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

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray (2009)

Writer: Toby Finlay (screenplay) Oscar Wilde (novel "the picture of dorian gray")
Director: Oliver Parker
Starring:  Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin, and a bunch of chicks

dude paints a portrait of dorian gray. all the terrible things he does reflects in the painting while he stays perfect and young and beautiful.

The Woman
LAME. not that i was expecting anything more. this was all about his lechery and yet, it didn't show any of it. they alluded to it. you got a lot of heavy breathing and i think 1 nipple once, but that was it. i feel like if you want to have a movie about "sinning" i.e. murder and sex, be really graphic about it or don't make it. this was just wishy washy, and therefore stupid.

i've never read the book so have nothing to say on the accuracy of the movie. moster has, and from one scene, viewed for about 30 seconds, he said it was different. i sensed that because if oscar wilde wrote this the way it was presented in 2009 movie format, he would not have been remembered at all. oscar who?

Cold Souls

Cold Souls (2009)
Written by Sophie Barthes
Directed by Sophie Barthes
Starring Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, Dina Korzun, David Strathairn

paul giamatti plays himself and is in a funk. his soul feels too heavy to bear. through an article in the "new yorker" he finds a soul storage facility. they remove one's soul and store it. they also offer soul rental. replacing your soul with someone else's. unfortunately, the soul storage industry is so new it is not regulated, and there is all sorts of nefarious things going on with soul mules form russia. giamatti's soul ends up missing and he is desperate to get it back.

This is of that rare kind of movie that enables suspension of disbelief without even trying.  Reminiscent of Gondry or Kauffman but without nearly as much baggage, the plot takes us through Mr. Giamatti's troubles and his attempts to fix them and the inevitable snowball effect included in such a venture as if they were just part of the deal.  The satisfying resolution leaves one with questions which are enjoyable to ponder, and not frustrating.

Giamatti was the perfect choice for this role. (I'm too lazy to look up if the part was written with him in mind specifically other than to say that his wife has a producer's credit; but that might just be because he's playing himself in bed with another woman.) He's at just that level of fame where we as the audience know that he has to work to work, but he's still fully capable of bringing the gamut.  It's really cool and utterly believable to see the naturalistic way that he approaches the main role as well as his character's attempts at acting in the play.  This is entirely his movie, and he owns it.

Production matches or exceeds the aesthetic one would expect from this synopsis.  Direction was largely unassuming--no particular flourishes come to mind--and the production itself was spot on.  From the eerie office space to the warehouse in Russia to the playhouse, everything is just right.  I'm forced to wonder (but again too lazy to look up) if they actually did some location shooting in Russia or if they found a more-local place to use for fakery, but no matter

This is great, entirely worth our time, and fully recommended.

The Woman
pretty awesome. the humor was dry, but i dug it. the concept was original, and done well. the whole topic of the soul was tackled in a way that was believable. there were no grandiose statements made about religion and although the whole movie was philosophical, there were no real discussions of philosophy. it was just presented as an organ. a mysterious, but tangible organ. the events that occur after the extraction are entertaining and kept my attention. i don't even think i was doing anything, but sitting on the couch. there was not a moment of confusion for me, as the viewer, which is a direction this could have easily taken. (a.k.a. too cerebral) it did have whiffs of kauffman, but wasn't nearly as depressing or heavy, my main complaint about kauffman.

i did have a little issue with how it was ended, but that is my only complaint, and it's a tiny one that i can easily overlook.  i wish i could remember more, but we watched it a week ago and have been extreme slackers. i would totally recommend this to certain people, but i could also see how this would not be everyone's cup of tea.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Writer: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long

a loan officer finally puts her foot down (probably for the first time in her life) and refuses to extend an old woman's loan for the third time. the old lady curses her.

The Woman
 this was totally sam raimi. sam raimi with a budget. i think i actually prefer tiny budget and less production value. it makes one be creative with what they've got. this was ok. there was a reoccurring theme of gross things spewing into alison lohman's mouth. the character used to be a really fat girl so i can see a laughable reason for this, but i think the shock value was kind of lost after the first time.

justin long bothers me. i don't know why. he didn't used to, but he always plays the same character the same way. really nice guy without a clue. usually boyfriend.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Down by Law

Down by Law (1986)
Written by Jim Jarmusch
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni, John Lurie

Through a series of set- and frame-ups, three dudes end up cellmates in a Louisiana jail.

