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

Monday, July 23, 2012

District 13: Ultimatum

District 13: Ultimatum 

Writer: Luc Besson
Director: Patric Allessandrin
Starring: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Philippe Torreton
District 13 is in danger of a nefarious plot by developers.  Eventually people become physically violent in their support of or opposition that.

P.S. The Prime Minister is actually not evil.
The Woman
super shme! i don't remember much from the first one, but i remember i enjoyed it. this was a pretty big waste of time. the plot took way too long to come together. it was dumb. the bald cop guy was oozing with arrogance vibe. his poo is so super awesome it smells of manly XTREME things.

don't watch this. it ain't worth it. the 2 or 3 fight scenes don't save it. this movie tried too hard. it's gotta seem effortless, and i should not be able to smell the brand of douche of the lead.

Yeah, shmeh is accurate.  This was like an hour of setup for 30 minutes of action.  I really didn't care about the (shockingly similar to last time) politics of the country. Nor did I care about the inter-gang goings-on.  I just wanted to watch that one dude jump from the sides of buildings and that other dude drive cars dangerously and blow shit up.  Why do they have to do this?

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Writer: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg (all screenplay), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
Director: Guy Ritchie (sigh or growl)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law

sherlock holmes and the case of the black magic man.

I really thought I'd done this one.  I was annoyed by the style, yes.  But not the plotting or the mystery itself.  I expected it to be worse and more annoying than it turned out to be.  Even with their affectations they have good chemistry, and that helped to gloss over a lot of the nonsense.

As a youngster, I'd read all the Holmes stories; and this certainly takes its liberties with the substance.  A lot of those liberties make sense, and not only because it's Guy Ritchie and he has to do his stupid violent shit.  There have been enough (good) closer tellings of the Holmes tales.

That begs the question, "Was this truly necessary?"  The answer to that question is a resounding, "Of course not!" But it could have been a lot worse.

The Woman
i didn't mind this one. moster was annoyed throughout, but i found it interesting and entertaining, which is what it's all about, right? law and downey have really good chemistry. so yeah. entertaining. that hasn't happened in awhile. content to sit and watch a movie. the direction, as i'm sure moster will point out as he was very vocal about it from the couch, was a bit over the top at times. but i don't care. i'm not going to poop on this one. i liked it. and rachel mcadams usually annoys me, but i could overlook her in this one. it's the while katie holmes issue in batman begins. i'll just ignore it.

on a side note: i did make the connection, perhaps finally,  between sherlock holmes and house. come on. seriously. homes and house. watson and wilson. moster pointed out even the addiction part of it. geez louise. it was the banter between the two leads that did it for me. i've heard the same antics come out of the tv when tuned to fox. that was when house was good. when it was about the case and the mystery of the patient and not just constant philosophical discussion and psychiatric analysis of the main characters.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009)

Writer: Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Heath Ledger, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer

uhhhhhhhhh. good vs. evil in the form of a monk with an imaginarium and the devil influencing and making pacts.

This is definitely a better example of Gilliam than his last movie with so many stars (which actually also included Heath Ledger, interestingly).  That means that it's quite specific about its approach, and go fuck yourself.  I appreciate that sentiment, and I appreciated this movie at that meta level.

Beyond that, it's a little tenuous for me.  I didn't really get myself too invested in the characters or their situations, not least because it seems to me that the Doctor could have had a much easier time--and saved more people from the devil (and may I just say that Tom Waits' hit-to-miss ratio is far above average)--if he had modernized his approach just a little bit.  There were too many little pieces moving around, both in backstory and in actual characters, and not enough clinking.

The Woman
this was way too manic for me. it was like watching an entire movie of robin williams in the fisher king in his most ranty, excited self, playing all the parts at once. i also didn't really understand the ending. i get it in the big picture, but i don't understand the details. the imaginarium was very gilliam. with the giant plummer heads and such. i kind of wish he stuck to animating them instead of using new fangled technology. it was very reminiscent of the monty python animations so why not embrace it as such and do it full retro. we're all making the connection anyway. yet another meh.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ninja Assassin

Ninja Assassin (2009)

Writer: Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski
Director: James McTeigue
Starring: Rain, Naomi Harris

Ninja schools take babies and abuse them until they become ninjas.  One such ninja takes issue with something that happens in his house and bucks the system.

The Woman
it was like they blew all the budget for the whole movie on the CG blood. it's kind of a cop out. i might have enjoyed this a little more if there was a little more creative effort put into the gore. the story was eh. the acting was eh. the fight scenes were a little cooler. i can be down with exaggerated gore. it works for this type of shaw brothers homage, but see 2nd sentence. disappointed. the quality reminded me of "the ministers" which is not a good thing. this had potential, but it seemed to miss its intended mark. i was disappointed.

That synopsis is not vague because I'm trying to hide spoilers.  It's vague because the movie gave me nothing in the plot on which to latch my attention.  Some of the fights were pretty cool--one of them is even in the rain!--and some of the reveals were alright.

There's nothing here that you couldn't find in an older movie.  But you'd likely have to dig through that older movie's story and character development to find what you seek.

Also, isn't "Ninja Assassin" redundant?


Paul (2011)

Writer: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
Director: Greg Mottola
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig

some dorky guys from the UK. after going to comic-con, go on an rv road trip through america. they run into (literally?) an alien named paul. then they run into jesus loving kristen wiig. all while being chased by some government agents.

I was let down by this movie.  It kind of felt like our Simon just didn't try very hard.  He knew the beats he had to hit and he hit them exactly according to the metronome.  Everything fits together nicely.  Everyone knows what they have to do and does it.  It's a well-oiled machine.

There was just no spark here; it isn't Shaun of the Dead, and it's nowhere near "Spaced."  Will anything ever be anywhere near "Spaced," though? Not from these guys, because most good art comes from hunger and Pegg and Frost are well beyond thinking about the origin of their next meals.

The Woman

grrr. i hate to be disappointed in pegg/frost movies, but it keeps happening! i hold 'spaced' and 'shaun of the dead' so high that i keep comparing. i should stop. i guess this had moments, but i maybe am being kind because i can't let go of my positive attitude toward pegg & frost.  dammit! i feel like they're just trying to recreate the past successes, but these more current movies are like bad photocopies. i can't go on. i'm almost rendered speechless in my disappointment. grrr. it's unfortunate.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Drive (2011)

Writer: Hossein Amini (screenplay), James Sallis (book)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carrie Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Al Brooks

a stunt driver who hires himself out as a getaway driver, gets in over his head when he breaks his rules about socializing.

The Woman
this thing was everything i wanted it to be. it lived up to a good way! when does that happen?! i am not one to get squirmy about hardcore violence, but jesus, i have to admit i squirmed at least twice in my seat with the raw unadulterated violence and gore. it was just enough too. it wasn't excessive in any aspect, it was baby bear's "just right". me likey. i don't quite understand the explosion of romanticness thrown ryan gosling's way by the ladies after this movie. he is kind of a total sociopath in this....maybe that's what ladies like? a good lookin' guy with a murderous, violent rage just under the surface. he'll always be "young hercules" to me. ha. that show was hilarious.

i WILL make the MOster watch this one. mark my words.

The Change-Up

The Change-Up (2011)

Writer: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Director:  David Dobkin
Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde

judge reinhold is played by jason bateman. fred savage is played by ryan reynolds. instead of a skull, it's a fountain. instead of realizing and accepting how difficult each others respective life is, they realize and accept how happy they both actually were in their respective lives. just when you thought the switching movies were all played out...

