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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise

Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise (2001)
Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Jim Cartwright
Starring Timothy Spall (AKA Peter Pettigrew), Michael Begley

Pete is a sad sack DJ who lives off his girlfirend's meidocre, bitchy stripping (is such a thing possible?  probably).  In an effort to become less of a loser and make a better life for the two of them, he becomes an apprentice door to door vacuum cleaner salesman.  His "mentor" is Tommy, who pulls Pete through a frenetic few days of training and tribulation which culminate in a ceremony announcing the best vacuum salesperson of the region.

this is an hour and 15 minute movie and it took us two days, three sit downs to watch it. yes, partly because of our child, but if it was good we would have figured out a way to watch more of it the first day. it was realistic enough for me to say 'who cares'. generally i don't enjoy super realistic lives of boredom and depression. i can just look around for that shit. there has to be some hyperbole somewhere, or why make a movie? there was one mildly funny part, where peter pettigrew put in his version of an inspirational tape and it was just him yelling "fuckin' sell!" over and over and over.  i guess there is some poetic thing in the ending, but once again....who cares. moral of the movie: in the illustrious words of our napoleon dynamite figurine "follow your heart, pedro....that's what i do"

This was pretty stupid from a story perspective.  The most important part of the ending was telegraphed from about 20 minutes in.  While the part that wasn't left me feeling nice, I'm not sure it was worth it.

While Pete is certainly the star of the story, Spall's Tommy is the star of the movie.  He plays the obnoxious, anything-to-make-a-sale asshole to a tee; and I was glad to see that he can carry a meaty role rather than a bit part as a whiny traitor.  He does the most with the material to the point where he appears to be applying Method:  His face gets so red and his eyes so wide that I can't imagine him acting without redline blood pressure.  Leaving no lasting impression, Begley's Pete was too reserved.

I spent a large portion (in fact, the first 95% until I got a jump on writing the synopsis) trying to remember why I put this movie on the queue.  It turns out that it's because Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting," "Sunshine") directed it.  And now that I know that I can totally see it. While the story is rote garbage the camera betrays some genius when it gets the chance.  It's not as good as his A-list work, but there's thought to the way the camera is placed or moves; and the effects (such as they are) and editing play into a palpable overall asthetic.  I also don't think that this script would have benefited from a larger budget.

I don't recommend this movie, but I don't regret adding it nearly as much as I did a half-hour ago.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Taxidermia (2006)

Director: Gyorgy  Palfi
Writer: Lajos Parti Nagy (short stories)
           Gyorgy  Palfi
Starring: Csaba Czene, Gergely Trocsanyi, Marc Bischoff,

three different vignettes about three different generations of men. one a sex obsessed "orderly" on a farm in the countryside in the fourties-ish. one a competitive sport eater in the sixties- ish, and lastly a taxidermist, present.  hungarian.

The Woman (only)
i thought this was going to be vastly different from what it was. so different, infact, i was confused throughout the entirety of the movie. i totally didn't get it. there was a lot of penis in the first fifteen minutes. i'm just sayin'. very graphic, and very strange. it sort of reminded me of the confusion "eraserhead" left me with. it was artfully done, but i still don't get it. excess of penis, and necrophilia beastiality in the first one, fat overeating, and loads of graphic vomiting, in the second one, and the last one has innards and fetal taxidermy and amputation and decapitation? i don't know. it was advertised as a black comedy, but i didn't see anything funny at all. maybe because i'm not hungarian? is it a cultural clash thing? that's the sort of vibe i got. the last, very last part was interesting. a comment on the warped sense of the movie displayed as an art collection. i'm all for the graphic, and twisted, but i have to know what's going on at the time too. 

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Starring: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks

High school friends who have lived together platonically for ten years, Zack and Miri are broke, constantly choosing between water, heat, and electricity bills.  After attending their high school reunion and coming to the conclusion that they would pay to see the sexual exploits of some of their former classmates, Zack and Miri decide that making a porn of thier own may just be the route to financial solvency.  They find some funding and some friends who kind of know what they're doing, and they develop a cast in which they will not be the only boinkers.   Typical relationshiopal stuff comes up during the making of the movie.

The Woman
 we watched this almost a week ago, which makes writing about it a little more difficult. ok. textbook romantic comedy in parts. good kevin smith dialog. i like the concept of juxtaposing the "raunchiness" of porno with a cutesy love story. seth rogen's laugh makes me want to punch him in the face a little bit, but i don't recall that much laughter, so i liked it a little better than parts of "pineapple express" and "knocked up" where he laughed a lot. it was better than "jersey girl". that's a positive. i wouldn't go out of my way to watch it again, but if it were on t.v. and nothing better was on, i would...maybe. i also have found myself not liking seth rogen because he's a fat traitor. you fat traitor sell out. ok, that might be a little harsh. you look better pudgy, man. people might not find you as lovable with out it. i hope you gain it all back. and please stop laughing like that. thanks.

This was decent Kevin Smith.  He's certainly matured as both a screenwriter and a director.  While there's plenty of dirty stuff to behold, it's treated through a different set of filters.  There are some pretty funny setups, especially with the Indian coffee shop owner (who fell out of the light too quickly for me).  There are also some definite autobiographical elements here, hearkening back to the production of "Clerks."  In general the production and direction stayed to his strengths, eliminating crane shots or other crazy camera movement.  But there's more subtlety in what he does.  Production value is much better than in prior KS movies; and this even looks more polished than "Jersey Girl."

Acting was pretty good.  You would expect Banks and Rogen to do well with this material; and you'd be right.  The minor players are pretty good too, with Jason Mewes showing that he actually can be an actor in a big movie.  Other supporters are equal to their tasks.

I would have liked to see more from this, however.  The best dramatic comedy to come from Kevin Smith was "Chasing Amy", and it didn't seem like he succeeded in bringing some of those deeper elements into this script (of course, not all of them applied).  At a less-complicated level, I think it could've been straight-up funnier.  Perhaps he dulled his edge to expand his audience.  Whatever the reason, though, it was a shame.

