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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: David Koepp (screenplay)
               George Lucas (story)
               Jeff Nathanson(story)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Shia the Beef,  Cate Blanchette, Karen Allen, and the dude who has the alien pop out of his stomach in "alien"

Synopsis: ummmm. aging awesomeness in nuclear age= lame alien story told in a way that not only doesn't make any sense, but the characters don't even believe what is going on. ok. for serious, this is the best i can do: henry jones jr. fights the commies and the red fear, sending him, for some reason, to central america to find a kidnapped friend, and figure out where el dorado is to return an alien skull george lucas says so? he discovers he has a son with former tough lady friend karen allen, who barely speaks through out the movie, and can only be found if you look for the woman clinging to old indiana's arm. jungles, alien skull, alien skull, jungle, primitive central american hostiles, alien skull, commies, skull, skull, skull, temple, aliens, the amazon river. the end

MOster I am quite confident that numerous multimillionaires congratulated each other upon the completion of this production; and unfortunately it netted a half a billion dollars globally.  That means that there are some hundred million people who were bilked out of their money.

Pre-production of this film must have been like an elaborate game of telephone in which five (drunk) people watched other, more original movies and told anecdotes to ten other (high) people who turned those misremembered snippets into this crap.  What little variation from earlier incarnations of the franchise consisted of answers to questions nobody ever asked (e.g. Indy was a decorated soldier and spy (when?!), his parents were having problems, he slept with a lot of girls in his day).  Neither was Spielberg immune to this hackery, treating what are probably two of the ten most telegraphed reveals of all time with the gravity of "I am your father," and entire shots and setups taken from everywhere you can imagine from himself and Lucas, through Peter Jackson, and back to Rob Reiner.

Aliens in Mayan times; McCarthyism with no point other than to move the plot (when a couple of lines would have saved us the pain of watching Beef motorcycle next to a moving train); the old guy  feeling his oats; the betrayal of an old friend (usually in the third act but here coming in 10:00, out at 70:00, and back at 100:00); greed leading to death; and the ENTIRE FUCKING SPEEDER BIKE SCENE are on a list of vague--or blatant--ripoffs which would be even longer if I wasn't nodding off near the middle. Indy even said, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

In a movie such as this normal questions of physics must give way to the suspension of disbelief, but normal questions of common sense don't have to.  I don't know how many times I had to tell Leila that whatever alien artifact was around was bending spacetime to allow (e.g.) people who were half a mile apart to immediately be next to each other.  But that turned out to be correct, because these were INTERDIMENSIONAL aliens, you see.

With the exception of William Hurt, whose performance as a fellow archeologist driven crazy by the aliens was better than Ford's, the cast was B- at best.   Karen Allen stood out as that chick from that other Indiana Jones movie who forgot how to act while she was working as a cashier (which is understandable).  I guess I could say that and James Broadbent and the guy who plays Charles Widmore did a good job of reading their three lines each.

This movie was like a community college improv group doing a parody of a generic action/adventure script.  Seriously, "Phantom Menace" was better than this.

[ETA: I totally forgot about Cate Blanchett until I read Leila's review. Her intermittent accent was the bomb.  Not da bomb; the bomb.]

