Posted on 1/30/14 11:26 AM
Finally watched [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/big_lebowski/"]The Big Lebowski[/url]; I actually thought I would hate it, assumed it was the kind of movie that was only championed by obnoxious frat boys. But I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's definitely a stoner movie, with rambling conversations, random jump cuts, and plenty of "dude"s and "maaan"s, and my favorite was probably John Turturro's hilarious cameo. I would have liked to have seen Steve Buscemi utilized a bit more, but all the characters are memorable, and there is some damn fine cinematography here. I gotta say, the Coens really know how to make a movie. For brightening up my day, making me laugh, and showing me something bizarre yet, in some parts, rather beautiful, I personally have to give it a 7.5-8/10. Then, I also watched [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/savages/"]The Savages[/url]. I'd heard a lot about it, and critics across the board loved it, so I'd been looking forward to seeing it for some time. Like [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10007394-lars_and_the_real_girl/"]Lars and the Real Girl[/url], The Savages was nothing like I expected it to be. Instead of a straight-up dark comedy, I got this melancholic (albeit well acted) dysfunctional family story that left me feeling a little depressed. But then, I think that's mostly because I couldn't help but see a little of myself in Philip Seymour Hoffman's and Laura Linney's characters, both struggling middle-aged writers (not that I'm middle aged) with complicated love lives and a severe case of ennui. Pretty decent film otherwise, so 7/10. Hold on, Dad. You've got some Dr. Pepper on your forehead. Then last week I had the displeasure of watching [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/harold_and_kumar_2/"]Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay[/url]. Why did I go see this, you may ask? Because it's sh** movie season right now, [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/iron_man/"]Iron Man[/url] was still a week away, and the only other interesting movies showing at the theater I was at were [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/baby_mama/"]Baby Mama[/url] and [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/street_kings/"]Street Kings[/url]. Why not either of those, you may ask? Because my friend didn't care what she watched, Baby Mama didn't seem screwy enough for my mood that night, and I had no desire to watch Keanu act his way out of an urban action flick. H&K had some merits, but even with a relatively packed theater, there were some conspicuously silent moments. It was absolutely ridiculous, like you would expect it to be, but my problem was that it just felt like a series of raunchy SNL skits strung together over a cliched, super-thin plot. Some of those skits were on the money, but a lot of them either went on for too long or missed the mark entirely. I'd have to give it a 5/10. [center] Oh, what I wouldn't give to be that countertop. [/center] I also saw [url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/forgetting_sarah_marshall/"]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/url] the week before (believe me, it's weird; I generally don't even prefer comedies), but I'm too tired to write anything substantial about it. Suffice it to say the women were hot, the jokes were sort of stale, and Jonah Hill's character was absolutely worthless and unnecessary. Like H&K, it had some moments, but overall I'm giving it a 5-5.5/10. A lot of people seem to be loving it though, so who knows? Maybe I really don't know what I'm talking about.
Posted on 9/29/11 11:37 AM
This movie reminds me of the time I discovered pirate treasure in a cave.
Posted on 9/29/11 11:35 AM
I love this movie, because it reminds me of the time I farted blood.
Posted on 7/17/09 03:52 PM
In short: Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed with it overall. The first half dragged a bit, as I felt the writing aimed younger than my age demographic, but then the second half picked up, and I found it to be likely too dark for the same kids who would have enjoyed the first half. This unevenness threw me off, and I felt it worked against the film.
When we got the advance copy of the DVD in the office, complete with 3D glasses, I was ecstatic, as I had missed Coraline in the theaters. Brought it home, invited some friends who also hadn't seen it to watch it with me (the DVD comes with 4 pairs of 3D glasses), and prepared ourselves to be amazed. By the 30-minute mark, one of my friends was asleep, and the other was fidgeting madly. I started to feel uneasy, because I was willing to give the movie a shot, even if I found the dialogue uninteresting and the attempts at subtle humor akin to a Curious George cartoon.
But as Coraline's interactions in the "other" world become more complex and fleshed out, and the central conflict of the film is introduced, the story really begins to take shape and the movie becomes more interesting. Unfortunately, this is also the point when things take a darker, slightly more mature turn - it's really hard to explain, but examples would include the image of a child with the corners of his mouth sewn upwards into his cheeks to form a permanent smile, a man whose body is comprised of evil rats, and two old, buxom women performing a theater piece almost entirely naked.
