The Hoax

Last week, another movie I’d never heard of showed up from Michelle’s Netflix queue. This was one Michelle picked due to its high rating, and we sat down and watched The Hoax last night.

I have to say, for a long time I’ve had this loosely held opinion that Richard Gere is a douchebag clotheshorse who skates by on his weasel-eyed looks making the women swoon. I don’t want to sound jealous–I don’t wish the guy any ill will or anything–but I haven’t considered his being cast in a movie a selling point for that movie, and I think of him as a less compelling leading man than a bunch of other guys who fill that role in other movies.

I’m starting to find my preconception of Gere challenged due performances like his in The Hoax*. As cunning nutjob author Clifford Irving, Gere does an excellent job disappearing into the part. Alfred Molina is his usual outstanding self as Irving’s sidekick Dick Suskind, and director Lasse Hallstrom introduces interesting A Beautiful Mind-esque interludes into a movie that could have been played as a straight buddy caper flick.

I was going to give it three and a half Pochaccos, but then I really liked John Bedford Lloyd as Frank McCullough, so I was going to give it four Pochaccos, but then I thought Marcia Gay Harden was pretty horribly miscast as Edith Irving, so we’re back to three and a half.

(out of 5 Pochaccos)

* The other thing I’ve seen Gere in lately is Runaway Bride. The movie was contemptible, and Julia Roberts’ character was an asinine ratfork, but Gere was alright in that too.

PS: I never found the DCP501. I’m about sure that someone ripped it off–stole it out of the old house before we moved, I’m guessing. I do wonder who.

PPS: More pictures of the kid.

The Lives of Others

Here’s a slightly more timely movie review for you.

Michelle signed up for Netflix and filled up the queue with a bunch of stuff that I didn’t know anything about, and The Lives of Others showed up a couple of weeks ago. I was very skeptical. Here we have a German movie with subtitles and a perceptibly low budget–something I never would have picked had we been walking through the video store. I cringed inwardly at the earnestness of message I expected to be hit with, and my suspicions mounted as the movie started slowly.

It ended up being really, really good–excellent plot, plenty of suspense, good character development. I give it the JesusH Palme d’Pochacco™ award for best foreign film I’ve seen since, and maybe even including, Borat.

(out of 5 Pochaccos)

Superman Returns

Most of Bryan Singer’s superhero output has seemed technically proficient but lacking heart, and Superman Returns is no exception. The star’s pre-quad Chris Reeve impression was a neat trick for about five minutes, but I thought he lacked gravitas. Kevin Spacey has been a caricature of himself for years, and he’s no Gene Hackman here.

And I can’t tell you how distracting it was for me that the Indian guy from Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was one of Lex Luthor’s flunkies. I mean, what the fuck is that about, having that guy in a movie like this and not at least mining him for some light comic relief? He’s completely typecasted in my mind… catch up, Hollywood casting directors!

The Chronicles of Narnia: LWW

narnia
Lucy at the Lamp-Post

I visited the Dream World of Magic last night and was little disappointed. A sort of LOTR-lite for the kiddies, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is an extravagant fantasy that hits nary a false note. CS Lewis, author of the Narnia books, did not approve of a live-action version of the books. He thought such a movie would inevitably fail to capture the fantastic elements of the story. I would venture to say that, had Mr Lewis lived to see this version of LWW, his fears would surely be allayed. A mostly faithful rendition of the book, the movie makes use of a nearly perfectly cast ensemble of actors: the four children credibly portray the remnants of a family sundered by the war, by turns bickering, playing, comforting each other, and struggling with boredom. Tilda Swinton is excellent as the White Witch–even improving upon the original character by giving her a shading of an alien, glacial soullessness. The movie has the sweeping aerial shots of the aforementioned LOTR, and some of the battle recalls that movie–though with no blood and less mayhem.

Continue readingThe Chronicles of Narnia: LWW

Garden State

I was expecting to hate this movie. People I talked to about it said that they generally liked it but that the best thing about it was the soundtrack, which scared me. It looked all sensitive and weepy. I don’t know who the hell Zach Braff is.

