Friday, July 31, 2009

Jaws

When I was a little kid, I really wanted to see this movie but my parents wouldn't let me. They knew it would freak me out too much. I think I finally saw it when I was 12 or so and I wasn't as scared as I thought I'd be. Perhaps I'd built it up too much in my head as being the scariest movie ever made. In fact, I think I might have even been slightly disappointed that I wasn't more scared.

Upon reviewing it in 2009, I'm not sure what the 1985 Listmaker was thinking. This is a great movie. Everything about it is a good time. The great score (even though it reminded me a bit too much of Raiders of the Lost Ark at times), Robert Shaw as the old codger, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, drunk night swimming. Even the special effects weren't as bad as I remembered. Spielberg was smart not to show too much of the shark until very late in the film.

It is hard to believe that this was only the second film Spielberg directed if you don't count Duel.

Directed by Steven Spielberg
1975
HBO

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Brute Force

Sometimes, I just can't get enough of prison movies. And for good reason. This movie kicks ass.

First of all, Jules Dassin is a great director. He followed this up with the classic The Naked City. Secondly, Burt Lancaster is such a beast. I love that guy. Thirdly, I can't believe how violent and dark this movie is.

Anyone who liked the pulp factor of Oz should check out this movie. Granted, there are no gang rapes, JK Simmons, or Adebisi but you can't have everything.

Brute Force! The title says it all.


Directed by Jules Dassin
1947
DVD

Monday, July 27, 2009

Role Models

I love the Rudd. Not so much the Sean William Scott. And McLovin' probably should have retired after Superbad.

I did like the funny kid and the role playing stuff especially the Asian dude who played the king.

For the record, I watched the unrated version which is a whopping 90 seconds longer than the rated R version. They must really be a racy 90 seconds.

Jeremy's Spin the Wheel review.

Directed by David Wain
2008
Blu-Ray

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Hurt Locker

There are moments of absolute brilliance in this movie about a bomb disposal team set in 2004 Baghdad. In fact, the first 20 minutes or so are incredible. The first scene, in particular, blew me away - no pun intended.

The first half is much stronger than the second half. The second half isn't bad but it drifts into completely implausible situations that stem more from the lazy screenwriting than the attempt to become super cheesy at times in a Bad Boys in Iraq kind of way. By the end, I was more than ready for the movie to be over. I didn't particularly care for most of the characters and the plot had become so ridiculous that the movie had lost me.

Still, there are more than enough great moments here to recommend seeing this movie. There aren't many non documentary movies (in fact, I can't think of any) about the combat in Iraq. The blown out buildings and burned cars, the snipers, the people watching from every window, the desert, the vendors selling their wares, the suicide bombers, there is a lot of intrigue to cover in one movie. But I'm not sure that this movie covers that much different ground than earlier television shows Over There and Generation Kill did. In fact, if I hadn't watched those shows, I might have liked this movie a lot more than I did.

Not to mention, I was a bit annoyed that there was a reference to YouTube in the movie even though YouTube didn't make its debut until the next year. Not that big a deal but overall, this little detail felt indicative of the lazy script in general.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
2009
BAM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jesus' Son

This is almost exactly the way I remembered it from years ago. But at the same time I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it upon reviewing. I had forgotten a lot of the details but remembered the general drugged out tone. This movie reminds me a bit of one of my favorites from this era, Morvern Callar - both films feature Samantha Morton who is great in this. She had quite a run in the late 90's and early aughts.

This movie is so dreamy, so sad, and so bittersweet. Even Jack Black's usual shenanigans seemed fresh to me since they made me nostalgic for the time when his stuff seemed new. Plus, the soundtrack is easily one of the best ever.

The cinematography looks fantastic. I don't think a movie like this would be made now. If it were, it would be on DV and feature a lot of mumbling.

Directed by Alison Maclean
1999
HBO

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

X-Men

I saw this in Hong Kong in the summer of 2000. I remembered liking it more than I thought I would. This time, I think I liked it less than I thought I would. It has its moments but it also dragged quite a bit at times. Still, I liked the senator aspect and some of the fight scenes and the mutant school. And despite some silly looking special effects, it looked pretty cool at times. Plus, I liked Ian McKellen's Ming the Merciless helmet. He also kind of reminded me of General Zod meets General Tarkin at times. Nice.

I don't really remember much about the second part but I recall liking it more than this one.

Directed by Bryan Singer
2000
HBO

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tokyo!

Three interesting directors each took a stab at making a short film about Tokyo. Each was interesting in their own right but overall I wasn't sold on this movie.

The Gondry one involved a woman who turned into a chair. It started out well then got silly when that stuff started. The Bong Joon-Ho one (The Host) was probably my favorite but I didn't love it. It was about a dude who hadn't left his house in 11 years and who ordered pizza everyday who falls in love with a cute pizza delivery girl who has tattoo buttons that when pushed make her fall in love or come out of a coma or whatever. The Carax (Lovers on the Bridge) one was about a white dude who lives in the sewers who comes out onto the streets of Japan to blow people up with old grenades. Silly.

I wanted less bizarre situations and more realism I suppose. Or perhaps I wanted better fantasy type stuff. The Gondry and Carax segments simply left me scratching my head. Although the Bong Joon-Ho one reminded me a bit of Kim Di-Duk's 3-Iron so I did like that aspect of this trilogy.

Directed by Michel Gondry, Bong Joon-Ho, and Leos Carax
2008, U.S. Release: 2009
Blu-ray

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Last Mistress

I've seen two of Catherine Breillat's previous films (Fat Girl and Romance) and liked them well enough at the time. I'm not usually a period piece kind of guy but I am an Asia Argento kind of guy.