All in all, this WAS worth watching for both KS fans and neophytes.  Possibly this will bring some more people back to the Quick Stop.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Book - MOster Only)

[Book - MOster Only]
Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2009, but not really)
Author Jeff Lindsay

Dexter Morgan is a serial killer who has been trained by his adoptive cop father (now dead due to other circumstances) only to kill other murderers.  This is the first story of a series of books, and it takes us through an introduction as well as some revelations about Dexter's origin and blood family.  The book was the basis for the popular Showtime series, "Dexter," and the first season of the show follows the high points of the first two thirds of this book pretty closely.

MOster (only)
(Being my first book review, a lot of the style and structure elements here are experimental.)

This was a Solstice (Christmas) gift from my mother-in-law a few years ago, shortly after we all learned that the series was based on a book.  The narrative is in the first person, so there is no room for side plots of any kind.  This is one of the ways in which it (necessarily) diverges from the show, which uses VO instead.  There are other fairly important differences between the two, but the similarities did make it a bit difficult for me to view this on its own... at least until things split up more substantially.

Having a base need to kill (the origin of which is defined in the climax), Dexter characterizes himself as inhuman, tightly controlled and thinking everything through very clearly; playing an act unless he's actively engaged in preparing or committing a murder.  Following him through what he calls a normal life and then watching that life change as things escape his usually-tight control is what turns this from an account (which could actually have been an interesting read in itself) into a story.

And it is a fairly compelling story.  Plotting is good and the author does have a knack for building tension in both the short and the long term.  When Dexter is in control, both he and the reader can see pretty well where things will go.  Since as the reader we only have the broad strokes, the tension in early scenes comes from the details.  This is an area where "American Psycho" excelled: those over-the-top details do a good job of showing the lead as a psychopath; but given the self-aware nature of this narrator in this case, the meticulous nature of the details becomes tiresome. Once Dexter loses control, neither he nor we know hat's happening; and that is what makes the last 100 pages turn more quickly.

As a novel, "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" is pretty good.  The prose is fine, but it's nothing special.  There are no stylistic or narrative tricks (which are things that I regularly seek and often enjoy).  The real problem is that it didn't do as good a job as the series in making me want to know what happens next, and given that my backlog of books both fiction and non that puts the rest of the series farther down the list.  I don't know if I would have read it if it weren't for the show, and I'm not quite sure how strongly I recommend this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Art & Copy

Art & Copy (2009)

Director: Doug Pray

documentary about the history of advertising, and advertising companies.


This was OK.  It put things in a slightly different perspective.  There are really two kinds of documentaries in my mind: issue studies and informational.  Presenting no opposing views of anything stated, this  one falls squarely in the second category.  While that's a shame (a serious study of the impact of advertising on society would be interesting to view), there was purpose in this on its own.  I also feel that "Mad Men" has demistifyed some of these notions, but that's not the point of the film, or its problem.

The point of the film was to make us understand where ads (and ad-creators in particular) come from; and it was successful in that.  Not only did it show us the people, but to an extent it showed--intentionally or not--how easy it is to let a successful career go to one's head.  There were some really interesting anecdotes, specifically one about the Nike slogan, "Just do it."  I think it might have been more intesting to me if we saw more specific campaigns, actually.

Technically, this was fine.  They mixed talking heads with archival footage and made their points with ease.  I guess I'd recommend this if the topic interests you, but don't expect too much depth.

The Woman
i found this pretty boring. it was a little interesting to see the different office styles and politics of different ad companies, but that was about it. all the terrible stereotypes about california, new age, offices are true! there was one agency with a "nest" actually made of sticks and stuff, where they had all their creative meetings, accompanied by a performance space below. it was also nice to see that all the agencies (in this doc) agreed that there is too much advertising in the world, not only in quantity, but in quality, appealing to only the lowest common denominator. there was an approach to this documentary that ads should be artful, because it is not only a reflection of contemporary society it somehow also has an immense influence on contemporary society. like a giant "circle of life". basically it was a long ad for ads.

The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror

The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror (2007)
Director: Jaymes Thompson
Writer: Jaymes Thopson
Starring: A bunch of aspiring gay actors of whom you'll probably never hear again.

A series of groups of gay people (mostly just gay men and lesbians, but there's one straight woman and one transvestite) are each late in reserving lodgings for some sort of big event; so they end up at this dilapadated inn.  This place flys the rainbow, but it's actually run by a strange Christian woman (who has a shrine to both Jesus and W in what's a really weak piece of political commentary) and her possibly-lesbo daughter and deformed son who was formed from the sperm of 100 RNC delegates.  Carnage ensues, killing most of the queers and eventually the family.  Few are left standing.

The Woman
um. picture motel hell, but with an entirely gay cast. remove the pig chainsaw fight, and replace it with a guy with a painted garbage bag on his legs undulating around. now, take away a couple grand from the budget. voila. you do not have to watch this movie now.

This is a movie.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)
Directed by Chris Carter
Written by Chris Carter, Frank Spontitz
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, xZibit

agents mulder and scully are back ten or so years later to help the FBI in a case that they stupidly couldn't figure out for themselves, even though they had a friggin' child molester psychic to tell them all the answers. mulder obsesses. scully separates herself with her darned questioning and unbelieving. mulder gets in trouble. scully saves the day.

There are spoilers in here.

Remember when hearing those first six notes in the "X-Files" theme sent shivers down your spine?  Well now it just sends my eyes back into my head.  Aside from coming along something like six years after the end of the show (which I admit to having stopped watching even before T1000 left), this movie amounts to nothing more than a mediocre overlong episode of the show.  And the only reason it's "overlong" is because we have to deal with them getting back into the swing of investigation and we have to listen to them arguing about the fact that they even are in the swing of investigation.  At the end of the day, this was nothing more than a crime drama.