The Woman:  i might have given away my opinion of this steaming pile of sith in the synopsis. i think from here after i might pretend that this movie doesn't exist to preserve my admiration of the other installments of indiana jones.  the characters still, by the end of the movie don't know what aliens are, after two and a half? hours of "wait, what is this?" WE GET IT. THE SKULL IS AN ALIEN SKULL. THE MAYANS THOUGHT ALIENS WERE THE GODS. jeebus. george lucas needs electro-shock therapy to regain his creative process. maybe the first star wars movies were just a fluke. rehashing old story lines and scenes, i.e. the chase scene in the amazon, which resembled so much a certain chase scene on endor, and was also pretty much the only scene reminiscent of a real indiana jones movie, just doesn't cut it for anyone anymore. what the heck does that say!?! even cate blanchette who could do no wrong before this, fails at a decent russian accent. i mean just in the first sequence being blown up in a nuclear explosion....indiana jones has escaped death before, but not in such a tom and jerry way. even if the refrigerator was not incinerated and was somehow miraculously blown free of the radioactive dust that once was the house, a human body inside would be either (i can't decide) liquified, or baked like a cake. i can't continue. it hurt my soul to watch this. like if someone took your dog raped it, and lit it on fire in front of you. it's exactly like south park said it would be. i can't figure out what audience this was made for. a bunch of cryogenically frozen 12-14 year old boys, from the late 80's/ early 90's, who suffered immense brain damage in the thawing process, remembering only details from the other indiana jones movies, so they would get all the in jokes, and yet not care the level at which this was a mockery of the former. also they would have an infantile sense of humor, so they would laugh at all the children's humor to be found in this over budgeted, over worked poo fest. my final impression is a movie made entirely of plot devices and meaningless conversation to propagate said plot devices, and the pay off is given away in the first 15 minutes.

 dear spielberg and lucas, stop trying to re release your former glory. either retire and live off of your ridiculous savings, or kill yourselves so people will remember your legend, and think of you fondly. wait, it's about ten years too late for that. never mind. squander your means until there is nothing left, and live out the rest of your days destitute old, senile and smelly. you can't continuously piss off your audience and expect them to come back forever. sooner or later even the most idiotic of us will get hip to your game. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Director: Peter Hyams
Writer: Peter Hyams (screenplay)
             Douglas Morrow (1956 screenplay)
Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Orlando Jones

Synopsis: reporter tries to trick the crooked district attorney, who has been faking dna evidence to bolster his conviction rate by implicating himself in a murder.

The Woman only: LAME. i'm just going to say right now that i only finished this movie because of this blog. it was almost unbearable. this was like the courtroom drama version of a syfy original movie. the two leads played by miguel from nbc's daytime drama "passions" and amber tamblyn most memorable to me as emily quartermaine in abc's daytime drama "general hospital" were the most horribly acted roles i've seen in a "movie" for quite some time. i mean rivaling hayden christensen as anakin skywalker, particularly in "attack of the clones". it was that bad. and then we have michael douglas to round out the game of which one of these things is not like the other, which one of these things just doesn't belong. the writing, of course did not help, but it sounded like they were doing cold readings through the whole disaster of a movie.

moving onto the plot....stupid trying to play intrigue. there's also a stupid twist at the end that i didn't see coming...because i didn't care. there were supposed to be funny lines in it, but the timing was so bad, it just enhanced the extreme quality of this piece of flaming poo. the banter between the leads was so annoying and ungenuine when it was supposed to be clever. ugh. my thoughts while i was watching it brought me back to the first time i saw the spice girls. i thought they were a joke commercial for mtv. this was bordering the ridiculous on that level. like nuh-uh, for serious? this is a movie that a studio green lighted? did anyone watch the footage while it was being made? i can't imagine that someone okay-ed the release of this to the public. the last line of the movie is "fuck you" and i firmly believe that was the director laughing at anyone who saw this.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Uncertainty (2009)

Directors: Scott McGehee
                David Siegel
Writers: Scott McGehee
                David Siegel
Starring: Joseph Gordon- Levitt, Lynn Collins

Synopsis:  a young couple is standing on the brooklyn bridge pondering what they should do about their unplanned pregnancy and their july 4th plans. option 1- they go to manhattan to a friends kegger option 2- they go to queens to the chick's family bbq.  the movie is a mish-mash on how either plan would play out.
manhattan= suspense/ action movie. queens= indie's version of drama (which i usually interpret as booooring)