Turns out I really enjoyed it, and thought the soundtrack was about the worst thing about the movie. Really well-constructed, with a lot of little touches and shot selection that reminded me of Donnie Darko, only better. Braff did a nice job, and so did Portman. Peter Sarsgaard is one of my favorite actors and he did his usual solid work here.

Some real good lines, too.


“Don’t tease me about my hobbies. I don’t tease you about being an asshole.”

Mad Hot Ballroom

If the serial monogamist, elder-abandoning, take-care-of-your-own (and your own only) mindset of the penguins in March of the Penguins is the hallmark of the perfect documentary for conservatives, then the heady exuberance of youth exposed to the arts, the dedication of public school teachers, and the triumph of compassion and discipline combined featured in Mad Hot Ballroom are likewise irresistibly attractive to movie-going progressives.

Mad Hot Ballroom: not for sucks
Mad Hot Ballroom: Not For Sucks

Filmmakers Amy Sewell and Marilyn Agrelo filmed and interviewed participants of American Ballet Theater’s Dancing Classrooms program–a program developed over the last ten years to give New York City’s fifth-grade public school students a taste of the genteel art form. The program–and the movie–conclude with representatives of each school entering a competition which comes across less Cutthroat Melodrama and more Showcase of Excellence. Sewell and Agrelo used that footage to put together an entirely entertaining, heartbreaking, inspiring drama about these ten-year-olds, who range, at the beginning of the program, from open-minded good sports to coolly disaffected scrubs. Just a few classes with the energetic and charming ballroom dance teachers, and the kids lose any ambivalence or reticence toward their partners and the dances themselves. The ever-constant, never-flagging enthusiasm and support of the classroom teachers visibly bolster the kids’ growing confidence, and you find yourself witnessing their transformations into hard-working, determined dancers.

Continue reading “Mad Hot Ballroom”

Serenity

I just got home from watching Joss Whedon’s new film Serenity. If you are not a FireFly fan, then I strongly encourage you to go to your local movie buying palace and purchase for yourself the first season of FireFly. If you would rather see the movie first, then please by all means do so. As a fan I recommend seeing the TV series first. Joss did an okay job at “catching up” on the history of the crew, but it would be best to get the history from the show.

The movie was absolutely awesome! There were thrills, shrills, and chills that the show never captured. I went into this movie looking for answers to mysteries that have plagued my mind since the show went off the air. I left the theater still not knowing the answers. Do you know what is so cool about that? Joss really knows how to piss a fan off and still get them to love his work.

The witty banter between the characters is hilarious and the fighting scenes are exhilarating. The graphics were impeccable. Joss has done a mighty fine job. I can’t wait for his next adventure. Here’s hoping to Angel, the movie!

I give Serenity 5 stars!

It’s a Big Movie Weekend

Deb and I caught a couple of flicks at the movie house this weekend.

Howl’s Moving Castle

The latest from Hayao Miyazaki, who you might remember from Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away–his most recent U.S. releases, which made it into the theatres and were widely praised. But I don’t remember Miyazaki from those–I think of Warriors of the Wind, which I caught as a kid on some high-number cable channel in the mid ’80’s.

Miyazaki’s got some very distinctive design elements in his pictures. I liked a lot of things about WotW’s look–the byzantine gun-metal lumpy aircraft, with viewports everywhere and guys in glass turrets hanging off randomly; the freedom of Nausicaa’s flight on her rocket sled; the Roman and medieval elements of the troopers; the anarchy implied by the dark oranges, reds, and browns in the broadstroke combat scenes. I barely remember watching it, but a lot of the images in WotW really spoke to me, and I was drawing elements of the half-remembered movie for ages afterward. But I discovered that it was one of Deb’s favorites from back in the day as well, and she grabbed her grandfathers’ aged VHS copy, and we watched it. All that stuff came back to me.

The thing about WotW that really stands out in all of Miyazaki’s movies that I’ve seen, though, is that I understood it. I watched Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away in the theatre, and I liked them, but I don’t think I understood them. I felt the same thing watching Howl’s Moving Castle. It ended, and I was left saying “well, I liked the animation, but I don’t really know what that’s all about.”

