Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wall-E

If the second half was as good as the first half, this movie would be a modern classic. Still, the film is overall quite enjoyable. The first half is heartbreaking and a pretty damn great bit of filmmaking. Once the people are introduced, the movie loses some steam. No matter - for a kids movie, for a mainstream movie, this was pretty subversive and kind of twisted.

I was amused by the snippets of music from Star Wars, 2001, and Close Encounters. I loved the Eve - Eva bit. And the clever Mac product placement also made me smile.

Directed by Andrew Stanton
2008
Loews 34th St.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dark Knight

I wasn't a huge Batman Begins fan. I didn't like the Scarecrow. I didn't like the way the fight scenes were filmed. I didn't like Christian Bale's Batman voice. I was a bit bored by all of the setup.

I was excited to see this one because of the no setup aspect, the no Katie Holmes aspect, the no Scarecrow aspect, and glowing reviews.

Pluses (with a nod to MAS)
- Maggie Gyllenhaal was so much better than Holmes.
- I really liked the first scene in the bank.
- Heath Ledger was good. Loved the scene with him blowing up the hospital wearing a nurse's uniform.
- I liked the story for the most part.
- The BatCycle was awesome.
-I was genuinely surprised by a couple of the plot points.

Minuses:
- Bale's Batman voice still makes me cringe.
- Getting hit over the head time and time again with the political stuff. In retrospect, I like Iron Man a lot more on this front.
- The two and a half hours felt like at least three plus hours.
- The big action scene with the glowing Batman eyes was blah.

Overall, I liked this enough. I don't know. Maybe I'm just not a comic book guy at heart.

Directed by Christopher Nolan
2008
Loews 34th St.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

I saw this on HBO last month and was surprised how good it was and that it had debuted on cable rather than in the theaters. Apparently, it hadn't. It played for a couple days in CA in the spring and now is out in NY and LA to gain Oscar consideration.

The film focuses mostly on how Polanski was railroaded by a press hungry judge and why he felt that he had no recourse other than to hightail it on out of here. It doesn't make excuses for his lecherous young girl ways but the film is pretty convincing that Polanski got screwed. The interviews with the victim are also quite illuminating. She has stated many times that Polanski should be allowed back. A thought provoking documentary to say the least.

Directed by Marina Zenovich
2008
HBO

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Crossfire

I wanted more of a film noir type movie. Instead I got a fairly interesting movie about why killing Jews for no good reason is bad. I couldn't agree more even if I wanted more snappy one liners.

I do enjoy me some Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan though.

Directed by Edward Dmytryk
1947
TCM

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Angel Face

A lightweight noir type. Nothing remarkable but a pleasant enough diversion. Robert Mitchum is always a good time.

Mitchum plays a ladies man who gets embroiled by the naughty stepdaughter of a generous philanthropist who "mysteriously" dies by driving her car off the cliff that happens to be her front yard. The crazy stepdaughter just like the crazy dude in Hangover Square gets all creepy like while playing the piano.

The film drags a bit but the last 2 minutes are great - predictable but awesome nonetheless.

Directed by Otto Preminger
1953
DVD

Monday, July 21, 2008

Smiley Face

I wish I was a pothead. It looks like so much fun. And I think that this might be in my top five best ever movies, if not, THE best ever movie I'd ever seen.

Since I'm not, this isn't the best movie ever. But it is still pretty entertaining. All around goofy and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, I enjoyed watching it. It made me feel stoned out of my mind as well which is quite a feat to do to a sober watcher.

Anna Faris is funny. There are many cameos from folks such as John Krasinski and Marion Ross. Basically, the movie is about Faris accidentally eating all of her roommate's pot cupcakes and then going on a quest to buy ingredients to replace them. Chaos ensues. Sort of a stoner road picture, but, of course, it goes nowhere. Except to the top of a ferris wheel with a stolen copy of the Communist Manifesto. Intrigued, no?

Directed by Greg Araki
2007
DVD

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sword of Doom

Dude kills other dude in sword fight samurai competition. Slain dude's brother is out for revenge. The story is told from the point of view of the badass being pursued. And it is told well. I really liked this movie.

This movie was so incredibly violent. The black and white cinematography made it seem even more violent somehow even without the bright red I'm used to seeing in such films.

The last shot (J. Geils style) is one of my favorites of any movie I've seen in years.

How could a movie with a title as cool as this one be bad?

Tatsuya Nakadai is superbad as the samurai in question.

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto
1967
Film Forum

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black Girl

I need to see all of Sembène's films. This is only the third one I've seen (Xala and Moolade being the others) but I've liked them all a lot. Compared to the other two I've seen, this one is much simpler. At only an hour, the film is not nearly as complex as the other two. No matter though, the film is equally as devastating as the scathing Xala.

The film is about Diouana, hired to be a babysitter by a French woman in Dakar. When the mistress asks whether or not she would like to accompany the family back to France for a vacation, Diouana is overjoyed.

But she is subsequently treated like absolute dirt and feels like she is being treated as a slave. She retreats into her thoughts before finally lashing out at her French oppressors. The film has an interesting feel to it - something like blending elements of The Bicycle Thief with the French New Wave. A very good movie.

Directed by Ousmane Sembène
1966
DVD

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Monsier Verdoux

I loved this movie! Chaplin is a genius. A genius! Was he the only silent film star to still be making such brilliance so long after the silent film era?

Chaplin plays a ne'er-do-well scammer/ murderer. He flits about from rich woman to rich woman stealing and murdering as he goes. Don't think he's all bad though - he does have a wife and child he loves as well. And he also takes pity on another woman down on her luck and decides not to kill her. He isn't that bad! But The Little Tramp, most assuredly, he is not.

The movie is entertaining as hell. And despite (or because of it depending how you think about these kinds of things) the gruesome nature of the plot, the movie is frigging hilarious.

Not to mention, the reasons for Verdoux's dastardly deeds are quite self-serving but Chaplin makes sure to add quite a bit of lefty pinko talk to the proceedings.

Directed by Charlie Chapin
1947
Film Forum

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Edge of Heaven

Kind of like a less sprawling and less all over the place Babel. The story might seem a little gimmicky at times but the characters are interesting and realistic thus making the plot feel plausible unlike other puzzle piece type movies that strain way too hard to fit everything together.

The film, very simply, is about Turkish immigrants in Germany. The plot will sound convoluted if I get too detailed so I won't. But I will state that it begins with an old lonely Turkish immigrant man in Germany who offers a Turkish prostitute her monthly salary to live with him instead of turning tricks. From that scenario, the rest of the movie's plot is set in motion and involves the prostitute's daughter, the old man's son, the prostitute's daughter's girlfriend, and her mom in a should be too clever for its own good but somehow it all works kind of movie.

This isn't nearly as in-your-face as Akin's other movie, Head-On, but still equally satisfying.

Directed by Fatih Akin
2007, U.S. Release: 2008
Film Forum