Sunday, January 29, 2012

Withnail and I


This was amusing. I was expecting more though for some reason. Maybe it was because both Jeremy and Chris Larry mentioned recently how much they liked it. I think if I had seen this closer to the year it came out, I would have liked it more? I don't know - I also get the impression I would have like it more if I watched it a second time. Or at least if I were to watch it with Chris Larry. Hell, watching a movie with that guy makes even pretty bad movies a lot of fun.

I liked the meandering pace of it. I liked the look of it. I liked the actors quite a bit. Richard Griffiths is always funny. So I don't quite get why I didn't get more into watching this film. Perhaps I hate the British?

Does anyone know what the hell Bruce Robinson was up to between 1992's Jennifer Eight (Jennifer Eight????) and last year's Rum Diary?

Directed by Bruce Robinson
1987
Blu-ray

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin

Jeremy convinced me that I should see this by stating that it was "the rightful fourth chapter in the raiders saga - 100 times better than the crystal skull mumbo jumbo" in my review of the insufferable War Horse. He was right, this movie was a good time.

I didn't think I was going to like the animation much but after awhile I got used to the performance capture aspect. There were times that I even felt like this could have been made without the animated aspect. But then the fun action stuff started and I'm glad that it was filmed the way it was. Part of what was so bad about the last Indiana Jones opus was that the computerized special effects looked ridiculous next to the real people. With this hyperrealistic animation, it all looked right and thus I could pay attention to the fun action and not be distracted by how bad it looks a la Crystal Skull.

I didn't know much about Tintin at all but now I do and I know that I like the kid. And I liked his dog. And I liked those bumbling policemen. And I think that I love Spielberg again even though he hadn't made a good movie in almost ten years before this one.

Bring on the sequel!

Directed by Steven Spielberg
2011
Times Square 25

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol


For the first 3/4 of this movie, I was thinking that this was one of the best movies I'd seen all year. Crazy, right? Then the last 1/4 dragged a little. It wasn't terrible or anything but the bar had been set so high in the first 90 minutes. I think that part of the problem might have been that the Jeremy Renner hovering in the air thing was referencing a scene from the first installment of the series that I've never seen. Maybe I just didn't get the joke? Then again, there were some interesting parts in the last 30 minutes so why am I complaining?

But oh man, that first 90 or so minutes. There were at least two or three moments that I was genuinely surprised by the turn of events. There were at least three or four moments where my jaw dropped in amazement at the sheer audacity and fun in the filmmaking. Just look at that poster, dude! And I haven't even mentioned anything about that incredible duststorm. What a movie!

A few other thoughts and comments:
- This was the first live action film from Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, The Incredibles) and I think I will make the commitment to watch any other movie he ever directs. The man's got chops.

- I love that the Russians are kind of sort of the nemesis. But not really. It's 2012, you know.

- Tom Cruise is looking old, weird, and a wee bit droopy. And he's kind of the weak link to the movie. Which is kind of a drawback to the overall chances of this film truly being great I suppose. Then again, I guess he was fine - I'm just tired of the guy in general.

- I loved the music - especially the Dean Martin song at the beginning.

- This movie was funny. Are all of them this funny?

- I think this might be the first ever feature film I've ever seen on on IMAX screen.

- I now have seen the second and fourth installments of this franchise. I had no interest in the time in seeing the first. I saw the second in Seattle with Sam and about three minutes of the third on a plane. Philip Seymour Hoffman seemed really oddly cast in that one. I guess I should just go ahead and see, at the very least, the first one.

Directed by Brad Bird
2011
Times Square 25

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Panic in the Streets

Bart fell asleep during parts of this movie. I stayed awake but I can't say this was as good as I was hoping. Still, it had its moments.

Some thoughts:

- I think I need to see all of Kazan's films from the 40s through the early 60s.

- The cinematography was great. I love the noirish shadows, the scenes on the docks (foreshadowing Kazan's later film On the Waterfront perhaps?)

- Shortly after this film was made, Zero Mostel was put on the commie blacklist which made Bart and I wonder if Kazan had anything to do with that. A quick Wikipedia search was vague but Kazan apparently loved Mostel so who knows?

