21 December 2007

I Am Legend

End of the World.

Excellent production value.

Smart script.

Go see this movie.

19 December 2007

Dogville

Third viewing of one of the best movies ever made.

My highest recommendation.

How Nicole Kidman endured the filming of this movie is beyond me.

Wow. Just... wow.

Bender's Big Score

While I doubt that Fox will ever admit that it does NOT understand it's fan-base, Futurama is back in EPIC form with 1 of 4 new full-lengths stories, starting with Bender's Big Score.

And damn is this one good.

You can tell the writing team went all out on this one. There are so many in-jokes and references to previous episodes. If you're not a fan of the show, just sit back and laugh when everyone else is, because you will not get it until someone draws you a flow chart diagram.

The story also involves TONS of time-travel nonsense, probably mocking Star Trek.

16 December 2007

Yo-Yo Girl Cop

How the Japanese have gotten so bad at movie-making I will never know. Their exploitation films are boring, their over-the-top action films are stifled with bad scripts, and their dramas are long in the tooth. Only their horror movies are any good, but those seem to get remade in the states every other weekend.

The country that made Seven Samurai should probably be perfecting their craft, instead of reflecting the ridiculous nature of their culture on a giant magnifying mirror for the whole world to see. Only in Japan, would a mass-suicide movie even be feasible and only in Japan would people stand within 15 feet of someone with a bomb strapped to their chest.

Yo-Yo Girl could have been absolute fun, silly, schlock. Instead, it's masturbatory and epileptic. You can cut out 40% of this movie and just watch the main character kick ass and tell people to go to hell. But even with 40% cut out, you'd still have to hear page after page of exposition from the addled fingers of an amateur screen-writer.

And in typical low-budget style, the subtitles get worse and worse as the film goes on, until someone says, "Ow. You got me." when they probably meant to say, "My arm. You bit me."

When Yo-Yo Girl Cop (Saki) finally starts kicking ass, it's too late. I'm already looking for the next film in my queue. And I'm still confused why three different people think her name is interesting?!!?

If you liked Battle Royale or VS, you might like this. But it's no guarantee.

The costume change at T-minus 15 minutes is hilarious.

Astronaut Farmer

Good at times.

Never great.

Lots of awful dialog.

The Polish Brothers are much better filmmakers than this.

Lots of good performances, but not much else. Everyone feels restrained by the script except Thorton, Willis, and the two little girls.

Not masterful. At all.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

SOME SPOILERS

A lot of people are reviewing this movie and pointing at the dysfunction of the family, which I think is missing a lot of the value of this film.

First off, let me just say that the two words "little brother" in Scene 4 literally strip tension from the next 15 minutes of the movie.

Second, while the impact of family is obvious, there's very little "love" in an early scenes between the characters, so we are forced to rebuild the family structure through the backward storytelling of the film.

Third, Noir is Noir. And this film lacks the dark colors of noir, but maintains the fatalism of characters caught in their own vicious circles of immorality and recidivism.

Lastly, the family in this film is very quickly torn apart and two of the family members are not allowed to sew together their performances because the movie ends abruptly and awkwardly. It's almost as though, Marisa Tomei is some awkwardly placed silverware on a fine table. She's denied any chance to pull her entire performance together with one BIG clean jerk of the table cloth.

I was impressed with her luggage scene though. The claustrophobic nature of the apartment and the clumsy manner in which she exits is perfect for a guy like me. I love it when things aren't perfect.

And Ethan Hawke just runs off camera at the end (although, on some level that's appropriate) and he's one of the few characters we really love in the film. His performance is incredible, however. Extremely compelling and sympathetic.

Albert Finney is among my favorite actors in any movies (The Browning Version is particularly brilliant), but his age is catching up with him and he drags through the movie, much like Tomei, but this time unintentionally.

Lastly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman proves why he's one of the best actors in Hollywood. And sadly, this performance will probably go unnoticed.

There's a scene where he's in the car with Tomei and he begins to rant and cry so powerfully, I honestly believe that Tomei was NOT acting in her response to his performance.

It's that good.

Maybe one of the best single performances ever.

This movie deserves a lot of mention. It's good. Very good. But not perfect. And not Lumet's best work.

But it's artful and real and appropriate. It does not dangle useless carrots before the viewer and it never laughs at itself. But it is a little repetitive and the mother is just a side-note, rather than a real figure in this strikingly tense and operatic film about "family."

Juno

Really smart film. Lots of interesting and unexpected plot twists. Wonderfully directed and acted. Smart. Smart writing.

The Chinese girl standing by herself in front of the abortion clinic saying, "Your baby wants to be born," was particularly smart, without being preachy or awkward (unlike the incredible, but disturbed discussions in Palindromes).

Ellen Page (from Hard Candy) is the next great thing. She's fantastic. And Michael Cera (from Arrested Development and Bad Ass) plays wimpy without playing sissy. Very clever. He should fear typecasting soon, though.

I think every scene was exactly what it was supposed to be, but I could have used more scenes with Juno and her father. Speaking of...

J. K. Simmons proves he's among the best character actors around. I cannot get enough of him. Brilliant. You feel as though no one can write dialog for him; that he just needs to get it out.

ASIDE: Jason Bateman always entertains and Olivia Thirlby is going places.