06 July 2007

Vanishing Point

I hadn't seen this since I was a kid. And since I love any movie with fast cars, I had to watch this one again.

It was good, but not great. The whole trip through the desert was there to kill time. Nothing more.

It moves so fluidly until then.

And the ending is perplexing. They don't really explain WHY it ends that way. And there's not enough meat on the movie for you to formulate an explanation of your own, either.

Still a good ride.

04 July 2007

13th Warrior

My wife had never seen this movie before.

It's absolutely fantastic. One of my favorite movies.

Not a single sissy moment in the whole movie.

This movie's balls drag on the ground.

03 July 2007

Kung Fu Hustle

Put this on your top ten list of Kung Fu movies. Stephan Chow is a brilliant writer/director/producer.

Not a single unentertaining moment. Even the SAPPY stuff is good.

How does he do it?

Transformers

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

It's 1AM on Tuesday. The movie came out 2 days early. Not sure why.

Anyway. I got to see the 8 PM showing of the movie most kids waited 20 years for.

Let me start by saying I was a GI Joe fan as a kid and I had passing interaction with the Transformers craze. I know the characters and that's about it. But, I was really really really excited about this one.

Stupid me.

This film is so good and so bad at the same time... the effects are amazing and the movie goes by quickly. Sadly, you can see Speilberg's AND Michael Bay's stink links all over it... and all at the same time. The main actor (Shia LaBeouf) steals (and carries) all 2.5 hours of this film, even when Turturo and Voight are choking on the ass gas emanating from Bay's poor direction and inability to rewrite crappy dialog.

You know... considering Turturo's career is almost over as an actor, he should probably reconsider these sorts of poorly thought out and poorly executed characters.

Just a suggestion.

The number of Bay/Bruckheimer stereotypes going on inside the GOVERNMENT in this film made me think I was watching Enemy of the State (directed by Tony Scott, but certainly with a little Bruckheimer-Devil on his shoulder twisting Scott's vision, much the way he twisted Bay into a D-class director).

But I digress.

The film opens chaotically, but fairly. In no time, we are pushed from character to character, trying to make sense of the ADD-riddled non-sense that Bay calls a scene. He can neither point a camera, nor direct an actor. What exactly was his function on this film?

Soon enough, we learn that there are ROBOTS on the planet, but we don't know why yet.

Mystery is good. That's fine. Continue.

Sadly, the mystery is blown in a ubiquitous exposition scene and the rest of the film is just masturbation.

So. Without talking ad nauseum about the story, let's talk about the film's vapidness.

The Decepticons don't get any screen time except when it's time to fight and I have no idea who any of them are, indicating the production team's "inexperience" with special effects. And when the Autobots get screentime, they either can't talk (Bumblebee for instance), are ghetto (Jazz is black so all the negro children will buy his toy), or are bumbling idiots (everyone else but Optimus Prime). Making me think that perhaps no one that made this film was ever a child.

And apparently neither ILM or Speilberg has ever made a film with robots in them.

The Decepticons are nothing more than "bad guys" with no motivation, no dialog, and no names. A piece of information so evident that apparently at hour 1.9, someone in the editing room said... um... we should put their name on the screen as the Deux ex Machina rolls out for Act III.

Of course, there's plenty of sappiness in the film, too. The set-up for the finale is so obvious, I don't know what to say. If you don't see it coming, you need to return your brain for repair. And since no real emotion can emanate from the film, all you get are disingenuous feelings from everyone except Sam. So many human characters get shotgunned at the screen, so quickly, I don't recall a single name in the movie, BUT SAM... and you certainly don't care about anyone but Sam (not even his parents or his girl).

Having considerably grown up since working on HOLES -- when Prime and the rest of the "cast" introduce themselves to Sam, asking about magic glasses (god, I wish I were making that up), they all take on really insipid 10-year old marketing antics -- Shia must have felt right at home with the immature and insecure character "introduction" with annoying sickly and saccharine nicknames.

"I'm Jazz, because I like Jazz. I'm Tugboat, because my ass is fat. I'm X-Ray because I've got one eye. I'm stinky, because... I stink. I'm Michael Bay, because I'm a tool."

