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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Role Models

Role Models (2008)

Director: David Wain
Writer: Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino, Timothy Dowling
Starring: Paul Rudd, Sean William Scott, mclovin, Bobb-e J. Thompson

two guys, to avoid going to prison, join "sturdy wings" aka big brother. one's a  and one's a lil' gangsta. funny things.

I don't have very much to say about this one.  Despite the plethora of screenwriting credits, it wasn't nearly as retarded as I expected it to be.  It's disappointing to see that most of the actors (Jane Lynch in particular) appear to have relaxed into the rut of typecasting, but their reliability in the assigned roles allowed them to take this B (school grade, not "B movie" grade) material and keep it exactly at that level.

There could have been more bare tits, though.

The Woman
we laughed a lot so i would say we liked it. we're in the midst of watching the state and it's good to see careers have blossomed, i guess. it's pretty much the same humor as anything those 40 year old virgin dudes do in all their movies, but at least it's new situations and not the same jokes every time. it kind of reminds me of a bunch of guys sitting around playing playstation just conversating. mclovin was pretty damn awesome as the larper. i watched that documentary "monster camp" about larpers and they seemed to nail it. also, as a side note, they made fun of it respectably....i think. i'm not a larper so i don't know how sensitive they are about their ridiculousness, but it seems to me, in this movie, they didn't harsh their gig too bad, and yet it was still funny.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Fanboys (2008)
Written by (movie) Ernest Cline, Adam F. Goldberg (story) Ernest Cline, Dan Pulick, millions of disillusioned 30-odd-year-olds
Directed by Kyle Newman
Starring Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen, Seth Rogen

 before the biggest upset of all time (to star wars fans), friends go on a journey to skywalker ranch to break in and see episode 1 before one of them dies of some sort of terminal cancer. hijinks.
This movie plays as a series of funny bits--most of which were in the trailer--connected by a series of unfunny bits.  This could be said of the majority of comedies, but the ratio was off.  It didn't live up to its potential (or my expectations), but that gap might have been too much to overcome.

The premise is definitely rife with opportunity.  95%+ of the people who watched Ode to a Farting Dinosaur My Daughter Found In Her Armpit One Midsummer Morning had similar buildup experiences even if their misadventures weren't quite so extreme.  And at an outline level it still comes through as having a good place to go.  The characters weren't caricatures or archetypes or parodies; I'm sure there are plenty of similar people around. (For the record, I wasn't nearly as crazy as even the Kristen Bell character and I was the worst of my particular circle).

There wasn't too much to this from a technical standpoint.  Things were all shot well and people were told to do things the right way.  What little action and "wonder" scenes there were came across the screen well, and the close-quarters stuff (i.e. parties and vans and the like) felt like what I remember from being a social MOster. The bit about Paramount not letting them use their IP was played well into poorly-made Trek paraphernalia knockoffs.

There was a real plot to this movie, and each of the characters (down to the Klingon guy who guards the inside man source) was unique and reasonably well-played by his or her proxy.  MAYBE Seth Rogen was a little too over the top, but only a little.  The subplot about the cancer was as good a motivation as any and the entire experience was almost as full of cameos as it was full of sorrow for what we knew the people were going to have to handle.

There was nothing technically wrong with this movie.  What it boils down to is that it just wasn't funny enough. 

The Woman
this was kind of a disappointment. much like the experience of episode 1 itself. i enjoyed all the walk-ons, but it didn't redeem the not funny of this movie. some bits were funny, but they were few and far between. being a trek and star wars dork myself, i know how much material there is to work with. this did not scratch the dorkdom funny surface. that all said i think the end of it was perfect. in fact, i may go as far as it was better than the movie. not the sappy reflection part. the actual end.   

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

Ong Bak II: The Beginning
Written By Panna Rittikrai
Directed By Panna Rittikrai, Tony Jaa
Starring Tony Jaa, Sarunyu Wongkrachang,Natdanai Kongthong,Primorata Dejudom,Sorapong Chatree

In the 15th century, there are a lot of shitty people in Thailand and a lot of other people who are just trying to get by.  Young Tien has a very high midichlorian count which causes him to be shepherded from his first clan (?) just before another clan comes and wipes it out.  Captured and enslaved, he uses the force to escape and ends up with someone who recognizes his raw talent.  It's here that he enters the Jedi Academy and learns all about various fighting and weapon styles.  Luckily, he didn't have to eliminate all emotional attachments, so before he accepts the crown as king he gets to go and take care of the clan that originally killed his family and friends.  There's also a girl.