The Woman only: i don't get how i feel about this movie. i guess you could say i was uncertain.....oh, snap! i found most of it interesting, but the ending was typical indie no ending, and you can't get away with that kind of crap when depicting a suspense/ action movie. there was also no real discussion on the whole pregnancy thing. they talked around it the entire movie, and then just resigned to do nothing about it at all. it was filmed well. and the concept is mostly original, with the word play of the title and the indecision of portraying two completely different styles tackling the same subject matter, and the question of what the two characters should do throughout the movie. i labored over the rating of this movie. i ended up giving it a "i liked it" three stars, but i think perhaps it's more of a two and three eighths "i wouldn't say i didn't like it". my ultimate recommendation is: i'm sure there are better things to do with your time than watch this movie.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gunga Din

Gunga Din (1939)
Starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Carey Grant, Victor MacLaglen
Director George Stevens

Synopsis (by MOster)
Cutter (Grant) and his troupe of cutups are British soldiers in India in the late 19th century.  After purchasing a map (largely believed to have been a scam) to a legendary city of gold, they begin to encounter members of a murderous cult of Indians (English actors in brownface, supplemented by the occasional non-speaking actual Indian).  Eventually, Grant finds his treasure as well as the cult.  Hijinks ensue, white people are superior, women are completely disregarded.

granted you have to overlook the whole dated thing- i.e. the use of shoe polish for the indians, and the whole "the sun never sets on the british empire" long live queen victoria, "yes, but do you have a flag?" thing, but this was good. looking at cary grant for two hours helps too. there was a lot of inventive camera angles for the time, and the plot kept my interest. all in all it seemed to be a slight influence for "indiana jones and the temple of doom" which tends to disappoint my faith in steven spielberg once having original thought and vision. oh well. it does put us in a great mood to watch the rumored aberration that is the next indiana jones installment. stay tuned kids. it's coming soon. and subsequently, if you're in the mood for a good epic old movie this would be my recommendation. i would take cary grant over douglas fairbanks any day. just thought i'd throw that in there.

Despite how I wrote that synopsis, there's a lot to like about this movie.  The plot is the plot, but I'd be willing to bet that it was a whole lot more unique when it was released; and my general advice to those who undertake this movie is that you must take it with 70-odd years of salt.  This covers the acting (I LOVE upper-crust Cary Grant's intermittent northern-English accent), the plot as mentioned, and the generally disgusting attitude that both the characters and the production staff take towards the Indians.  A disclaimer in the beginning about the cult which is portrayed may or may not be true, but that doesn't change the overall condescension.

With all that said, the "things to like," can be broken into two categories.  Firstly, the experience as a consumer of entertainment is actually fun.  The acting of the three leads and the interactions of their characters are often giggle-inducing.  And below (and through) the giggles you can really see the camaraderie they share and how deep (in my opinion too deep) their affection and bond go.  Some of the secondary characters are just plain ridiculous, some really are offensive, but many pull their weight admirably among the giants.

From a technical perspective--and my own standpoint of ironically-hypocritical condescension) there are a lot of really interesting things going on here.  Not being an actual film historian I can't really know how much of what they did was "new," but  there are some really great shots and some actual camera movement which must have been quite difficult to execute.  There are also a few spaces of editing which, while laughable by today's standards, are taken for granted in more modern undertakings.  Similarly, there are many special effects which obviously influenced later works.

All in all, this movie is far above the median when compared with the cinematic feces through which we regularly wade.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Conversation

The Conversation (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gene Hackman, shirley (from laverne and shirley), a very young harrison ford, terri garr has a line or two, fredo from the godfather, and robert duvall

Synopsis- a very paranoid surveillance guy records a conversation for a corporate "director". this brings up issues from his past. what will happen? what does this conversation mean? is someone going to be murdered? probably. should he break his rules and interfere? he already has by trying to figure out what the heck the conversation is about. downward spiral.

The Woman- this movie was on the good side of ok. there is an interpreted mental breakdown of the main character, which is always confusing without being stated outright. that's where things got confusing for me because, i, as the viewer was not sure what was real and what was hallucination, and was left with an open ending. but as a whole it was an interesting movie, with a twist in the end. a good character study, and a fascinating subject of surveillance, and privacy.

Moster- There were many things about this movie which I liked a lot.  Hackman's performance was quite good; and there were no bad apples in the rest of the bunch.  As we watch the plot unfolding, there are questions about what Harry (Hackman) will do with what he knows; and neither what he nor we saw played out in the expected fashion.