The Woman
i left for a while after a half hour of this movie. i'm just not a jarmusch fan. it's too artschooly for me. i start having flashbacks. that said, i didn't think it was horrible. i did comeback to see the last forty minutes, but if it were up to me this could have easily been turned off. i just don't see the point. and the arrogance vibe leeches from the screen.

I have a Jarmusch problem.  I always expect things to be on the level of Coffee and Cigarettes or better, but even that movie was only a B with special consideration for awesomeness in actors.

This was directed well and shot beautifully.  Mr. Jarmusch does know how to make black and white pop and scenes are built around that perhaps too much.  Story-wise, however, things didn't explode quite so much for me.  In watching these three not-exactly-fuckups allow their zeal to ruin their lives, the first act was the strongest by far; and Benigni's weirdo Italian was by far the most entertaining.

Once they got to the jail things fell to a plateau which wasn't at seal level but was clearly not at the same level.  You could feel their frustration and fatigue during the jail and (spoiler alert?) escape but there wasn't enough to engage or care about the outcome.  The very good acting wasn't enough to make me feel tension or any other form of investment in the outcome.  And the final scene was EXTREMELY student film (though the location scout did a great job).

This movie in particular has a clear point of view and the fact that that point of view is driven home with a ball-peen hammer is partially excused by the age of the film relative to the age of the director.  But only partially.  You need more than a series of extremely pretty black and white shots to make a good movie.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)

Writer: Troy Duffy, Taylor Duffy
Director: Troy Duffy
Starring: Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly, Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz

the mcmanus brothers come out of hiding after someone frames them. they take a mexican under their wing instead of an italian , and a woman FBI agent is after them instead of a gay guy.

The Woman
terrible. i was on the fence about the first one, but at least it had some sort of substance to it. this was almost a mockery of the first. a crass caricature made by a street artist in disney world. there were too many different things going on in this plot. and i use the word plot loosely. there was the thing going on with connolly's character past and present, then there was the boys with the mexican version of rocco, then there was the italian mafia judd nelson thing, and finally the bungling idiot cops running around like the three stooges on stupid medicine with julie benz thrown in for the t & a. the best part of the first one, a.k.a willem dafoe, was left out of this and let me just say julie benz is no dafoe. that's what i kept thinking throughout the entirety of this movie. at least until minute 110 and then i groaned. i guess we all need a paycheck? even dafoe? isn't he in everything? ugh. sigh. it's even more disappointing when it's done by the same people as the first and it's such an epic fail in achieving what the first one did.

as a side note: what the hell happened to sean patrick flannery!? was he in some horrible accident where his face needed reconstructive surgery like hamill? or could it be that the fates have been just that cruel. he looked older than billy connolly. maybe he's just a raging alcoholic and it's made his face all puffy and bloated. i'm totally going to look this up now....nothin! i'm going with the raging alcoholic theory. seriously, he was barely recognizable.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

Writer: Rick Riordan (novel) Craig Titley (screenplay)
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: some kids and a bunch of adults you wouldn't think would be in a crappy kids movie i.e steve coogan
percy jackson finds out he is the son of the god Poseidon! he goes to this camp for "demi-gods" to hone his skills  as a "hero". he has been accused of stealing zeus' lightning bolt and a war of the gods is set to commence on the summer solstice if it is not returned. he is completely innocent! he sets out on a journey with his satyr "protector" and a chick "demi-god" who wears armor with big boobies (don't get excited guys it's not revealing in any way) to free his mother from hades and find the lightning bolt.....all before the summer solstice which is like a week away!!!

