Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Movie Rundown - This Past Weekend

Here you go, part two of the movie extravaganza, this time detailing the movies seen from Friday through to Sunday. Hope you're still with me. Like most second acts, it's a dark and dreary road.

Halloween II (**)
Probably the worst Rob Zombie film, and that's saying something (I adore House of 1000 Corpses, but I'll freely admit it's a trainwreck of a movie). The problem isn't that Zombie has no good ideas. In fact, there are lots of good ideas here. A realistic look at what horror movie survival can do to a heroine, a solid amount of gore, and an incredibly well-used Malcolm McDowell. That said, the film is so horribly put together and has so many OTHER ideas that are simply garbage that I will recommend this one to the hardcore only.

Indie Sex (****)
A fantastic four-part documentary about sex in film, from the beginnings of cinema to the modern cutting edge of envelope-pushing art films. This one's a great tribute to a lesser-known line of films, from the incredibly influential to the extremely obscure, but treated with the proper thoughtful discourse that our culture so often lacks when it comes to such things.

If you're a film person? This is a must-see. For everyone else, I would simply say that if the subject matter interests you, there's little that's not covered here.

Anchors Aweigh (**)
An incredibly flawed musical starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. As much as I like Gene Kelly, and as famous as the sequence of him dancing with Jerry the Mouse is, the movie's too long and too lacking in musical bits to really grab me. It just feels terribly bloated and self-important. I would suggest looking up the musical bits on youtube, and letting this one pass by the wayside.

La Vie en Rose (***)
A beautiful film about French singer Edith Piaf, this movie is ... frustrating. The character is well-acted, but is so terribly unlikable that I spent the first two thirds of the movie wishing I were doing something else. I don't know how accurate it is, but it's very off putting. That said, I think that it ends pretty well and the music and cinematography are second to none. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it, but then, I rarely think biopics scream recommendation.

What A Way to Go! (****)
A great dark comedy starring Shirley MacLaine and a bunch of leading men (Gene Kelly, Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, etc.) about her continued efforts to land a man who appreciates the simple life and her curse of them all trying to gain huge fortunes and dying. The movie is goofy, but one of the best things about it is that each of the men she goes through has a genre of film spoofed about their relationship. It's a neat touch, and the film itself is clever and light and everything it needs to be. A comedy that still works as much as the day it came out, a rare treat.

Les Paul: Chasing Sound (****)
A documentary about the life and accomplishments of Les Paul. It's good. I learned a lot. If you like music or interesting people, it's well worth watching. That is all.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Movie Rundown - Catching up, honest!

Okay, ladies and gents. It's been WEEKS since we've done this, because I kind of fell out of my movie watching habits aside from the odd new release, and ... well, to be honest, I didn't feel like writing about one movie at a time. Unfortunately, it's added up, and become a list so lengthy that trying to go through them all would be nigh impossible.

So you're getting three installments. First, we'll catch up to this past weekend. On Wednesday, we'll cover the weekend proper. And on Thursday, we'll talk about the movie marathon that saw me through Labor Day. I was going to make this one big tome of a thing, but a certain Miss Ditty, Esquire decided it would be best if I split it up and she generally knows what she's talking about.

So, here you go. The long road to the present!

Clerks 2 (****)
Clerks 2 was the end of this summer's Kevin Smith project, and has become tied with Chasing Amy as my favorite of his films. Things of note? Musical sequences, a great cap on the universe that's come from all of the other films, and Rosario Dawson being amazing (as she always is). I think that Kevin Smith's best watched in order, but if you've seen Clerks at least and enjoyed it, you owe it to yourself to see this brilliant, brilliant movie.

Nosferatu (***)
The original vampire movie. Like most silent films, it's nearly impossible for me to judge the quality. I thought it was okay, with the plus of atmosphere and an amazingly haunting portrayal of Nosferatu himself coupled with the fault that it ends rather abruptly with what I can only call a cop out. Still, for fans of horror movies or film in general, it's a must see.

(500) Days of Summer (***)
I really loved this movie a lot as I left the theater, and it struck a chord with me. There were parts of it that seemed taken exactly out of my experience. If I had written this then, it would have easily garnered four stars. That said, weeks have passed, and my feelings have cooled significantly. My problem with this movie is that it simply tries too hard to appeal to the hipster 20-something crowd. While watching it, I didn't notice as much, but it's most decidedly built to make everybody of a certain age think it's written about them. That touching personal nature instead started to feel like calculated demographic-targeted writing, from the quirky girl to the guy who talks about philosophy over a table arcade game to the Top 20 offbeat musicians that make up its soundtrack. It's nothing special, but if you're of the right age, I bet you'll walk out feeling like it touched you in some way. I just ... am not sure the intentions were correct.

Ponyo (*****)
Ponyo. Miyazaki. Either you know of the genius of Hayao Miyazaki or you know nothing of film. This isn't his best movie, but it's a brilliant movie, as just about everything he does is. This movie needs to be seen by everyone, as far as I'm concerned. It is, like all of his movies, magical.

District 9 (****)
Great movie, though the first half is FAR better than the second half. That said, it's the second best sci fi movie of the year so far (behind MOON) and is well worth people's time.

Inglourious Basterds (****)
Tarantino going back to the kind of noiry post-modern cinematic mashups that he did prior to Kill Bill. Fantastic movie. I ended up wishing that many of the characters had films about them. That's always a great sign. It's not going to win over anyone who hates Tarantino (those sad, misguided souls) but for everybody else ... I wouldn't be surprised to see this movie on my best of 2009 list.