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

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.