The Woman
i have no idea why i wanted to watch this. it was a total lame tweeny movie. it didn't have the balls to even be a teen movie. i know it's from a kids book.....did i mention this was lame? i love how thew war of the gods is set on a date. who would they be warring with? because at the end (right at midnight on the summer solstice) they were chilling in a big room together. what happens when this kid has a kid? is it a quarter-god? what happens if he has a kid with the demi -god chick? is it still a demi- god? or a whole god?

ooo! i forgot to mention this kid had dyslexia that turned all words into the greek alphabet and scrambled them around. he could read it though if it was in ancient greek. perfect sense! i hope to mount olympia there will not be anymore of these. the colon in the title makes me a little worried.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Boondock Saints

The Boondock Saints (1999)

Writer: Troy Duffy
Director: Troy Duffy
Starring: Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, Willem Dafoe, David Della Rocco

irish brothers living in boston ("which means...go fuck yourself") take on the task of obliterating organized crime.

The Woman
 i know i'm probably gonna get flack for this, but i don't see why people love this movie. i'm not saying it was bad. i enjoyed it, but i didn't see the extraordinary in it. the plot was a basic good vs. evil in a sort of comicbooky way. seen it. willem dafoe was excellent as usual. billy connolly's character also should get a shout out for awesomeness, but shme. i might go as far as to say forgettable in the grand scheme of things. maybe that was a little offsides. i'll take that last statement back. there were some pretty standout scenes. i thought it was innovative how dafoe's profiler forensic federal guy interprets the scene of the crime, and that is how the viewer gets to see what went down. props for that.

i have heard the sequel is horrendous. stay tuned.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Myra Breckinridge

Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Writer: Gore Vidal (novel), Michael Sarne & David Giler (screenplay)
Director: Michael Sarne
Starring: Raquel Welch, John Houston, Rex Reed

In order to destroy the male-dominated society in which we live, this guy gets a partial sex change which makes him look like Raquel Welch.  Or does he?
The Woman
apparently we watched some sort of censored version. this upsets me, netflix. as far as the movie goes, i enjoyed it. i love how old movie clips were pasted in as reaction shots. very clever. i also enjoyed the subversive plan to destroy the "man" testosterone-y  role in relationships and therefore reinvent what a relationship is. i didn't really quite understand the ending. i get it, but i don't get it. it's always disappointing when reality isn't really reality in the end. i think it makes the point of the movie irrelevant, and this was a relevant movie. oh well.

i would like to add the costumes were amazing!

This was strangely interesting and entertaining.  I don't know if I quite recommend it, but I'm not lobbying against it by any means.

I read a few things about it and from what I can tell the editing/censoring wasn't about content so much as the clarity of that content (e.g. making black & white certain things which were original color).  This was also supposed to be intentionally bad, but I didn't find that to be the case.  There was a real point of view here and outside of the main premise--fuck, if I could come out like Raquel Welch and still keep my dick I might have to think about the surgery--there's a lot of sense to what they were trying to say.

Cutting back and forth to old clips was a good way of making the point on multiple levels, and contrasting Welch's relatively reserved performance to the high-falutin' overacting of the male principals was a good time. And the ending even made sense.


9   (2009)

Writer: Pamela Pettler
Director: Shane Acker
Starring: Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly

a little being awakes to a post- apocalyptic world. there are 8 other little beings like him. he goes here to rescue a guy, he goes there running from a giant machine.

In addition to not living up to a very interesting trailer, this movie continually set itself up to disappoint us.  Instead of being a knockoff of Terminator or Matrix or any number of similar ventures (or being even a little original in the plot), it didn't have enough to sustain eighty minutes.  It became clear about a half-hour in that the mysteries were there for the sake of being mysteries, and the three-sentence explanation just couldn't cut it.  The film is episodic in the sense there are segments, but not in the sense that there are stories.  It was "argue with each other, fight the bad guy by choice or necessity, win, repeat."  This is just a non-interactive (bad) video game.

Some of the characters appear to have background which might have impact on the story but since the story is paper-thin we don't get to hear one word of that.  The idea behind the creation itself is a neat starting point, but we don't get nearly enough information on how or why things developed to the point where they are now; and we certainly don't get enough information on how these nine tiny creatures can have any actual impact on what appears to be a planet-wide problem.

At a very high level there is potential in the story; and at a much lower level there is potential in the presentation of that story.  The animation--apparently some combination of CG and stop motion--was immersive and competently prepared.  So was the voice acting competent-to-good.  OK.  Big deal.

At least it wasn't three hours long.

