think this is actually a benefit because i don't really remember what the movies have left out. i guess that's a reading comprehension problem because no one else in my family seems to have this problem.

 i highly enjoyed this movie. i got a little antsy knowing that certain characters were/ are going to die, and i don't like to reveal this thing you humans call emotion. especially in public. but i think i fared well. definitely way more dark, and scary, and violent and sad. there are dead bodies and such, so if you have a small child please don't traumatize them and annoy everyone else by bringing them to the theater. it didn't feel like a two and a half hour movie either. that says a lot right there, i think. i also *gasp* enjoyed the mixture of the audience in the theater with us. i think this is the first time i've ever said that. it wasn't just  the fact that during the intense scenes there wasn't a sound coming from anyone. it was the social experiment too. there was this big group of teenage girls across the way from us, and i quite enjoyed their gasps, and sighs, and "awwww"s and giggles. there was also this group of three or four skater looking teenage boys sitting in the row in front of us. definitely the "cool" kids. what? at harry potter? what's the appeal there? emma watson? probably not. probably the fact that they've grown up with these things before they knew what cool was. at least that's what i like to think.

moster and i kept leaning over laughing to each other saying "now, he, looks thirty!" and they do.

I Am Love

I Am Love (2009)

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: Luca Guadagnino, Barbara Alberti, Ivan Controneo, Walter Fasano
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabriellini, Alba Rohrwacher

wealthy italian family's love lives, and business. mostly about the matriarch coming into her own happiness. this is a terrible description, but it's the best i can do.

The Woman
i love me some tilda swinton. ever since i saw "orlando" in my late teens i'll watch anything with her in it. i watched this in two halves over four days. the first half of my viewing session i was totally annoyed with this movie and thought it was terrible. then i sat down today for the last half and found it a wonderful, beautifully directed story. there were long sections of silence, or nature sounds, but it was all about emotion. there were times where i had no idea what was happening and began to wonder about the chronology of the scenes, but i think that was because i was crocheting rather intensely at the time. if i was just watching it i think i would have followed it better. i even pondered if i wanted to finish it, but i'm glad i did.

i guess i shut it off the first day right at the point of change in the movie. it was very fellini at that point, sort of boring and just a focus on the realness tedium of life. but after tilda swinton follows her lust after one of her son's friends it becomes more a study of emotion. you become more involved with the characters and the last couple of scenes are what make the movie. it's like this big explosion of all the pent up feelings. the music was totally fantastic too. at the end of the day i had a hard time rating this movie for netfilx. three or four.

Dark Star

Dark Star (1974)
Written by John Carpenter, Dan O'Bannon
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Dan O'Bannon, Cal Kuniholm, Dre Pahich, Brian Narelle

In the year something-or-other, hijinks ensue on a ship which has the mission of destroying planets and/or stars.  The highest jink surrounds a "smart bomb" which selectively listens to reason.

The Woman
this was pretty damn horrible. it wasn't funny. in fact, it wasn't anything. the only good thing i have to say about it was that it was only about an hour long. and all the characters looked the same. they all had that jim henson look of 70's long hair and beards. to-to-totally lame. do not watch under any circumstance.

While I gladly accept responsibility, I have no memory of why I added this movie.  As Carpenter's first feature, you can see some competent direction here, but there's not much more than that.  There are some funny jokes but none of the running gags are of the appropriate length.  Attempts at political statement/humor are toothless, and I'm not sure if the philosophical discussion at the end is intended to be taken seriously.

The only mildly interesting part of this experience is that it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the inspiration for R2D2 came from the pod sticking out of the top of this ship.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading (2008)
Produced, Written, and Directed by The Cohen Brothers
Starring Frances McDormand, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, Richard Jenkins

hmmmm. this is a hard one...okay, there's this cia agent guy who gets mad about his desk transfer so he quits. then his wife, who's been having an affair for a while, divorces him. she puts his bank records on a disc. said disc ends up on the floor of a gym. super gym guy, and francis mcdormand (who wants several plastic surgeries, but has no means to pay for them) think they have come across some "serious" intelligence. they come up with a plan to extort ex-cia guy. things go awry.

If there's an overarching theme in Cohen comedies, it's incompetence.  Each character on display here is phenomenally poor at at least one significant element of his or her life and knows it. Their general desire to improve their lot is the driving force of the film. Unfortunately that overeagerness to please bleeds a little too far onto the page.

Similar to The Men Who Stare at Goats, most of the elements for greatness are here; but differently from that movie I don't think the solution is as simple as a couple of rounds of punch-up.  In creating such a large number of independent, intersecting groups of characters the Cohens bit a little more off of the principal tree than they could easily digest; and while everything comes out OK in the end the funny is too rigid for its channel.