I’d be more forgiving of that if I was continuously amazed by the animation, but a lot of those WotW design elements I liked just show up again here, without much to supplement them.


Novelty’s worn off, and I didn’t get it, but I didn’t hate it either.

War of the Worlds

Ehhh. Special effects were pretty good. Tom Cruise was basically Tom Cruise. The directing seemed assured. I didn’t look at my watch.

But if you had a problem with the ending of another recent alien invasion sci-fi flick, I’d love to hear your explanation for this one.

The best thing about War of the Worlds existing isn’t anything I saw in the movie itself–it’s Jeff Wells’ recent riff on a publicity shot from the movie (see the content under the “Distractions” header).


A thoroughly 116 minute movie.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Lucas

Episode III was like Episode II, except with a lot more violence. Many reviewers have been saying this is a good movie, but you should understand going into this that

a) what they generally mean (though few of them admit it) is “this is a good movie considering my extremely low expectations after the first two disasters”

b) they believe that it is possible to take a bad movie, add a bunch of fight scenes, and come away with a good movie, which might have been true when I was 13 but couldn’t be further off the mark at this point

As for the movie itself, the massive, indiscriminate infusion of CGI left me thinking I was watching a video game; the awful, stultifying acting and dialogue made me think that video game was initially released in Korean and translated by the lowest bidder as an afterthought.

Caveat emptor, ladies and gentlemen. Half a Pochacco, on a scale of 5 Pochaccos, and the only reason I’m rating it that high is because I like the half-Pochacco image.

Dolls

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Soporifically meaningless. Skip it… unless you like Japanese movie torture.

So Iíve been hearing all these really great things about this movie from critics. ďMagical. Lyrical. Haunting. Poignant. Beautiful. Tragic. A masterpiece.Ē So imagine how excited I was when I found out that I won a free copy of the DVD.

And then imagine my utter disappointment and confusion when I finally sat down to watch the film. Takeshi Kitanoís Dolls is a real bore. There, I said it. Kitanoís triptych on doomed love fails miserably. None of the characters had any depth, the situations contrived and it was all just pointless. All I kept thinking while I was watching the film was ďIs this the same movie everyoneís raving about?Ē I kept checking the box cover and making sure that this was indeed the correct copy of Dolls. ďTakeshi Kitano. Yep. Okay, This is it. So why is it sucking so much?Ē Iím not obtuse. I get it. I just didnít care. The movie was so slooooooooooooow. I don’t bore easily, Iím a patient person, and I love arthouse films, but this film really stunk. There were scenes where literally nothing happens. I had more fun watching the caulk dry around my bathtub than watching this unnecessary, pretentious, and humorless film.

The only saving grace of the film was the pretty cinematography of the Japanese countryside, but those moments of beauty-were too few and far in between. Iíve heard people say the film was dreamlike. Yeah, I agree if they’re talking about a bad dream. It was an ennui filled nightmare, which if I had more sense, should have ended from the get-go. I should have known better because the movie starts out with a bunraku doll performance, which was slow, drawn out, and tedious to watch. Much like the rest of the movie.

I must admit Iím still confused about all the praise itís gotten. But then it occurred to me. The critics have conspired to play an early Aprilís Fool joke on us. Hey, letís get the shittiest, most torturous movie we can find and extol the film as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Weíll see how many people we can sucker into seeing this godawful film and then weíll shout ďAprilís Fool.Ē Good one, guys. Yíall got me real good.

Well, at least I didnít pay for it.

(out of a possible 5)

The Ballad of Jack and Rose

Breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not a Titanic sequel.

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Above: Who’s your daddy?