The Woman
um, i wasn't really paying attention to this very much. i slept through the first one the first time i saw it and thought i didn't want to break tradition. so yeah. tony jaa is really good at muy tai or whatever you call it. he would have kicked jcvd's ass in "bloodsport". this one was not as good as the first one. this was an entirely different movie and should have had the respect for ong bak to be called something different. the throw away line at the end by the narrator to connect the two movies was not quite enough for me. it didn't send me into a tirade like my companion, but i think that may be because i don't care. i'm glad this is off of the list.

This was disappointing to me.  A lot of things happened, but I think it's charitable to call it much of a "plot," because outside of the fighting the main character had nothing to do with what was going on.  He was always being chased or kicking ass (or sometimes being schooled); but with the exception of one time he acted on the direction of others, and even in that last scene sinisterness outside of him led to his actions.

Where the original Ong Bak was innovative and interesting, this movie felt stock.  It wasn't really derivative of the first film because it didn't use the tricks which that one (largely successfully) employed. Instead it was much more standard martial arts action type stuff.  The settings were really cool and the production value was high for something like this (hence the plethora of trailers and logos in front of the film), but the camera itself didn't do too much and the director really just let people yell at each other.

The martial arts exhibition was also weak.  Again referencing the first one, this was a showcase of Jaa's talents; but it was too fractured to let anything really big happen.  There were some great pieces and what he did was impressive enough but the fights didn't keep my eyes glued to the screen in the same way.  The experience would have been served by more of less.

And the tie-in?  The connection to the first movie?  Tenuous is a generous description.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bitch Slap

Bitch Slap (2009)
Written by Eric Gruendemann, Rick Jacobson
Directed by Rick Jacobson
Starring Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo, Zoe Bell (but not exactly) and dr. lee from general hospital

three women criminals are looking for some sort of treasure in the middle of nowhere. fake boobs, cat fights, short skirts, and salty language.

There was entertainment here, and plenty of it.  It extended well beyond the jiggly honkers, which is good because those were covered most of the time.  This was definitely supposed to play as a satire of chicksploitation movies and in that vein it succeeded admirably.

It's clear from frame one that nobody in front of the camera has ever--or will ever--sit on a stage with James Lipton.

The stunts were supposed to be outrageous and they were.  (Six cheers for Zoe Bell!) The language was supposed to be, "Ooh.  Those girls have dirty mouths," and they did.  I think the plot was supposed to be nonsensical, but even if it wasn't it was.

Action was shot on one location and in front of one green screen.  Again it showed.  Again it was supposed to.  The sex was actually hotter than one might expect given the amount of clothing involved.

This movie is like a pair of fake boobies.  Fun to look at, occasionally fun to bounce around, but you just can't sink your teeth into 'em the same way.

The Woman
i don't know. i think i enjoyed this. it was on that snakes on a plane line. it might have not achieved awesomness because it was trying a little too hard. i will say that i am dorky enough to have noticed that both xena and her sidekick, and hercules and his sidekick were all bit parts, and that knowledge entertained me. i can't figure out what audience this was made for. dave tonucci? i'm just kidding. it seemed geared towards men, with all the lesbian big boobed barbie action and cat fighting, but there was no real skin. too much language for a sy-fy original, and yet not enough umph to make it outrageous enough to not be confused with a sy-fy original. i would totally recommend to dorky dorks, i'm not naming names...wait i may have already, sorry again tonucci, but it may please the court that you are not the only name on the list in my brain. you guys know who you are (plus i consider myself one among the ranks). i think you may sort of enjoy this, maybe. don't blame me if you don't. like i said i'm not sure how i feel about this. how about this pitch: if you like boobs and saturday night sy- fy premiers then you'll probably dig this movie. yeah. that's what i meant. well put.

Beat The Devil

Beat the Devil (1953)
Directed by John Huston
Written by James Helvick (book), Truman Capote
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollabrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre

Humphrey Bogart plays a top-notch (but down-on-his-luck) con man.  Two different groups of people want the same thing from him, and some other individual people want some other things from him.  There are also some boat rides and a love rectangle.

The Woman
this was not great. at all. didn't like it. couldn't follow it. didn't care to understand what the heck was going on. humphrey bogart played his usual sarcastic self, with his one liners, and that usually works for me, but crap, this was boooooring.