The Woman
i watched this awhile ago and forgot to write about it. the biggest impression made on me were the perfect titties that leslie mann possesses. there was a whole discussion over dinner that night about their picture perfectness and whether they were augmented or not. we decided they were because her nipples were aimed at the sky and that is simply not the case in nature of women her age. but i'll be damned that is a good boob job.

i don't know when this guys coming to grips with being a grown up became a genre, but man, it is. it's like the chick flick for guys. you do have a family and you do actually love them. amazing! you can make all the blow job/dick/ fart jokes all you want as long as you have that happy, coming to accept life moment. oh, and it must also star jason bateman or paul rudd. thirty-somethings and early forty-something guys will come a flockin'. their wives may even be in attendance. as long as their not busy watching the wacky children or working late in their successful career.

i judged this movie by it's opening sequence of CG baby butt hole squirting one out on dad's face. yup. i was pretty right. i will admit i laughed at the misunderstood wife seduction that turned into the poop joke. even though it was in the trailer, poop is still funny. unless it's chocolate pudding baby poop coming from a CG baby butt hole.

Pirate Radio

Pirate Radio (2009)

Writer: Richard Curtis
Director: Richard Curtis
Starring: Nobody, really.
Featureing Bill Nighy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who I forgot until I saw the poster, and this is the second most recent movie for me to watch, so I don't know if you actually need to read the review), Tom Suttridge, Rhys Darby, etc., some hot, older woman who I've forgotten and whom I don't care to look up.  Oh!  and Kenneth Branagh

I'm ahead of Leila!  Hooray!

OK.  In the 60s the British government didn't want people to listen to rock music on the radio, so there were some people who got ships and anchored them in international waters and just blasted music at the people all the time; and the people loved it.  This is one piece of the story of one of those ships.

The Woman
shme. it had a really good soundtrack, but that's the only memorable thing about this movie. the antics were fun, but the plot seemed a little fastened on. we were both disappointed with the ending too. we wanted some type of blurb of epilogue pertaining to the story of the characters and all we got was a sentence about the pirate radio stations or some such nonsense. something that we, as the viewers, could really care less about since the legal part of the plot seemed so thrown in. disappointed.

"This is one piece of the story of one of those ships."  It's a very uneven piece which can't decide how much of an ensemble picture it is and how much it should focus on the one guy who may or may not be the kid of Bill Nighy.  (Bill Nighy, as always, is fun to watch.)

The movie isn't bad.  You grow to care about some of the characters and you are actually worried when all of a sudden (on the SAME DAY THAT THEY PULL UP ANCHOR) they inexplicably hit some kind of rock with the boat.  Since you have to do real research to understand that the movie isn't nearly as "based on true events" as the opening title cards make it seem, you don't realize that these people are characters and therefore not subject to wholesale death.  I just did that favor for you, and you are eternally welcome.

Aside from the film's lack of focus--are we supposed to care about Branagh and his goings on on shore?  It's a long way to go to set up a mediocre coda--its biggest problem is that its ends aren't even.  We open with a minute or so of title cards giving us the historical context (and implying that the ship in this movie is an actual ship); but we don't close with a similar minute. Fictional or not, there should be some closure here.  The movie is framed in such a way as to make you expect that closure.

And I'm not talking about an explanation of how rowboats and large fishing vessels arrive at the site of the sinking simultaneously.

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Writer: William M. Finkelstein
Director: Werner Herzog
Starring: The Nic Cage

an addict of a police lieutenant bumbles his way through covering his desperate addict behavior. this gets him into some trouble in the underworld. sort of.

This movie annoyed the shit out of me.  The first movie was powerful for all the reasons that this one isn't.  The Nic's Lieutenant is just a lucky motherfucker.  He's bad, but he's not BAD.  There's one scene where he fucks a girl as payment for escaping a trumped-up drug charge.  It's pretty cool that he makes the boyfriend watch, but it's also no big deal.  He has a family.  He works to make their lives better.  That's not bad.  He dabbles in police corruption, but in general he's just a shitty cop who keeps getting promoted.  Is it "bad" that he double-crosses the drug dealer he convinced to employ him?  No.

I don't care if the end of the movie was his version of heaven or hell; or if it was some coma dream; or any other interpretation.  I do care about the whole reptile's eye view thing but not in a good way.  The movie wouldn't have earned him standing, nude in full frontal, and crying at the top of his lungs.  But such a shot would have earned a laugh that might have made the time feel less wasted.

The Woman
christ on a taco, werner. seriously? harvey keitel was a bad lieutenant. nic cage was a pussy addict getting himself into situations because of his addiction. he was not the keitel badass. he was a pussy. we joked on the couch while watching this that it should have been called the bumbling addict lieutenant, or the fucked up on drugs lieutenant, because he certainly was not the corrupt, ass kicking, guns a blazing, horrible, bad lieutenant from the first one.we kept shouting keitel would have shot those guys!!!! he's walking away? what?!

don't watch this. it's kinda dumb and bad. but not the right kind of bad.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Female Trouble

Female Trouble (1974)

Writer: John Waters
Director: John Waters
Starring: Divine

Divine goes through some crappy circumstances and comes out like a champ?  Something like that.  It's difficult to come up with a good synopsis of a Waters movie.

I don't know.  How about, "There's no poo eating in this one."

The Woman
i slept through most of this and i'm really kind of sad i did. it wasn't because it was boring or anything, i have been under the weather and really exhausted lately. i almost didn't package it up so i could watch it, but in the attempt to move forward on our ridiculous queue, i made the choice to seal it up and send it back. what i saw i enjoyed even more than "pink flamingo" i love me some john waters and when divine is involved it furthers the awesomeness to his style. this was quintessential waters, in all it seediness and humor.

Again with the needlessly-flippant synopsis.  This was better than Pink Flamingos.  The story was more coherent and there were some characters who were less than completely despicable.  And when those slightly-more-pure people did shitty things, you got a better sense of what drove them there.

Waters is a man apart.  Even today.  (Especially today?)  Nobody does or did things like his product.  Even his more-mainstream stuff is completely whacked-out and ridiculous.  This one is not mainstream.  It has all of his signatures--you're not watching Divine or Edith Massey because they're good actors--and it doesn't overplay the shock value hand.  That's probably the best thing about this, and about him in general.  When things actually happen, they hit you because you haven't been inundated through the course of the film.  They're noticeable spikes along the line of the movie's "ness-ness."

I Sell the Dead

I Sell the Dead (2008)

Writer: Glenn McQuaid
Director: Glenn McQuaid
Starring: Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden

a guy tells the tale of his exploits as a grave robber. they turn out to cover the whole spectrum of horror movie supernatural "monsters"

Yeah, I've got nothing on this one.  I guess it was good technically, but I didn't care about anybody in front of or behind the camera.  This will be my simple, "meh" of the seven reviews I'm trying to do this morning.

It's nice to see Dominic Monaghan's name above the title--fuck, that's probably what got this made because it certainly wasn't Ron Pearlman--but he could do better than this shit.

The Woman
boring as well. i drifted in and out of paying attention. there was just something missing about this one. it had great elements to it, but it became predictable in it's humor and not i a funny way. boo.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rescue Dawn

Rescue Dawn (2006)

Writer: Werner Herzog
Director: Werner Herzog
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn

the true story of Dieter Dengler and his capture and escape from a POW camp in vietnam.

Verner + Christian = good times.  Throw in some Steve Zahn and you've got yourself a well-rounded deal.