Something else that really annoyed me about this movie was how it handled the non-platonic relationship between Scully and Mulder.  Not the characters themselves, because that part actually rang true--even though calling each other by their last names (presumably even while they're screwing since they do so while naked in bed) is a little on the sketchy side for me.  xZibit goes to find Scully at the hospital and asks her to go to Mulder for her and we get this whole scene of her driving out to his place and opening a gate and sneaking around.  But then it's not until something like a half-hour later that we learn they're actually living together.  That was stupid.

The plot itself is really just a regular crime drama.  It's couched in an investigation of a missing FBI agent which is being helped by a psychic (Billy Connolly, not playing this nearly as over-the-top as I would have liked to see).  I guess the psychic aspect is the X file, and it's fine that by the end they've at least shed some doubt on his psychic ability.  But the whole thing with moving this dude's head from one body to another because he has cancer (and why do they have to keep doing it?  Is the process imperfect? Does the cancer come with him?) is really what the case is about.  That's why the women go missing.  So, yeah.  I could see that part being a late-period episode of the show... with them looking into the rearview mirror every so often, saying "I want to believe" (did I mention that each of them does, more than once, repeat the subtitle of the movie?  Another mark of excellent screenwriting right there.), and just confirming that the shark was still back there somewhere.

Oh, yeah, there's one go-nowhere subplot with a patient of Scully.

As for the actors, they're mostly fine.  Anderson and Duchovny are back in their original elements, and they do fine.  Connolly was too subtle for my tastes, and Peet and xZibit did OK as well.  The technical stuff was OK, again playing out mostly as a big episode of the show; but there were a few wonky little things in the photography and the editing which make me think there wasn't quite enough quality control for this thing.

I've said a lot here (because that's what I do), but I don't really have much to say.  I recommend this to jaded completists only.  Everybody else can go watch Law & Order.

The Woman
 i actually didn't think this was as terrible as people said it was. i thought it would be unwatchable. maybe because i just finished watching the series a couple of months ago,(i stopped watching the original airings around the time of robert patrick) and was used to watching the deep canyon of suck the series had slid into. i can tell you for certain the movie was way better than the entire last season. it just wasn't really an "x-file" it was a reach that the FBI needed mulder back from exile/hiding just to deal with a psychic. especially since the psychic was right all of the time, and only a minor character. there was also a weird lack of details about the post FBI lives of our once loved agents. half way through the movie we find out with a throw away sentence that they are, in fact, living with one another. even though they were shown in a house together, the way it was shown made it seem like they were at mulder's house and then at scully's house. it's just a stupid little detail, revealed in a stupid way, that didn't really have to be the big a-ha moment that they tried to make it. who cares? it's not like mulder and scully were shown interacting in a domestic way. i did like how their relationship was way past the 'i love you' cuddly, cutesy stage all relationships go through. they were more at the old married couple, be in the same room, but living separate lives stage, which also happens in every relationship. i appreciate that. it's never all roses and chocolates, even when you take 7 or 8 seasons of tension to finally get together.

i think people got too excited for this movie when it came out. the first movie wasn't that great either, and that was when the writing team were actively writing for the show. 6 years of no practice with the characters, or the character of the show.....well it just came out like a late season, two hour, long drawn out, episode.

moster obviously slept through the part where they explain that the transplanted body only last a couple of your research buddy, before you publish your complaints!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Wanted (2008)

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writer: Michael Brandt (screenplay & story)
             Derek Haas (screenplay & story)
             Chris Morgan(screenplay)
             Mark Millar (comic book)
             J.G. Jones (comic book)
Starring: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman,  and Terence Stamp has like two scenes

Sad-sack motherfucker learns he's genetically inclined to be a super-assassin who can speed up his heart to percieve the world as extremely slow, trains, kills people.  Twists ensue, and he upsets the status quo.

The Woman
this was not great, but not the piece of crap movie i thought this would be. moster was surprised it was from a comic, but it reeks of comic through the whole movie, the characters, the stupid assassin group they belong to, the plot of revenge, and so on and so forth. textbook comic book. it was sometimes a little over the top even for me, but i was surprised at how much it didn't suck. i put this on the queue as a joke. it was no masterpiece by far, but i think my expectations were so low, and it entertained me. SPOILER ALERT! i can also get behind any movie where angelina gets her brains strewn on the wall and floor.

there were bits where the plot pushed past character's personality, like the whole training part. the main character goes from average joe to super assassin in like 2 montages. but eh, it could have been worse.

This movie was much more different than I expected.  Parts of it felt like "Fight Club," but not really.  The premise is pretty ridiculous, but that's OK.

The story is a monorail, with absolutely no side plotting or character development outside of the dude.  However, it's not a monorail on a tour around Action Movieville.  While the twist is not terribly surprising, the denoument is... even though the ending is pretty weak.  I was actually interested in seeing how most of this played out.

Acting was not a strong point here.  Angelina is stonier than usual, and McAvoy has exactly two emotions.  Freeman is slumming it, but not really making the most of that state of affairs. Direction was exactly mediocre, even though there were some differences in the plot and production.

Production was interesting.  There were some bits here that I haven't seen in quite the ways they were employed.  Specifically, the use of cars rotating around their lateral axes and this idiotic concept of curving bullets were nifty in their execution.  The effect surrounding the slowdown was also a little different in its execution.  Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) they were overused.  The original score was actually pretty good and I thought I heard some Trent Reznor, who's almost always welcome in my book.  

This movie suffered greatly in the editing.  The entire story was supposed to take place over the course of six weeks, but the training period (which must have been most of the six weeks) took up close to a third of the runtime and consisted of too much dialog sandwiched by two montages.  I really didn't get the urgency at all.

This movie is above average on first viewing; but I don't think I'd seek a repeat performance.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Director: Ben Stiller
Writer: Ben Stiller
             Justin Theroux
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson, Jay Baruchal, and a whole bunch of                                                                other people, like you don't know. we're probably the last people on the planet who hadn't seen this movie

douchy ego maniacal hollywood stars come together to make a high budget blockbuster about a mission in vietnam. they are terrible. the director and writer vet guy, come up with a scheme to drop the cast in the jungle. hi jinx ensues.

