Sunday, October 12, 2008

Movie Rundown - Oct 6 to Oct 12

I've decided to steal this idea from Sarah, and start posting all the movies I've seen each week. Mostly because I watch lots and lots of movies, and I'm okay with turning that into content for the blog. This one will be shaky, because we're working on my recall, but here goes.

I'll list the movie and then my star rating, and a bit about it. And yes, I'm already aware I watch a lot of movies.

  • Blue Skies [****] This Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire musical tended to go on a little long. Most of the musicals from this era suffer from using the story as a prop to move from one musical sequence to another. However, Fred Astaire's performance of 'Puttin' on the Ritz' is so powerful that it turns a solid movie into a good one. Or, you could just watch it on youtube.
  • Heavy Metal [***] Take metal culture and animate it into a bunch of shorts in the 80s, and you've got Heavy Metal. For a movie based on a comic based on a genre of music, it's almost devoid of good musical moments. Also, it has a plethora (plethora, I tell you) of big chested fantasy women. It's not good, but it was funny.
  • Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist [*****] This was just about everything that I wanted out of a teen romantic comedy. Better than almost any other teen movie I've ever seen, it has all the terror and boredom, the potential and wild-eyed joy of being young and falling in love. Also, further props for having an incredibly well-integrated world view, with non-stereotypical homosexuals and jews added in a way that never feels like a gimmick.
  • Woman of the Year [***] Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy's first screen pairing. And, as a good indication of their legendary love affair, their on-screen presence is absolutely dynamite. However, the movie goes on a little too long and Hepburn isn't quite the charmer she is in most of her other movies. I blame the writing more than her, though. She seems less like a scatter-brained political philosopher/socializer and more like a type-A she-bitch. That said, the duo is (as always) charming, but this is the weakest of Hepburn's films that I've seen. ( For another opinion, see here. )
  • The Tracey Fragments [****] If there was ever such a thing as stream-of-consciousness filmmaking, this movie would be it. A story of a 15 year old girl (the always enchanting Ellen Page) who sets out to find her younger brother, who she believes she hypnotized into believing he was a dog. The film itself is an amalgam of small frames and split screens, done so that the story is told almost entirely visually. There is dialogue, but I'm almost sure the film would play well without it. Enchanting, so long as you can take the experimentalism of it all.
  • Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera [**] This was a documentary about snuff films. I don't really know what to say about it. The subject is interesting on a film geek and morally bankrupt level, but the documentary itself doesn't provide anything you couldn't find out on your own after 15 minutes of google searches. Also, there are plenty of staged and real videos that border on snuff (videos of death, but not filmed for profit). I couldn't recommend it for anyone who didn't have an inherent interest in the subject.
  • Ghost in the Shell [***] Considered one of the seminal pieces of anime cinema, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. It had great music, and some significant (though well-tread) tenants of cyberpunk and all, but it just didn't grab me much. I think much of its notoriety is based on the fact it was one of the early anime films to hit the US. Also, the voice work is TERRIBLE. Maybe the Japanese version had better voices, but I was watching it through Netflix Instant View and that wasn't an option.
  • One Missed Call [****] I'm continuing my project to watch all of the films of Takashi Miike, and I'm going in reverse chronological order. So I hit this film, which was made into a recent American film (which I will hopefully never watch). The film itself was shot well, but the story was only so-so and too derivative of other works. However, the newscast sequence and a whole set-piece towards the end in an abandoned hospital helped bolster the less-than-stellar plot.
  • Y tu mamá también [*****] Another coming-of-age story, this one far more serious and down to earth compared to Nick and Norah. Alfonso Cuaron is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. A story of two friends in Mexico who go on a road trip of discovery on the cusp of adulthood, I found the movie absolutely enchanting. It's both funny and heartbreaking, in a way entirely different than most road and buddy movies out there. I couldn't recommend it enough.
  • Enchanted [****] The first third actually only warranted three stars, and I had a satisfied but disappointed review written here (this article was written mid-film) but the movie won me back into 4 stars with a great mid-movie musical sequence and a truly spectacular final third.
And that's it. Check back next week when I'll hopefully not have a whole ten movies, but something much more managable.

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