It’s true that a daughter’s first love is her father. There’s a primal bond there that’s instantly formed at birth that never goes away, but is ultimately replaced by a lover as she grows older. But what happens when a father isolates his daughter from the world so much so that she can only survive on his love exclusively? Written and directed by Rebecca Miller (daughter of the late Arthur Miller), The Ballad of Jack and Rose is an intriguing yet flawed character study of an obsessively intimate relationship between a father and daughter. Continue reading “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”

dot the i

I’ve been on a bit of a lucky streak this week. I won two DVD giveaways ((Being Julia and Dolls), both of which I’ll view and post reviews of at a later date) and I also won tickets for a free advanced screening of dot the i, from which Jeff and I have just returned.

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Oh Gael, where were you during my bachelorette party?

It’s hard for me to review dot the i without spoiling it so I’ll just keep it short and sweet. Carmen (Natalia Verbeke, a visual hybrid of Jennifer Lopez and Monica Bellucci with Penelope Cruz’s voice) has a dark past and is engaged to Barnaby (James D’Arcy), who is wealthy and British. Days before her wedding, Carmen has a “hen party” (read: bachelorette party) where the maitre’d insists it’s tradition for the bride-to-be to engage in one last liplock with a stranger before the big day. Of course, who should come waltzing through the doors, but sexy, struggling Brazilian actor Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal of Amorres Perros and Y tu Mama fame in his English language debut) who’s filming with his buddies. Carmen and Kit kiss passionately, sparks are ignited, and she’s doubting whether or not she should wed Barnaby after all. Kit pursues her, videocamera in tow because he explains “Moments don’t last.” and initially she resists but eventually they’re meeting on the sly. However, this love triangle is more than meets the eye and evolves (or is it devolves) into a thriller halfway into the film.

It was enjoyable. I liked how the director intercut the different video footages. Most of the time we’re seeing the polished footage, sometimes we’re seeing footage from Kit’s handheld camera, and other times we’re seeing grainy footage from an unknown source. And the humor jived with me, especially the references to other movies. The leads were good particularly Bernal (hubba, hubba), but I found I just wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the characters. I know the director wanted to perpetually keep the viewers on their toes. Whatever we thought about the characters in the beginning, wherever we thought the movie was heading, he wanted to prove us wrong. And he did in my case, but I felt the ending was just a tad over the top and a bit ridiculous. Nevertheless, the journey there was an entertaining one.

As a bonus, the writer/director of the film, Matthew Parkhill was at the screening and held a Q & A afterwards. He seemed like a really cool guy. He was a former teacher, having taught English and History for 6 years to bratty rich kids, who always dreamed of making films. On the side, he wrote novels and short stories and in 2000, his script for dot the i got picked up, so he quit teaching and became a filmmaker. So I admire that about him. He’s living his dream now and for a directorial debut, it’s not too shabby. I’d be interested in seeing what he comes up with in his future projects.

As far as the movie goes, it’s a solid romantic thriller that will keep you guessing til the end. I would’ve given it a 2.5, but since I hate the half Pochacco and Matthew Parkhill autographed my program (“To Paet, Best Wishes”) I’ve gotta bump it up to a 3. Did I mention the fact that Matthew Parkhill swore during the Q & A? And that he’s British? Rawrrrrr. That right there deserves the extra half Pochacco.

(out of a possible 5)

I totally promised Matt that I would prostitute his movie for him so here goes. dot the i comes out this Friday, March 25th at the Ken. Restore my faith in the intelligence of the American movie going public and go see it instead of Miss Congeniality 2. Please.

Last Life in the Universe

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A masterpiece from Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang. This film has been compared to Lost in Translation because they share the themes of isolation, loneliness, and despair but I found Last Life in the Universe to be the superior film. Anyhow, Kenji (Asano Tadanobu) is a Japanese expatriate living in Thailand. Heís a librarian with OCD. When heís not filing books or reading in his fastidiously ordered apartment, heís contemplating various ways to commit suicide.