I thought this was entertaining.  Bogart is an attractive man, and neither of the women was tough on the eyes, either.  This is a classic notion, one dude playing a bunch of parties against each other and for himself, and unlike a lot of the "classics" we watch around here I don't think this is one of those things which was much newer in 1950.  Capote really fills in the little spaces with humor, including a drunk ship's captain and some nifty little puns.  And the rest of the acting is on par for the era.

Our Truman is no enemy of the bon mot or cute notion, but the important elements of the plot were needlessly obfuscated.  If this was an attempt to show the complexity of the situation that Bogey was managing, it fell flat.  Also, I know it was 1950 but I think we're expected to believe that people who have not only just met but who haven't shared even an on-screen peck to have fucked. This caused more than one double-take on our couch.

But while the experience was entertaining, the execution could have been enhanced. I'm on the bubble between 2 and 3 here, which means that Leila's 2 will win.

The Omega Man

The Omega Man (1971)
Written by John William Corrington, Joye Hooper Corrington, Richard Matheson (book)
Directed by Boris Sagal
Starring Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Rosalind Cash and her boobies

some sort of biotoxin released by those damn russians, has wiped out the human race, sort of. there are now religious fanatic blind albinos running around trying to kill charlton heston, the only person to have successfully vaccinated himself against the deadly russian flu.
This was an interesting experience for me, similar (but not the same as) The Men Who Stare at Goats, the script was the weakest part.  Not having read the book, I can't discuss the "trueness" of the adaptation; but while the story was good at a high level and being a sucker for a down-ending I liked the conclusion very much, many of the details were silly.  The introduction of the other survivors seems to imply more than just a half-dozen and I would think that an officer in whatever service would have spent some time trying to look for communications from others.  Also, the details of where and when the surviving humans (as differentiated from the uninfected humans) can be out are oddly inconsistent and the fact that they have such a hierarchical society implies that a much longer period of time has passed than is conveyed by other places in the story.

Coming up the scale is the acting.  Heston is a pretty bad ass, and even the weird zombie guys are just the right level of over-the-top.  The other regular humans are good enough, as well.  Where the movie starts to get actually interesting, though, is in the direction and camera work.  Establishing shots are cool, and there's one in particular which starts really close to good ol' Charlton and pulls waaaay back to the LA skyline.  As we continue into the action stuff, things brighten further.  Most of the setpieces vary tonally but remain consistent.  The first, for example, really felt like a West Side Story type dance-fight.  What really brought that feeling through in all the action scenes as well as in the general background was the music.  About halfway through watching I was impressed enough to look up the composer, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that he also wrote the Doctor Who theme song which has had the same melody for over forty years.  The music really did it for me more than anything else.

The philosophical question of which group of humans has claim to the planet is an interesting one.  The "neo-humans'" super-Luddite position is a sensible reaction to the "classic humans'" technology-based downfall; and the idea that they should be cured or destroyed rather than embraced is a real counterpoint.  However the story doesn't really present a good forum for this discussion.  I'd like to believe that this is a big part of the book, but maybe it's just the jumping-off point for a better one (or a better movie).  It's tough to recommend this as a story, but maybe if you ignore the dialog it would improve your experience.

The Woman
shme. this was a little closer to the short story "i am legend" than the recent will smith release. neville is actually played by someone who could be conceived as a 6' german, and he was, in fact, located in the western coastal city known as los angeles. but that is where the similarities end. they sort of took it in a religious direction as opposed to an evolutionary scientific direction that is in the book. at least it is called "the omega man" and not "i am legend" separating itself respectfully from the source material. unlike will smith and his band of hollywood bastardizers.

 i think it's funny that the woman was a militant black lady who was offended by the verb "spooked" and yet once someone got sick they turned albino. even their eyes turned white. i also think there was too many bad jokes that charlton heston made to himself about being the last person alive in a city. too many hokey talking to corpses jokingly, traffic jokes, standing in line jokes. he was very amused by himself but he came off like the punny guy you smile at because you're too polite to tell him he's not all.

i think the jesusianess got a little overbearing towards the end as well. the on the cross pose at the end was as subtle as being slapped in the face with a fish.

Discworld: Soul Music

Soul Music (1997)
Written by Terry Pratchett, adapted by somebody else
Directed by Jean Flynn
Starring Christopher Lee, Debar Gilett, Andy Hockley

Death takes a holiday, and his adoptive granddaughter has to take over his duties.  Simultaneously, this dude swears that he'll be the most famous musician in all the world at exactly the wrong time, which causes music as an entity to take over his life when he should have died.  Therefore, the two plots intersect.