The Woman
this bliggity blew! it's such a shame too because it had a good foundation story. it was only 8o minutes long and it felt incredibly rushed. like little bits of character interaction, and story development were deemed unworthy and left on the cutting room floor. it was almost tangible the stuff they left out. and because they did, it didn't make alot of sense. what was the motivation of these little guys? what was the motivation of the machine to relentlessly pursue these little voodoo dolls come to life. there were only nine. they were only like 2 inches high. very easily ignored by a big destruction machine. it makes me mad because i had such high hopes for it.

i feel like the powers that be were walking this line between this terribly dark movie, and a kids movie with a "war is bad" message. they couldn't choose and therefore it was a muddled nonsensical mess. if they just pushed a little harder they would have really had something, instead they kept making safe choices which destroyed what i think they were going for. this is not a kids movie. if i was a kid i would be terrified to sleep after viewing this. so why not make it more adult? aaarrrrgggh. it's frustrating. why? why i ask. just because it's animated? please somebody tell me that is not the reason.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Solitary Man

Solitary Man (2009)

Writer: Brian Koppleman
Director: Brian Koppleman, David Levien
Starring: Michael Douglas

an aging "ladies" man (douche bag) whores around and tries to regain his success as a car salesman.

The Woman
crap. boring crap. gross old man hitting on girls younger than his daughter. and when he's not doing that, he's talking about it. i found no redemption in this guy, i found no movement. i found no pity. he fucked up his life royally and then boo- hoo. he can't pull himself up by the bootstraps and no one likes him and nobody cares and he's all alone and old. so what.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom (2008)

Writer: Rian Johnson
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kikuchi

con men brothers with a non-english speaking, japanese explosives expert in tow try to con an eccentric, recluse baijillionaire out of a couple million by involving her in a faux smuggling adventure. younger brother falls for baijillionaire.

The Woman
i liked it, but didn't love it. it was missing something i just can't put my finger on. the characters were awesome, the story was good...i don't know. i told moster that it was clever, not witty. i can appreciate it's intelligence, i just didn't laugh. i smiled. sometimes. bang bang was awesome.

i kind of feel like this was very wes anderson story telling, with the outrageous characters, and the melodramatic cons that the older brother stephen would write, but it wasn't colorful and bright and well placed as a wes anderson movie. i don't like comparing because i think this rian johnson deserves something and to be called a copycat to someone like this is worse than death. but it did keep popping into my brain.

i will say that i didn't know how the heck things were going to be resolved in the end. that is a major plus. the convolution between real life and the con, always questioned was a great way to stomp on predictability.

i have been really excited waiting to watch this movie. it didn't live up to my expectations. i think i gatsby-ed it.  it wasn't a bad movie. in fact, i would recommend it, but  i just thought it would be better.

Lust, Caution

Lust, Caution (2007)
Written by James Schamus, Hui-Lang Wang, Eileen Chang (story)
Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Wei Tang

In occupied China, a student joins a resistance organization and becomes entangled with the object of her mission.

The Woman
finally! a good movie. we were in a slump for awhile there. good plot, good acting, good directing. it's asian so, of course it was good. why do i always hesitate to watch these movies? is it because i'm lazy and make a little bit of a bigger deal about reading the subtitles in my brain? most likely. i was going to write more about how i enjoyed this, but, like previously stated i am lazy.

Alright.  This is a solid four and very much recommended.

This is a movie which had all the elements necessary to make it great, along with the twin bonuses of extremely attractive leads and quite steamy, NC-17-worthy sex.  Told slightly out of order the way a Pulitzer-winning novel might be, everything ties together beautifully.  The story might appear simple or predictable at first, but even though it drives us to a point which can only end in so many ways we have no idea which exit will be taken.

Wei Tang owns the film as the girl who would be woman.  It's thrilling to watch her become embroiled with a man who she tries--but almost constantly fails--to control.  Her plight is utterly believable, and a character arc which could so easily have fallen into the trap of melodrama takes the path of high art.  The chemistry is so thick that for once we don't need a ton of dialog to analyze the attraction (of course, it doesn't hurt that we never really see them doing anything other than fucking or making eyes at each other).