One day, his life is interrupted by his Yakuza brother (played by Takashi Miike) and friend and something terrible happens. Similarly, he meets Noi (the beautiful Sinitta Boonyasack), a native Thai, under a tragic set of circumstances. They are polar opposites. Heís a neat freak while she’s a complete slob. Heís meek and reserved while sheís abrasive and uncouth. He doesnít dance while sheís a pro at the Dance Dance Revolution. He doesnít speak much Thai, and sheís learning Japanese, but sheís not fluent in it either. Somehow though, they manage to get along. Itís touching to see how these two interact and overcome their communication barrier, conversing back and forth between bits of Thai, Japanese, and broken English. And the rest of the movie revolves around their relationship as they come to terms with and gradually realize their own need for love and understanding.

The languid pacing is hypnotic. I found it to be slow but never boring. The cinematography is top notch. Along the way, there are some magical sequences thrown in, which I found to be effective. Watching this film was akin to being in a dream. And you know that feeling you get when youíre in the midst of a good dream, and youíre jarred awake unexpectedly? I felt the same way when the credits rolled. I didnít want it to end. I didnít want to leave these characters. I didnít want to wake up.

Out on DVD now. Go rent it!

(out of a possible 5)

Million Dollar Baby

Deb and I caught this late last night, which caused me to not get enough sleep, which was probably a contributing factor to something stupid I did while driving this morning which caused a blown out tire, a bent-ass auto jack, and collateral damage to a short wall next to my driveway. That’s probably a JesusH post in and of itself, though, so no more about that here.

Not much more about Million Dollar Baby either. If the plot hasn’t been revealed to you yet, you’re doing better than I, who read about much of the third act inadvertantly before seeing it. I hate it when that happens.

This was an excellent movie, and Hilary Swank is the most scary talented and hottest chick in Hollywood. She was great in Boys Don’t Cry, and she was great in M$B too. She’s like the new Sandra Bullock, only with more talent and less Hope Floats.


“Why yes, I’d love to hear more about The Net 2.”

I’m a great fan of Unforgiven and A Perfect World, but after some really awful missteps (spoiler I don’t mind throwing out there: yes, somehow it turned out that Jeff Daniels, the only other guy in the whole plot, was the surprise bumbling-sidekick-who-turns-out-to-be-as-crazy-as-Hunter-Thompson bad guy in Blood Work) not too long ago, Eastwood has made his two best films in a row with Mystic River and M$B. I’m proud of the kid. He’s doing a good job.

(out of a possible 5)

Not Fawning Over Bambi

So I went and bought the newly remastered Bambi yesterday at Best Buy for $15.99 and I got a free stuffed Thumper in the deal. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it and here are my thoughts:

1) It’s really short, which surprised me but in fact turned out to be a blessing.
2) It’s steeped in cuteness. The animals are so ridiculously over the top as far as adorableness, sweetness, and lovable antics are concerned that they could have been playing caricatures of themselves and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. With the doe eyed characters and speech impaired kids’ voices behind them, Bambi makes the comic strip, The Family Circus seem macho in comparison. Yes, the molasses is spread so thickly, that for the first half of the movie, all I wanted to do was down some iodized salt straight from the shaker but I doubt doing so would have been able to counterbalance it, and this is coming from a self-professed Pochacco enthusiast.
3) There’s no plot.
4) What was the deal with Flower? First I thought he was female, then I realized he’s just flamboyantly girly, and at the end, he ends up with a skanky skunk.
5) Thumper was on crack, and ends up with an even hornier rabbit.
6) The much hoopla-ed death of you know who ended up to be underwhelming. For a scene that’s known to have traumatized kids and adults the world over, I found myself emotionally uninvolved. I cried more during the screening of Dude, where’s my car? (but for a different reason.)
7) Bambi’s dad definitely had screen presence. I have respect for “The Great Prince.”
8) The sequence where Bambi and another deer duel for the doe in distress (gotta love the alliteration) was the most electrifying scene in the whole movie.
9) Um, the colors were pretty.
10) In conclusion, Bambi is just another tranquilizing, vomit-inducing, cutefest masquerading as something meaningful and poignant. Proves that just because something’s considered a “classic” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good.

(out of a possible 5)

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Prepare to get your ass kicked and simultaneously witness the emergence of a new martial arts action star. Move over Bruce Lee, watch your back Jackie Chan, Jet Li who? Thatís right. Tony Jaa will kick the shit out of all of you.

