18 September 2009

Extract

Please don't ask me to explain the plot, because I don't think I can. And if I did, it wouldn't sound like a good movie anyway.

Which is far from the truth.

Mike Judge is known for movies with underlying themes or messages, but this one… this one is just funny… and it doesn't have a cause to champion or point to make. It's just Jason Bateman getting himself into quicksand.

There you go.

That's the plot.

16 September 2009

The Pledge

Among my favorite Sean Penn films... this dark masterpiece kept my brain going for hours after it was over.

And it's now 1am and I need to sleep.

Damn you, Penn!!

14 September 2009

9

The world has once again come crashing to an end… war, overpopulation, or devastation of the environment… whatever the cause, my DNA requires that I see yet again, another film about why humanity is or is not worth saving.

In Shane Acker's animation "masterpiece" the question of WHY is never answered… and maybe it's because all that remain are nine little puppets, who lack the cognition to understand the frailties of humanity… after all, they are just golems, created by the Doctor (ironically voiced by Alan Oppenheimer), the last person to die from the ravages of the war.

All of this aside, the film is gorgeous. The art style brilliant. The opening 40 minutes are stronger and smarter than anything you'll see in animation. Sadly, it's the road to a finale that the writer/director can't sew together, that stutters and stops its way through the second half of this otherwise flawless gem.

I want to love it more than I do, but I can't sign off on it 100%. I still recommend it, but it's just not as great as it could have been with just a little better writing.

13 September 2009

How the Earth Was Made

A history channel documentary about the origins of the PHYSICAL earth, with a few discussions about life on the planet. Very interesting and informative. It could have used about 20 more minutes with a little more detail on each EPOCH of the earth... perhaps with those EPOCHS named.

Not the best thing ever made (History Channel is getting worse), but still accurate and intriguing.

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

As part of my quest to watch as many documentaries as humanly possible, this one ranks among some of the best I've ever seen. Watching creationists fall apart on the screen fills my heart with enough glee to power the TV I was watching it on.

A must see on the subject of religion and politics.

The Tale of Despereaux

As a kid growing up in the 70s, I always hated Disney cartoons. First, we didn't get anything new for a long time — we had all these 50s and 60s reject films and nothing that spoke to our generation. Second, they were lame, lame, lame. Singing animals are just about as stupid as it gets.

To give you a timeline, Peter Pan was 1953, Cinderella was 1950, Bambi was 1942, Pinocchio was 1940, and Snow White was 1937! And let's not forget the 1946 classic, Song of the South.

So, for me, Disney was a symbol of the absolutely most wretched and stupid cartoons out there. Bugs Bunny was just as old as Mickey, but 1,000 times smarter and funnier for a kid like me. As a result, I learned to hate and resent fairy tales (never really knowing about the Brother's Grimm until I was much older). But by then, I'd cemented by hate for talking animals and singing nonsense.

There was no such thing as a good cartoon.

Without a good segue, why couldn't something like The Tale of Despereaux be made 30 years ago? Why does god hate anyone born in the 70s.

This cartoon is good on so many levels, I don't know how to review it. As a result, I'm sure it suffered at the box office and mom's hated trying to explain the really complex plot to their ADD-addled 5 year olds, pumped up on sugar-coated nonsense. I don't keep track of box office tallies on children's movies, so I don't know. I'm just speculating. Because if people really liked watching these kinds of stories, we'd never be forced to watch Shrek 3-D or Cars or hakuna matata.

In the first hour of this film there isn't a single flaw. A single bad decision. Not one misunderstanding of genre or story or pacing or art. Just gorgeous, gorgeous brilliance. I watched it on DVD and I didn't pause it once.... I was sucked right in. The rats, mice, humans: all done to perfection of detail. Even the dream sequences, with the alternative art style, just different enough. Fantastic. I even think the knight was inspired by Warhammer.

While it's a fairy tale, and therefore predictable, the story does not follow a normal formula. In fact, by minute 35, the protagonist still doesn't have a "quest" yet, making this more of a comedy of errors, rather than a true fairy tale... which is another reason people might not like it.

My only complaint is so minor, it doesn't even make sense to mention it. But the "charging" vegetable man was silly. There, I said it.

Whew.

Also note, I've not read the books, but the obvious differences from the wikipedia description to the actual movie are immense. And the changes sound like stark improvements.

In an attempt to do research to write this review, I found out things I wish I hadn't and read reviews from people that are apparently very stupid.

Make up your own mind, but go see this film.