The movie does a good job of showing both sides of the people in the surveillance industry.  Many (or most, if this is to be believed) are on the cavalier side of it:  knowing how easy it is to watch someone they just live their lives and joke about watching and being watched.  The other side is the paranoid hypocrite:  knowing how easy it is to watch someone they wonder if they're being watched and try to work against something which may or may not happen.  This makes up the better, psychological aspect of the movie.  On one hand Harry is obtaining information and wondering if he should involve himself (and how).  On the other he slowly deteriorates as his reputation as the best has him looking over his shoulder.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Incredible Hulk

Synopsis (by MOster)
With the Hulk origin story relegated to flashbacks in the opening credits, the movie follows Bruce Banner as he is discovered hiding in South America, chased back to ex-flame Liv Tyler, and pursued by William Hurt and neo-Hulk Tim Roth.

The Woman
remember superman 2, with the whole "kneel before general zod" thing? yeah, if you do, there is no need to watch this movie because, with the exception of a few details it's the exact same plot . superman 2 did a better job too, with their 80's special effects capabilities. i like edward norton too. bad choice mr. norton. well, at least it wasn't as big of a train wreck as the fantastic four movies. maybe they rehashed the superman 2 plot because it's a dc comic, and therefore doesn't exist in the marvel universe?

This really didn't do much to keep my interest and I don't really have anything to say about it.  Most of the performances were fine, and the technical stuff was fine as well.  But I don't think there was anything new in the entire two hours.  Squandering the origin was a mistake in my opinion as that's the only part with any potential for variation.  Even taking that into account, the story could have been more interesting.  For example there could have been a love triangle between Tim Roth and Edward Norton and Liv Tyler.  But there wasn't.  The movie followed one thread through no entanglements to an easily-predictable "climactic" battle and ending.  Even the lead-in for potential sequels (cameo by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark) was rote.

You Kill Me

Synopsis (by the woman)
alchoholic hitman from buffalo,ny goes into treatment in san fransisco. he finds love with another dry, and boring emotionless lady.

I remarked early in the viewing of this movie that I like how Ben Kingsley has such a wide range.  His subtle, fairly natural peformance kept me hopeful through the first half-hour, then I tried to stay in denial about my apathy until I found us having a conversation which had nothing to do with the movie.    When I saw Tea Leoni's name on the list of executive producers I was worried, and I was right.  She apparently does not know how to pick a script.

I really wanted to see something happen with this character, some actual conflict or tribulation  in his strive for 
sobriety.  Sure, he falls off the wagon a couple of times, but there are no real consequences.  In fact, I think the story would have been more believeable if it fallen back to formula.  If it had taken him more than ONE SCENE to win Tea Leoni back after he blew off a huge dinner that she cooked specially for him (and spent the next few hours saying mean things about him to the television.)

Rounding out the A plot (such as it was) were a decent enough performance by Luke Wilson as Kingsley's AA sponsor (and the only performance with any chemistry with Kingsley)... and Bill Pullman, native of Hornell New York, chewing scenery and shitting out a bad characature of a Eugene Levy performance.

Higher on the list of "things about which MOster did not give a fuck while watching his move," was this entire subplot back in Buffalo.  The Polish mob of which he is the only hit man is losing to Dennis Farina's Irish?!.  They die, but we don't care and other than shooting people Kingsley's character doesn't really seem to care, either.

The Woman
BORING. the trailer to this movie was highly misleading. hijinx were supposed to ensue. there were no hijinx in the northern hemisphere while this movie was in progress. with a cast like ben kingsley, tea leoni, bill pullman, dennis farina, and luke wilson, you think something interesting could be pulled out of one of these actor's asses. man, it's a good thing i was knitting some socks while watching this movie or i would have slept through this boring, uninteresting hour and a half time block.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paper Heart

Paper Heart
Director Nicholas Jasenovec
Writer Nicholas Jasenovec
           Charlyne Yi

Synopisis presented in documentary form, a socially awkward woman/comic/musician says she doesn't know what love is. she searches for a definition by interviewing couples, singles, and children in various places, all across the country. along the way she meets michael cera through her friend, and they begin a relationship.