This movie is insane. INSANE!!!! (Yes, it deserves that fourth exclamation mark.) Iíve just come back from a showing, and my jaw is still wide opened. The stunts that man can do. He flips, fights, punches, and kicks without the aid of ropes, wires, or CGI, (thatís right folks) and he does it all with gravity defying agility, tenacious ferocity, and superhuman dexterity. It’s all real, hardcore, and exhilirating to watch. Prepare to be AMAZED.

This movie works perfectly as a showcase for Tony Jaaís unbelievable physicality. The plot is simple at best and the acting cringe-worthy, but thatís not the reason to watch this movie. Anyhow, a former villager steals a revered Buddha head from a rural Thai village. The monk who has taken in orphaned Ting (Tony Jaa) and trained him in the art of Muay Thai enlists his help to retrieve the precious amulet and save the village. The villagers pool their money and send Ting to Bangkok where he will literally kick ass for the next 90 minutes. Seriously. Itís pretty much nonstop action from there. The amount of onscreen fighting is ridiculous. He will jump over cars, through coiled barbed wire, and on top of peopleís heads. He will elbow, pound, and kick his way to victory in illegal street fights. He will get set on fire, people, and still manage to get his crazy legged ass-kicking done. He will do things you wonít believe and want to see again, and lucky for you, you will because the movie employs replay editing of the major stunts from different angles. Even the chase scenes are good in this film. Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is the most satisfying martial arts action flick Iíve seen in years. YEARS!!!!

(out of a possible 5)

A Tale of Two Sisters


I just got back from a showing of A Tale of Two Sisters. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the movie except for the fact that it was a Korean horror film and everyone seemed to think it was the bees knees. It’s a psychological horror movie which actually delivers on the scares. It’s about two sisters who return home from a long hospital stay only to be plagued by an evil stepmother and strange happenings during the night. Even though I found the movie to be fairly predictable (twist endings have become so cliched,) there were some genuinely spooky and creepy moments. It was well directed, had good lead performances, some beautiful imagery (check out the wallpaper,) and an effective scary atmosphere with tense pacing. There is just something to be said about scenes that involve doors/curtains/closets or someone looking underneath a bed/sink/dark place. In my mind, I am already visualizing the outcome and am anticipating the scare, but blast my bollocks if my heart doesn’t beat a little faster and I don’t let out a loud yelp and grip the person next to me, when I finally see that hand emerging from within the darkness. I think this may be the scariest movie I’ve seen. Ever. So yeah, go see this movie before they remake it with the Olsen Twins.

As an aside, Jeff and I saw this at the Ken theatre in Kensington. It’s small and old but man, it’s made me fall in love with watching movies in a theatre again. There was not a single person who talked during the movie, no cell phone went off, no crying babies, no obnoxious teens making stupid ass remarks in an attempt to be hip, no crinkly wrappers, no lovebirds pornographically making out, nobody kicking the back of my chair, no armrest wrestling, and no ads or commercials, only previews before the feature. Instead, there we were in the musty, mostly empty theatre taking in this great film. Just makes me feel a curl of pleasure inside.

Sideways

My friend, Julie wanted to see Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. I was driving last night. I dragged her to see Sideways instead. Sideways is the new film from one of my fave directors, Alexander Payne, who made Citizen Ruth, Election, and About Schmidt.

Above: Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) are best friends from San Diego, who experience a weeklong bachelor retreat in wine country before Jack’s wedding. Talks about wine pervade the film while the characters explore relationships and analyze their failed lives. Funnier than Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle.

Here’s my review: It was good. Really fucking good. Go. See. It. Now.

The Grudge

Deb and I saw it tonight, and now I’ve got a grudge against this dumb-ass movie. Why Sam Raimi is known as a lesser master of the horror genre is really beyond me.

Previously, we saw The Forgotten. It was worse, but a much better movie experience–the kind of thing that’s so silly its unintentionally funny.

Anyway, I got stuff to do so that’s all the movie talk for tonight.