Showing the character on two sides of what are probably the four most critical years of a young woman's physical development, the film showcases supreme craft in makeup and costuming.  (I particularly appreciated the difficulty of showing on film a closeup of someone in stage makeup, but Leila doesn't agree that this is such an achievement).  Characterizations of the leads and key supporters are perfect down to Mr. Leung, who's equally critical to the story but with not nearly as much screen time.

Exemplified by short, simple mah jongg scenes which feel long because they're relaxed rather than boring, this film is filled with the kind of direction which makes quality filmmaking look easy.  The movie fits a style from the period of the story without being kitchy or full of callbacks, and it builds a series of immersive environments with exactly the right amount of room or tension.  Lighting is used extremely well, and neither lights nor camera shy away from balletic erotica which, while often implausible, ever comes across as gratuitous.

Ang Lee films don't always succeed, but it's not for lack of direction.  Here he's found a story worthy of his talents and built a beautiful facade upon its foundation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Funny People

Funny People (2009)

Writer: Judd Apatow
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann
Dying comedian takes new comedian on as an assistant / not-really-apprentice.  I've decided to call this a "bromantic comedy."

The Woman
i was a little confused by this movie. i am not really a fan of the dramady. things like ally mcbeal and other such things that fall into this category just don't do it for me. you can laugh in a drama but i am not supposed to be sad while watching a comedy. am i being narrow minded? maybe. it's just not my deal. after adam sandler was told he was in remission, i kept thinking he was going to die before the end of the movie, and although things weren't all happy-go-lucky by the end, i felt kind of like the movie copped out.

Again we see a film where the production in general outpaces the story itself (I especially noticed a very nice post-coital shot) but there are two big problems with that story.  The first is the story as a whole.  It tries to spin a too-common formula into something bigger, but it ends up simply making changes to different variables.  I haven't cared about this notion for a long time and nothing makes me even want to give this thing a chance.

The second is the wide disparity between the pathos generated by the Sandler character and the Rogen character.  Rogen's neophyte is a nice dude who's just trying to make his bones and lets his Sandler-generated stress effect his personal life.  Sandler's comedian is just an asshole.  We're supposed to think that this is "Dramatic Sandler," but if it is there's no difference anymore.  This guy is nothing more than Billy Madison or that Big Daddy lawyer dude with a different job.  He's this rich fuck sellout who treats people like shit and we're expected to A) believe that either Rogen or Mann would want to give him the time of day as a friend--I suppose we can look at Rogen's actions as manipulative to get ahead but it doesn't play that way at ll--and B) that his illness has made him a better person.  But he's just a fucking brat, play-acting at being a grownup to get a mommy and a real friend; and the moment either of them gets independent or a better offer or anything he just runs away.  This is fine for the ex-inexplicable-girlfriend who can stay with her asshole Aussie? husband; but he totally kills his friend financially and then our hearts are supposed to melt because he decides to come back and talk about jokes?  Fuck you character.

I haven't liked to say "fuck you," to Judd Apatow in the past; but fuck you, Judd Apatow.  This movie insulted the intelligence of the audience.

I am Comic

I Am Comic (2010)

Director: Jordan Brady
Starring: Jordan Brady, Rich Schynder, practically every comic from the B+ list down to the D list.

This one started as a study of the science or the elements of comedy and ended up being about this one dude who wanted to get back into standup.

The Woman
this seemed like there was some lack of a direction. as a documentary it was kind of poor. as something on the t.v. that kept us entertained and laughing this was pretty good. i think i'm going to think of it as a bunch of comics telling funny stories of the stage and the road. therefore, i liked it.

This one is a real shame.   It could have been a good project even though it seems that the guy decided he wanted to do comedy again two thirds of the way through filming.  It's like they split the runtime of the movie into two pieces where the split in intent in the movie happens at the same relative point in the project.  They could have started with a minute or so of back story and then used that desire to give the interview clips some more perspective.

While many of the comics interviewed were as funny as they usually are (this includes Tim Allen's lack of funny) as a doc it's pretty much a straight-up 2.  Finally, I have to say that this guy supposedly has written for some pretty funny people, but very little of that was visible either personally or on stage.