I say this is "unfortunate" because it does not fit with the first half of the film, which was somewhat plain and possibly entertaining for 10-year-olds. I don't exaggerate when I say it felt like a Curious George cartoon; I had to "endure" the first half - much as I do with Curious George cartoons when I'm babysitting my buddy's 2-year-old son - as opposed to "enjoying" it. I had to tell myself, "Okay, the dialogue is overly simple, not particularly well-voiced, and the story seems to meander from establishing vignette to establishing vignette. I get it; it's for kids. I can live with that."
And then the mood changes, and suddenly the film is more for angsty pre-teens and more mature audiences, what with the almost-nude septuagenarians, the mildly disturbing human ragdoll imagery, the brain-damaged zombie "other" father, etc.
Why is this a problem for me? Because, to be clear, I didn't enjoy the first third - first half of the movie. It seemed aimed at children, so I found myself checking my watch and waiting, hoping, for it to get better. I enjoyed the second half quite a bit, and it only made me wish the buildup leading me there had been just as enjoyable. The movie overall felt uneven; if the tone of your film best appeals to children in the first half, then appeals more to adults in the second half, who are you making the film for, exactly?
Many will disagree with me, because I know it's a well-liked movie. I'm not saying I didn't like it; overall I did. I just think it could have been much better and much more entertaining.
Posted on 7/16/09 04:32 PM
In short: The music is good, but otherwise it didn't specifically feel like a 90s film. It didn't pack a very strong dramatic punch, some of the characterizations were hokey, and some of the directorial choices made it feel disjointed.
I'll have to elaborate when I have more time.
Posted on 7/13/09 11:30 AM
In short: Famke Janssen and a gaggle of "that guy"s basically phoning it in for a paycheck.
I don't really watch TV, but every once in a blue moon I'll find myself in a situation when a bit of television provides exactly the kind of entertainment I'm in the mood for. This was not exactly one of those situations.
I was visiting my aunt over the weekend because my cousin and his wife were in town, and when I visit the fam, I tend to stay overnight, because for me, staying with them is like spending a weekend at an all-inclusive resort. On Saturday, after an evening of catching-up and watching a few episodes of Planet Earth on Blu-Ray, everyone had turned in for the night, and I took my place on the living room couch. My aunt had some of the movie channels on DirecTV, so I was browsing through them when I came across the listing for Deep Rising. It was late, I was tired, and when I read the description for the movie (gist: a motley crew of misfits battles a giant sea monster that has taken over a cruise ship), I figured it'd be good, brainless fun, so I switched it over and settled into my fleece blanket.
To be honest, I don't have much in-depth commentary to offer on the movie. It's a pretty by-the-books monster thriller, with all the requisite jump scares and plot conventions that come with the genre. In fact, it was so by-the-books that all elements of suspense were completely negated; none of the scares were effective, and none of the deaths (or survivals) were surprising in the least. The dialogue, acting, special effects, and action sequences were all slathered in cheese, and the story itself is a lazy excuse for an Aliens clone. This is the point where you might find some people saying, "But you know what? I loved every minute of it!" Not so for me. The movie was honestly a bit of a chore to watch.
So why did I continue watching it, you may ask? The answer lies in that common film phenomenon many often refer to as the presence of a "that guy." Except this movie has not one "that guy," but somewhere around six or seven of them, at least for me. Others may recognize a couple of the other peripheral characters, but I'll just run down my list to give you an idea:
1) Wes Studi - "Oh, he's that guy from Dances with Wolves/Last of the Mohicans/every other Native American role! He's The Sphinx from Mystery Men! He's Sagat from Street Fighter!"
2) Cliff Curtis - "Hey, he's that New Zealander who always plays Middle Eastern characters! Except for that time he was in Whale Rider!"
3) Djimon Hounsou - Djimon, digital monsters, Djimons are the champions! Mr. Gladiator/Blood Diamond/In America/"Givess... Uss... FREE!"
4) Jason Flemyng - Wait, isn't that Tom from Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels? Dr. Jekyll from LXG? The dude who got busy with women whilst playing The Red Violin?
5) Anthony Heald - Hey, it's that guy from Boston Legal who looks like a grown-up version of Haley Joel Osment.
6) Kevin J. O'Connor - Oh look, it's that guy that Stephen Sommers (Deep Rising's director) also used in The Mummy and Van Helsing. Wait, wasn't he Daniel Day Lewis's fake brother in There Will Be Blood?
7) Derrick O'Connor (no relation to Kevin) - Hey, there's the guy from... wait... Where the hell do I know this guy from?
In short, it was fascinating simply to see these actors, some of whom have done substantially more significant work, sort of just going with the flow and trying (or, maybe, not so much) to make this asinine movie more believable. I actually didn't even realize it was a Stephen Sommers movie at the time, but now that I know, I'm even more fearful for the fate of G.I. Joe.