The Woman (only)
i had thought this was actually a documentary going into this. everyone plays themselves except for the writer/ director. it's not. i came to this realization about 3/4 of the way through this movie, when everything became very rehearsed. i felt duped. and i immediately became bitter. i'm telling you this, so if you decide to watch this, you won't feel duped. putting that aside, i liked it. it brought out all of my girlyness. watching a socially awkward couple in the very, very beginning stages of a relationship was hard to watch, and yet my brain was at a constant "awwwwwwwww" i wanted to pinch some cheeks. the interviews became sort of uninteresting and background to charlyne's relationship, but that's ok. and michael cera's face when she said she hadn't found love yet....oh man, it hurt me. in my living room. i know, big girl, right? anyway, all in all, i liked it. and she wrote a pretty boss song in it. it reminded me of daniel johnston. the song, not the movie. i had forgotten that whole stage of my life, and i am so glad it's over.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shoot the Piano Player

Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
Director Francois Truffaut
Writers David Goodis (novel), Francois Truffaut, Marcel Moussy
Starring Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger, Michèle Mercier

Synopsis (by MOster)
This movie tells the story of Charlie/Edouard, a piano player at a bar in Paris.  Charlie is (ostensibly, at least) the most honorable of the three adult males in his generation.  Flashbacks show his history as a concert pianist, but the movie's main focus is on how he deals with a new love life and the trouble which seems to follow his family.

The Woman
i think i'm just sick of old foreign movies. (we've watched six in the last month and a half, adhering to our only rule about the netflix queue) this was ok, but there was nothing to it. it was all surface. here's this guy. he used to be a concert pianist. he has crappy brothers who are constantly scheming and getting into trouble. here are two guys after their cut of a robbery take that they committed with one of the brothers. pianist gets dragged into it along with his lady friend. shoot out. the end. complete indifference.

This took a turn for the better for me around the halfway mark as the single flashback was drawing to a close.  The film uses voice over to positive results as we see what Charlie is thinking at key points in the development of the plot.  While not all of his actions are particularly nice, these insights let us understand his point of view better than many other narrative devices would have; and when we're brought back to the present we have a better ability to see how everything ties together.

Humor comes from the bumbling of most of the other male characters, but it's not overbearing.  One particular quick cut away from a tense scene yields a much-needed laugh.  As the story unfolds I was left with a sense of ambiguity about Charlie's actions (did the knife slip or didn't it?). But my greater certainty about one of the other characters lets me see irony in the ending, which grants artistic satisfaction along with the sadness.

MOster Only: Doctor Who - The Eleventh Hour

Being the consummate pirate that I am, I was able to download the first episode of the new "Doctor Who" a few hours after it aired in the UK (and two full weeks before it will air in the US).  Overall it was a very positive experience.

As with most of the new seasons of the new Dr. W., the first episode is centered around the formation of a bond with the new companion; and given that this season brings us a new Doctor we have him (almost literally) finding his legs as well.  The all-too-typical "save Earth" plot is in place, and while that action is largely in the background until the last 15 minutes or so everything ties together nicely.

The episode begins with a new aesthetic due in part (and hopefully thankfully) to Steven Moffat taking over from Russel Davies as showrunner. I like the new opening sequence (Leila thinks it could have been designed by Maude Lebowski), and I like the new music even more.