Oftentimes, if I'm understimulated I'll begin to doze off at about 10:30.  This decidedly did not happen when we watched "Thirst" on Sunday.  It definitely did happen when we watched "Tropic Thunder," and part of why I woke up was because the replacement BD started skipping.

This was not a bad movie.  It wasn't even a journeyman's approach to direction or production; but it was a journeyman's approach to screenwriting.  With three credited writers, it's my opinion that most of the funny came from Ethan Cohen while most of the unfunny came from Ben Stiller, and I don't care where the rest of it came from.  There's a scene early on where Jack Black's character is shown as a send-up of Eddie Murphy in his multiple farting character movies.  It's just a shame that the film didn't heed its own advice.  I really felt like we were having less fun watching the move than was had by those who made it.

There were plenty of funny little bits and long-term setups with OK payoffs, but this is supposed to be a lighthearted satire of war action movies; and I didn't find the fact that EVERY character had some stupid secret which lead to some other stupid reveal and some third stupid growth to be satirical.  I found it (wait for it...) retarded.  They didn't all need to grow.  The movie could have ended earlier and been funnier, or it could have ended at the same point with(e.g.)out Lance Bass.  Tom Cruise was quite funny, especially when you realized it was him, but I could have done with a LOT less of that deal, again especially at the end.

Acting was probably in the B- range.  Robert Downey was pretty funny as an Aussie in surgical blackface to play a black man, and I was happy to see a Jack Black role with less of the standard Jack Black schtick.  The dude from Hot Rod was good, but he was playing the dude from Hot  Rod; and everybody else was just fine.  Steve Coogan (whose demise was actually funny) was alright.

I won't dwell on the technical here, but I will say that it could have been much worse.  In fact, I might prefer to watch a comedy directed by Stiller, but neither written, produced, nor acted by him.  Production value was high enough and creative enough where it had to be.  Music was mostly unmemorable, except for the rap star's reasonably funny songs.

Because that's what this movie really was:  reasonably funny.  I don't recommend renting it or demanding it, but if it comes up on pay cable and there's nothing on you could do worse.

The Woman
i think my expectations for this movie were too high. lots of people i know liked this movie a lot. it's not that i didn't not like it, i just thought it was you stereotypical stiller flick. i don't see much of a difference between this and dodgeball. i don't know why i thought this would be better, funnier. i guess because zoolander was so awesome it has kept the dream alive.

we did miss the climax in it's entirety because netflix sent us another dud. moster probably mentioned this so i won't. it just wasn't good enough to stop, turn it off, and wait two more days for another replacement. we did get the gist by watching it in blips of frozen screen and fast forward. i guess that says a lot right there. the funniest part, in my opinion, happens about twenty minutes in with an unexpected explosion. i won't give it away for the two of you who haven't seen it. it would ruin the joke. also, i would like to know how the whole "retard" thing was edited out. it was kind of an integral part to the plot trudging along at an expected pace.

all in all i was disappointed. so much potential. so much of the same jokes.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Thirst (2009)
Director Park Chan-Wook
Writers Park Chan-Wook, Seo-Gyeong Jeong
Starring Song Kang-ho,  Kim Ok-bin, Park In-hwan

Synopsis (by MOster)
In an effort to do more good than he's already doing providing comfort to the dying, Friar Sang-Hyeon volunteers for a vacciene experiment in an African facility which is not entirely sanctioned by the church. As an inadvertent result of his participation Sang-Hyeon is transfused with vampire blood which causes his apparent resurrection on the operating table and results in him becoming known as something of a miracle man, with people constantly asking him to pray for their children, etc.  In one such encounter he runs into some people from his childhood, and he continues to interact with them at various levels.

Succumbing to his vampiric tendencies is the only thing that keeps the virus against which he was vaccinated at bay (I'm not clear if this is the vaccine), and this begins the erosion of his vows and his humanity.

this was good. i think everything park chan- wook does is pretty brilliant. it was a good twist on a vampire story. for once, the desired chick wasn't in high school, the guy wasn't a bizillion years old, and there was no set mythology in place. the vampire was not bad or invincible, just surviving like a "beast". the priest was still guilt ridden and doing good, in his opinion. and the girl who had been treated like a dog all her life started treating everyone else like a dog, because to her, they were a lower species. this was shot beautifully and intentionally, which is so rare these days. and the emotion that was conveyed by the characters without any dialogue was also pretty awesome. i don't think there is any dialog for the last ten or fifteen minutes. not many directors or actors can do that in jolly ol' hollywood. and last, but not least, EVERYBODY got their comeuppance in the end. like every park chan-wook film

I was really looking forward to this, and I'm glad we got to watch it on demand rather than waiting for it to show up in the regular rotation.

This doesn't bear much resemblance to Park's other works (most notably, the Vengeance Trilogy which includes "Oldboy") except for the pacing. Other than a couple of really interesting action pieces and a few interludes of (spoiler alert?) much-hotter-than-average sex there's no sense of urgency to the proceedings.  As things draw to their conclusion (which doesn't become inevitable nearly as early as it could have) they're still playing out in a day-to-day kind of fashion.

The mechanics of the vampirism are so easily accepted by the people involved that disbelief is quite easy to suspend; and once I did that I found each of the characters to be true.  There are no broad strokes here, and no easy answers.  It's really interesting to watch how Sang-Hyeon's guilt plays against what he's forced to do by his nature as well as what he chooses to do--one element felt a lot like Poe to me--and it's also easy to see how that guilt doesn't transfer to his love interest, Tae-ju.  Even the secondary and tertiary characters (down to a man who shares one scene in a conscious state) are palpable as people.

Acting was excellent.  Song Kang-ho  is excellent as Sang-Hyeon.  It was great to watch his face as he thought through actions that were impossible to avoid even though he could foresee the consequences, and also to see his resignation as choices become less difficult.  Kim Ok-bin is also top-notch, approaching her role as differently as the characters are.  And as Sang-Hyeon's mentor and superior, priest Noh, Park In-hwan (no relation?) plays an entirely different form of desperation with another form of beauty altogether.