MOster (only; you're welcome, Woman.)
Beginning with the way this was presented on DVD (as individual episodes, with no play-all, and no automatic skipping to the next episode's menu upon completion of the previous one), this whole thing was another big disappointment.  The animation was better than the last one, but that's about it.  The adaptation took an interesting pair of stories and watered them down to lamenes.  There was a needlessly over-the-top gay guy and some other stereotypes thrown in for good measure.  The book has jokes that take tens--if not hundreds--of pages to set up and here they're done within the space of a single scene.  Some of that could be due to the episodic nature in which it was created but that's not a very good excuse.  A few of the cool elements of the book came through, most notably the Librarian and the raven, but in general this was another waste of time.

Don't watch this if you liked the book.  Absolutely don't watch this if you've never read the book because it will turn you off from Pratchett; and that would be a terrible shame.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Ponyo (2008)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: who knows who plays the english cast's children, liam neeson, cate blanchett, and matt damon all have about 3 lines

ponyo is a sea princess who befriends a 5 year old boy. she uses her fathers magic to become a little girl to hang with said boy. too much magic is used, and it creates a tsunami that floods the town.

The Woman
cute. totally for kids. there was no climax that i could detect. when it ended i thought to myself 'really? is that all?' i don't think it helped that it's running time is about an hour an a half and i watched it in three different sittings because my kid was not sleeping, and therefore driving me to climb the walls. if you have a small child they would probably dig this because they have no concept of plot equations and how things are supposed to happen.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Motherhood (2009)

Director: Katherine Dieckmann
Writer: Katherine Dieckmann
Starring: Uma Thurman, Minnie Driver, Anthony Edwards

the chaotic day in the life of a stay at home mother living in the west village dealing with a walk up with a dog who needs to be carried down the stairs, two kids, other parents, other non-parents, and planning a birthday party for her six year old.

The Woman
there were things in this movie that were a little too close to home to be funny, and i found myself agitated beside the character. being constantly hassled by other adults, judged for your parenting skills, being a little put off by others parenting styles, aggravated by all the things you have to get done. i'm getting agitated thinking about it. anyway, there were also some really great moments in identifying with the argument had by thurman and edwards playing husband and wife where i thought 'exactly! well put'. but then there was the nice little wrapped up happy ending. it was good, but it was kind of predictablish. but i guess that's the point of the argument about how the tedium of motherhood is soul crushing. focusing on all the little things, the details, you forget how to see the whole picture. but sometimes a serene calm falls, and you can tell yourself that everybody else can go fuck themselves, you're going to have a good time damn it! does that makes sense? am i rambling. the shittiest of days sometimes do end on a good note. you  i kind of shutter to think of being a stay at home mother in the city. it gives me the willies. just the added stress of dealing with that many more people who aren't afraid to give you a piece of their mind, and the stairs....argh.

if you are a stay at home mother, i would recommend this movie. it's good to see others struggle at the same choices and situations you have made to know you aren't alone. it can't be said enough, in my opinion. i would also like to question why we, contemporarily are having such difficulties with this. is it just that we are more vocal than generations past? or is it that there are too many rules and regulations put on us societally, and everyone is watching and listening to us to make sure we're doing it "right"?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wyrd Sisters

Weird Sisters (1997)
Written by Terry Pratchett (but I hope not really)
Directed by Jean Flynn
Starring Christopher Lee (but not really), Jean Horrocks, June Whitfield, Annette Crosbie

In a riff on Hamlet (on the page, anyway), asshole brother-in-law (or something) kills the king.  Someone smuggles the real prince out of the castle, and the semi-local witches (one of whom is a neophyte) end up getting involved with political affairs to (spoiler alert, but shmeh) save the day.

waah. this was boring. i hated it.  i hate moster for adding it and the next one.

i didn't write this complaint myself.

I can see how Leila would be so upset and annoyed as to be bored to the point of leaving the room, mostly because it took about an hour to get into this and that might have only because I'm familiar with the source material.  This was produced in 1997, but it felt like (e.g.) the Lord of the Rings cartoons ca. twenty years earlier. [I like using "e.g." and "ca." in the same sentence.] The voice acting was OK, but only individually.  Most of the dialogue comes (or appears to come) straight from the page. In reading one applies one's own interpretations of inflection and emotion; but with few exceptions it seemed that most of the vocals were recorded individually.  This unnerving lack of chemistry is the most eggregious example of failure in the adaptation.

