12 April 2008

There Will Be Blood

Went to a small "arthaus" to see this movie again.

Still great.

Although I didn't like the transition from son comes home to son gets married to son has final talk with dad.

Felt forced.

No other complaints.

Daniel Day Lewis is fantastic.

09 April 2008

Goonies

I don't remember hating this film as a kid, but I do now.

Too many kids talking all at once. Too much screaming. Too much of the same dumb jokes over and over again.

Here's a short list of people who got started in this film.
Sean Astin
Josh Brolin
Robert Davi
Corey Feldman
Joe Pantoliano
Martha Plimpton

Let us not forget Short Round (no time for love, dr. jones) from Indiana II reprising his racist role as an Asian who can't speakly goodly engrish.

Thankfully, there's talk of a sequel.

(I miss having good movies to review)

07 April 2008

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)

Unlike the Good Shepherd, this film has a point, a tone, a direction, and the kind of nuance that only Europeans capture really well. And what's amazing about this movie is that it's a German, reflecting shattered portions of the human soul, lost during a time of socialist overlords in Eastern Germany.

Also mocking the Good Shepherd for its inability to capture the tension of the Cold War, this movie revels in the oppressive nature of the time. It's fantastically engrossing, rife with human drama, and Ulrich Mühe plays the stoicism and quiet reflection of his post a million times better than Damon does in Shepherd.

While the film never grows out of the confines of the small apartment that Ulrich spies on (which I think is the point) -- and therefore never tackles the big picture that Shepherd does (hell, the Berlin Wall falls "on the radio") -- it nevertheless covers the human spirit on both an existential (suicide of Albert Jerska) and a spiritual level (a Sonata for a Good Man).

And, in typical European fashion, the villains of this film do NOT conveniently get what's coming to them, simply because Act Three is coming to an end.

I don't have a good ending for this review, so I'll merely tell you to go see it.

The Good Shepherd

Eric Roth has written a lot of good movies. Never great ones. But certainly good ones. Munich and Postman being among my favorites. And De Niro is a fantastic director (shockingly).

Matt Damon is perfectly cast and William Hurt is a fantastic foil to everything good and decent about the CIA (insert snickers). Billy Crudup is given a weird British accent (why?) and Joe Pesci makes a tiny cameo near the end. The son (Eddie Redmayne) is excellently cast to both match the acting and looks of the six-year Edward, Jr. (played by Tommy Nelson). Finally, John Turturro is high on the list of overlooked actors and he's just so strong in this movie.

Paralleling the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs, and (through flashbacks) post-WWII England and Europe, the film paints a very gray and murky view of the following real events/organizations.
  • The creation of the CIA
  • The Skull and Bones society
  • The importance of Yale in the "Freedom" of the American landscape
  • Tailors and their front for espionage activity (nice touches)
  • Russians are jerks
The characters range from interesting to very real to cardboard (Jolie comes to mind).

What this film fails to do is create suspense, of any kind, which deadens the blows that come throughout the film. It is, merely, 167 minutes of revelations... even the final one of which is telegraphed.

Alec Baldwin is wasted in the film.

Jolie is hardly in the film and it's hard to feel bad about her relationship with Damon, because nothing is ever built there.

My final complaint about this movie is that it's good, but never great. Too many quality actors are brought together to make a movie that never really says anything or does anything. I want to like it more, but I can't. It's certainly a must-add to your netflix queue, belongs around number 70-100 instead of the top.

Lethal Weapon 3

In an attempt to watch the entirety of this series in order of worst to not so worst, I took time out to witness the only lethal weapon co-scribed by Princess Leia. Not to mention, butchered and mauled by Joe Pesci, Mel Gibson, and the once great Rene Russo.

So.

Let's ignore all that and just get straight to the bad.
  • The cops know the identity of the villain with 30 minutes, yet lack the resources to find his house.
  • Dirty cops are more interesting than dirty diplomats (see Lethal Weapon Two).
  • Gibson's dog never appears in the film, but a replacement mutt does.
  • Gibson eats dog biscuits, conveniently announced 20 minutes before encountering the aforementioned replacement mutt.
  • Let's see. The family is barely in this one. Although Glover's son is in it long enough to hang with a gang-banger named Darryl, who was once a good kid. Or something.
  • Darryl hits Mel with a 2x4 which renders him "woozy"... conveniently so Glover can shoot the kid seconds later. The writers and director apparently failed to notice (or be involved with) any of the previous films where Riggs is impervious to blunt trauma, less than six bullets, normal attacks with knives or spoons, and sunlight.
  • A black man who owns a burger shop and has known Murtaugh for 20+ years is introduced in the second sequel (good writing, guys) and apparently let's Glover behind the counter to spank his meat. Not as dirty or interesting as it sounds.
  • Armor-piercing ammo is affectionately called "Cop Killers" just in case the audience is stupid too to know what the words ARMOR or PIERCING mean.
  • This term is used again during the final moments of the film when Danny Glover tosses a home-made Mac-10 to Mel Gibson so he can finish off the villain.
  • Which wasn't enough, because he skids his bulldozer to a halt (which moves so fast, Mel can't get out of the way), but then comes to a stop so that Mel can hit the "shifter" which drives the bleeding and dying bad guy right into the flaming construction site.
  • Oh. Did I fail to mention that the bad guys are in the high desert again (did you not see Lethal Weapon One)?
  • Oh yeah. The movie opens with a big building exploding. Because it's 1977 and exploding buildings are cool.