We also watched the documentary about this, Little Deiter Needs to Fly, which is also a Verner production; so we knew how true to the subject matter the story actually is.  Regardless of success, Meister Herzog knows how to film in a jungle.  I always look forward to his stuff, even when it doesn't hit as well as it could; and this one did.  Being so rooted in actual events helps to give us a worthy payoff.

The Woman
i had seen this before and therefore am breaking the rules of our blog by writing about it. i liked this movie. we watched little dieter must fly (the herzog documentary on this mr. dieter dengler) and i caught it on showtime or something months and months after we had seent the documentary, and i kept thinking to myself how familiar the story was. it took me about halfway through for the light bulb to light up. christian bale in all his intense method acting, of course, did wonderfully in this. so did steve zahn for that matter. it's hard for me to see steve zahn without associating everything he does with is performance of wayne wayne wayne...jr. "the light is green" from "happy, texas" which holds a soft spot in my heart. in this, even though his character's name is dwayne, he is so far removed from that portrayal, all gaunt and serious. good job, man. good movie. good true story.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Writer: Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers (screenplay), Maurice Sendak
Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: Max Records, James Gandolfini

Kid lashes out at his mom, goes into a fantasy world, and learns that people suck everywhere, regardless of species.

The Woman
i didn't like it. it was way boring. knowing who directed it kept bringing up the music video factor, and i think he should stick to  2-4 minutes. that's about how much of this movie held my interests. it got old real fast. i can appreciate the concept. i don't mean to come off so harsh, but jeebus. boring.

That synopsis is more flippant than my attitude toward this movie.  I actually liked this.  Technically, it was superb; and that adjective applies to both the character generation and the voice acting.  Sets and backdrops integrate seamlessly.

Story-wise, this is the very definition of "inspired by."  It takes a 50- (or whatever) word book and turns it into a feature film; and I think it does that by expanding on the themes in that book rather than by shitting on them.  Where I think it went a little astray was in having him actually run away from home rather than this being another closet-fantasy.  I don't think we need that level of danger to the character.  And, yes, I think it hammers on a few points a little too much; but it does so to a far lesser extent than so many of the titles that cross our paths.

What happens here is that this kid develops some empathy for his mother. It's unlikely that said empathy will stick with him--he's like, 10, or something--but it's there for a little bit.  For a little while, at least, he understands some things.

(As a vaguely-interesting aside, we're at the point with Gravy where we're watching all these movies which are based on books.  In general, the ones that shit on the source material are more successful; a lot of the current crop of commercialized YA novels are pretty weak.)

The Box

The Box (2009)
Written and Directed by Richard Kelley
Starring Caaymerrohn Diyaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella

a mysterious package arrives at a suburban residence in virginia. an offer is made by a mysterious fellow with a quarter of his face burned off. the mr. & mrs. can push the button on the box and receive a million smackaroons or they can just not and the box will be taken away. the catch is that when they push the button someone on the face of the planet will die. they have 24 hours to consider this deal. the whore pushes the button. mysterious things continue to happen.

This movie has many things.  It has suspense, drama, decently-high stakes, philosophical discussion.  It has pointless accents, bad biology, impossibly wide-reaching conspiracy, stupidly judgmental aliens.  It has exactly enough changes to minor variables in a well-remembered plot formula to tantalize both financiers and ticket buyers.

So, what more is there to say?  Not much, really.  I don't know if we agreed that this is a low three or a high two, but I'd put it in the latter category.  I've given myself quite a backlog of posts and I don't want them all to be my own formula which too often is just a variation of "...meh."  I don't have anything particularly funny to say.  I might have when we watched this but it's long since exited my active consciousness.  Whatever.

The suspense was pretty good.  Direction was competent in this regard and there were times when we as viewers saw the potential for an outcome which diverged from formula.  The core question each asked of each couple in the film is an interesting one, and I could see it generating some discussion or arguments on car rides home.  What the couples have on the line is almost important enough to warrant the money side of the equation.  (I wonder if one of the things they discussed was also the fact that of all places in the country, even more than New York or L.A. or Chicago, CAMERON DIAZ DOES NOT NEED TO DO A FAKE ACCENT TO APPEAR LIKE SHE LIVES IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.  It's a suburb of the capital.  Literally, natives of each of the 50 states live or stay there quite frequently.)

The problem with the whole thing is that in order for that equation to actually play through it requires an INSANE machine.  Think back to The Game, which is a great movie because it deserves its payoff and stays just on the right side of believable for its duration (within its own context, of course).  That last (or, near the end; it's been a while since I watched it) scene when Michel Douglas and Sean Penn are talking about the bill is all you need to know.  To pull something like this off requires tens of millions of dollars; and there are fewer variables in the example film than the one in question.  How does Frank Langella get the money for so many people to be under his thumb?  What does he actually give the government?  It's this suspension that is impossible to me.

Similarly, this is another example of aliens judging humanity based on the actions of middle class  Americans.  This bothers me both story-externally and story-internally.  Sure, middle class Americans are the ones who pay to watch these movies, and they want to identify with what they see on screen.  But do they really need further reinforcement of their view that their social segment is the most important IN THE ENTIRE WORLD?  Similarly, America as a whole--not even middle class America--makes up less than 5% of the population of the world.  Maybe the aliens could judge someone else for a while. I don't know that it would make them think any better of us but it would be nice if they had more than one data point.

That would be nice, and interesting.  This was not particularly nice, and not interesting enough.


Oh, I didn't even talk about Frank Langella's face, which was the topic of much discussion while this was on screen.  Leila did but she didn't provide the photo, so here you go.

The Woman  
i didn't think this was too bad. i had heard it was TERRIBLE!!!! with four exclamation marks. but i was intrigued through most of it. i was waiting for the shitty ending that would make it TERRIBLE!!!! but the ending that happened was just kind of lack luster. it was not a great revelation. it was something that was predictable from about a half hour in and all the mysterious details were just that. little mysterious add ons that were not really that relevant to the meat of the plot. there is also a great distaste for the diaz in this household. we find her immensely annoying.  so there's that. yet another meh movie but with a brunette britta.

oh. it also bothered me that frank langella's face had that hole in it where you could see his teeth, but his speech was not impaired at all. if you have a hole in your face you are not going to be able to speak and sound like a person who doesn't have a hole in their cheek. that really irked me. it's just unthoughtful shock value, look what we can do with technology nonsense.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones (2009)

Writer: Fran Walsh / Philippa Boyens / Peter Jackson (screenplay), Alice Sebold (book)
Director:  Peter Jackson
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanely Tucci, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan

"My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. I took his photo once as he talked to my parents about his border flowers."

The Woman
this one's on the list! the shittiest movies in history! words cannot describe how much i thought this movie was garbage. where do i even start? why does the dead girl loudly whisper ALL her lines!? we fucking get it! she's dead! i think, as an audience our tagline for this movie would be "WE FUCKING GET IT!" it was so crazy over the top. the only good thing could have been to watch this kid's brutal rape and murder, except we never get to see that part. the only reason you know she's dead is because she is...and, oh YEAH, the whispering! they never once reference the way she died. i only know she was raped because one of my friends was told to read this book, but that shied her away from it. raping and murdering children is kind of hardcore and could have given this shit pile some pointy peanuts or corn. it still would have been crappy but at least it wouldn't all be brown pudding. ah, poop. it's funny. so yeah, i wouldn't have known such a detail if i hadn't heard it from an outside source because the movie skipped over the actual murdering bit and never referenced it again. it was the big elephant in the room. also, the way the movie came off was that she wanted to give the people in her life some closure, through 15/16ths of the movie and then, nope. i'm just gonna kiss the guy i had a crush on because i've never been kissed. (i guess her rapist wasn't into that) why even present the afterlife part of it if she wasn't there to do anything from the other side? closure seemed to be the movie's goal and then it flipped at the end and nobody got closure they just sort of got on with things. going over this in my brain makes me want to punch myself in the face again for even giving this the time of day.

needless to say i HATED this movie. i don't understand the phenomena about this book either because from where i'm sitting even the story base is shit.

i didn't even get to marky mark. jesus. that guy always comes off like a total nob.