And that is my takeaway from this movie: Deep Rising ensures that G.I. Joe will suck, in case you weren't already expecting it to.
Posted on 7/07/09 01:00 PM
I had no expectations going into this movie. In fact, I only watched it because I was really bored and it happened to be sitting on my desk.
I can't say the story is entirely predictable; the movie does a good job building intrigue during the early scenes, when we're taken along for the ride with Shia LaBeouf's character, Jerry. At the same time, I figured the payoff could only be hugely disappointing, because it immediately felt like the sort of idea that a director or screenwriter gets a hold of, psyches himself and his audience up for, but ultimately has no idea how to finish. Unfortunately, some hokey plot contrivances (identical twins, anyone?) and what feels more like a ripoff than an "homage" to HAL 9000 quickly proved my suspicions to be correct, and the story devolves into lame action movie cliches by the third act. I actually got bored about halfway through and fell asleep, so I had to finish it the next night.
However, when it was good, it was a fun movie, and for that, I'll give it some credit. It's well-made, if nothing else, and looks clean. Nice try, guys, nice try; you almost had it, but not quite.
Posted on 7/07/09 12:47 PM
So I liked it - sue me. Was the story completely absurd and outside the boundaries of reality? Yes... unless you're a conspiracy theory nut, in which case it's just more reason to keep a pistol under your pillow at night.
But Clive Owen and Naomi Watts do a respectable job of making the situations as believable as they can, and for all its absurdity, the plot moved along at a satisfactory pace.
There are some lovely images of modern architecture throughout the movie, and regardless of whether or not the photographed structures were meant to be "another character in the film," they were just plain pretty to look at.
The shootout in the Guggenheim is completely off the wall, but it was the best action sequence in the movie, and it was fun overall. I just can't help imagining how much it must have cost to make this movie, and how much it actually made in profits.
I'm not a huge fan of Twyker; I hated Perfume, I thought his segment in Paris, je t'aime was so-so, and I thought Run Lola Run was just alright. So I suppose this movie was pretty much par for the course: sort of run-of-the-mill, even if somewhat entertaining.
Posted on 6/11/09 11:57 AM
Overall, it's a pretty bland movie, full of predictable plot points and unrealistic scenarios, but the racing scenes were pretty well done.
I watched this last night on a whim, because I was in the mood for some mindless fun. After watching Vanishing Point and Death Proof recently, I was also looking for another good car-chase movie, and I figured Tokyo Drift would be good for it.
Unfortunately, it's one of those movies that telegraphs its punches. It takes all the cheesiest elements of the most basic sort of melodrama and packages them into a ridiculously predictable chain of events.
What's worse is, even with this absurdly formulaic storyline, the writers fail to make anything seem plausible. A kid with "three strikes" against him (legally speaking) is given the choice of going to juvenile hall or moving out of the country? Really? And when he gets to Japan and has a run in with the local gang, an inexplicably altruistic "bad guy" lets him race with his car, knowing full well the kid is simply going to wreck it? Oh, but it's alright because later in the movie he explains himself by saying something to the effect of, "I don't mind having one of my cars wrecked, because money is something I have a lot of, and that whole scene let me know I can trust you?" Oh, oh, and when the kid tells his father that he doesn't want to go back to the states because, in effect, he "started this mess" and wants to settle it his way (i.e. by racing), his father basically says, "Okay, looks like you're taking responsibility for your actions. That's great! Want my car so you can race the guy?" Seriously?
Some might come back at me with, "Oh come on. It's freaking Fast and the Furious! You expect realism with that?" Well, yes, particularly when a movie takes itself so seriously. Tokyo Drift wasn't campy, it wasn't self-referential, it wasn't satirical. And furthermore, whether or not one should EXPECT certain things when watching a particular type of film is moot; if I'm groaning "Oh, gimme a break" every 10 minutes, I'm not going to be invested in the movie, and I'm not going to enjoy it.
That said, the racing scenes were pretty good. I can't tell how much of it was CGI and how much of it was live action driving, which I suppose is a testament to how well these scenes were done. All things considered, they were shot well, and there are some spectacular sequences of multiple cars drifting and weaving through moving traffic.
So, for it's adrenaline-pumping action, I'm willing to cede this movie a 4/10 rating. For it's terrible, unrealistic story, hackneyed acting, and audacious misuse of a Sonny Chiba cameo, however, I can rate it no higher.
Posted on 6/05/09 11:10 AM
I am utterly baffled at the critical reception of this movie. The characters are stock archetypes, the writing is amateur, and the acting was absolutely horrendous.