The Doctor begins where we left him, with a TARDIS in trouble, flying over London and getting ready to crash. And crash it does, as we get a rare shot of the TARDIS on its side. He has a cute encounter with a 5-ish Ameilia Pond.  (In one of the best recurring jokes of the entire 30+ year series he says to her, "Do everything I tell you, don't ask stupid questions, and don't wander off."). She believes that he's the answer to her prayers (to Santa, hah) and they have a pretty cute set of scenes where he figures out what sort of food he likes (ending on fish sticks dipped in custard) before getting back to her prayers and identifying a crack in the universe which happens to be manifesting itself in her bedroom wall. As he seals the crack with a dodgy sonic screwdriver, we get another cute exchange:
"You know when grownups tell you that everything's gonna be fine, and you think they're lying just to make you feel better?"
"Everything's gonna be fine."
But Prisoner Zero has already escaped; and that's the last we see of that plot for a bit as The Doctor gets an urgent call to return to the TARDIS before it explodes. He tells her he'll be back in five minutes and runs off to start repairs. She packs to wait.

Of course, when he returns he finds a house which at first appears to be deserted, but then he's bonked on the head by a cricket bat and restrained by a policewoman. It doesn't take too long for him (and it takes us far less time) to figure out that this is 20-ish Amelia, who's changed her name to Amy. It takes us all a bit longer to learn that she's a Kiss-O-Gram, and that the radio into which she was calling for backup is a fake (her other option was a French maid, and a cute line later in the episode has his judgmental side taking form as "I'm the Doctor. I'm worse than everybody's aunt"). He points out to her that P0 is actually staying in a room which has been psychically blocked but is "in the corner of [her] eye" in a bit which reminds me very much of Douglas Adams' "somebody else's problem field," (and could be, given their other callbacks to an old staff writer) and she has her first encounter with P0 in its native form.

Anyway, the landing of the TARDIS brings the jailers to Earth and they threaten to incinerate the planet if they don't get the prisoner. And he can't get back in because it is, itself, regenerating. In the process of figuring out the deal with P0, we come across one of the things which took me out of this episode a bit: a sequence of him running through his recent memory to figure out what was different and focus on that. What was different was one nurse who was photographing people on the ground while everyone else was photographing the happenings in the sky. This is because that nurse works in a local coma ward and sees his patients roaming around the park because (The Doctor tells us) P0 uses their brains to take their forms and wander around the area. It's unclear if it uses this ability to wreak any havoc on the area; and while it seems likely that it would be eating people or something there's no mention of any missing persons.

So, they have 20 minutes to run around and do their thing. This includes yet another method of The Doctor hacking into a multi-party conference call and telling the silly Earthlings what to do (he convinces them that he's a helpful alien by giving them, "...a personal favorite of mine [and a personal favorite of mine from this episode]: faster than light travel with two diagrams... and... a... joke!") and uploading a multiplatform supervirus which will cause all the clocks and displays in the world to reset to 0 simultaneously so the jailers can track it to its source.

So all he has to do is corner the alien and the jailers will be able to find it and take it back. This is not really a problem, which is not really a surprise. It has another little moment where he directs the unconscious Amy, whose brain P0 hijacked, to dream of it in its native form so the jailers can identify it and take it away. The Doctor, rightfully, is quite proud of himself for saving the world in 20 minutes with neither TARDIS nor screwdriver.

All that remains is for him to threaten the aliens who threatened to incinerate the earth. But before he can do that he needs a new look. "I'm saving the world. I need a decent shirt," so he steals some clothes from the hospital’s locker room. More mention of "The Shadow Proclamation," (which is really just another unexplained recurring plot device for when, "Hey! I'm the last Time Lord and I'll whoop your ass," is insufficient). But it does include a neat little sequence when they ask if the planet is protected and we see a 3D hologram of each of his regenerations, with Matt Smith walking through David Tenant's face and closing with, "Hellow. I'm the Doctor. Basically, run!"

The epilogue has another "be right back," moment. But this time he's only two years late. Leila totally pegged that now Amy's getting married the next day; but no points for that because it was pretty easy. Amy is justifiably angry with him again, but that doesn't matter at the end of the day. (There's another bit I haven't mentioned, where she drew cartoons about him and saw psychiatrists; but everybody thought she had just made it up). The producers spent a fair amount of time teasing us on the new TARDIS layout; and I was setting myself up for the disappointment of the credits hitting just as she opened the door.  But we do get to go inside and see what looks like a really neat bridge. In a surprising moment (to me, anyway - I always believed that he worked really hard to design and build each iteration of the tool), the TARDIS produces a new sonic screwdriver for him--and he appears to be surprised himself--.Then the standard convincing ensues, and they're off. "Geronimo!"