OK.  Firstly I have to say that I am writing and releasing this review out of sequence in order to give everyone the opportunity to read my woman's review as quickly as possible.  Secondly I have to say that I called this movie as a 1 long before my woman did.

From the first scene, I was annoyed by this.  I was annoyed by that girl's voice.  I was annoyed by all the soft focus and lamenting music and gee whiz, ain't it the best thing in the world to be a 15-year-old girl, on the cusp of so many meaningful life experiences.  Audiences are not anvils.  The movie made it impossible to care about the character, because even if she never said (OVER AND OVER) "because he killed me," or any number of variants thereof, we would have gotten that she was going to die because the film is like a fucking bully, bashing our faces into the pavement of the point.

The second act continues to focus on the girl, with everything else as a backdrop.  I heard it said in at least two places that the movie is about grief and how people deal with death.  There are more than three characters who should grieve, but we see the reactions of only those three characters.  Her fucking siblings barely get a mention, other than to show concern for her parents.  That would be OK, if we got any nuance at all about the adults, but we get exactly the opposite.  Marky Mark won't let go; he wants to solve the murder and it's eating him up inside.  What's-her-face the mother (Rachel Weisz, apparently, from over my shoulder with spelling corrections) just can't deal with this shit, so she ditches everybody.  Susan Sarandon is pragmatic and moves the family on.  That's it.  Archetypes.

So when we get to the conclusion it doesn't matter.  The re-connection of the people, one of those things that makes Pulitzer stories like The Hours so great, is cobbled together out of a pile of used Tinker Toys, and then the ending abandons the mystery anyway.  Sure it gets solved and sure he dies (oh, shit--spoiler!--sorry, Cal).  But we have no investment in anyone, so we don't care.  The fact that his death is empty could be played for real emotion and literal irony.  It is not.

Peter Jackson can direct a scene.  Peter Jackson can direct the FUCK out a scene.  Peter Jackson cannot, however, direct the shit out of a scene, especially when he's at least partially responsible for the writing in the first place.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Beastly (2011)

Writer: Daniel Barnz (screenplay), Alex Finn (novel)
Director: Daniel Barnz
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens

a modern version of beauty and the beast, written by someone who, it seems, watched "cruel intentions" 900 too many times.

The Woman

"love is never ugly" hahahahahahahaha. that's more entertaining than the movie so just feast your eyes on that and then walk away.


Stolen (2009)

Writer: Glenn Taranto
Director: Anders Anderson....for total seriousness.
Starring: Jon Hamm, Josh Lucas

a child's abduction and murder from the 50s is interlaced in the investigation of a detective's son's abduction from 8 years ago.

The Woman
shme. it held my interests, which i guess is saying something. it had the forehead a.k.a. dawson leary, a.k.a. james van der beek in it. it was a little predictable, but you know. that happens. i'm glad it didn't really have a happy ending. so it earns respect for that. practically through the whole movie i kept thinking don't get attached, man, that kid's gonna get it. (because in the beginning they find the body) i wouldn't call this a thriller. it's more just a crime movie. it just is. and i accept that. but it's one of those movies that is pretty forgettable.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants (2011)

Writer: Richard LaGavenese (screenplay), Sara Gruen (novel)
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Mr. Sparkle McGlitterpants, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz

a vet-in-training's parents are killed while he's taking his final exam. instead of finishing school at cornell he leaves town and joins the circus. he falls in love with an elephant and the wife of the tyrannical and wife beating owner/ring master.

The Woman
i don't know what i was expecting for this one. it was just a movie that exists. predictable. shme, shme, shme. it confirms that what's his face sparkle sparkle cedric diggory can't really act. i feel like i watched that one where he plays the bi-curious salvador dali and he didn't do too bad, but maybe i'm wrong. maybe when he's hot for chicks it just doesn't work and he just squinty smiles and all the ladies sigh. i don't get it. eh. serious romance dramaness is not my thing. to me, reese witherspoon's character was just all of a sudden in love with the glitter man. yes. her husband was a horrible human being. yes. i could understand why she would want to escape. but there was no falling in love process. no montage! it was just BAM! i'm attracted to you let's run away together. it wasn't even directed in a spectacular way. i was thinking more of a "carnivale" feel. with the vignettey saturated style. man, that show was awesome. fucking shame. this came off as "the notebook" 1930's circus style. kinda lame.

i find it interesting, just as a side note, that bad guy cristoph waltz was the only character with depth. his character was struggling to make his business survive, and all the stress that entails. he ruled with his fists, but it seems like he did that because it was the only way he knew. the duality of his friendship/tutelage with glitter. the leads were both paper thin. i would like to give a shout out to cristoph waltz for being the best thing about this movie. shocking.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hamlet 2

Hamlet 2 (2008)

Writer: Pam Brady, Andrew Flemming
Director: Andrew Flemming
Starring: Steve Coogan

An out-of-work, shitty actor has just one more show to prove that the high school drama program he runs must be saved.

The Woman
i went into this with expectation. i've been waiting for this one for awhile. and i told myself as it began you are dumb. don't have expectations. i ruined it for myself a little, i think. damn expectations. i wanted more of the play. although the stuff with steve coogan's character was really funny and the drama kids in their drama kid way was captured perfectly, because those drama kids are ridiculous in real life, i wanted more hamlet 2. instead of the mostly referenced plot and situations. i would have enjoyed just a little set up and the play in its entirety.

i did appreciate what they were trying to do with the whole outrageous and "offensive" play overshadowed by the hoopla its rumor created. that it didn't matter whether it was a piece of crap or not because it should have been allowed to be made because we live in a "free speech" country and all that. and it was protested and shut down even before it had been performed because of the (funny) nonsense it supposedly contained. actually i think that's more idealistic than the movie intended. i think it's more about how if you create shock value and bad crazy publicity, people will go see it in droves. even if it is a piece of crap.

this makes me want to watch gentlemen broncos again. i think that was a funnier movie about awesome ridiculousness.

p.s. elizabeth shue was the bomb in this movie.

I love me some Steve Coogan.  I don't love me a TON of Steve Coogan; but I love me some Steve Coogan.  This film actually expands his range, specifically into the realm of physical comedy, and that's great. The supporting cast is also quite good; and these guys pulled from quite the pool to get the second string.  Elizabeth Shue OWNED her scenes.  It's my opinion that all her reaction shots during the actual production were genuine.

The story, however, shares a trait with many of Coogan's other projects.  It's much funnier in an outline than in a script. Some of the stuff either went too far or just fell flat.  The relationship with the wife (Catherine Keener, in another excellent performance) should have been more overtly ridiculous, with (e.g.)her fucking the roommate on the couch in front of Coogan's oblivious stare.  Most of the things with which he interacted weren't quite enough.  His level of self-awareness was off compared to the Alan Partridge stuff.