I watched Gran Torino for the first time about a week and a half ago, but oh, the memory of it sticks with me like an STD, and I don't have the money Magic Johnson has to fight it.
I will preface the actual "review" here by saying that I couldn't make it all the way through the movie on the first viewing. About an hour and twenty minutes into it, I got so fed up with it that I had to turn it off and go to sleep. And I almost never fail to see a movie to its conclusion. My initial assessment, therefore, was much lower than the 4/10 I've given it. After finishing the movie, however, my opinion on it changed a little bit, so I'm raising the rating a little. Just a little.
The first thing that struck me as I watched Gran Torino was, collectively, all the familiar caricatures of real people we often find in the movies: the grumpy old curmudgeon; his ungrateful and obnoxious adult children, the spoiled, rebellious granddaughter; etc. etc. etc. There must be a book somewhere with stock character profiles that lazy writers reference when coming up with their stories, and I imagine the copy belonging to Gran Torino's writers is well worn from usage.
Next problem: the written dialogue. Or, in some cases, the apparent lack thereof. There's two scenes in particular that immediately come to mind. The first is when Thao's gangsta cousin and his homeboys bully Thao into agreeing to steal Kowalski's car. As I watched this scene, I got the distinct impression that Eastwood gave his "actors" very broad suggestions on what to do and let them adlib the whole shebang. I mean, how many times does a bully have to slap a guy on the arm and say "Come on, man, just come hang with us" before it becomes ludicrously repetitive and uninspired? Apparently, the threshold lies somewhere beyond 5 or 6 times by Eastwood's standard, because he just let that scene roll for a good three minutes.
The second scene that comes to mind is the one in which the young priest confronts Eastwood's Kowalski in a bar in an attempt to finally squeeze a confession session out of him. Over drinks, Kowalski details the horrors he witnessed during the Korean war, after which the priest quips, "It sounds like you know a lot more about death than you do about living." Kowalski's response, as he methodically downs a shot of liquor: "Maybe so, Father. Maybe so." Wow, now that's poignant. That's moving. That's DRAMA.
Let's move on to the acting. I can respect Eastwood's wishes to cull the Hmong population for real people to populate his cast. Theoretically. It's just too bad that almost everyone he (or his casting director, whoever that idiot was) chose is completely inept. Thao? Mostly expressionless and one-note, with forced emotions. His cousin? Unable even to enunciate his lines properly. His sister? Unconvincing as the smart-mouthed feisty spirit she's supposed to represent (see the scene when she's accosted by three black guys on the street). And Walt (Eastwood) himself? Even he is unable to spit out his dialogue without pausing in unnatural places every once in a while, sounding more as if he were trying to remember his lines than as if he were stopping to reflect.
Further on the topic of poor acting, I have to say that casting directors need to stop awarding roles driven by conversational English dialogue to non-native English speakers (especially if their English comes with a moderate-heavy accent) or anyone, really, who's unaccustomed to using common American idioms, colloquialisms, or slang. It doesn't work for Colin Farrell or Catherine Zeta Jones when they attempt to hide their accents, and it doesn't work for Penelope Cruz when she's given most of her English-speaking roles (e.g. Blow).
For example, when Sue tries to fire off her clever insults at the street thugs who have cornered her, the words sound completely unnatural coming out of her mouth; she stumbles over them like she's never put those words together in that fashion before. Same for Thao. And double true for Thao's gangsta cousin. It completely takes me out of a movie when I can actually see the actors TRYING so desperately to ACT.
The first half of the movie was funny at times; I'll admit that much. Eastwood's not-so-subtle snarl was comic in an SNL skit sort of way, and his constant spewing of racial epithets was amusing. A friend of mine has argued that the movie operates on a meta level, with Eastwood poking fun at the cinematic persona he's cultivated over the years, and that the simplistic writing and characterizations serve to reinforce this goal. I think that works for this first half, but I can't agree that it justifies everything I find disagreeable about the movie as a whole. You can't justify a bevy of cliches, subpar acting, and laughable dialogue simply by saying, "It was done on purpose." Okay, then it's equally fair for me to say Eastwood purposefully crafted a bad movie.
My main gripe is with the horrible acting on the part of the Hmong characters, but even if those roles had been played by better actors, Hmong or not, I still would have found the writing (scenes, dialogue, and overall story) incredibly basic and amateur. As such, I find the reviews of this movie praising it (and, moreover, the ones that actually praise the Hmong actors) utterly baffling. This was like watching a bad theater production captured on film.