That's really a shame, too, because this is another example of top-notch casting of top notch actors who  (discontinue the previous paragraph's metaphor here) weren't given enough to chew on.  But they did as much as possible with what they had.

The above sounds maybe a little more bleak than reality; but that's because of the high regard in which I hold these brothers.  There were plenty of funny bits and a couple of great running gags.  Clooney's sexual adventurism, for example, carries both conspicuous and subtle touches and is conveyed in such a way that I'm not sure if it originates from existing or aspired skill.  And there's no other way to describe Tilda Swinton's character than as a world-class cunt.

Add all that up and the score is still above average.  This isn't top-tier Cohen comedy, but so what?

The Woman 
i liked this movie. i always like twisty plots with lots of characters like the cohens tend to do. there were scenes of this movie where i did not see the direction they took coming. one scene with brad pitt in particular. i also like the total incompetence of the bureaucratic nature of the cia. this movie was rife with silly paranoia as well, which i can always appreciate.

i thought this was going to be funnier. more like their comedy comedy stuff like lebowski, or raising arizona, but it was far more like fargo in the dark chuckle once in awhile. i did not really like fargo. i know, i'm an ignoramus, but i feel like the whimpy incompetence of william h. macy was too much and it mad me mad. this, i feel, though idiocy was a main theme, did not portray a situation where one man was entirely responsible. does that makes sense? no? well poops on you for reading this then.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Frost/ Nixon

Frost/Nixon (2008)

Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Peter Morgan (screenplay & play)
Starring: Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt

This film follows the (apparently true) story of David Frost's three session interview with Richard Nixon. 

The Woman
i highly enjoyed this. it's been awhile since we, well, i, have watched anything worth substance. i guess ron howard knows what he's doing. i don't think i have ever disliked anything he's done (directed). this might be worth investigation....

the acting was pretty superb in this as well. it was all about the subtle face changes. the thoughts going on inside the interviewer and interviewee while the interview took place. this was a little more dramatized than the actual interview. i kind of wish we hadn't investigated and tried to watch the real interview. i want to believe the movies. it wasn't that there was a huge difference, but like i said before this was all about the subtly, and when a few of the words are changed it just wasn't as dramatically climactic in real life.

Alright.  Here we have that rare sort of movie which is both technically and aesthetically good.  Being both in my 30s and American I had absolutely zero knowledge of this part of history (the interview, not Watergate itself) going into the viewing; and I think that worked to my advantage.

You can't really talk about story in something like this because it's supposedly based on things which truly happened--and some dalliance in a misleadingly-named feature lends weight to that assertion.--but the facts are presented in a more than competent fashion.  Showing the disparity between Nixon and Frost people worked really well; and I really enjoyed the aged talking-head interview format using the same actors through the entire process.

Direction of a film such as this can be tricky.  After all, it's not too easy to generate tension in a story about someone talking to someone else.  But Howard couches all his trickery in actual skill, to the point where I was (metaphorically) on the edge of my seat as the climax approached.  Everything else combined to form a great experience.  Perfectly-cast actors did a great job in a seamless environment.

I didn't get up once during this movie, and there are few higher steps on my praise scale than that.


Cthulhu (2007)

Director: Dan Gildark
Writer: Grant Codgswell, Dan Gildark, H.P. Lovecraft (book)
Starring: Jason Cottle

the only things i'm sure about are this: there was this gay guy. things happened.
Being a dork adjacent to the Dragonlance types, I know there's something called Cthulu and I know it has a really rich history with a bunch of lore.  I therefore can't help feeling bad for people who might watch this movie thinking they'll get anything comprehensibly resembling of that story.

This was funded at least in part by Logo so it's understandable that they'd make a big deal out of the fact that the main character is gay.  But it doesn't actually play into the story at all.  I understand, "Hey. This is a gay dude and he's back home and this is his ex boyfriend."  Replace a couple of words and that's a common (if potentially facile) means of exposition.  But that should be the end of it.  His homosexuality is immaterial to the fact that he hasn't produced any offspring; and neither does it play at all into the apparently ridiculous climax.

I kind of disagree with the notion of giving this movie a 1 because it didn't generate in me enough passion to be classified as "hate."  I wanted to understand this movie and I hoped to enjoy it, but it didn't make me give a flying fuck, gay or straight, about anything... including the actual experience of consuming it.

The Woman
what? i don't get. salamander people? the end of the world as we know it? this was like from someone who really really liked "twin peaks: fire walk with me" and tried to attempt some sort of david lynchiness, but failed on an epic level. i have no idea what was going on 98% of the time in this movie.  i am tempted to read this book just to see what the fuck i spent an hour an a half watching.  is that a good thing? usually i would say yes because it invoked some want to research further. but in this case i'm going to have to say na nay no, my man. wattatai.