The adaptation, such as it was, appears to have been intended to take an adult--or, if you want to be an asshole, young adult--and re-skew it for chitluns.  There are plenty of examples of cartoons which achieve success for both adults and kids (Spongebob tops the list); but this failed on both levels.  Where the books probably play well enough on both levels the script here fails to establish any sense of humor or wonder.  There are a couple of pretty good adults-will-get-it dirty jokes, but most of my interest ended up spent trying to identify things which differentiated it from the novel.

This is probably why the only screenwriting credits on Pratchett's IMDB page for Discword adaptations.  I'm doubtfully hopeful that the other one of these will go a little way towards an acquittal.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

John Rabe

John Rabe (2009)

Director: Florian Gallenberger
Writer: Florian Gallenberger
Starring: Ulrich Tukur, Daniel Brühl, Steve Buscemi

a german man working for a german company manages a factory in nanking, china in 1937. the japanese attack and he leads an area that becomes a safe zone for the chinese, and ultimately saves 200,00ish chinese lives. true story on a real german named john rabe.

The Woman
this was pretty exceptional. it was a little under 2 and a half hours and i didn't notice. i really appreciate when movie makers make the germans speak german, and the japanese speak japanese, and the chinese speak chinese, and the americans speak english. this was classified as a foreign movie, but you can't really tell because there are so many different languages represented it blurs the country of origin. i can dig that. it's also fascinating to me when i watch stories of WWII that i haven't seen represented before. the man was a nazi by name, but had been out of germany for twenty plus years, so didn't really comprehend what the nazi movement was about. they drove this fact home by the man who came to replace rabe in the beginning, who had just come from germany, and was appalled at how lackluster, and easygoing the men who claimed to be nazis ran their meeting. he was outraged that they would meet in the same room as the english, who had a photo of the king of england  that they would take down during their meetings (sometimes) to reveal a painting of hitler. he had this idealistic vision of hitler and the nazis, which, apparently, never went away. he even went as far as to write hitler a letter about the japanese treatment of the chinese, asking for help to stop the executions and rapes of the people of nanking. who knew? a likable nazi who stuck up for other human beings, because they were human beings.

they really did a good job at showing the terrible things the japanese did during the occupation(?) of nanking. and looking at imdb, apparently, alot of japanese actors when approached about doing this film wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole because the japanese are still, rightfully so, a little touchy about their actions in nanking. interesting facts i did not know about history. excellent.

really good. ulrich tukur did an amazing job (and really looks like john rabe to boot) would recommend.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Ninth Configuration

The Ninth Configuration (1980)

Director: William Peter Blatty
Writer: William Peter Blatty (screenplay and novel)
Starring: Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson

So, there's this mental hospital for Marines (? - it might be more than just marines); and it's in a castle somewhere because this family decided to lend it to the Marines to use as they saw fit.  But the person running it isn't an MD (or something) so this other dude who's the best psychiatrist in the service comes along to take over.  He interacts with patients and forms some bonds and then the shit hits the fan.

The Woman
booooring. i thought this was going to be a thriller about a mental institution. instead it turned out to be a philosophical conversation about religion and science. i know these two plots are very similar, but one appeals to me slightly more. have i said this was boring yet, because it totally was. moster dozed and i got work done on the table runner i'm making, but jesus, i feel i could have listened to a much better movie while accomplishing things.

On a high level, this movie makes no sense at all.  The way the place is organized and how the fuck this other doctor would let super-psycho-patient let so many other minor-psycho-patients do all sorts of crazy shit doesn't even come close to the notion of "suspended disbelief." But, if you can get past that (which isn't really difficult because you don't learn about that stuff until the last ten minutes or so (though you might actually figure it out a little (or a lot) sooner.)) then there's actually something in this move that might be worth experiencing.

I'm not really a huge fan of The Exorcist; it all seemed way too convoluted and over the top.  But this is the opposite.  It's dark and "atmospheric" and often too close to boring.  Low lighting even in the scenes which don't take place within the castle keeps the suspense at a low simmer for a long time, but this could be because of the production rather than the plotting (i.e. you can tell that the director is doing things to amp the tension but you don't necessarily carry any pathos for the characters).  This is supplemented by excruciatingly reserved performances--Stacy Keach reminded me of HAL--which may very well have been directed by a narcoleptic crossing guard.

