07 February 2009

Sword of the Stranger

I love samurai tales. Having written several books about feudal Japan, I go out of my way for a good samurai story.

Without giving too much away, the Stranger (no name, Nanashi) must overcome his own personal demons while simultaneously protecting a young boy and watching as the world crashes down around him (literally). There are so many plot threads going, I just about wet myself. Sadly, I had to once again see this movie at the Long Beach Edwards 26 where audience members were as polite as say… someone taking a phonecall during Schindler's list.

Seriously.

The film was good. I hope it comes to video. Great animation. Good characters and story. And no, there's no Big Eyes Small Mouth going on.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

Another Errol Morris documentary, this time interviewing Robert S. McNamara for nearly two hours, while also doing the typical Morris background research into the events of the time and splicing together some really smart historic footage.

A little slow at times, this is as good as any of modern Morris documentary and certainly a must-see for history buffs or foreign policy aficionados.

Step Brothers

Whew.

Finally something I can laugh at.

I've reviewed this before, but I can't mention enough how this movie is so much better than Talledega Nights.

Surprisingly hilarious.

The Marine

Needing a respite from deep movies, let me just say John Cena's acting was only worsened by the dialog that he was asked to say in this mind-numbingly, vapid, explosive "action" film. I use the term action loosely here, because action movies are supposed to ramp up the creativity and tension as the film progresses.

But.

In The Marine, John Cena leaps from an exploding building and/or car, not once, not twice, not three times… no… not even four times. But a quintet of EXPLODING buildings with John Cena being thrown from the building carry this 93-minute sleep-walk of a script from concept to fiery death sentence.

I knew going in it would be bad. I knew it would be stupid. And I knew it would lack any shred of IQ. But who knew that someone would crap into my sandwich before topping it off with olives, mushrooms, and retard.

Robert Patrick (of Terminator 2 fame) carries most of the film with his crazy and often creative one-liners. There's even a T2 joke in there. Might be worth the 99-cent rental fee. If you pay more than that, though… well… you know.

Reservation Road

Jennifer Connelly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Mark Ruffalo go through a maze of emotions over the conflicted and difficult threads that weave through this film about the loss of a child.

Not easy to watch at times, it does skip a few beats here and there as the director realizes he can't keep beating up the audience forever.

The movie stops being powerful about 3/4 of the way through. Definitely worth a watch, but it won't top your movie list, to be sure.

Not to be confused with Revolutionary Road.

Renaissance

I've seen this before, but it's been a while, so the re-viewing was well-worth it.

If you haven't heard of it, it's a futuristic animated movie done in black and white — stark line work, not grayscale.

Fantastic. Gorgeous. All British actors, but I'm sure Montreal or French animation.

Daniel Craig is the voice of the lead actor, in what is very much a better version of Blade Runner… in my opinion. Let the nerds strike me down for that apocryphal comment.