03 January 2009

Yes Man

Even a bad Jim Carrey movie is funny. While it's rarely said, Jim Carrey has some fantastic understated charm in the way he handles the "little" details of a movie. The way he says a particular line, how he moves his hands or his face. He has more than one trick up his sleeve. Though known for being grandiose and over the top, it's Carrey's heart that breaks-through into the tiny moments of pure genius that make the dreadful Zooey Deschanel (his co-star in this movie) interesting.

Luckily, the movie isn't that bad and there are some really good laugh outloud moments.

Sadly, the film is not ground-breaking or even close to Carrey's best work. It is however, a million times better than anything Judd Apatow could make.

So. Here here!

Quick Change

Among the best comedies ever. That is all I need to say.

Smart People

Everyone is too smart for their own good, but emotionally damaged. Great casting, good acting, great location, mediocre script.

Thomas Hayden Church steals the movie, but sadly doesn't get as much screen time as Dennis Quaid (who is also very good).

Nothing memorable, although the special features on the DVD are good.

Just Friends

This was funnier the second time, but the ending is still clumsy.

It's not anyone's fault but the people involved in making the film.

02 January 2009

The Wrestler

Easily, the best movie of 2008.

No contest.

This movie was made for me.

Darren Aronofsky is magical as a director. He just gets it. And this movie is about as accurate a portrayal of small-time wrestling as it could be. As a fan of the documentaries that OBVIOUSLY inspired this film, I can see everything in it, done with the greatest of care.

Obviously, events are compressed to increase dramatic tension, but the characters the events are drawn from are well-known. Hogan, Roberts, Savage, Lex Lugor. And Mickey Rourke is just perfect in this film, emulating the wrestler who has fallen so far from glory. Man. I need to go see this again.

Marisa Tomei is another "perfect" fit, being able to do just about anything. Seriously. All I could think is, she's a stripper in this one, huh? Yeah. Okay. I buy that. She's a freaking chameleon.

I'm not going to break it down, any more than that. The film is perfect. Seriously. Dead on, balls to the wall, unflinchingly perfect.

Why are you still reading this?

Gates of Heaven

Another documentary by Errol Morris, this time about funeral parlors for pets.

That's right.

Filmed in 1978, this one is… well… different. Watching it, you get a real sense of who Errol Morris is as a person. How he must be so patient and understanding of others.

There's a little rant by a crazy lady in the middle that I had to watch twice to understand why it's in there.

I'll let you figure it out. Very very strange.

Valkyrie

Brian Singer may be among the most flawless director's ever, but because of his penchant for off-beat material, he may never get the accolades he deserves. Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil are fantastic and even Superman Returns inspires me, a cynic about the character. Sadly, Singer's gifts as a director also work against him here. Because what should be a gritty thriller filled with complicated and conflicted characters, is more like the glossy Richard III released in 1995 (minus of course the brilliant screenplay behind Richard III). Additionally, Singer does a fantastic job of making each character "unique," there is little to no growth in any one of them.

All that said, the movie is really good. It's not a masterpiece, but it's smart and expertly explores the inner-workings of Nazi Germany. The Wolf's Lair was expertly recreated. What I found greatest about this film, however, was how it explored such a small event in Nazi Germany history, in terms of time, but such an important event in the scope of the war — which, ironically, has never been addressed in movies before as far as I know.

Everyone is superbly cast. Even Hitler, played by nobody character actor David Bamber (I had to look him up), was just brilliant in the role. He said more with his eyes then with his dialog.

Better than Seven Pounds and Frost/Nixon, to be sure.

Thin Blue Line

Considered by some to be the most important and best documentary ever made. Errol Morris is brilliant.

A must see.

That is all.

30 December 2008

The Spirit

Um.

Er.

Wow?

I'm not really sure what to say here. Seriously. Out of my element. I want to love it. But… it's no Sin City.

I love Frank Miller. Love. But, as a movie director, he's still chipping his teeth. Not having ever read any of the comics and only knowing of it loosely, as a comics fan, I'm not really able to speak to the authenticity of it all. The movie is being panned, but I think some of the dry dialog is purposeful… albeit heavy at times.

Miller is a pervert, to be sure.

Frost/Nixon

Ron Howard wants to be Gus Van Sant.

Frank Langella steals the film.

This review says it a lot better than I can.

Not my favorite movie of the year.

Gran Turino

I was most excited about this movie over anything coming out this year. Clint Eastwood is among my favorite directors and even when he's sloppy, he's still good. Which is good, because this film is a little sloppy.

Drawing up the acting chops of Million Dollar Baby, Clint casts himself again as the aging curmudgeon, only this time he's a Korean War veteran and an ex-Ford factory employee with a penchant for doing things NOW and CORRECTLY.

Oh. And he's a racist. An extreme racist.

The character. Not Eastwood.

The movie clumsily explores the relationships between white neighbor and Mong (a overly-explained subsect of Chinese) neighborhood.

The movie is predictable for about 90% of the time, but the surprises are good. The action is clumsy and awkward, almost like they didn't review the film or didn't do more than one take of anything… unless Clint was doing something… which always seemed deliberate and focused.

Direction-wise, the Awakening destroys this film. Story-wise, this is a stronger movie… for my taste anyways.

Seven Pounds

Five movies in four days.

And here they come.

Good. Not great. But who can tell. The people in this theatre wouldn't shut up. It was a noise convention and everyone wanted to see me some chatter. Seriously. One guy was wearing one of those self-important ear phones… but gladly never got a call.

Never go to the Edwards 26 in North Long Beach. Never.

Where was I?

I did not see the Pursuit of Happyness, the director's previous work, but I suspect it has an equal level of heavy-handedness in it. The movie is not rubber hammered into you, like a Speilberg film, but it does have a few moments where the director could have been more delicate with things.

Will Smith's range of facial expressions in this movie is unreal. Seriously. Seriously good. The rest of the cast is okay, with the exception of Barry Pepper, who has the hardest role of all. He's the best friend who receives what can only be described as the worst news ever. Ugh. Gut-wrenching.

While the ending is not a secret — you figure it out pretty quickly — and perhaps not supposed to be, it is damn powerful. Seriously good stuff.