I don't know if I recommend this, but you could do a lot worse.  It might be worth studying.  There's probably a paper in the difference between this film and the more famous one.

ETA: Yes I dozed, but shmeh.

The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria (2009)

Director: Jean-Marc Valee
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany

a small section of queen victoria's life when she was younger. slightly before she was queen, and slightly after her coronation.

The Woman
good, but not great. the costumes were amazing, and the directing was really good. (i find it amusing it was directed by a frenchman considering the love affair between england and france) but i feel once it found itself, it ended. once prince albert and queen victoria's wedded bliss was over, just when they started having issues with the proper roles between man and wife and queen and country...the end. when i watch movies of england in the mid to late 1800's i always think of eddie izzard's bit about english drawing room drama. the subtlety in the acting and the extreme drama, drama, drama, right under the surface. that is exactly what this was. and i enjoyed it in this representation, but i wish there was just a little more of the story. some of the in-betweens, if that makes any sense.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Australia (2008)
Written by Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood, Richard Flanagan
Starring Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Brandon Walters, David Wenham

chicky lady poo comes from england to bring her husband home from australia and the failing ranch they have there. he dies. she falls for hefty thick neck huge ackman otherwise known as "the drover". they also take an aboriginal boy under their whitey mcwhiteface wing. and all the while escaping the dastardly plans of faramir. failing ranch, cattle drive, success, rain, the japanese.

This is an interesting thing.  I don't think that the movie was nearly as bad as what I remember reading and hearing about it, but it was the wrong movie.  It was either a bloated 110 minute stock drama or an undersold, four-hour, true epic.  Everything outside of the script points to the latter, so I'm going with that.

I joked before we began that I put the disc in the player unilaterally (rather than passive-aggressively, which is much more common in our house) so that Leila would have to write the synopsis.  It borders on true irony that I now can't imagine that she'll have any real difficulty in writing it.  We should have had more to work with.  There should have been 10 or 15 minutes of backstory for each of the main characters (other than the kid, of course). Rather than being relegated to the role of paper-thin mustache twirler Faramir should have been upgraded to a main character with real pathos and at least somewhat-understandable motivations; and we needed more secondary characters with stories.  That way, when everybody converged at the end the convergence would have meant more than "inevitable." 

The production here was interesting, if not to my tastes.  Direction and cameras were really good, as can be expected of a technician the likes of Baz, and everything was of a piece.  While I disagree with the idea that the aesthetic should appear so soundstage-y, I appreciate it as a point of view and that point of view was executed well.  Similarly, I found Kidman's performance and affectation to be off-putting, especially next to the naturalistic work of Jackman, the kid--who was actually pretty great--and Faramir; but again I see how reinforcing the wide gap between the aristocrat and commoners serves the story.

And the main thread of that story is engaging once you get past the jejune nature of the introductions.  The motivations of the principal ("good") characters were quite clear.  Sarah has a need to prove her worth in the man's world of the late 1930s while, due to some unexplained course of events, also improving her family's financial solvency; and some of the fleeting backstory defines The Drover well as a loner who really doesn't want the responsibility of a family.  To see them come together around Nullah in their vastly different ways feels true to them and allows us to become invested in at least that part of the picture.  It's easy to root for Nullah, and not only because he's the narrator.  He's got the most to lose, he's the most sympathetic, and in Leila's words he's an "extremely beautiful kid."  Just like a painted backdrop or a set, a story's backdrop must have enough detail to keep the viewer looking at the screen.  Look much beyond Nullah's story and you're squinting into the sunlight. 

The title "Austrailia," evokes scale, grandeur, Michner.  The film does a good job of showing us a small piece of the island, which makes it all the more disappointing to know that there's so much more just outside of our grasp.

The Woman
i might get shot in the face for saying what i'm about to say, but i didn't think this was as terrible as people lead me to believe. i don't really see a big difference between this and other epic old westerns. it was a bit slow moving and i do think it could have been edited down, and it may have been two separate movies, but i just wasn't as bored as i thought i would be. keep in mind we did watch this in two different sessions, so we had an intermission that lasted for about 6 hours.

the directing was beautiful, and i enjoyed the sound stage quality. i don't enjoy nicole kidman very much, and i think faramir is far better looking than huge ackman, but i was distracted most of the time by the most beautiful child to ever grace a movie screen. there could have been more character development, instead of weird empty plot movement too. i'm glad i've watched it and now that i have, i won't ever have to again.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009)

Director: Julian Jerrold
Writer: David Peace (novel) Tony Grisoni (screenplay)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Jennifer Hennessey, Previously-Viewed Legume

a young journalist going through several deaths around him investigates the disappearance of a couple of little girls throughout the years. gets sucked into some major smallish town conspiracy and corruption. things. this is the first in a trilogy of movies about the different years of the yorkshire ripper case.