- I liked Richard Widmark as a good guy but I think I prefer him as a sniveling scam artist or a conniving lowlife.

- So the film was about a murdered guy who is found to have pneumonic plague and the clock is ticking to find the killer so he can be immunized. Otherwise, the whole country could be in danger. It's like 1950's version of trying to stop Contagion.

- As far as ticking clock movies from this era go, the original D.O.A. is better.

- Bart and I think this movie could easily be adapted for 2012. James Franco would play the Richard Widmark character.

- Holy crap - Jack Palance was one scary dude. I was wondering who would possibly be cast as that crazy killer giant dude in the 2nd and 3rd parts of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Someone that looks as angularly creepy as Palance would be good.

- And then there was this great exchange between Widmark and the doubtful police captain.

Widmark: You know, my mother always told me if you looked deep enough in anybody ... you'd always find some good, but I don't know. (He was talking about appealing to the murderer's good sense to turn himself in if he knew the danger.)

Police Captain who reminded me of William Bendix: With apologies to your mother, that's the second mistake she made.

Zing!

Directed by Elia Kazan
1950
TCM

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Frontrunners

This is the third best movie about a school election I've seen in the past few years. Too bad, I've only seen three. Granted, one was a great one about a Chinese class election so it isn't really a fair comparison. But a better comparison would be to this movie.

Sujan and I were thinking this movie would be interesting because the high school in question is a renowned, top public high school in the city. We assumed the kids running for office would have a lot to say. Unfortunately that wasn't the case.

Plus, the footage is repetitive and not that interesting. How many shots do I need of high schoolers passing out fliers?

And I like an indie rock score as much as the next person who owns Dusk at Cubist Castle but I hated the soundtrack. So loud and jarring and unnecessary.

Don't waste your time on this movie. That is, unless you really liked the redhead from that Todd Solondz movie Palindromes. She's one of the students running for office. And even then, maybe just watch that movie again.

Directed by Caroline Suh
2008
Sundance Channel

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jar City

This movie is super strong on the atmosphere aspect and good enough on the story aspect. I can't get enough of long shots of the Icelandic countryside. I really need to visit that place.

The film is about a murder in a small town that might or might not be linked to another murder years earlier. The film focuses on the police investigation and the secrets he exposes.

The director's earlier film, 101 Reykjavik, is supposed to pretty good but I've never seen it. After briefly reading what it's about, it almost sounds like it could be an early David O. Russell film, but in Iceland. I might just have to give it a shot.

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
2006
Sundance Channel

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Elite Squad

Marc gave this DVD to me two years ago or so. He told me it was supposed to be good but I never got around to watching it.

Fast forward to a night at Sidecar two years later. Bart was extolling the virtues of the sequel to this movie to anyone who would listen. I told him I had the first movie on DVD and a future Tuesday with Bart had been planned.

Unfortunately, nobody told Amy the plan. And she rented it from the local video store just a week before the planned December Tuesday with Bart. No matter. Bart is a mensch. He watched it with Amy and then a week later, watched it with me. That's how much he likes this movie.

He described it to me as The Wire meets City of God. I see the latter but not so much the former. He admitted that the sequel is much more like The Wire than this one.

I liked this one quite a bit though. It was co-written by one of the City of God writers. And even though, it's not nearly as good as that film (but what is?) there's still a lot to like about this film. I really can't get enough of movies or TV shows set in the slums of Rio to be honest. All hail the slums of Rio!

Directed by Jose Padilha
2008
DVD

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Margin Call

All in all, I have no complaints about this movie. There aren't any Glengarry Glen Ross moments like I had been led to believe but no matter. It was fascinating to watch the shit hit the fan from the inside. There was some evil stuff going on in this film. But there was also a lot from the perspectives of people just trying to cover their asses and/or get ahead. You don't leave the film feeling bad for any of these people but I did leave it having a little bit more of an understanding of the clusterfuck that is Wall Street.

Jeremy Irons was scary! It was nice to actually enjoy watching Kevin Spacey in something again. And I can't remember the last Stanley Tucci film I'd seen. And welcome back, Demi Moore!