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

Phet and I saw Eternal Sunshine For The Spotless Mind last night. I would say that it is one of the best movies I’ve seen in the theater in a very long time, but that would be sort of disingenuous since it’s the only movie I’ve seen in a theater in a long time. Suffice it to say, then, that the movie was very, very good. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was terrific if I wasn’t so damn cynical.

That said, now I have to start defending myself a little bit (last time Phet and I recommended a Charlie Kaufman movie, Being John Malkovich, my parents accused us of being on drugs.) You can pretty much expect when you go to see a Kaufman movie that you are going to be highly disoriented for 1/3 to 1/2 of the film. The narrative is all chopped up and it’s exploring a scenario that’s just as outlandish as that in Malkovich. The thing that I like about Kaufman, though, is that even though he starts all his stories from a little kernel of randomness, he always explores them completely and manages to make them meaningful by the end. I don’t want to give away anything about the story, but suffice it to say that this is basically a movie for couples to see and get all oogy. Single people should just rent Malkovich again to further examine why they’re such losers (I kid, I kid…)

It was sort of a revelation to me that this movie was directed by Michel Gondry, since I had just watched his collection of music videos Phet got me for Christmas last weekend. He did a whole bunch of Bjork videos and the Beck video where the guy carries the car around and some White Stripes videos (including one animated almost entirely out of Legos). He has done some very cool, very mystifying video work, which makes him well cut out for movies like this. There are innumerable little moments in this movie where I couldn’t trust what I was seeing – I could tell it was some sort of effect, but I couldn’t figure out how it worked on first viewing.

Also, the movie has an impressive number of Back to the Future-esque moments where the plot wraps around on itself in interesting ways (“Look! Marty is back at the dance and he sees himself playing the guitar! So clever!”). Phet and I discussed these things quite a bit after the movie last night, and we’re pretty sure that several situations in Eternal didn’t make any actual sense in terms of the overall timeline they followed. That said, we didn’t really mind either way, so there.

So yeah, Phet and I liked it quite a bit. We would wholeheartedly recommend it unless you’re old or don’t get stuff so good.

I give it the near mythical rating of 5/5 Pochaccos because we apparently haven’t given one out since I reviewed Sick a long time ago, and I don’t want our 5 Pochacco-giving-mechanism to get all rusty out of disuse.

MIBATAILIICWYT

I went through a couple of days this week when I was really miserable-sick–not in any grave danger or anything, but with a head packed full of a disgusting viscous fluid and a pressure on my sinuses giving me the worst damned headache. So I was sitting around the house, not really good for anything constructive, and I turned on the TV. What I saw brightened a pretty unhappy day and reminded me of a category of movies I’ll call “Movies I’d Be Ashamed To Admit I Like If I Cared What You Thought” (or MIBATAILIICWYT).
Continue reading “MIBATAILIICWYT”

Review: Underworld

Several times since Friday night I’ve had about half a review for Underworld written, but now I see that the Onion has said almost exactly what I was going to say.

Underworld devotes much of its run time to unspooling an endlessly convoluted mythology, which makes it feel like a prequel to a movie not worth seeing in the first place.

I was looking forward to an escapist superbeing-vs-superbeing movie that didn’t take itself too seriously–like converting one of the old-school Wolfenstein games into a film. Instead, this was fucking awful. The dramatic finale, which appeared to pit the blue Martian senator against a rabid James Woods with bad sideburns, inspired laughter in several moviegoers.


Heroic blue freak versus aged scenery-chewing thespian. And no, smartass, this is not an X-Men review.

Now I’ll have to pin my hopes on Dracula vs. Hitler ever getting made. One Pochacco, and may I never see another Len Wiseman film as long as I live.