There was also a lot to like on the technical side.  Park's direction is palpable but not overbearing, with minimal use of Steadicam and lots of tight shots (skillfully edited together, as well) in addition to some really cool one-offs.  The final shot is beautiful. For obvious reasons this is a dark movie, but it's never a muddy one.  Music and sound effects are also used quite well.

I highly recommend this film.  People talk about how Korean cinema has "arrived" (or similar platitudes), but I find that to be condescending.  I don't know much about the timeline, but I think it's just as likely that we've arrived in Korea.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants2

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008)

Director: Sanaa Hamri
Writer: Elizabeth Chandler (screenplay)
           Ann Brashares (novel)
Starring: the chick from "gossip girl", the chick from "ugly betty", the chick who used to play emily quartermane on "general hospital" then got her own show on cbs i think it is/was called "joan of arcadia", and the chick from "gilmore girls"

the girls are back for their wacky adventures in teen drama, and mailing pants back and forth to one another. this time the pants are even uglier, and the girls have moved on to their own respective collegiate years. relationship drama and greece remains the same.

The Woman (only, unfortunately)
ok. imagine, if you will, the "sex and the city" movie as barbie. now imagine this as skipper. barbie has all the cool clothes, jobs, men, friends, and body. skipper is essentially the same plastic toy, but without ANY of the coolness, and small substance that makes barbie, barbie. two hours of whiny boy troubles, a pregnancy scare, jealousy over an acting part?, and an archeology chance of a lifetime squandered to reconnect with a long lost grandmother.  poor sad ivy league girls so self involved that they blow tiny little things way out of proportion to make themselves feel alive. man, i know if i attended brown, or yale, or risdi, or nyu, you bet during my education there i would totally obsess over my discovery as a talented actress (which we'll get to in a second), or the fact that i'm too dumb to go on the pill and let my boyfriend use a 2 year old condom the first time we had sex, or my ex foreign boyfriend entering into a marriage because he knocked another girl up, or my for some reason exiled grandmother. whatever. aren't people who get into these institutions supposed to be totally focused on their academic and post graduate years? also who likes a movie where all the girls are so friggin' perfect at everything they do? that's not a plot. and the thin, forced drama is totally a joke.

the whole discovery as a talented actress thing.....if whatever her name is gets so distracted by her fight with a friend that she performs like garbage, wouldn't that mean a lack of acting talent? she's only good at acting like she's in love with her co- star when she IS in love with him? ummmm...kay. then we have to suffer through lines like this: 
bridget: Mom!
grandma:Honey.Bee. What, honey? What is it? What is it?
bridget: I remember it now. There was a storm, just like this one,and she left me.
Even then she didn't care about me.

this is about this chick's mother leaving her with her grandmother when she's 6 for the summer. she was traumatized enough by this to completely block all the memories of it. aren't you traumatized for reading it? it was by far my favorite part of the movie, and yet i had to look up the exact quote....... also there was some bullshit about the risdi girl never having done nude life drawings before her second summer of college and she was all nervous-like dropping her supplies and fidgeting, and talking non-stop. as an art school graduate i will tell you this is completely ridiculous. my school was not as prestigious  as risdi and yet i think i did my first life drawing in the first week of my freshman year. if anyone acted the way she did in my class, they would have been shunned by the "serious" artists and giggled about by the rest of us for a long time afterward.

final thoughts about this movie ......................totally awesome. it's a shame the pants committed suicide at the end of the movie so they can't make another one. they should have gone out in a fiery explosion though. that would have given the deformed survivors something to dramatize about.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Up (2009)
Written / Directed by Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson
Starring Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai

Synopsis (By Leila)
kid named carl fredrickson meets a fellow charles munts (super dirigible explorer) fan, ellie. they grow up together fall in love get married, find they can have no children, have a glorious life together, but never get to go on their adventure to south america. ellie dies, and life becomes crappier, and crappier for carl, until one day he decides to go on that adventure for ellie. after hijinx, he ends up with a little kid, a bird named kevin, and a dog named dug.

Unsurprisingly, I liked this movie.  I'm gay enough to have cried a few times.

By now, everybody probably knows the plot.  I enjoyed the plot.  I found Mr. Fredrickson's (Asner's) development to actually be a story of growing up.  Losing his wife in a truly beautiful montage, his listlessness is palpable and his curmudgeonly behavior is almost understandable.  While the speed with which the system kicks him out of his house is frankly ridiculous, I don't know if there would have been a more-subtle / eimilarly expeditious way to get him up in the air.  Similarly, I think the broad strokes of his plan really work out to a death wish.  Before the kid became a factor, did he really think he would make it to South America with helium balloons holding him up?  Where was the map?  Etc. etc. etc.

But disbelief was pretty easy to suspend, and those doubts are coming up now rather than when I watched the movie.  There was enough novelty mixed with almost-believability when they got to where they were going.  The human characters were true, the kid probably the most realistic.  Christopher Plummer totally sold it as a Livingstone-type explorer looking for something to bring himself back to the fore, and the subtlety of the comedy involved in the (admittedly ridiculous in premise) talking dogs is a lesson that could be learned by Mr. Lucas.  The ending came well, and the tension really paid off.  Asner stepping in as the father figure at the end was another really nice moment.

From a technical perspective, there's not too much to say.  It's a Pixar movie.  It's beautiful and the CG is totally immersive.  Also, the scene where they showed the passage of time by the neckties she fixes on him was really great.

The Woman
this was a very sad story, and pixar always seems to have wierd sad,and sentimental movies. why do i fall for it everytime? why do kids like these movies? they're kind of depressing. i guess other than that it was good.the dogs were really funny and true to form for dogs. i usually don't cry during movies (i leave that up to my woman of a husband), but jeebus, i was tearing up through the whole friggin' movie.