All in all, I'm happy with how this episode came out. I enjoyed Matt Smith, and I think there are enough similarities between him and David Tenant for continuity, and between him and the other incarnations for our enjoyment. I dug the physical comedy, but I hope it's not quite so prevalent in future outings. The coming attractions for the season showed me some MORE appearances of Daleks and Cybermen as well as some reappearances of more-recent characters / enemies. I think I need to adjust my expectations to increase my optimism, because I really enjoyed this episode.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Virgin Spring

The Virgin Spring (nee Jungfrukällan) 1960
Director Ingmar Bergman
Writer Ulla Isaksson
Starring Max Von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitta Pettersson

synopsis (by the Woman): extremely devout couple sends their very treasured, spoiled, virginal only daughter out to bring the candles for easter mass to the church. the church is a whole days ride away, and on her pilgrimage she comes across a trio of "herders". they trick her, rape her, and bludgeon her to death. they later stumble upon her parents house where they seek refuge from the wintery nordic weather. vengence ensues. religion is questioned.

Not being nearly the student of film I might make myself out to be, I don't know if this movie contains the first iteration of its plot.  Similarly, I don't know if there are any steps between this film and "Last House on the Left.  Though I saw the later one first (because I'd heard that it was actually moving in addition to being gory) I found this movie to have a much greater effect.

Showing the family in a spartan lifestyle and showing their interactions and faults sets the stage for what's to come in a subtle manner.  While the faith of each "good" character ends up as the driving force of their actions, it's clear from relatively sparse dialog that each is a real person rather than a strawman or stereotype.

Each of the violent scenes is slightly more explicit than I would have expected. And the end, which contains the most beautiful imagery in a movie filled with unpretensiously great photography and direction, left me with a palpable feeling of the despair experienced by those left standing... and the despair which will haunt the remainder of their days.

The Woman
seeing the first "last house on the left" before this, i know this plot. this of course, had much more depth, and meaning to it. it focused more on the internal struggle between man and god, rather than the horrible torture and vengeance aspect.

it also makes me think about the remake of "last house on the left" and "multiplicity" at the same time. unfortunately, the copy of a copy, while making "multiplicity" have a only couple funny parts, makes me think that the remake of "last house on the left" is only mentally challenged.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia 2009
Director Nora Ephron
Writers Nora Ephron (screenplay)
              Julie Powell (book)
Starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina 

Synopsis (by MOster)
This movie chronicles the parallel developments in the lives of Julia Child and Julie Powell as Mrs. Child finds an alternative purpose to housewifery in learning to cook and writing a cookbook, while Mrs. Powell find an alternative purpose to working in a call center for the Lower Manhattan Development Center after 9/11 in following that cookbook and blogging about her experience.  Both grow personally and professionally, and both are supported by their husbands.  The movie is based on a book by Mrs. Powell, which in turn is based on her life (to what extent I don't know).

The woman
this was ok. it didn't suck, which is few and far between with the stuff we normally watch for fun. i had heard that half of this movie was really good, and the other half you couldn't care less about. meaning, the meryl streep part was really interesting and should have been an entire movie on it's own, and no one cares about a miserable chick in queens searching for a noteable project to make herself feel accomplished. i don't really agree with that. i think meryl streep did an excellent job, as usual, and both sections held my interest, but that's as far as i would praise it. i wish there was some sort of developement about the real relationship between the two characters, like they actually met, or there was some sort of personal communication between them, negative or positive would have satisfied me. just leaving it the way it was left a big blank spot in the end for me. indifferent about the movie on a whole is what i'm walking away with.shmeh plus. that's what i would give this if i were grading. my husband is a big girl, and cried at the ending. being nice is much more difficult.