Review: “Dummy”

Iíve known Dave a long time, and I think a great way to tell the story of Daveís life would be to recount the series of roommates heís enjoyed over the years. Dave has a storied history of oddball, interesting, and slightly creepy roommates, even if you start after the Scripps Ranch years (joking, Jeff, joking. No please, not the modified Teddy Ruxpin stungun!). Letís see, there was the college roommate who peed in Daveís drawers. There was Terry, who loved to talk about his tricked out Dodge Neon, and followed Dan around offering him coffee. But the most interesting, the most entertaining, and by far the creepiest, had to be Josef.
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Glory

Hey! Jeff Wells just did a great job putting into words the reason I’ve never been all that impressed with Glory, a movie everyone but Dave seems to find really moving:


Has there ever been an emptier, more contemptible finale than the one in GLORY, when the ridiculous willingness of Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and the boys to march like wind-up tin soldiers right into a fusillade of Confederate lead and die a supremely pathetic death was saluted ad infinitum? The glory of being a warrior is in the surviving, for God's sake. Ask any veteran. Read JARHEAD.

Except for the JARHEAD part (here’s the book, but I haven’t read it), this is spot on.

[via Hollywood Elsewhere]

Finding Nemo

Phet and I saw Finding Nemo this evening and enjoyed it very much. We ended up seeing it on the AMC 20’s snazzy DLP screen, wich for an all CG movie is a definite plus.

Nemo was definitely one of the most visually amazing animated movies I’ve ever seen, due in part to the inherent “swooshiness” of CG cameras, but also due to movie’s underwater setting. With gravity largely taken out of the equation, the models are free to zoom around with wild abandon. Pixar takes advantage of the staging to create some incredible visuals.

As to plot, Nemo is basically a road movie starring fish (fish are on journey, fish meet wacky characters, hilarity ensues). I generally think that road movies end up looking really contrived (“We’re stranded in the desert! Whatever will we do? Oh look, a truck!”), but Pixar manages to throw in enough imaginative touches to keep it surprising all the way through. Further, the only “theme songs” in the movie are completely incidental (no KyXy hit singles to be found here), which is a definite plus.

In the final analysis, I thought that Monsters Inc. was just a skosh better (I definitely prefer all Pixar brand animation to Disney’s any day), but Nemo has officially become Phet’s new favorite animated movie. So there.

I would give it 4.5 Pochaccos (out of a scale of 5)

Early Review: The Italian Job (2003)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Mini Cooper, Seth Green, Donald Sutherland

I recently saw an advanced screening of The Italian Job. Originally, I wasn’t going to review this film as I haven’t seen the original and thus felt insufficiently informed to judge its originality and ray-zon-detruh. But then I thought, “Hey, every film geek who reviews this movie is going to have seen the original, but almost nobody who watches it will, so my opinion is actually more valid.” So as a public service, I hereby present the only review of this movie worth reading.
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Y Tu Mama Tambien

We watched y tu mama tambien on Monday night. The movie is subtitled, and there are frequent narrative interludes by some English-speaking guy as well. These always help, as I generally am not a fan of reading my movies, but there’s something really strange about them that I couldn’t put my finger on. I think it has something to do with the audio level changing a couple of seconds before the narrator starts his deal, and not coming back up for a couple of seconds after he shuts up. It’s like they estimated the time it’d take a guy to say his lines–or used the Spanish version as a guideline–and it’s a little off every time.
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The Salton Sea

Deb and I watched The Salton Sea on Saturday. It stars Val Kilmer as a strung-out stool pigeon with extremely fashionable tatoos and green-tinted hair. Whenever I start to think Kilmer’s a real weirdo–which I do from time to time for some reason–I just have to watch a performance like this one. He’s a friggin’ good actor.


Man, I must have been really drunk last night…

I’d characterize this movie as Memento Lite. I don’t want to go into more detail because I’ve decided to try not to do that with movies I think were good, which means I can give you detailed synopses of The Fast and The Furious and AntiTrust, but I’m gonna have to stop here on this one. However, I can tell you that David Elliott, the Union-Tribune’s awful movie critic (Fresh – four stars! Jackie Brown – four stars! The Mimic – four stars, for Christ’s sake! The Fast and The Furious – not so good… only three stars!) gives the movie one and a half stars.

Try it; I think you’ll like it.

pochi.gif pochi.gif pochi.gif pochi.gif (out of a possible 5)