The Slanted Screen

The Slanted Screen (2006)
Director: Jeff Adachi
Contributers include: Mako, Phillip Rhee, Jason Scott Lee

Synopsis (by MOster):
Basic documentary about the hard time which Asian men (specifically men) have in getting mainstream acting roles.  Talking heads and archival footage are used in the regular way, and a narrator (which IMDB says is Daniel Dae Kim, but who is actually someone named Rowena) bridges the gaps.

i was expecting a history of asians in film and the impact of asian cinema on the american mainstream. instead i got respected asian actors telling their stories of discrimination in the mainstream. they had some good points, but they also failed to show the positive aspects some asians had in american cinema. yes, there is a lot of terrible stereotyping of asians in the film industry, and yes, there are very few if any asian romantic leads in contemporary movies. however, in my opinion, there is an incredible amount of asian influence in american movies. they strive for the awesomeness that asian movies contain. there was no mention of any asian american women of any sort, and there was also no mention of successful asian actors people like chow yun- fat, or jet li, or jackie chan, or even michelle yeoh. correct these actors do martial arts movies, but there are also dramatic roles as well. is it because these asians are "real" asians and not asian americans? and what about ang lee? he's like the man. it was just too over the top whiny for me. what about noriyuki "pat" morita? was mr. miagi too stereotypical? he wasn't mentioned either. and he IS an asian american.....and totally awesome!!!!!

This was pretty weak.  Brought to you by (essentially) the NAAYFA, it conveyed a point which most people probably already know: There aren't a lot of (enough) Asian men in leading or romantic roles in major Hollywood pictures.

Starting much more strongly than it ended, the movie talked about an Asian man who had all sorts of big roles in the early days of film.  And then things went to shit, and people were stereotyped and marginalized and charicatured.

While a few of the interviewees buck the message by saying how they take stereotyped roles and make them more than the sum of their parts (and like to eat), most of the others focus on how they should be rejecting those sorts of things in favor of only the major parts.  We also get a few socioligists and historians to tell us about how it's important for children to see "people like them" on TV and in movies.

This is all mostly irrefutable and I don't mean to minimize the plight. But it's *mostly* irrefutable.
They show a photo of Jackie Chan; but they neither discuss nor interview him.  They have a clip of an early George Takei film but they don't talk about how Sulu was a positive Japanese character.  They don't mention Ang Lee or John Woo at all.  

It seems like the point of the movie was to push Asians into striving for bigger things in the movie industry; and that's certainly a noble goal.  But wouldn't it do more to forward the cause if we saw the successes too?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Grace (2009)

Director: Paul Solet
Writer: Paul Solet
Starring: Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Gabrielle Rose

a crunchy granola, vegan, pregnant woman with the most horrible mother in- law i've ever seen ( and i know of some doozies) is in an accident where her husband and unborn baby both die. she chooses to wait until labor begins naturally, which apparently is a couple weeks, to give birth to her stillborn, which turns out is not stillborn.......ZOMBIE VAMPIRE FETUS.

The Woman (only)
i think i put this on the queue shortly after giving birth myself. it was ok. it was no dark castle, same horror movie spit out over and over again, which, as martha stewart says, is a good thing. i appreciated the subtlety of the horror. like the fact the kid was decomposing and smelly, and very attractive to the fly population, but it was never really stated outright. i thought perhaps the baby had never come back to "life" and she was just taking care of a dead baby. there was a lot of attempt at shock value, but i've totally been destroyed in that department, becoming immune to that sort of tactic. instead of breast feeding, the baby gnaws off a nipple and just starts drinking momma's blood through her boob. there's some sort of allusion to a mother's bonding and commitment to her child and there is also a fair amount of the whole mid-wife vs. hospital war that is currently going on in this country. i was expecting more horroriness to it. something was missing for me. of course, i watched "ju-on 2" when i was in my second trimester of pregnancy and it TOTALLY fucked me up. i think i was expecting more of that. once again, the netflix rating system has a case where i gave two out of five stars, when really, it was more of a two and three quarters.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sukiyaki Western Django

Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
Director Takashi Miike
Written by Takashi Miike, Masa Nakamura
Produced by Masato Ôsaki,Nobuyuki Tohya
Starring  Hideaki Ito,Masanobu Ando,Takaaki Ishibashi,Teruyuki Kagawa, special appearance by Quentin Tarantino

Synopsis (by Leila)
old school style western, but all japanese-like, except it was in english. two warring gangs take over a town hoping to find gold. revenge plots abound.

FINALLY, a movie with real evidence of pathos at every stage in its production.  (I do kind of wonder if this actual originality skewed my opinion.) I don't know how much of the direction was "innovative," but it was there; and if there was a checklist of shots it was handwritten on a series of cocktail napkins, not cribbed from someone's Film 101 textbook.  Many items were intentionally over the top.  It got serious when it needed to and the crazy stuff was not silly.

Production wasn't A+, but it wasn't supposed to be.  Various levels of polish were applied to various settings with great effect; and there was even artistic purpose in the way seemingly random items were placed within the frame.  Music was used very well.

This was a great ride, with plenty of nice moments.  The plot was by no means complicated but it was by no means the typical one record in a jukebox of 20.  Hands down, my favorite thing about this movie is that with maybe three exceptions all the characters were equally despicable.  While I was a little bit let down by one detail of the big reveal, it was a necessary element in the remainder of the film.

Acting and stunt work were just fine.  While there are no Oscars here, again that's really not the point of the movie.  The point of the movie was to take a smooth ride over an intentionally bumpy track.  It made its point and I had a great time.

the Woman
cool movie. it was a little hard to follow at times, but i think that is because i was doing something else at the time. we were also interrupted nine hundred times by our offspring not napping,  and there is a lot going on in the movie. i enjoyed how it played on the similarities of westerns and kung fu movies. costumes were awesome as well. i think it was a movie made entirely of subplots, which is totally interesting. and every character with the exception of two, were bad guys. it's definitely not a movie i've seen before and it gets mad credit for that. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In the Shadow of the Moon

In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
Dir: David Sington

Synopsis: Documentary about the US efforts to reach the moon.  Archival footage supports a TON of first-person accounts by those involved (mostly astronauts but also some of the support guys).

