Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Rundown - Oct 13 to Oct 20

well, here we are, second installment

  • Surf's Up [****] I'm not typically a fan of the generic animal coming of age stories, but this one was pulled out of mediocrity by the conceit that the whole story of the young surfer was told as a documentary. Also, Jeff Bridges being The Dude again. Not to mention some absolutely gorgeous water CG, and all in all it's certainly a solid animated outing.
  • The Nomi Song [***] A documentary about the rise and fall of Klaus Nomi, an opera singer and avant garde performer from the late seventies and early 80s. I have to admit, I had never heard of him before I randomly saw the trailer on apple last year, and was enchanted. When I stumbled across the film on netflix, I leapt at it. The film itself is good, but I find it hard to rate documentaries about a person. What can I say? It is what it is. Plusses for PLENTY of footage of him, and his epic performances.
  • The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai [*****] Full review can be found HERE.
  • No Country for Old Men [****] This was the last Coen Brothers film I had to see, and I had been putting it off because I honestly haven't been much of a fan of their more serious work. Thankfully, some beautiful cinematography and brilliant performances won out over their somewhat ponderous pacing. That said, I absolutely hated the ending. I was almost tempted to give it three stars, but ... four it is.
  • District B-13 [***] A French film set in a dystopian 2010, where a section of the city, B-13, is walled off into a war zone run by a gang lord. When he gets his hands on a nuclear weapon, it's up to a cop and a man seeking vengeance to bring the warlord down. It's pretty stereotypical, but the film itself has multiple parkour action sequences. Being a fan of parkour, this was up and down a guilty pleasure.
  • When Harry Met Sally [****] I, like everyone else on this planet, knew the story and most of the gags in this film. What surprised me, though, was that I was responding to and laughing at them anyway. The sign of a good comedy is it's funny when you know what's going to happen. This one definitely does that, and provides plenty of issues that we still haven't answered as a culture.
  • Interview [****] A film by Steve Buscemi, a remake of a Dutch film of the same name. A burnt out political journalist is sent to interview an it-girl actress for a fluff piece after getting on the bad side of his editor. The actress is played by Sienna Miller, who was amazing in Factory Girl. What follows is an incredibly play of words and emotions by the two actors, both of whom deliver pretty intense performances. I won't spoil any of it, but do highly recommend it for anyone who loves character pieces.
  • The Orphanage [***] I dunno, maybe it was just too derivative of other works with similar themes, but I found myself not caring too much for this one. I liked it, yes. But it didn't quite fire the imagination on the level I was hoping. That said, the game played towards the end of the game (the red light green light thing) was superb. I was freaking out.
  • A Life Without Pain [****] This is a documentary about three children with CIPA, or a born insensitivity to pain. This rather complex illness has a number of very serious results, but it's also incredibly rare. There are only a few dozen cases in the US. Again, like I said, it's difficult to rate a documentary. But I do think this one's worth while, if only to better understand a rather misunderstood part of the human experience--pain.
  • The Protector [***] A Thai action film starring Tony Jaa. I saw this in crappy dub-o-vision, but the film itself was just kind of goofy. There was some choppy editing, too much CG (unlike Tony Jaa's absolutely breathtaking Ong Bak), and just ... I dunno. A lack of impact. That said, Tony Jaa is always worth watching, as the man is amazing in motion. Not to mention the plot itself was interesting. Plus, a baby elephant.
  • Max Payne [**] The worst part about this is that somewhere within the soggy carcass of Max Payne is probably a 4-star movie. A nice take of vigilante justice, some nice gun fighting, and some of the best noir cinematography since Sin City (and maybe a bit better, because it's much less flashy). Unfortunately, the first half is a bloated mess, with redundant characters, subplots that go nowhere, a story that takes forever to get going and a villain so obvious that the audience is insulted. When it starts finding its way, it's great. But the first half is abysmal. It would have been nice to see a tighter edit, which would have gotten a much better score.