I was intrigued by all of the scenarios, the characters, the rationalizations, and the sad reality personified by Zachary Quinto that our best minds (hell, even our rocket scientists) are drawn to Wall Street rather than doing something a little bit more constructive for society. How could you Spock?

Directed by J.C. Chandor
2011
BAM

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

While the City Sleeps

I wish the movie was as good as the poster. I was pretty bored. Granted, the direction by Fritz Lang was great. And the serial killer aspect was entertaining. But the newspaper stuff was dullsville. And I love movies about newspapers.

Directed by Fritz Lang
1956
TCM

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Artist

This was fun. I liked the nods to classic scenes from the silent films of the 20's. I liked the vibe of it. Jean Dujardin as the star was perfectly cast. He kind of reminded me of my grandfather which I loved. John Goodman was great. It was clever when it needed to be. It almost got too cute at times but it knew when to pull back.

I'll predict right now that this is going to win Best Picture this year. It is a throwback and an homage to the glory days of Hollywood which isn't a bad combination to stroke some egos and gain some votes.

This is no Singin' in the Rain but what is? The pacing was good and it ended well - again - clever but not too clever.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
2011
BAM

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Our Idiot Brother

I can almost see this as maybe being kind of good. Paul Rudd was charming but isn't he always? Zooey was as adorable as ever. But why did Elizabeth Banks look like Parker Posey the entire movie? The tone of the whole thing was uneven and quite strange.

At one point, Sujan said, "I can't even believe this is a real movie."

Afterwards, she tweeted, "Our Idiot Brother did the impossible: made @listmakerdan & I wish we hadn't quit watching Hot Tub Time Machine."

Don't get me started on Hot Tub Time Machine. Wow.

Directed by Jesse Peretz
2011
Blu-ray

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Dangerous Method

This was pretty good I suppose but not even close to being one of my favorite Cronenberg films. Hell, it wasn't even the best Michael Fassbender kinky sex movie of the year. Viggo as Freud was interesting. And Vincent Cassel in his brief role was memorable.

But good God, Keira Knightly was annoying. I'm not sure who could have pulled off the role but she wasn't it. Just because you can jut your jaw out really far doesn't make you a good actress. And as Matt pointed out, the shifting accents of most of the actors was disconcerting to say the least.

I didn't know anything about this moment in history. I think I'd like to know more but I was kind of bored by parts of this movie. Maybe one naked fight scene to the death would have enlivened this a bit.

Directed by David Cronenberg
2011
BAM

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

War Horse

I might have liked this a lot when I was 14. But I'm not 14 so I was kind of nonplussed.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!!! BUT YOU DON'T CARE. READ THIS ANYWAY!

So there's this horse, see. And this mean landlord loses out in an auction to a well meaning drunkard.

The drunkard's son loves this horse. And teaches him how to plow a field and save the day!

And then forces beyond our control lead to war. And the horse gets conscripted. And becomes a WAR HORSE!

He goes from the English to the Germans to a farm house. Back to the Germans. And then he runs around a bit. And then he gets caught in a fence. And then there's this heartwarming scene between an English soldier and a German one. Humanity bonds over a beautiful horse, dude.

Then he's back to the English. Then there's a reunion. And then some tears. And some hugs.

The End.

P.S. I'm a sucker for war movies so I liked the fight scenes. And that plow scene looked super cool. But the sky looked weird and the movie was kind of dumb.

P.P.S. This is hilarious!

Directed by Steven Spielberg
2011
Time Sq. 25

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I always found this part of the trilogy to be the weakest and having now read it and seeing two film adaptations, I'm done with it. I liked this quite a bit more than the Swedish version though.

The Rooney Mara portrayal of Salander is much closer to what I pictured her as than the Noomi Rapace version from the Swedish version. Daniel Craig is definitely not what Blomkvist is supposed to be but that didn't diminish from the story too much.

Some of the scenes were definitely thrilling - especially that brief escalator scene. But it still suffers from what the book suffered from - way too much exposition before things really get going and a pretty standard and not very compelling plot. I liked the Trent Reznor score though.

I hope this does well enough to make the rest of the trilogy because I don't plan on seeing the Swedish versions.

I also want to see what Matt has to say about two more film versions.

Directed by David Fincher
2011
Silver Spring 20