The Woman
eh. the music was a little out of control drama, drama, DRAMA, but it was cool to hear the stories from the people who actually lived it. i think it's pretty special to realize just how insignificant we actually are. on the whole though, i've seen better documentaries. they glazed over the difficulties and extreme problems that occurred with the apollo missions and tests. that kind of irritated me. i want grit and gore. i don't want all triumph and roses. the ending was a little out of control as well. american heroes disappointed in the way humans have treated the earth with our pollution and addiction to oil. MESSAGE.

I enjoyed this, and I learned about non-technical things in a pleasing manner.  The thread of the narrative could have been better though:  They spent most of the beginning in getting up to 11, then they got 11 to the moon and went on to talk (far too briefly, especially with 13) about the other missions.  But then they went back to some of the highlights of the missions leaving.  And then the epilogue annoyed me.

But the information was great.  The gentlemen speaking were all engaging and well-spoken and their personal takes (one particular item misted me a bit) were really neat.  The archive footage was also quite moving.  It included plenty of time with them actually inside the vessels as well as news footage (including the stock Cronkite) which made me feel closer to the civillians who experienced it.  Plenty of footage of launches and actual time on the moon was of considerably higher quality than I expected. I would think the film would be grainy, so there must have been some restoration going on.  There are many shots where the utter clarity of the vacuum makes it look fake.  I also got the impression that many of the people involved in these endeavors are much more humble than I expected.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Pandorum (2009)

Directoctor: Christian Alvart

Starring: Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid, dude who played the guy who killed mischa barton in "the o.c." and the bad vampire in, not the black vampire, he played the black mormon on "house" the other one, Antje Traue, and Cung Le

Synopsis: Space horror/thriller with evolved human zombie cannibals, and darkness, and the continuance of the human race. spaceship with the last remaining humans on a mission to a planet extremely similar to earth. something happens, two crewman are brought out of hyperspace sleepytime. they suffer from memory loss and space dementia. spaceship is dying, so one of them must reboot the nuclear reactor, while contending with really fast creatures that will gut him and eat him. all this while in the dark.

The Woman (only):
 i wouldn't say this was a good movie, but it kept me going for however long it is. suspenseful for me, but i'm pretty easy about that stuff. it doesn't take a lot for me to be suspensed. the plot has been done before like alien, or stupid event horizon, or any other deep space scary movie, but i enjoyed myself. there were a couple twists at the end. one was pretty obvious, one was not so much. it appealed to me because i've been watching pretty much anything with ben foster in it because i used to watch flash forward on disney in adolescence and he played tucker james and it's just really nice to see little tucker james has made a name for himself. along with jewel staite who played his best friend becca who has now starred in such greats as firefly/ serenity, and a little syfy original sequel to mothman. suweet. oh and a totally awesome teen drama that had like ten episodes about a troubled teen schoolycamp called higher ground costarring the oscar worthy actor hayden christensen! it used to be on the family channel back in the stone ages. anyway, sorry i got side 

pandorum... titled after the subplot. the space dimentiaaaaa.

 the way the plot unfolded was interesting. the viewer finds out information about the plot as the characters slowly get their memory back. i don't know. i thought it was entertaining for what it was. i'm sure others would highly disagree. i find darkness and space and loneliness and vastness creepy. the end

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Herb and Dorothy

Herb and Dorothy (2008)

Director: Megumi Sasaki

Synopsis: documentary about avid middle income art collecting couple. collecting since the early sixties.

The Woman (only)
great documentary! it was nice to be around art and the art world again, in an unjaded way. the vogels are totally awesome. and they were there before the art world became "the art world" so even if art dealers don't like them, the artists do. they almost restored my love of cute little old couples. it was fascinating to see them interact with artists in the artist's studio space, looking at unfinished works, and the influence they have on the artist themselves. one scene in particular reminded me of art school critiques, just the discussion over the development of a piece.  there was no bullshit blahbitty blah, even though most of the art they collect is conceptual. i also think the idea of collecting from a plebeian stand point is important. they aren't rich. they live in a one bedroom apartment in brooklyn, i believe. they aren't exactly on the outskirts of the elite clique that is the "art world" but the way the documentary portrays them they are sort of oblivious or indifferent. they befriend artists and maintain relationships with them i.e. calling once a week just to chat. they don't collect for resale value, yet respect people who do, because "the artist has to make a living somehow". awesome people knowing their stuff and infiltrating the art scene because they love it.

the credit sequence was hysterical too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Get Smart

Get Smart (2008)

Director:Peter Segal
Writer: Tom J. Astle &Matt Ember
             Mel Brooks & Buck Henry (characters)
Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, the Rock, Terence Stamp, and a whole bunch of other people you've                                              
                heard of and needed a paycheck

Synopsis: control agent maxwell bumbles his way through a mission with agent 99. their convoluted mission is to find nuclear bombs that were stolen by nemisis organization kaos. they fail. the bombs turn up in los angeles at the disney concert hall. in an assassination attempt on the dim witted president. shockingly, along the way agent 99 falls for max, and the rock is jealous, and fat joke, gay joke, poop joke, nerd joke, fat joke.

OK.  We watched this movie.  I have a feeling that these two reviews will be pretty well in agreement.

The entire thing was overworked.  Beginning with an opening sequence which stretched a good joke from the TV show well past its breaking point, few scenes were of the right length.  There is no fucking way that this should have been almost two hours.  There was probably some post-credits joke that we missed, and I'm OK with that as there was exactly one laugh-out-loud joke.

I also have a problem with an entire spy agency full of incompetence which just happens to stumble upon the truth.  Steve Carrell's aspiring-analyst-turned-agent-by-improbable-events would have rang true if he were surrounded by talent when he made the jump, but outside of the chief (an underused Alan Arkin who got to deliver the only truly funny line) what's-her-face's Agent 99 was the only character with any competence, though she's less attractive than Barbara Feldman.  One could argue that the (spoiler alert except the milk stunk through the whole thing) incompetence of The Rock's character was due to his double-agency, but this argument is undermined by his introductory sequence.  While the other analysts (those couple of dudes from movies like, "Anchorman") and the tech department ("Superbad" fat kid[the woman interjects here.. this was not the kid from superbad] and the time traveler from "Heroes") were just dipshits, I suppose you could say that the Cone of Silence gag was marginally funny.  Similarly, KAOS was just as disorganized and just as incompetent as Control to the point where you have NO IDEA how they could have gotten so much uranium or all the necessary bomb parts.  And the ending with the music was just fucking dumb.  When a scene is elevated by an exposed-ass joke little more needs saying.  This movie also had a gay joke which was just GAY.