So many moments when you were supposed to be on your feet cheering, the film is merely "ho-hum." Bay misses every important emotional beat. Either because he can't focus what the movie is supposed to be about, because he can't choose what tone to give the film (it literally flips every 10 minues), or because the graphics and fight scenes are pretty much the same over and over... with no mounting tension. Every robot moves the same way and they all dodge bad guys the same way.

Does Bay know what a storyboard is?

Hell. Megatron is supposed to be the BAD GUY of the film and he gets ONE mention an hour into the movie by Optimus Prime and then we don't see him until hour TWO. At which point he utters five barely memorable lines and battles Optimus Prime in the same tired melee you've seen five previous times in the film between two other clumps of CGI.

Frankly, I'm confused as to why I said this film was good. It was enjoyable, but it barely qualifies as a movie. It has sounds and lights and noise that comes out of things that scream and bleed, but that's about it. There's no real cohesion and nothing resembling quality.

It's like a bag full of moist crap and everyone is marveling at the moisture.

The only true satisfaction I derived from this film came, when the first DECEPTICON (I think it was Soundwave or Buzzsaw or whoever the Helicopter is... yeah the movie was the inarticulate about it's content) came on the screen and transformed.

My wife grew up in South Korea and didn't come to the states until 1989, well-past the expiration on Transformer's fandom. So. She knew nothing of what was coming.

Nothing.

And her surprise and excitement was well-worth the price of admission.

So.

My advice to you.

Take a retard or caveman with you, so you can watch him enjoy the film.

02 July 2007

Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

ANOTHER DOCUMENTARY

I'm on information overload.

Just over an hour. Well worth the time.

Highly enjoyable.

I'll be seeing Transformers in a few hours. So that'll settle this a bit.

McLibel

Another in a series of documentaries showing small people fighting against the greater power.

Fascinating.
Using carefully reenacted courtroom scenes, director Franny Armstrong brings the other trial of the century to life, chronicling the world-famous libel suit brought by fast-food franchise McDonald's against British activists Helen Steel and Dave Morris. Far from focusing on hamburgers and fries, this fascinating documentary tells the story of two ordinary folks who endure a Big Mac attack of epic proportions -- just for asking a simple question.
To read more, please see this site.

Goes well with Super-Size Me and Fast Food Nation.

01 July 2007

Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man

Part even-handed, part defense for Ralph Nader, this documentary reveals all of the important federal laws in the America that Nader initiated and helped pass in the U.S. up until 1978 and then proceeds to leap forward to 2000 where the film defends Nader's decision to run despite the damage it did to the democratic party and to the world at large by putting Bush in office.

Strong information. Important. But overly, lots of sour grapes on all sides.

3.5 out of 5.

Sicko

Michael Moore returns to "documentary" film making with this treatment on HMOs, a long-await conflagration of America's more corrupt industry. Moore visits FOUR other countries with UNIVERSAL Health Care and demonstrates just how bad America has it... including several "helpers" after 9/11 who have been refused healthcare despite their ailments.

Once again Moore makes himself look stupid, while still evoking sentiment and raising important questions. While not as misleading as his two previous endeavors, I doubt he will ever make a documentary as skillfully as THE BIG ONE ever again.

This is good. Notworthy. But not great.

The first 10 minutes are particularly poor. But the finish is amazing.

Love Actually

Viewing #10.

Just the most perfect romantic comedy ever.

Lots of actors. Some great cameos. Amazing stories and drama.

I'm not sure what else to say about... one of my favorite movie scenes of all-time is in the Wisconsin Bar with "Colin Frissell."

Hugh Grant has some great stuff as well.

Liam Neeson too.

And Laura Linney is a frickin' chameleon.

And the finale with Colin Firth in Marseilles. Perfect.

The writer/director knows people and he knows how to spin a story.

And of course... ensemble cast... of course I'd love it.

Ratatoiulle

Brad Bird can do no wrong. Another hit in my opinion. Iron Giant is still my favorite of his films, but that doesn't stop him from making great stuff.

There are moments in this film (that most people will miss I'm sure), where the Rat has more emotion in his face than any Shrek piece of crap.

And no big name voices.

No Tom Hanks level names anyway.

Pixar understands the value of a good screenplay and they understand how to pace an action sequence. They obviously could have made this movie simplier and easier (ala Cars), but they chose lush, textured story stuff... and there are some great surprises.

Excellent movie.