That's a bit of a shame.  A lot of the kid-supporters were quite good; and the actual production of the play was really good.  If they were to make that into a musical it would be worth paying a high school to watch.  The satire (inherent the play - the satire of the ACLU was so rote and weak that I'd practically forgotten about it until I read above) was far funnier and hit much harder than the actual character stuff.

Finally, I totally disagree with my woman about Gentlemen Broncos, but that's not news.

Volcano High

Volcano High (2001)

Writer: Tae-gyun Kim, Dong- heon Seo
Director:Tae-gyun Kim
Starring: Hyuk Jang (Andre 3000)

yet another mtv attempt at uber coolness in the form of a dubbed korean movie about a high schooler with special powers who fights off the dictatorial staff of his newest high school (he's gotten kicked out of 8 other schools because of his rebellious streak and use of said special power). the staff also has special powers, well at least one guy does. bad martial arts choreography, and a boring plot make this a sure pass for most of the population.

This movie was an extreme disappointment.  The beginning of the opening credits got us amped up for some kind of interesting dream-sequency-thingy about at least one black high school student thinking he was in another world.  And then the dubbing set in.  It's the kind of showcase for hip hop artists; and most of them were clear enough in their speech.  I've seen Snoop walk onto a stage and take the teleprompter and make it sing.  There were lines here that even he couldn't save.

I don't think this movie would have been better if the source material was better; and I'm quite confident that the source material is also a piece of shit.  While it's clear that scenes were edited and re-ordered--one in particular actually reversed chronology in a notable way--that doesn't change the fact that this is just another Harry Potter knockoff; and the whole notion of Harry Potter is nothing more than another iteration of the "geeky kid at school" archetype.

I really, really didn't enjoy watching this.  I didn't even enjoy making fun of it.  I don't want my lack of verbosity here to connote any sort of tacit approval or even dismissal.  This is shit and you should not watch it.  It's insulting to my intelligence and it's far more insulting to the intelligence of the fans of the musicians (or "musicians" in some cases) who it actually attempts to hoodwink.

The Woman
sigh. i feel the description on the netflix site and envelope are deceiving in this instance. it's a korean movie dubbed with the voices of hip hop artists and tracy morgan and pat morita. the dubbing was so distracting and it could NOT be turned off. i guess it was supposed to be like the old school kung fu movies, but it wasn't an old school kung fu movie. it was a korean movie that came off like a live action anime and those, let me tell you, are never successful. i got bored halfway through and stopped paying attention for awhile. it was really draggy from the beginning middle to the end. as discussed on the couch, not even in the original korean would it have been successful. bad. not even in a good way. but i still would have liked to have been able to watch it in it's original form. stupid mtv.

also the actors looked really too old to be in high school. and to be asian and look too old for high school means they must have been in their 50s. what's up with that?

if i had known (assuming i put it on the queue. i probably did, but moster could have with the whole snoop dogg/ pat morita in a movie together thing) it was dubbed it would have been a total pass.

Therese Raquin

Therese Raquin (1953)

Writer: Emile Zola (novel), Marcel Carne & Charles Spaak (film adaptation)
Director: Marcel Carne
Starring: Simone Signoret, Raf Vallone

a bored wife with a snivelly husband and a nagging, horrible, mother-in-law has an affair with a truck driver for her husband's company. they conspire on how to be together. the husband is thrown from a train. murder investigation.

We've had this problem many times before when watching old movies.  This story is just too old hat for us to take it seriously enough; and that is reason #3 why we will never be more than armchair critics.

If you get away from the story--and el Woman HATES when I talk this way--things were competent if not better.  There's not a single likeable character in this thing; and I think that's intentional.  Characters were also drawn clearly and each had a personal point of view.  Story-editing-wise, the whole third act felt tacked on to an extent; but it shows how much paying attention I was doing that I thought we were going the Double Indemnity route and the husband was in a long con.

This is probably an important part of cinematic history.  Neither do you want to actually live on the Mayflower.

The Woman
maybe in 1953 this was a new plot, but many thousands of movies have been made since with a similar, if not exact replica of this plot. i have to admit i fell asleep while knitting while watching this movie. black and white with subtitles sometimes does that to me. i did only doze for the affair part. i was awake for the murder and subsequent investigation. i don't know. it was all just shme meh to me. i've seen it done so many times before it kind of blends in it's unoriginality, even if it did come earlier. forgettable.

side note: i had a hell of a time finding this on imdb because it's under a different title, but apparently it's been remade a TON. let me go get an exact number. nine. nine times. including one coming next year. starring draco malfoy as the snivelly husband. can we say type cast?

Red Cliff

Red Cliff (2008)
Written by John Woo, Khan Chan, Cheng Kuo, Heyu Sheng, Guanzhong Luo (book)
Directed by John Woo
Starring Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Special appearance by Mila Teves dressed as an old  chinamen

History-approximating story of two factions battling for independence and dominance in China a few hundred years ago
The Woman
i enjoyed our viewing of this movie. it was a little hard to follow in the beginning and the english introduction threw us all kinds of off and we kept trying to put it in mandarin and thought the disc was not working properly, but no, it was all good. it was so distracting, however, that i didn't fully pay attention to it. maybe that's why i had problems following the plot in the beginning. so if you watch this it is not dubbed. i guess the english part is intentional.

there was this great mixture of over the top kung fu movie style blood/fighting, and a believable war epic. strategy stuff intrigues me. i am not a good strategist. i can't think three steps ahead. i can't anticipate others actions because i am to involved in my own brain. sometimes this movie and the direction/ editing got a little too  caught up in itself too. there were parts were i think one if not both of us uttered "ok, we get it" or "that was a little much" but those are my only negative criticisms. the story kept me involved and held my attention. i think i even stopped knitting halfway through to devote my whole focus at what was going on.

i want to know why netflix does not have the sequel available.

This was kind of exactly worth the time.  It could have been a little more in some places, and a little less in others.

Despite the confused frustration around the language settings, it was a good experience.  It shows that John Woo can still direct a movie and it was nice to see that movie be a Chinese movie about Chinese people and starring Chinese actors.  There are plenty of beautiful shots of idyllic countrysides, most of which end up trodden or mangled by human carnage.  The story is pretty linear, though some of the secondary characters grow; and no character acts contrary to how we think they would.  I was happy that while there was a woman in the story she wasn't the reason for the fighting; she was just one dude's girlfriend / wife.  She was a great spy and tactician in her own right.  There were a few (secondary) female characters like that, which was a nice touch.

I don't know how closely this is supposed to be based on history.  I did have some problems with some of the politicking and some of the battle setups.  The level of complexity rode a wave from "too broad" to "I don't want to try to figure that out," with enough stops closer to the middle of the scale to keep my eyes reading most of the subtitles.  The battles themselves tended to be quite elaborate, and I think that detracted from some of the more personal touches.

I'm rambling; I don't really have a conclusion for this one.  Subtitles, action set pieces, honor and betrayal and Lincoln-esque tactics.  If enough of those keywords resonate in your skull, watch this movie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mozart's Sister

Mozart's Sister (2010)

Writer: René Féret
Director: René Féret
Starring: Marie Féret

the life of young Maria Anna "nannerl" Mozart....mozart's sister.