This was engaging on every level.  From the first frame, this picture feels like (what one has been led to believe is) Yorkshire in the 1970s.  The foundation of this atmosphere is art direction.  Plenty of low lighting and earthy colors drop us right in the thick of it.  Merging costuming, hair, settings, and sundries this film parallels the likes of Mad Men and Lord of the Rings in its trueness to setting and character alike. Building upon this foundation, direction and camera work are generally very good.  Full of artful yet unobtrusive shots and direction which (if nothing else) matches the line reads and the personalities built by the actors.

And the actors all do a great job with their personalities.  Garfield really sells it as the young idealogue, and his girlfriend (who I'm unable to find on IMDB) also comes off really well.  Sean Bean is in one of the roles for which it seems his face was made, full of sneering and arrogance; and the other cops come off as appropriately apathetic or genuinely concerned even as they're abetting (or being subjected to) some pretty shitty things.

I could have done without the last 30 seconds or so, but that's a MOster-level quibble.  This gets a strong recommendation.

The Woman
done well. direction, and acting, and all that. i originally thought this was supposed to be about the case of the yorkshire ripper, but that is actually kind of the subplot. the main focus is on this young journalist and his life at that time. i think that is a very clever way of doing it. it's a shame i liked it because i don't have too much to say when that happens, but c'est la vie. good job guy. i am interested to see where this takes us.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Mirrors (2008)

Director: Alexadre Aja
Writer:Alexadre Aja, Gregory Levasseur (screenplay) based on Korean movie
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton

Um, this suspended cop dude starts working as a security guard at an abandoned department store.  He starts to see things in mirrors.  Then everybody else who he knows who also has a mirror starts seeing things. Then they start mutilating and killing themselves and every single reflective surface becomes dangerous.  Then, through a practically infinite string of idiotic coincidences he figures out what's going on.  Then he goes to the sticks.  Then he goes to this other place.  Then he goes back to New York.  Then he may or may not have stopped this from happening again.  If you want to know that last part you'll have to either think a little or watch the fucking thing.

The Woman
this it was totally supposed to be scary, but  i laughed through a good percentage of it. it was way hardcore ridiculous. kiefer sutherland was so intense and yelling all the time. the wife/ ex wife who thought he was delusional (rightfully so) when proven wrong, that this demony thing with the mirrors was actually true, said "i should have believed you". when this lunatic is raving about how the mirrors are making people do things, i think she should have called the looney bin, personally. i know i would lock my dearly beloved husband up. i mean i would totally believe him and fight the mirrors by his side.

not only was the acting outrageous, but the plot didn't make sense at all. why would this guy stay at a shitty night time security job when he's so creeped out by the things he sees in the mirrors. when things go south most of humanity would say they were outta there. the whole movie takes place in a week maybe ten days. i know i'm a hard worker, but jeebus, when i see burning people and reflections that aren't there, you could bet your ass i'd be at burger king watching a training video the next day. supposedly this dude, kiefer, he's been through some shit as a cop. we don't know what, and we never find out. but the man loves to rant and rave and take some mystery pill that treats his mystery emotional problem, stemming from this mystery shit that went down.

just when you think this movie can't possibly achieve any more crap content, the courics go off the chart. (that's a south park reference for those who didn't catch it) and listen closely because i'm totally going to give away the movie.... supposedly this thing that's happening in the mirrors is a demon that leaped from a possessed little girl in the 50's, when the burnt out department store building was an insane asylum, into the mirrors of this treatment room. see dr. whocares thought that schizophrenia could be cured if the affected were strapped to a chair in a room full of mirrors and hallucinate to themselves. demon girl gets strapped in, and the demon can't take it for some who knows reason. after a massacre in the asylum shortly after demon inhabits mirrors, the walls of the vanity schizo treatment room get sealed. asylum becomes department store. somehow demon starts to show up in all the mirrors of the department store. then demon starts showing up at kiefer's home. how does demon travel? we don't know. now that i write this down i can see that maybe in the original, the one with more thought put into it, that it maybe is a metaphor for the evil in us all, and once we see evil in that particular mirror, we see it everywhere? i don't know. but if that was the point it was done terribly. there's also this whole issue that happens where the demon repossesses girl, who is now a dead nun. isn't the whole point of possession the fact that the person is living? if the demon could possess dead people why did it need dead nun, who is alive at this point, to come back, it's killed tons of people. why not possess one of their dead bodies? could that just be me thinking that somebody should give a poop when writing terrible scripts, and casting terrible acting, and funding terrible remakes? ooh, ooh, i forgot to mention the ending...okay somehow kiefer gets crushed by a falling burned out department store while fighting of a possessed dead nun, and he thinks he's still alive until.....all the words everywhere are backwards!!!!! he's been collected by the demon and is now trapped forever inside mirrors. at least that's what i think, because it wasn't really explained.