The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying (2009)

Writer: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Director: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, and a ton of other people who wanted to be in a ricky gervais movie

i think the title pretty much covers it. in a world where everyone tells the truth because lying doesn't exist, a guy who is totally down on his luck begins to lie. hence fiction and religion begin.

I don't know quite how to think about this one.  The universe presented in this film is exactly like ours, except there's no fiction of any kind.  I had a lot of difficulty in accepting that premise.  They could have put some effort into making a more believable environment.  Wouldn't a world free of all fabrication appear to be Utopian or, more likely, the exact opposite?

The production, acting, etc. was just fine.  But in attempting to take that base premise at face value it's still tough to find a lot to like in the story.  This is another example of a set of characters about whom it's difficult to develop any emotional investment.  It seems like the only reason Gervais pursues Garner is because she's hot; and even though at the end she appears to be a nice person I don't see how it's worth that much effort.  I do understand the motivation for lying, but big deal.  Also, knowing a bit about Gervais and his material it was disappointing to see him using some pieces of the movie as a clearinghouse for material which works MUCH better on stage.  We know Gervais can pick a good script and do well with it, but this venture failed on that level.  Maybe he just can't write a feature; but more likely this was green-lit on his name and little else.

There were some nice cameos, though.

The Woman
shme. i was completely optimistic when we sat down to watch this. i mean it's ricky gervais. the guy can make pointless discussions with an idiot into a completely entertaining and successful pod cast/show. unfortunately and apparently, he can do wrong. this concept, i think, may be too big to create a movie around. there were too many questions i had about this alternate universe, and it didn't allow me to enjoy the jennifer garner. maybe louis c.k. could cancel her out, he just didn't have enough screen time do accomplish that feat. i had heard there was really no redemption in the characters and i completely agree. jennifer garner's character was a total bitch and i cannot fathom why ricky gervais' character would be attracted, nay, undyingly devoted to this chick. there was nothing else to her besides her "beauty". that's not enough. i also had a problem with the constant "truth telling". just because no one can lie doesn't mean people are going to blurt things out. no one needs to offer up information without some one asking. does that make sense? eh. disappointed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The State: The Complete Series

The State (1993- 1995)

Yeah, I don't know exactly how this one made it on; it was probably me.  It's one of those titles that came up on instant so we started it and then we just wanted to be done with it before it got to the house.  But it's twenty-four episodes which ended up being about twenty-one fillers of 20-minute gaps in the schedule.

Comedy is more personal than drama, and for me this became much more of an intellectual pursuit than a humorous one.  There were too many places where I found myself appreciating the premise of a joke but not laughing at it.  We got some good actual laughs when the jokes hit home, but those were too few and far between.
The Woman
i wasn't really a fan of this when i was in high school. i was way more of a "kids in the hall" fan. i thought i would give it another shot because i guess there is room for two sketch comedy shows to be liked. there were some funny things, but there was way more unfunny things. my opinion has not changed. "kids in the hall" were and are funnier. i guess there just isn't room in my heart for two after all.

we both kind of just dug our heels in, gritted our teeth and watched them all refusing to give up. it's taken several months, but we did it. knock one more off the queue.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Fucking Avatar (2009)
Written by James Cameron
Directed by James Cameron
Starring Richard Taylor, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Lang and boozey mcalcoholicstienez (my spell check is saying i spelled that incorrectly)

Once upon a time there was a director.  He made some interesting movies about aliens and mining.  He made some interesting movies about a dystopia.  He made a cool movie about a submarine and an annoying movie about a boat which caused him to become something of a conservationist/activist (as well as extremlier richer).  Many of these were quite successful which allowed him the time to watch a movie about Native Americans and a movie about Middle Earth, and probably some other ones too.

Having learned a fair amount about making people want to see his movies, he reviewed his experiences and proclivities and built a list of fodders for the masses.  These items would be difficult to manufacture but he took the time to ensure that such construction would be possible; and if there were some minor mistakes in that process the consumers wouldn't notice; their taste buds would be overloaded by the other saccharines.

The next step was to design a package, but again drawing on the experiences of other financially successful filmmakers he learned that one could render feces both rigid and tasteless at a very low cost, especially when consumers expected it to contain gold.