The Woman
i don't know that much about the mozarts. but if any of this movie rings true nannerl(wolfgang's sister) had a pretty boring life. yeah, she wanted to compose. yeah she had the musical talent to do it. yeah, there's no option for women back then. yeah, yeah, yeah. she had a vague interaction with the dauphin. ok. nothing ever comes of it. i feel like this movie tried to play that point up. oh, she was sooooo in love with him and he just can't be with her. oh, her heart is smashed into a thousand pieces. so smashed she devotes the rest of her life to her fame hungry father. she's such a martyr for love. whatever.

i wanted something to happen. i kept thinking something was going to happen. i don't know why. but after it was over i thought 2 hours for that? total meh. and now i see that the writer/director is the father of the star. that annoys me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Conspirator

The Conspirator (2010)

Writer: James Solomon
Director: Robert Redford
Starring: James McAvoy, Robin Wright

the tale of poor mary suratt, the first woman to be put to death in this wonderful country of ours. she was accused of helping john wilkes booth and the lot of conspiring to kill abraham lincoln, the president made famous by his mistreatment and government sanctioned slaughter of the native americans...i mean winning the civil war single handedly? whatever. back to mary suratt. her son was in on the assasination plot and was the only one to escape for a loooong time, but because she owned the boarding house where the plot was hatched, she was obviously in on it and had a mockery of a trial and was put to death. oh, and this is all told from the point of her attorney/union war hero/eventually disgraced and "traitorous" even though he's totally right attorney.

The Woman
this was really weird. i watched a history channel show on this subject back when the history channel used to play stuff like that and not just pawn stars, american pickers, and hicks with lots of guns, and the crazy thing is that show caught and held my interest and came off more exciting than this dramatization. with well known actors might i add. this was boring and slow. it also came off as weirdly low budget. something was off about it and i can't put my finger on it. like a canadian production for PBS or something. the music was way over bearing and almost laughable at times, and the acting came off like a stage play. then i sit through it all, and it turns out to be a robert redford movie. i thought that guy knew how to make stuff like movies. i guess there's "a river runs through it" which i personally have never made it through i think it's so god awful boring. so i guess there's that. oh. and didn't he make 'the horse whisperer' too?  i've personally never tried that one, but it's famed for being awful and boring, right? maybe he doesn't know after all. huh.

anyway. this is a really interesting subject to me. also kind of timeless issues with the recent ending of war and fear and the government railroading people to make the general public feel safer and vindicated, but little baby jesus in a soft taco shell it just didn't work in this thing.

it also kind of irked me that this was made by the american film blah, blah, blah production company, about a pretty huge event in american history and starred three UK actors in major roles. i guess i'll give you colm meaney because, let's face it, that guy is in EVERYTHING. seriously, turn on any movie you've got, and he's probably in it somewhere.

p.s. that tag line is awful. i don't remember hearing any publicity about this movie. maybe it's because everyone, but me had already recognized that apparently robert redford is not great at making movies....


Submarine (2010)

Writer: Richard Ayoade, Joe Dunthorne (novel)
Director: Richard Ayoade
Starring: Craig Roberts

teen angst and romance. set in wales.

The Woman
i enjoyed me some of this. it was quirky and portrayed teen angst well. it wasn't eye roll inducing angst, but the yup,-i-remember-that kind. i wish i was as awesome and off putting as our young protagonist. my young anger was directed at the whole world and with the exception of one rebellious summer of misbehaving, i became a loner shut in, with various bouts of strange dress and fake accents when in public. ah, to reminisce about such things. have i mentioned i liked this movie?

is this a movie review?

have i mentioned my love of the fantasizing about circumstances and outcomes by mr. oliver tate? i totally did. who didn't have those over dramatized fantasies about how things would go? fantastic.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey 
Written(-ish?) by Phillip Shane, Justin Weinstein
Directed by Constance Marks
Starring Kevin Clash, NOT Whoopi Goldberg

a documentary following the life and career of kevin clash. the guy behind elmo and so many other muppets.

I embody some percentage of the stereotypical "gay" characteristics, so I was at varying levels of teariness through this whole endeavor.  It was great to see how Kevin came up and how many of his dreams he's been able to fulfill. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him to actually build a friendship with Jim Henson, or to walk into that workshop for the first time.  I really like how he has taken on the role master in this field.  He's kind of like Anakin Skywalker, except for the part about killing millions of people, and I hope he inspires enough people to continue this tradition for generations to come because I fear that it may be coming to an end.  Watching this made me happy. 

It also left me with some questions, and they come from a lack of certitude around the purpose of the picture.  If this is simply about Clash's rise to Elmo, then it's fine, albeit one sided (except for Whoopi, whose presence was distracting if anything).

If it was supposed to be a wider biopic, then it definitely left some holes to fill.  I'd like to know about his divorce and how it came about and how it impacted his career.  I'd like to know more of his relationship with his daughter than just the couple of clips that we saw.  And I want to know those things not simply out of curiosity, but also out of a desire to understand the level of dedication that the craft required of him, and the sacrifices he had to make.  I think there are unexplored undertones to his success.  I don't think it was as simple as taking crap in high school until he was on TV.

What I want least of all, however, is to end this on a down note.  What is on the screen is quite interesting.  It's shot well.  It's engaging, and I'll say it again:  It made me happy.

The Woman
this was really cute, and grossly heart warming. only grossly because i don't like my heart warmed. i like it as the cold block of ice it is. why is it that anything muppet related really gets to everyone. jim henson was some sort of magic, man. despite it seeming like he his largely responsible for the downfall of sesame street (because it IS piece of crap now. even murray, the coolest new muppet, gets the screen time slash and don't even get me started on the hatred i possess for abby cadaby) since he not only puppeteers elmo, but produces and does stuff behind the scene, i didn't care while watching this movie. he came off like a really cool guy. a guy who knew what he wanted to do really early in his life and just worked to make it happen. i think that level of determination is rare and to have it for something like puppeteering is crazy awesome.

it was great to see the behind the scenes of old school sesame street and labyrinth and other old stuff and that muppet engineer guy, kermit was totally awesome too. a good touch was bringing it full circle as kevin takes an aspiring puppeeter kid around and shows him the muppet studio as kermit once did for him.

if you have a soul and enjoy sesame street or the muppets you should probably check this out. it's on netflix instant. i'm just sayin'.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Bridesmaids (2011)

Writer: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne

A well-meaning, down-on-her-luck woman who can't catch a break is confronted by the success of her best friend when asked to be the maid of honor at her wedding.

The Woman
this wasn't bad, but it didn't live up to the hype in my brain. if i hadn't heard how amazingly funny this was, or how it shows women can be funny too (which i find insulting because there are plenty of women in entertainment who are really funny), or how it's "the hangover" woman style (which is totally untrue, in my opinion) i might have come back with a different view of this movie. i felt really bad for poor kristin wiig. that almost overshadowed the "funniness" of it. i did want her to pick herself up by the bootstraps, but i wanted the other characters to realize the depth of depression she felt resulting from her failure to excel in the only thing she was passionate about. what chick (i can only speak for chicks, here) hasn't felt like a total loser in comparison with her friends at times? i wanted maya rudoph's character to defend kristen wiig's character to the rest of the group. i wanted rose byrne's character to get punched in the face several times. i think the melissa mccarthy character had a good idea with the fight club party. she could go all edward norton vs. jared leto on rose byrne.

there were some funny parts to this. we laughed out loud more than a couple times. i don't want to minimize the positive review part, but with all apatow movies there's that big current of seriousness that always throws me off.


Critically, this is a terrific movie.  There's a plot with some personal development for at least a few of the characters, there is drama, there is humor, there are uncomfortable situations and women having digestive difficulties but only in one scene.  The production value of the film is high, and consistent.  The acting is fine or better.  The direction and camera work are unassuming.  I believe that this film deserved the nominations which it garnered.  My biggest problem from a critical perspective is that the title just doesn't match the story and the marketing campaign bore little resemblance to the actual film.  The movie is about bridesmaids, but it's only pertinent to the acquaintance between two of them.  I spent a minute looking to see if this was written under a different title but I couldn't find anything.  It just seemed to me like we were sold a bill of goods.  What we got wasn't bad, but it wasn't what we were promised.