oh man. this movie was poor.

This movie is like someone keeps trying to hack away at trees on their way out of the jungle, but the machete is so dull that each tree they hit only gets cut partway and they get hit on the head as the tree falls in the wrong direction.  When they wake up, they forgot that they tried this already and they get hit on the head again. Rinse and repeat. Eventually they bleed out and die.  It might be more pleasing to believe that they would have been eaten slowly by a large feline, but even that notion is too entertaining for this movie.

Through the first half-hour of this I was trying to figure out from where the main theme was lifted.  Turns out it was Lord of the Rings, note for note and instrument for instrument, to the point where I wonder if it's legal.  The premise here stems from the worst pieces of every important mirror story ever told (and surely some silly ones), from Lewis Carroll (thanks to my woman) to Neil Gaiman with any number of stops in between.  However, in creating the outline the writers didn't even bother to edit what they pasted in from these other sources, and in some cases when they copied from those sources they missed modifiers such as, "not."  Seriously, if the solution was so simple it would have happened immediately after it was the problem.

The single most egregiously stupid thing that anybody does in this movie is to stop the windows from being reflective by putting newspaper on the insides (while painting mirrors that could just as easily have been covered... or removed) and then IMMEDIATELY GOING OUTSIDE AND STANDING IN FRONT OF THE GLASS.

Production design and production value were the only elements of this piece that warrant any sort of praise, and the highest I'm willing to go here is, "adequate."  Everything else is just garbage.  Keifer can't even act, let alone overact, and the only other elements of the cast worth mentioning are Amy Smart's ass and sideboob.  So, casting gets an F.  The camera moved around a lot in an attempt to show how everybody and every thing were at least a little fucked up.  It sure did move, but it lingered on almost nothing that would explicate anything.  So, cinematography gets an F.  The director told the camera people what to do and whatever he said to the actors caused them to act like they were marionettes being controlled by a drink. [That's not a typo. They were being controlled by a container of potable liquid, not an inebriated human.]  So the director gets an F.  The executive producers and producers gave people money to make this movie and continued to pay salaries after they saw the dailies.  So they get expelled.

The worst thing about this movie is that it doesn't even really qualify as awesomely bad.  We laughed at it a few times, but we didn't have fun.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New in Town

New in Town (2009)

Director: Jonas Elmer
Writer: Ken Rance, C. Jay Cox
Starring: Fishlips McPoutypants, Harry Connick Jr., Siobhan Fallon, J.K. Simmons

corporate lady from miami gets assigned to a factory in minnesota to "upgrade" the factory. aka let people go. she falls for bearded harry connick jr (gasp) who is the union rep.

The Woman
i laughed exactly once, perhaps fifteen minutes in. it was a nipple joke, okay, you would laugh too. with this i thought perhaps i was wrong to condemn pretty much anything with zellweger in it. unfortunately, that was the climax of the humor, and i reverted to my natural state of displeasure watching a twig shiver in the minnesota cold. damn yous harry connick. i like you. i feel deja vu complaining about the fish out of water romantic comedy plot... so just insert whatever i said about did you hear about the morgans  in here.

this had potential. the details were great but the jokes weren't. scrapbooking clubs are hysterical to me, and yet they went nowhere with it. the subject of jesus pushing is also funny to me, and it only got two jokes.  J.K. Simmons was also great as a curmudgeony minnesotese man, he too, did not get enough screen time. eh. i'll continue to watch these cookie cutter romantic comedies because they require no braincells to view, and are good for knitting or crocheting, like any lifetime movie....i guess that's why they keep making them, but be very surprised if i have something good to say about them.