Sunday, July 12, 2009

Movie Rundown - July 6 to July 12

All right, I've been working on one of my previous books, rereading it in order to get an edit job going in the next week or so. So to be honest with you, I really didn't have much time or energy to watch many movies. This was compounded by work being extra special plusbad difficult last week, so ... the fact that I decided to watch a bunch of movies this weekend is the only thing that really guaranteed I'd do one of these this week.

An eclectic bunch, but nothing new, so let's just get started.

Hellboy (****)
I rewatched Hellboy for the first time since 2005 on Friday, a nice blu-ray copy on a friend's nice television. Aside from making me crave my own BD player, the movie was a nice reminder of just why I originally fell in love with the work of one Mr. del Toro.

Hellboy's aged pretty well. This was the extended edition, so there were some scenes (especially some nice ones with Selma Blair) that really rounded out the characters nicely. But the movie itself remains as fun and well-made as always. With the higher resolution, some of the CG doesn't hold up, but I think that's mostly true across the board.

That said, I think I've finally decided that of the two the original movie is the superior product. What little I know of Hellboy as a comic I think was likely much better captured in the first film. The second film, for all the things I enjoy about it, certainly feels like del Toro ran with his own fever dream visions much more so than he did. Which is fine, but detracts from the original Mignola style of the comics and first movie.

Moon Child (****)
Moon Child is a Japanese film starring pop singer Gackt and L'Arc-en-Ciel guitarist and lead singer Hyde. Hyde plays a vampire who is discovered by a young orphan. The two become fast friends, and as the young orphan grows up (played by Gackt) they become a team taking on crime-ridden streets and living a life of abandon.

The movie is surprisingly touching, given the fact it stars two music stars. The movie explores what it means to grow up, and what happens to friendships over time based on the choices people make. It's heavy stuff, full of death and betrayal, with an emphasis on typical gangster fiction played out as the backdrop to the personal drama.

The movie itself was touching, but more surprising is the fact it exists at all. Yes, the stylish action and goofy humor at times make the movie feel uneven tonally, but I could never imagine an american musician ever making a film half as deep or complex as this one. If you're into either of the musicians, or into Japanese films, or vampire movies in general, it's well worth seeking out.

Chasing Amy (*****)
The latest in my ongoing Kevin Smith project, Chasing Amy comes on the heels of last week's Mallrats, which I wasn't much into. However, things have come around and in a big way. Chasing Amy is not only fantastic, but might be my favorite romantic comedy of all time.

Why? Well, that's hard to explain. But the movie itself feels very grounded and very real, with characters who act in ways that I could identify with and didn't seem cliche at all. That's the key, how relatable the characters are, that makes Kevin Smith's best work so great. These people are all fucked up, some a lot and some a little, but they're fucked up like you or your friends. And so, the situation doesn't seem trite or rehashed, but real and meaningful and (when it all clicks) very moving.

Of particular note here is Ben Affleck, who continues to grow on me with just about every movie I see him in. Here he is endearing and infuriating and it all works in a way that feels right. He's a leading man who doesn't lead anything anywhere. And in his understated performance, he sells the entire situation.

Go see this movie. There are some minor complains that maybe I could make, especially thematically, but they're well beyond the scope of this write up here. Just go see it. It's wonderful. I'm not sure what else I'll get out of Kevin Smith, but this movie alone makes the entire project a rousing success.

Scoop (***)
Scoop. Oh Scoop. I picked this one up on recommendation of one Elizabeth Ditty, who normally has solid taste in movies. This time, though, I'm going to have to disagree with her.

Scoop is a Woody Allen movie, and is admittedly the first one I've seen, but I was very unimpressed. A offbeat comedy-mystery starring Allen himself, Scarlett Johansson, and Hugh Jackman, it's a light movie that kind of trundles along at its own lazy, happy pace. In reality, though, the whole thing felt a little too empty. At the end of the day, I felt like I had watched something in line with Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, young bumbling detectives who figure out a case and ...

Look, the movie's fine. It's cute, sometimes it's genuinely funny, but it's pretty harmless all in all. I was looking and hoping for something with some more oomph, maybe a little deeper meaning, and I was left feeling a little hollow. I don't know if that was just an expectation problem, but at the end of the day the film left me more annoyed with it than pleased.


And that's it! As of the time of this writing, the Netflix website is down, but I'm hoping in the next week to see Dogma and, if it's out on DVD yet, Tyson. Also up is the new Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Bloated Penultimate Book, which I have very low expectations for. There might be something else thrown into the mix, but I couldn't begin to tell you what at this time and date.

That's all, friends! I might post a bit about my editing process, maybe throw up some notes or whatever. I don't know. Writing books doesn't make for compelling blog content, I've noticed. Especially since right now I'm not doing much more than reading and making notes.

Oh well. See you on the flip side of the week, if nothing else!