The Woman
i'm taking precious time out of my precious little free time aka nap time to write this. just thought you should know. i don't understand the hype of this movie at all. it didn't even make our low standards to be put on the netflix queue, but since it was such a phenomenal we, or i, decided it was worth watching. WRONG! it was pretty, but after the first, i don't know, 20 minutes it just became extremely gratuitous. LOOK WHAT WE CAN DO WITH OUR TECHNOLOGY! yeah, that doesn't make a good movie, especially when it's just shy of three hours. you would think in three hours they could come up with a story with focus, and character development. apparently not. the love story was not the focus, the war story was not the focus, him acclimating to the navi lifestyle and community was not the focus it was like a mash up of these three themes that left us with only a third of a movie. wait. the number three keeps popping up here. is this movie really about jesus? plus it's a plot we've seen nine quatrilliones times before. it was a thinly veiled white man's burden movie with blue as the skin tone instead of red.  they had three hours and they still couldn't even rip off dances with wolves right. i was waiting for the small pox blankets to come up.

also i don't know how any of the actors could say "unobtainium" without laughing hysterically. i know we couldn't not laugh every time it was uttered. maybe that goes to their caliber of acting.... dear james cameron, you want us to believe how creative you are to come up with a planet and all it's ecosystem and stuff, but you can't come up with a better term than "unobtainium"!?! did you call j.k. rowling for that gem?

my last comment will go to the fact that i am not scientifically knowledgeable, however, i could smell the bullshit science from down the street. i suppose it goes back to the creativity argument. once again i am reminded of the smoking in space issue from "thank you for smoking" "we'll just have a line like oh, i'm glad we came up with the ____ that allows us to smoke in space." short cuts were abound in this movie, and very obvious. the other term we will forevermore be using to honor this movie will be "naturally occuring carbon fiber"

crap. after reading moster's review i remembered all those plot questions i had. i won't bother telling all of them (because i'm sure i couldn't recall all of them) but the one that pops out from the end of the movie is: if the navi could transfer his consciousness to the avatar using their magical pink glow tree, why is it they didn't do this before the final battle? because then you wouldn't have to worry about his fragile little cripple human body when bad g.i. joe guy wears his gear from "aliens" and stumbles across the mobile home science lab in that last fight scene. that is the only reason. and this is why this movie sucked. i'm not stupid cameron. don't treat me like i am. you obviously used all of your creativity in the eighties like all the other hacks i associate you with (speilberg, and lucas) and now you can only pull things from your old movies, ripping yourself off. your current you is the ninth generation of inbred bunnies. it's a good thing you've made all that money so someone can chew and swallow your food for you. i'm not sure, otherwise, you could do it yourself. fuck you.

I'd like to think that I can set my expectations aside when I finally sit down to watch something.  I've written more than once about pleasant surprises and long before this blog I was able to admit that (e.g.) Zoolander was far more entertaining that I would ever have thought.  If anything Avatar was less than I expected.

I expected it to be nothing more than "Dances with Aliens," but that's not fair to Costner. His film was allowed to develop naturally and slowly.  His character built a relationship of trust with the natives and we learned about them along with him.   This guy's an outsider, then he's not.  Then he is, then he's a full-fledged member of the tribe.  Then he's an outcast then he's a superstar.  In addition to the love interest (such as it is) there's the obligatory dicktail-swinging rival, but there are no scenes which show the motivation behind that guy's changing attitudes.  Nothing allows us to share the characters' emotional investments in their fates because practically every time we see them they're doing some fantastical, beautiful thing but not ACTUALLY HAVING A CONVERSATION.  If anyone was responsible for designing the culture behind the characters they should be pissed; it would all have been deleted to make room for the rainbows.  But I'm too cynical to believe that this mystical wonderful society is any deeper than pretty visuals and ten cent buzzwords.

