June Bugs (And Movies)

23 Movies this month!

Summary: Nikky really likes dark movies this month, and hates Inception.

* = Terrible

** = Had some redeem­ing qual­i­ties, but prob­a­bly would not watch again.

*** = Rec­om­mended movie with some flaws.

**** = Perfection

The Seven Samurai ****

This classic Japanese film is three hours and thirty minutes long, but it doesn’t feel like it until you glance at the clock. This is a tale of honor that is masterfully woven with excellent writing and a brooding cinematic style. Highly recommended.

Taxi Driver **

I didn’t really like this “acclaimed” movie. The plot never really went anywhere, the main character was too unbelievable, and felt rushed at points. I suspect the director tried to do too much, and ended up making a mediocre film despite the outstanding work by Robert DeNiro. His performance, along with a gritty atmosphere, saved this film.

The Silence of the Lambs ***

I suspect this film was made to mainly have an excuse to put the outstanding character of Hannibal Lecter on photographic paper. I never really cared about the plot that much , and it seemed like a distraction from time spent contemplating Lecter and his personality.

Aberdeen ***

A poignant father-daughter movie that sees a highly successful yet personally flawed lawyer team up with her alcoholic Norwegian father. The plot is subtle enough to not insult you with it, and we see how each character is more alike the other than they initially thought. It’s a well-done film, and I’d recommend it.

The Usual Suspects ****

I loved this movie. It was smart, unexpected, and ultimately delightful. The ending was masterful, and the length of the plot perfectly fit the length of the movie. Well done!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ***

From the beginning I was attracted to this movie. The flawed characters that flow throughout the film,  the desolate setting, and the quirky plot all added up to an entertaining time that delivered exactly what it promised to. It didn’t have a larger point, and it didn’t pretend to have a larger one.

Gentlemen Broncos (See Below)

I’m torn about this movie. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the pulp Sci-Fi that this movie targets, and I was amused by the cheap Sci-Fi plot that poked fun at all of these literary traditions that came before it. Yet the plot felt like it was trying too hard to be different. Instead of focusing on the one or two unique parts of this plot, instead weird elements were added that detracted from the meat and bones of this story. The campy Sci-Fi part of the movie was amazing, and could have probably saved the movie if it were 80%+ of the film. Clement played a masterful performance in his role as a well-known yet aging author. What ultimately brought this film down, however, was the “real world” part that involved the filmmaker, the author’s relationship with the female, and his mother. They were weird, made no sense, and didn’t fit in at all.

Campy Sci-Fi plot: ****

Rest of the movie: **

Schindler’s List ****

Yes, I did wait until this year to watch this movie. Yes, the wait was worth it. Yes, I was emotionally wrung and had lost faith in humanity before temporarily regaining it again.

Scarface **

After hearing quotes from this movie sampled in just about every piece of modern music, I gave up and watched Scarface. It was violent, tense, and ultimately a bit better than most other gangster movies I’ve seen. A solid two stars. I’d recommend that everyone watch this for the cultural references , but not if you’re looking for an intellectual or thought-provoking film.

Paths of Glory ****

A Kubrick masterpiece that takes place on the front lines of World War I. Strongly anti-war, this was a visually compelling film with a plot to match.

Super 8 **

This film doesn’t really do anything new or exciting. I liked how it was told from the viewpoint of observers who didn’t know much more about the plot than you do, and they managed to make it as a “kid character” movie without resorting to cutsey action or lame jokes. But the symbolism was too blatant and sloppily done, the plot was nothing outstanding, and ultimately is a fun film for what it is. But perhaps the most critical flaw is that there’s nothing that makes me want to see it again.

The Royal Tenenbaums ***

I loved this dysfunctional family, the dysfunctional characters, and the dysfunctional relationships. Perhaps all of these are tied to my own dysfunctional life, but I related to these people and felt their angst. The humor was dry and subtle, and the plot was engaging enough. Like most of Anderson’s films, I usually rate them an initial three stars and then upgrade it as I watch them over again.

The Red and the White (Csillagosok, katona’k) **

Based in Hungary during the Russian Revolution, I think this film was attempting to show the chaos and savage brutality that wars bring. But I’m not sure. I’ll attribute the loose plot and lack of characters due to the filmmaker’s decision to use that as an element to reflect the nature of war.

Rushmore **

This film had its moments, but ultimately the main character was too predictable, the plot didn’t really go anywhere, and while the premise was good enough, it went on for far too long.

Public Enemies **

A rough and tumble 1930s gangster movie. Violence, guns, and tough guys: jackpot. I have a weak spot for these sorts of films, and this was a very representative example of the genre. Nothing too outstanding, but nothing too terrible either. It’s worth a watch, I’d say, and I’m glad I saw it.

Death at a Funeral ***

Extremely dry British humor and a plot that managed to not fall apart despite all indications to the contrary. Enjoyable and manages to make a funeral hilarious.

Akira ***

I watched this because everyone and their mother are saying how amazing this film was. Despite being very, very, very, weird, it was an interesting movie. If you’re looking for some solid early Japanese anime, and a plot to match, this is a film for you. However, it was not without flaws. There were weird cuts throughout the film that left me scratching my head, and the ending was rather abrupt after a huge build up to the final confrontation.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil ***

This is almost exactly like This is Spinal Tap, except it’s real. And is following a group of aging rockers who almost made it big, but never quite did. A poignant story that has you rooting for these sincere guys as they try and give it another go in the music arena.

The Devil’s Backbone **

Del Toro didn’t really do anything remarkable in this movie. The characters were not especially exciting, and they often acted in weird ways that had me going “hunh?” and “what?” every few scenes. Still, the setting is hauntingly desolate, and the unexploded bomb fits nicely into the film. This is a director who can at least try and hide symbolism and assumes his viewers aren’t complete dolts.

Once Upon a Time in the West **

This spaghetti western constantly appears in the “best of” lists for the genre and movies at a whole. It was certainly good enough, but I felt never really broke the mold from any other western. If you haven’t seen a spaghetti western before, this wouldn’t be my recommendation; I’d stick with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Sunset Boulevard ****

A stunning and ultimately unsettling noir that shows us the mental instability of a former silent film star who faded into obscurity before stumbling upon a young writer in need of a wealthy patron. This is a truly dark film that I would recommend to anyone looking for this style of movie.

Inception *

Despite my misgivings, I gave in and watched Inception. Quite frankly, this movie insulted me. It’s an action and explosion movie that tries, and fails, to be cerebral. The plot is razor thin (they’re supposed to be breaking up a company to help stop a monopoly or something?), and the dream device is used to cover for huge plot holes by “going deeper.” Frequently throughout this movie I was going “hunh? what? why did he do that?” in regards to the actions of the characters: as they were acting illogically and in often unexplained ways. Perhaps Nolan had some grand plot that explained these actions, but we never saw them. Instead, we were too busy being bludgeoned over the head with constant cuts to remind us that there were layers of dreams. The “twists” weren’t twists at all if you were paying half attention to the overused symbolism and foreshadowing that were piled on thick and heavy. This movie was so action oriented, every other salient plot was glazed over and ultimately either neglected, buried, or briefly hinted at.

Inception was a mediocre action movie at best. I hesitate to even classify it as a sci-fi, but I think that’s the other genre it was trying to hit. This film combined concepts from The Matrix and Memento, took out all the good parts, added oddly behaving characters, spent far too much on special effects, and had the plot of a middle school play.


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