Personally, it just wasn't all the way there for me.  Some of the antics either didn't go far enough or went too far over the top.  Neither of the rival women has a ton of self respect, and that always bothers me in films about women (when it's there).  There was a lot of growing up, and I appreciated that development and it felt real enough to me.  There's just something untoward about the whole thing, and while that contributes to the comedy it wasn't quite enough for me.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Informant!

The Informant! (2009)

Written by  Scott Z. Burns, Kurt Eichenwald (book)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Melanie Lynskey, Joel McHale

some dude who is a pathological lier becomes an informant to the FBI for price fixing that was going on in his corn corporation. he is a bad informant because he is a lier and exaggerates. he is a bad informant because he enjoys the intrigue he has created...because he is a lier.

In order to succeed in watching this movie, the viewer must suspend many things.  These things include, but are not limited to:

  1. A sense of time
  2. A sense of humor
  3. A sense of what Matt Damon looks like
This movie is slow.  It consumes something like three years of the characters' lives and it feels like it's a 1:1 ratio.  The whole thing just drags.  It's not exciting in any way, and you don't get invested in the characters at all.  There is no notion of the stakes for anybody.  Matt Damon starts off as an odd combination of rich and dorky but it's not endearing and you don't really learn how he got there or why it's important to stay that way.  His wife and kid(s? - even this isn't terribly clear) want to fit the stable they just built with horses.  That's nice, but it would also be nice if you ever got the impression that he really gave a shit about them.  If you were to have come away from his meager scenes with them with any sense of love or companionship or even responsibility then you might be able to generate in yourself some conflict about what he does.  Instead you get scene after scene of him being a moron at work, wondering how he got to where he is.  How can one be so successful in business and so utterly naive?

This movie is not funny.  We just watched a really good movie that was quite cerebrally funny without being laugh-a-minute funny, where the punchline was a a large quantity of death.  Here, the only joke is that Matt Damon (whatever the fuck his name is) is an asshole.  He keeps doing the same stupid thing and getting the same results and he pulls along a bunch of FBI people who, while they may have a case somewhere, need to weed through all his bullshit to find it and--is *this* supposed to be funny?--don't take any time to look into his background at all, as if none of these DOJ bigwigs anticipated a scenario in which he would be cross-examined.  Scott Bakula makes a good sad face.  Joel McHale will never be a serious film star.  Neither of those facts contributes to this film's attempts at humor.

The visual aesthetic of this movie is off-putting.  I was alive (fuck, I was almost a grownup) in the 90s, and I don't remember them looking like the settings in the photos of my parents' wedding. Everything is either orange or blue, and while that's a point of view I don't care.  And the makeup was jarring.

Looking at those two photographs it's important to note that he's supposed to be older in the second one.  It's also a good point to make the digression into his acting ability.  The combination of the makeup and the Damon eliminates any path to a good performance.  You just hear him, with his arrogance vibe, as the artificial jowels jiggle.

Ditto his wife (and again, I say that that is not a shirt a rich woman would have worn in 1992).  She looks like she was in a version of Splice starring Winona Rider and Lorraine McFly.

You don't have to suspend your appreciation for how shots are composed, though, so that's something.  And maybe the worst part about this is that we know Soderbergh can do better.  Despite Jennifer Lopez, I really like Out of Sight.  And once you get past the whole notion of completely shitting on the original at least the first Ocean's movie is funny, well-paced, and modern.  What was up here?

That last question is not rhetorical.  I expect that this blog will make it to the executives in charge of the movie and one of them will post their answer in a comment.

The Woman
holy crap, BORING! i slept through the middle 50 minutes of this movie. enough so that when we continued watching this in session 2, after the child had gone to bed. i had wiped all interest of wonder about what was going on. i have not cared less about what the hell was going on in a movie. to make the corn industry exciting by poking fun at how boring it is still doesn't make it interesting. throw the financial end of corporation in there and, yup, there i go. in one ear and out the other. zombie expression aaaaaand sleep.

i would like to point out to moster, publicly, that this movie took place in the midwest, so style is set back about 10 years.


$9.99 (2008)

Written by Etgar Keret
Directed by Tatia Rosenthal
Starring Josef Behr, Roy Billing, Tom Budge

In an apartment building in an Australian city, there are a bunch of ambitious people and some odd supernatural occurrences.  You should really just feed the ducks, though.

The Woman
shme to the power of shme. there were some good ideas here, but they just didn't develop any of them. that made me resent sitting through this movie. the animation really bothered me too. it was like a julian schnabel painting come to life and i hate julian schnabel. the only silver lining to this experience was that it was short.

There's more in this movie to want to like then there is to like.  From the beginning, we were having difficulty keeping the film in the foreground of our attentions, and not because I was getting handsy or anything like that.  The animation was a little strange, but that's nothing new for us and it's not the reason we were outside of our comfort zone. I think it was the low volume of the conversational tone, which didn't change through the entire movie.

The problem here is that the film does nothing to earn the viewer's belief in anything.  It's OK for odd things to just happen, and it's OK for the characters to simply take them as read while we don't.  There were too many odd thing simultaneously, and too many blithely bad characters and too many whingy motherfuckers all at once.  The connecting tissue of the apartment building was much more of a convenience than any kind of actual connection.

It occurs to me that I haven't actually talked about what happens or to whom or why.  It's not because I don't remember--I'll be calling Geoffry Rush's pre-angel character an asshole for a long time, and his post-angel character wasn't any better.  Instead, view these 200 (or whatever) words as an one of those drawn out, "shmeh," kind of squints that you give sometimes.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Green Lantern

Green Lantern (2011)

Writer: a ton of people. there are 7 listed on imdb. you can look them up if you want
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Ryan Reynolds (who will always be billy from nickelodeon's "15" to me), Blake Lively

a test pilot guy is chosen by the ring of a dying alien guy of the green lantern corps. he gets super powers. this super bad alien guy known as parallax with the super power of "fear" sucks the fear out of everyone he comes across in the universe on his way to earth to destroy the ring of the guy (dead alien) who originally imprisoned him.

the Woman
ho-ho-HO!!!!! wowzers. i should start by saying i'm not a DC person. with the exception of batman anyway. the only things i know about the green lantern are from the couple of episodes his origin story was featured in the tim daly superman cartoon. i also haven't finished watching it yet. the kid woke up at the hour and a half mark. my impression so far is pretty laughable. this thing oozes of 11 year old boy. if i were an 11 year old boy i would probably love this movie. explosions, special effects, super hero...yeah. but speaking as a 33 year old chick who used to be into comics and still dons the dork factor now and then, i have laughed a lot about the whole thing. the concept is too hokey for me to get past. the explosions and special effects do not distract me from the "let's fight fear with fear" as in fear as a tangible power....fought by "will" which must be a stronger force...obviously. it's also conveniently color coded for those of you not paying attention. for those of you who love graphs and charts...color coded ones. i have to find the speech where i had to tamp down the howls of laughter for fear that i was on borrowed time from nap anyway. one moment please...