The story of the actual humans is no less shallow than the story of the aliens.  We know why they're there, but again there's little connection between scenes and the editors do a poor job of showing the passage of time.  In one scene he gets four weeks, and the next scene is the bulldozers.  Sigourney is on board with what he's doing then she's distracting him from those same bulldozers even though she flew him to the super remote location to get away from the corporate types.  Then she's helping him to run away.  The colonel dude is nothing more than a strawman moustache-twirler.  And the pilot who lost him in the first place (because conveniently nobody bothered to brief him on the local fauna even though the entire rest of the team had obviously been briefed) all of a sudden joins their team.  Why?  Why does it matter?

Considering all that it should come as no surprise that we're supposed to simply ignore the utter lack of sense in the technology.  The definition of the avatar thing goes through changes as necessary for the plot.  His first scene using the thing is just preposterous as is the strange vortex which prevents all communication and scanning activities except for the extremely complex bidirectional link required between human and avatar regardless of the location of either.

This was a very pretty movie, and as frustrating as it is that it began a trend which has extended all the way to TVs I imagine that it would make good use of 3D.  But all that beauty wasn't nearly enough to obfuscate the fact that Avatar is not the  IMPORTANT FILM it wants to fool you into believing it is.The visuals should be about the movie, not the other way around.

With even a little more thought this could have been Fantasia.  It wasn't even Fantasia 2000.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2009)
Written by Kelly Masterson
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring Ethan Hawke, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney, Marissa Tomei

a non- linear plot revolving around a family and a jewelry robbery gone terribly wrong.

This was an interesting experience.  Finney and Tomei are particular standouts in delivering a story as two people outside the head of Hoffman's older brother, a mid-level professional who's grasping at anything within reach to keep his head above the water.  His desperation starts at a low simmer and boils over in an interesting and engaging climax.  As the loser younger brother, Hawke is on par with the other principals.  Where his brother keeps things under his hat for as long as possible he's evidently in trouble from frame one.  Ms. Marissa gets her own opportunity to shine as Hoffman's wife and the only female character who's not a total twat.  (Aside from that we get a healthy dose of her boobies.)

The production itself is something of a mixed bag.  The music is either exactly lifted from Ransom or derived from the composer's prior work on Cohen films.  And the editing (which does calm down eventually) makes strange stutter cuts between settings and ends those cuts with annoyingly-redundant title cards; that especially is a shame.  The nonlinear timeline serves the story very well.  One scene in particular is glaringly out of place in its unnecessary visualization of the theme of the film.

On balance this was worthwhile.  It makes the 3.

The Woman
this plot was good. the acting was good. the editing was waaaay too much. so much that it detracted from the experience. every time you found yourself immersed in the section you were watching there was gunshot! glass crashing! and the picture's freeze frame flashed in between two different shots of the same person. i'm not saying the way the plot was presented was bad, i'm just saying the physical way it was done BAM! punch in the face! we as the viewer get it. it isn't necessary to slap us with the dead fish over and over and over. the movie itself was more intelligent than that. i kind of feel like it was something that some one on the production staff had always wanted to do, and couldn't let it go even though it didn't jive with the rest of the movie. it was the fat kid sitting on an otherwise really good movie. even despite ethan hawke.

Gran Torino

Gran Torino (2008)
Written by Nick Schenk, Dave Johansen
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley

After burying his wife, a curmudgeonly, decorated veteran  begins to actually see non-whites as people and forms some bonds.  He develops a close relationship with the neighbor boy, practically becoming a mentor.

The Woman
good. i was just kind of waiting for the terrible things that were going to go down. clint eastwood was awesome. i like when he plays super tough. it's been awhile. it was a little predictable, but that's ok because the characters and acting were done so well. it was better than most, but like i said gets a B for predictability.

This is a better Eastwood movie than ChangelingIt has his sense of easy purpose without a lot of fluff.  It's put together cleanly and everything works well to tell the story.  Exposition is handled much more organically than usual, with just the right amount of early scenes (cynically expected or not) giving us a good enough sketch of the character.  I can certainly identify with his attitude, though I'd like to think that I'd get along with at least one grandchild.

The highest praise due this move is that I smelled the formula coming and didn't really care that much.  The development wasn't forced; what we see is actually plausible.  Eastwood plays the rough-and-tumble asshole with a heart of less than lead very well; and he's surrounded by supporters who by and large know what to do with the few lines they're given.  The number and content of the endings was much more pleasing than it could have been.