The movie was good enough. Sort of maybe a bit of Sense and Sensibility with a bit of kinky softcore porn thrown in for good measure. The movie was a bit slow and then all of a sudden there was a duel and a bullet being extracted from a dude's chest and Argento licking the blood from the wound as the horrified doctor looked on. Her father, the king of Italian horror, must be proud.

Directed by Catherine Breillat
2007, U.S. Release: 2008
Sundance On Demand

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Edward Scissorhands

I hadn't seen this movie since the one time I saw it in the theaters (I think with Terry Crummitt) and my memories of it were a bit sketchy.

But the minute the movie started, it all came flooding back. I can't believe that this movie was a box office success back in the day. It is so darn odd. I'm glad I watched it again. It reminded me of being in high school.

Some thoughts:

1. I forgot how much I used to like Danny Elfman's scores.

2. Winona Ryder really can't act. Wow.

3. I had completely forgotten that Alan Arkin and Dianne Wiest were in this.

4. I wanted more Vincent Price. Brilliant.

5. The set design is unbelievably great. All the suburban stuff, Edward's home, everything.

6. I'm pretty sure that Anthony Michael Hall should have won an Oscar for his role.

Directed by Tim Burton
1990
HBO

Schindler's List

I hadn't seen this since it first was released in 1993. I didn't remember much except for Ralph Fiennes shooting people in the head with a rifle from his balcony, Liam Neeson looking out onto the factory floor from his office, and the girl in the red dress.

What is there to say? This is a very good movie. Even John Williams' score is decent enough. The filmmaking is, of course, incredible. The film is riveting. Spielberg clearly knew that if done right, his film would be the holocaust film that would be considered The Holocaust film. That's not to say that this is the best movie about the holocaust. It isn't. But it might just be the most important considering how many people have seen it.

My only problem with the movie is that Ralph Fiennes sounds way too much like Bruno.

Directed by Steven Spielberg
1993
HBO

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I remember seeing the first Star Trek movie in the theaters and being bored out of my mind. I remember seeing this one with my dad in the theaters and liking it a lot more than the first one but I didn't exactly love it. I hadn't watched any of the original series at this point so I was at a bit of a loss over why people were so into it. Although I did like the crazy ear parasites.

I was pretty excited to see this pop up on cable after having enjoyed the recent Star Trek movie.

A few thoughts:

- Shatner's impassioned plea of "Khan!!!!!" is pure comedy gold.

- Ricardo Montalban's hair and costume are amazing. He and his whole crew are so incredibly Siegfried and Roy. Brilliant.

- Kirstie Alley used to be hot!

- Many members of the cast looked like Willie Aames wannabes.

- At times, the movie almost played like a parody of the original series. The acting was so hammy as was the scenes with the crew falling all over each other during battle scenes.

- I liked how bright the series was. The early movies are all so dark. Maybe it was an early 80's thing but the burgundy unis just don't do it for me.

- Was the new one's plot basically just a rewrite of this movie's? No matter - the new one is better. I liked how the new one referred back to the talk of Kirk cheating on some of his captain tests and the lines about not believing in a no-win scenario.

Directed by Nicholas Meyer
1982
HBO

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fallen Angels

Fresh off of watching Chungking Express, I convinced SHR to watch this with me. That was a mistake. She didn't like it at all. I've got to admit that I didn't like it as much as I did when I saw it at Film Forum in 1998.

Then again, I didn't remember that much about it from 11 years ago. In fact, I remembered three things about it.

1. A lot of motorcycle riding through tunnels.
2. A really long female masturbation scene.
3. I was confused.

Upon reviewing this in 2020, I'd be surprised if I remember anything else other than these exact same three things.

Directed by Wong Kar-Wai
1995
DVD

Monday, July 06, 2009

Chungking Express

I hadn't seen this movie in years but I wanted to make sure that SHR finally saw it. I loved this movie back in the mid 90's. It seemed so artsy and exotic to me back then. Like Breathless meets Blade Runner or something. I'm not sure how that even makes sense but I guess the California Dreamin' chick was so cute in an Asian Jean Seberg way to me and the fast paced neon lit world of Hong Kong reminded me of Blade Runner. I don't know. All I know was that I had barely seen any modern Asian cinema at the point that I saw this movie and it blew me away.

I was surprised by how much I remembered of parts of this and how much of it I had forgotten. Obviously, I had not forgotten the California Dreamin' sequences. She was just as cute as I remembered. I remembered the pineapple a day parts. But I had forgotten a lot of the first cop's story. No matter - it just added to my enjoyment upon reviewing.

I don't think SHR liked it as much as I did back in the day. But that is an impossible order. The movie hit me in the right way when I was in my early 20's. I greatly enjoyed it in 2009 for many reasons, chief of which I'm sure were for nostalgia. In general though, the movie more than holds up.

Directed by Wong Kar-Wai
1994
Blu-Ray

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Hangover

This movie just keeps piling on absurdity after absurdity. Some miss, but most hit. I didn't love it as much as some of my friends did but it sure as hell is better than Amy H's succinct review - "$5.75 per laugh." Ouch. Those are fighting words in some circles.

My favorite line is the random one where Zach Galifianakis is trying to remember the title of Three Men and a Baby and describes it as the movie with Ted Danson, Magnum PI, and that Jewish actor.

I also give this movie extra points for making it cool to wear a baby carrier.

On another note, SHR just picked up some baby sunglasses today. Sweet!

Directed by Todd Phillips
2009
Court St.