Hal Jordan: This new weapon of yours, you can't use it. Once you've crossed that line, once you've given into fear, you'll never go back. I've seen it. Look, I know right now you're afraid.
Guardian #1: You dare accuse the Guardians of feeling fear?
Hal Jordan: Yes, I do. And that's exactly why Parallax is beating you. Because you're afraid to even admit you're afraid! I know. I spent my entire life doing it. You know, we have a saying on earth, we say; I'm only human. We say it because we're vulnerable. We say it because we know we're afraid. But it doesn't mean we're weak. Help me save my planet. Don't give in to fear. Fight it! Fight it with me!

hahahahahahahahahaha. this is the kind of shit you should only read on a page with some art and envision in your mind. when it comes to life on screen it's just too over the top. stay tuned for my second installment....

soooo. the only thing that can beat fear is...the sun? ok. i maintain my wowzers. this dude can use anything he imagines and he imagines catapults, and giant springs, and howitzers or whatever? lame. instead of the power of "will" he should use the power of "imagination". the graphics in the space sequence in the final battle made me cackle. CACKLE! i'm totally showing that part to moster. the bad guys in this were really kind of a let down too. victory was won so easily, and yet the over 7200 members from the 3600 sectors of the green lantern corps could not even think of defeating this guy? by the way this specificity of these numbers made me laugh too. this was so amazingly bad, i hope there's another! it makes me smile to even think of the possibility of a sequel. i could tell just from the way of this thing that i should sit through the credits. i knew there would be a little snippet of more to come. good job me. you mean sinestro becomes sinister? NO WAY!!!!

The Ministers

The Ministers (2009)
"Written" and "Directed" by Franc. Reyes
Starring John Leguizamo, Harvey Keitel, and ehat's her face from one life to live. thea?(sp?)

UHHHH. this dude who is a policeman gets gunned down in front of his young daughter who grows up to become a policeman with her dad's old partner. the dude's killers have not been caught. enter john leguizamo and his twin brother exacting revenge on behalf of god. good twin leguizamo starts courting daughter of brain matter policeman who he, apparently, has been obsessed with this whole time. it's okay, folks. he's the good twin. bad twin is loosing his grip on reality. you can tell him apart from good twin because he has burns on his face. more things with stupid details. showdown. curtain falls.

I really just want to write a thousand words about Harvey Keitel's apparent gambling problem.  Instead, we'll do it like this:  Mr. White, The Lieutenant, Winston Wolf, Ray Donlan, Joseph Bruno. We laughed at this movie.  Frequently.

The Woman
jeebus, was this a pile of crap! i didn't know a movie of this caliber could be made. seriously poor. the plot was stupid and stupidly complicated with details you didn't need to know or care about. the lead was a detective who freaked out about everything. we're talking major meltdown...about everything. they all kept referring to her as a "rookie" too which annoyed the shit out of the husband and i because she was a DETECTIVE! a promotion to us in the real world. this whole experience just reeked of amateur movie making. i don't know why keitel and leguizamo agreed to be in this nonsense. it was a sigh of relief when it was over.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Writer: Alex Garland (screenplay) Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
Director: Mark Romanek
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield

the story of three clones who were made just to supply major organs for patients in need of transplants. young love triangle. young adult triangle. moving forward. surgeries. death.

The Woman
truly shme. i kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. i kept waiting for the characters to do something about their lot. they never do. kind of boring. wasteful is major theme coming away from this one. their lives and my time. it was directed and acted well. the little girl who played carey mulligan as a child was a perfect cast. i will say during the end credits i noticed it was based on a book by a japanese guy and it made so much more sense in my head that way. THAT was the ah-ha! moment.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits (2011)

Writer: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck
Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis

a head hunter in new york gets a guy from L.A. a prominent job at GQ. they hit it off and become fast friends. they start having sex. they have a good time with each other. they stop having sex. things begin to get complicated.

The Woman
i want to start this off by saying when i watched this movie i thought it was a completely different movie. i thought it was the one with ashton kutcher and, what's her face, natalie portman. i had just heard how terrible that one was from my very best friend and i was curious to see the train wreck for myself. it also took me a solid five minutes to figure out it wasn't that movie. i kept thinking- justin timberlake is in this?

a long time through this movie i was rolling my eyes. there were some funny bits. but i feel like they were overshadowed by the hip factor. the hipness totally threw me off. i spent most of this experience thinking am i too old for this? (i'm 33, people) it was just these one liners that were thrown in. ususally about the tube technology we, as a society, usually talk about. i.e. phone contracts and the stupid ineffectiveness of touch screens and directional tippy thing feature. it just felt forced and unatural for some reason. which leads me into justin timberlake as an actor. at the witty remarks and funny stuff he did good, but the more "serious" supportive things he was TERRIBLE! like cable access terrible. like pop star transitioning into actor terrible...wait. what?

there was also this NYC spirit fest pep rally thing that turned me off too. we get it. new york is pretty great. for some. i'm glad that it's just around the corner from me, but jesus, we don't have to jizz all over it. i get it, mila kunis's character. you love the city. it's the best place in the world.  the location porn was out of control. i am not in a coma. i do not have short term memory loss. i never forgot, once, that they were in new york city, even with a brief stint in L.A.

final thought: for a rom/com this wasn't that bad. the humor was funnier than most and i appreciated the frank discussions about sex. i enjoyed the mocking of the rom/com throughout the movie. that being said, this did not break the rom/com formula at all. soooo don't get too high on yourselves, whoever is responsible for this movie. there was no box left broken. all 6 walls remain intact in your endeavor. also, i wouldn't watch this again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dead Man

Dead Man (1995)
Starring Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer
Music by  Niel Young (for fifteen minutes in Tom Waits's living room one day)
Cameos by everyone who's ever come out of a wazoo

Accountant gets a job and goes from Cleveland to the west coast.  In the intervening time the position is filled because the employer is a scumbag.  Hijinks of a sort cause him to become a wanted man and he either runs away from numerous hit men or runs towards a more worldly personality.

I watched this movie in a few chunks; and that didn't impact how I think about it.  I spent more time than average in thinking about this movie, though; and I want to say that it would play really well as a satire because "satire" would explain the grating music (three chunky electric guitar chords, underscoring themes which needed no further emphasis), the over-the-top direction (set up, muggy reaction shot, rinse, repeat), and the bizarrely annoying editing (fade to black, fade up, small amount of action, fade to black).  But it wouldn't explain how there's actual emotional investment in the characters.

It's not a satire, though.  It's a serious film.  The story is strong and it has a lot of value.  The performances fit the story quite well.  This is the kind of movie that drove Johnny Depp through the 90s and into the more interesting roles he takes when he's not blinded by the gold bars that Disney throws at him these days.  Gary Farmer, as the Injun, kind of steals the whole deal, and there is a full assload of cameos in this movie, from William Hurt through Alfred Molina, with a lot of lingering on Iggy Pop.  There are no missteps in the characterizations.

It all comes down to the hammer, though, and that's always been my problem with Jarmusch (It is, in fact, why Leila was excused from watching this).  He needs to dial it back, just a little, from 12 down to 7 or 8.  The first ten minutes of this movie are Johnny Depp reacting to oddballs in the train as it progresses west.  We get it.  He's out of his element. We also get it as he becomes more accustomed to what he has to do to survive as the story moves along, under the same fucking chords.  And we would have gotten the ending if it had gone to credits 30 seconds earlier.  Such a simple choice as that would have shown the whole thing in a different light, possibly letting the beauty of the story be the final message rather than the hammer of the director.

Look:  I like Jarmusch in small doses.  I even like spikes of Jarmusch along a line which rides nearer to the top.  But it can't be at the ceiling the whole time because that gives you a headache.