"i am the aaaaarm"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Think We're Alone Now

I Think We're Alone Now (2007)

Director: Sean Donnelly

a look into two obsessive tiffinay fans. documentary

The Woman
this was kind of weird. in one hand i'm totally freaked out by these two people, and in the other hand (quite smaller hand) i kind of feel sorry for them. they both have mental issues...obviously. one suffers from asperger's syndrome, and the other is an inter-sexed  person (hermaphrodite) who was in a terrible accident and has some sort of brain damage.  just they way they talk about tiffany scares me. it must happen with all celebrities, but jeebus. talking about her like they know her personally, and how they WILL someday marry tiffany and live happily ever after and seriously for total serious mean it. in fact one of them tells anyone who will listen that they are close personal friends. i don't quite understand how or why tiffany would continuously interact with these people. she took out a restraining order against one of them in 1989, but he has all these photos of him posing with her at events. i did enjoy when the two "stalkers" met up for a tiffany event and kelly (the inter-sexed one) got really mad at the other for comparing his experiences with meeting tiffany. she also reminded me a lot of napoleon dynamite. i also suppose that the one with asperger's is obsessed with her because obsession could be a part of the syndrome, but still. i wouldn't want that guy around me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day (2010)

Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: Katherine Fugate
Starring: Jessica Alba Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Bryce Robinson, Taylor Swift

los angeles has lots of people who maybe in some sort of relationship with another human being.

The Woman
i hope everybody got paid well. this was two hours of boring. blah, blah, blah, relationships. valentines day. blah, blah, blah. my son woke up with ten minutes left, and i seriously considered fast forwarding through the ending. talk about dragging on, and on, and on, and on, and on. after it's boring conclusion i went to the computer and crossed my fingers that it was actually on the queue and i had not just subjected myself to that for no reason. huzzzah. it was there at #156.  yes. i actually demanded this movie. unfortunately. i hesitated with my finger over the button because i had heard it was terrible, but for the sake of clearing the queue.... i AM jeebus, the martyr. no. i cannot get off my cross.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Hasbro, i mean, Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Starring: The Beef, the fox in tight white skinny jeans, and some other peoples

Brought to you in part by General Motors, Sprint, State Farm, and Cisco, this movie reveals that The Beef and The Fox have had sex since the first movie. 

The Woman
this was super fantastic! we had a really fun time laughing at this movie. it really is a travesty, but i guess it's like watching hitler get a pineapple shoved up his ass. wait, is it? you know what i mean. maybe it's more like watching a train full of terrible people derailing with no survivors. we made fun of this movie for hours and, now days after it's viewing. i'm not really sure how "the fallen" had his revenge, since he was defeated without completing his mission of ten trillion kerjillion years, and was killed pretty darn easily. and didn't kill the beef. and didn't sully megan fox's white pants. i guess he destroyed the great pyramids.... and i guess he found that sun devourer thingy. fat lot a good it did him though.... but, man, it was a good time had at the orienter house. really. i can't wait for the next one to come out.

oh, the matrix of leadership. you can't pay someone enough for gold like that.

There's enough fucking garbage in this movie to make eleven Transformers movies, and while I don't think we'll get quite to eleven I think we'll get past three.  Hooray.

If you want to look for sense here, I think you'll need a very special sort of divining rod.  Beef is reluctant to go off to college even though his parents need to be shot in the face immediately.  Megatron was buried (?) 9300 fathoms beneath the sea, which is roughly twice as deep as the ocean actually is.  The Matrix of Leadership is a thing, but it's not; it's really a gift granted by the Transformer Gods (bestowed upon guess who?).  Optimus Prime is the last remaining heir to the seven Prime Transformers, which implies some sort of heredity, which implies some sort of procreation, which possibly implies some sort of female transformer.  (I think Transformers porn would have been preferable to this movie; oil squirting out of Optimus's crotch onto Hot Rod's face could have at least run under the credits.) The list goes on.

If you can suspend all that disbelief, you might be as Jesusy as Beef and consequently be able to forgive every other transgression on display here.  Action scenes--both full-on robot fights and simple car chases--are so frenetic as to be inscrutable; and I know these things are robots, but their dialogue doesn't have to sound like narrated voiceover.  As far as characterization, the closest one to "believable" is Beef himself.  Everybody else, humans and robots alike, is scattershot on a piece of graph paper representing various forms of caricature, stereotype, and comic relief.

Finally, I'd like to congratulate the single most successful member of the production staff: the continuity manager.  If not for the diligence of that person, Megan Fox might have looked differently in scenes which took place on the same day just because some of them were set in a small Italian town and some were set in the midst of a laser-firefight in the middle of the desert.