This movie was exactly fine.  I think the acting was good overall, with the Childs (Meryl Streep and Stanly Tucci, though the speech that he affects is gratnig at times) doing a better job than the Powells.  The story is engaging; and I really developed empathy with each of the leads, which was emphasized by the disappointment I feel with  the end of the tale.  Julia Child's life was much more interesting than Julie Powell's, but that wasn't due to the difference in the acting; I think Julia just had a more interesting, intense time in developing the cookbook than Julie did in mimicing it.

Technically, the movie was also right around a B-.  Direction, production value, and editing were all fine (the editing was probably a bit better than the other elements), but not really much more than that.  A few nice appearances, most notably by Jane Lynch, rounded out the experience.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Spread 2009
Director David Mackenzie
Writer Jason Dean Hall
Starring Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche, Margarita Levieva

Synopsis (by Leila):
misogynistic man whore meets anne heche. man whore uses anne heche for house and clothes and food and car. anne heche gets her vagina walls injected with fat. man whore meets regular sort of whore (lady whore) man whore starts relationship with whore. who cares.

Ashton Kutcher spends the first half of this movie acting like a reasonably high quality gigolo and occasionally being called a whore.  Early on, he develops a base of operations in the home of Anne Heche (Former Lesbian).  Shortly after listing a series of rules about how to earn/keep trust and continue living the cushy life, his abuse of others’ hospitality lands him in the street.  Character development occurs with no real impetus; and a series of voiceovers ostensibly give some insight into the character, but in reality they serve to divide the movie into two disparate segments.

Near the halfway mark the movie shifts from something which could have been interesting--I was really hoping to find him in the gutter under the credits--to your standard romantic plot (the love interest being a kindred whore spirit who he meets while living with Heche), only now that plot has to play out in 40 minutes instead of 85; and while the ending is unexpected, it’s not in any way unique.

Late in the movie, Kutcher says, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” and my shouted response was, “Why?!”

the woman
who cares? nobody watching this movie. ashton kutcher through the whole movie, sounds like he's got a serious crack habit that, in turn, burned his vocal chords . why? to sound tougher maybe? FAIL. once again, i think the viewer is supposed to feel sorry for a totally unredeemable charachter. boooo. i feel so sorry for the unintelligent, aging man whore who has, for the last decade at least, sociopathically, manipulated women. awwwwww. now he's in a downward spiral, and even his friends don't care if he's out on the street. boo-hoo.

enter heather, his mirror image except with a vagina. she takes care of his sorry ass, but continues to whore. oh no! she doesn't want to leave the life of the superficial, where she gets taken care of with mad cash from her lovers. poor ashton. SPOILER ALERT! the end

Capturing the Friedmans

Capturing the Friedmans 2003
Produced and directed by Andrew Jarecki

Synopsis (by MOster)
"Capturing the Friedmans" is a documentary about a child molestation and pornography case from the late 1980s on Long Island.  The director and producer combine talking-head-type interviews with a surprising amount of video footage taken from a camera owned by one of the family members of the alleged perpetrators.

i like documentaries. this is a good one. i hope my family does not become this dysfunctional. seeing the weird self- filmed/ taped arguments was interesting, like being a fly on the wall, front row center for a family's total destruction. the mother is a total self- proclaimed martyr, which are always hard to sympathize with. she also had a voice like a howler monkey, which didn't help her cause of the pity party.

please don't correct my punctuation or grammar poopies. i like me.

MOster:  A solid 4, B+/A-
I don't think this counts as easy to watch; it got to me more than most of the things we watch--fiction or non-fiction. Small amounts of archival footage tie the personal clips together, and an unexpected epilogue closes some of the open threads.

This movie did a really good job of showing multiple positions and making it very difficult to draw a conclusion. Fairly long clips give me the impression that it would be very difficult to take what's said out of context. There are few main subjects in this who I've come to like, but I have a fair amount of sympathy (and some empathy) for some of them.  It really shows all parties as  "human," with assets and faults; but with real
feelings about the situation.