Acting in general was unterrible.  Carrell could have done more with better material, and I think The Rock was exactly in his comfort zone (granted, I haven't seen his work with children or animals so it's possible that I'm underestimating his range). The rest of the supporting cast was also better than the scripts, with Terence Stamp a particular standout and Arkin stealing the show with the only line probably written by Mel Brooks (another spoiler, but now you don't have to watch the movie):

Seriously, I can't remember the last time we watched a movie where the production staff even tried to look like they gave a fuck.  Except for the editors (who didn't even get past junior high) this was another Dawson Leary Film School exercise.  Direction was by-the-numbers, and production was exactly what you'd expect.  Effects, too, were right where they should have been given the budget.  Consisting of little more than a distorted-guitar "update" of the theme song, the music was so rote as to take you out of the action.

You don't have to watch this movie.  Just click on the video above and send me what you would have paid.

The Woman
was this a summer blockbuster? i can't remember that far back. it reeks of summer blockbuster. the plot is, i think, trying to be mysterious, and twisty, but just ended up being confusing. i had a hard time using steve carell to counter my disdain for anne hathaway and the rock. all the bits that were supposed to be funny just turned out stupid. mel brooks can somehow always turn stupid, base humor funny, but seeing as how this was not written by him, and he was only a "consultant" it seemed like someone trying to rip his style off, but failing miserably. there were some mildly funny bits, but nothing too memorable. terence stamp is so awesome and yet in this, he was a sort of a bit part portraying the main villan. how does that work you may ask? well, it doesn't. the action sequences were too long. i found myself not paying attention halfway through them, which once again is kind of the antithesis of the term action sequence. the only funny part where we actually laughed out loud, was when steve carell in a car chase scene slams through, among many other things, a golf shack with a swordfish on it , and the swordfish statue spears the car. after this is all over, steve carell asks alan arkin, who was sitting passenger "are you thinking what i'm thinking?" and alan arking says " i don't know. were you thinking holy shit, holy shit, a swordfish almost went through my head..." there. now you don't have to suffer through two hours for one funny line.

my final thought about this was it's one of those movies where hollywood just likes to throw away tons of money on a "new contemporary" version, and all that really happens is otherwise funny actors come together in a big sad mess, that probably banked on the draw of said actors, and not the content of the movie. this truly sucked. not "indiana jones and the condom for george lucas's anus" sucked, but close.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Belle De Jour (watched 4/24)

Belle De Jour (1967)
Starring: Catherine Denueve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli
Directed by Luis Brunel

Synopsis (by MOster)
Due to some vaguely-defined childhood traumas, a sexually-confused upper-class housewife has fantasies which make her uncomfortable around her husband but which require some other outlet of exploration.  Gleaning some information from a sketchy friend, she ends up taking up afternoon job in a whorehouse (hence, Belle de Jour, "woman of the day").  Her beauty and class make her very desirable very quickly; and one particular client's obsession yields dire consequences.

i didn't get it. maybe i am just foreign filmed out, but i didn't care about anyone or any thing in this one. there was some vague resemblance to ethan frome, where a life of penance is served for "sins" committed, but eh. who cares. chick won't sleep with her husband, but becomes a whore. too deep and philosophically french. dream sequences made it all the more confusing too. i couldn't tell what were dreams, until some sort of sadomasochistic thing happened. maybe she could only express her true desires as a whore because she thought they were too dirty for her dr. husband? they didn't even sleep in the same bed. then she punishes herself because she was too dirty, and her dirtyness got her husband maimed, so she must repent, repent, REPENT. i don't know. who cares.

This film's linear nature and lack of subplots don't leave too much to discuss.  But as usual with the foreign ones, I think I found this movie to be a little more interesting than Leila did.  There were certainly some interesting shots, and while the themes (and the sex acts themselves) probably carried more weight 40 years ago I found myself able to empathize with most of the characters through most of the movie.  That said, the consequences of Belle's actions are overplayed, yielding irony that I found to be too heavy.

The flashbacks did provide some motivation for her actions and her feelings, but I think they also came from a place where less was known about the psychology of sexually-abused children.  It was unclear to me how much of the VERY end of the movie was in her head but by that point I was hoping that something would buck my preconcieved notions.  Despite its  apparent fame, I don't know that I'd actually recommend this one outside of the arena of study.

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid (2007)

Director: Jennifer Vendetti

Synopsis: documentary that follows a 15-16 year old outcast through highschool and awkwardness, and girls, and rock and roll and trailer life in maine.

The Woman only

this was another shmeh. it was ok. billy was one of those kids who you want to take home, and teach things to. his home life is very messed up, i.e. mother was smacked around by dad, and he talks about it almost incessantly. he is also somehow mentally challenged. he was incredibly awkward, and yet totally awesome in his awkwardness. he likes cats, and kiss, and he ends up mildly obsessed with this girl, who he dates for about a millisecond before she breaks up with him.(which totally devastates him). it made me sad for the days when my kid will have to go through early teens, and the constant reassurance one needs from people to be yourself at that age. the school parts were almost exactly how my middle school worked, socially. i sort of had flashbacks throughout. admittedly i was knitting through this documentary, and i sort of didn't realize the end had happened. nothing was resolved. it just sort of ended. i hate when that happens. at least follow the kid for a year, or stop when something comes together. i know this is not how documentaries work, but there was no endpoint. there was a weird epilogue of sorts, where the mother just said that her and the stepdad were getting a divorce, and billy sang in the chorus for a concert, but that was it. i guess if you have nothing better to do with an hour and a half you could watch this. it certainly wasn't bad.