September Film Comeback

Between getting ready for Scandinavia, the actual trip, and the fact that I lack a TV, movie going was slow.

* = Terrible

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

*** = Rec­om­mended movie with some flaws.

**** = Perfection

American Psycho **

It was a fun movie to watch, but it didn’t seem really complete to me. Bale’s performance seemed to mirror a bad Jim Carrey movie, and that ruined a lot of it for me down the line as he was just too unbelievable. Feel free to mock me for this opinion.

Sin City ***

This movie was a perfect replica of the Sin City comics. Almost too perfect, I think. What works well on the comic doesn’t translate to film, and I feel like they could have done a lot better by straying from the comics just a bit in order to make it more film friendly. That being said, the atmosphere, casting, and cinematography were all amazing.

Adam **

A quirky movie that’s good enough when you’re at 35,000 feet. A lot of plot points were never really explored despite the fact that they kept reappearing throughout the film, and the ending seemed a little too rushed: it was almost like in editing they suddenly decided “WHELP TIME TO END THE MOVIE NOW” and just cut everything else out between their current progress and the end credits.

Blade Runner ****

I’ve seen this before, but since I watched it in Blu-Ray goodness last month, I figured I’d review it. This is one of my favorite movies. The techno-noir mood is perfect, and this is an action movie that doesn’t feel like an action movie. There are few better things than curling up to a dark room with Blade Runner playing on the screen.

 

Beware the Movies of March

* = Terrible

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

*** = Recommended movie with some flaws.

**** = Perfection

The Big Lebowski ***

Better than I was led to believe by many, I found this an entertaining that owes a large part of its success to the outstanding acting of Jeff Bridges.

M ***

One of the first “talkie” crime movies, this German film by Fritz Lang is also notable for being one of the first major roles of Peter Lorre. The cinematography is outstanding, and the psychological thriller plot is engaging. I would highly recommend this movie for many reasons, but it avoids the fourth star with parts that seem to be unintentionally comedic in an otherwise serious movie.

The Parking Lot Movie ****

A poignant and occasionally hilarious documentary about a group of parking lot attendants in a college town, you’ll learn a lot about humanity from this movie without even realising it.

Watchmen **

Another name for this film could be “costumed individuals with no super powers do morally questionable things.” After being warned that this was a mediocre film, I was questioning the judgements of my friends after viewing the first half: I loved it! It was dark, gritty, and revealed superheroes as normal people. The Comedian is simply a fascinating character.

So why only two stars? Simple, I watched the second half. With a plot that suddenly shifted to a weird bigger message about humanity, it simply fell apart into an insane and ultimately unrewarding viewing experience. Awkward sex scenes and unnecessary graphic violence simply added to this train wreck that held such promise at first glance.

Le Samourai ***

I’m not sure how to describe this movie, except that it was an enjoyable view. Filmed in French with English subtitles, the movie follows a “lone wolf” who is hired to murder a club owner and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a massive police dragnet. To top it off, his contractors decide they want him killed as well. Cinematography is good, the plot is generally solid, and there’s nothing really wrong with this movie. But then again, there’s nothing really too outstanding about it.

Starship Troopers ***

I kept going back and forth on this movie. On the surface it has a rather iffy plot, massive amounts of violence, and a rather campy atmosphere that almost seemed a parody to Sci-Fi films. Yet the more I thought about it, I realized I actually liked the film. It was a good science fiction action movie that didn’t take itself too seriously, which a lot of others in this genre tend to do. The plot that many accused of being militaristic and jingoistic was showing us the nature of humanity and our tendency to kill all that is different.

This is a good movie as long as you realize that you’re not watching it for the plot, but the action.

The Road Warrior *

Many call The Road Warrior the far superior “Mad Max” film, but I disagree. With a plot that never really goes anywhere, very weak character development, and  set that didn’t change, I was very much disappointed. Mad Max is everything The Road Warrior is: a good movie.

The Madness of King George **

I had high hopes for this movie, but was disappointed. Despite the acting performances by the main characters and consistently good costuming, the plot never got around to actually taking place.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog ****

At only 45 minutes long, I hesitated putting this into my review, but it qualifies in my book. Campy, witty, and ultimately somewhat of an anti-hero film, I enjoyed this Joss Whedon work.

Zombieland ***

A zombie movie that manages to both parody others of the genre, yet add something to it. It runs out of steam about halfway through, but in its defense, it doesn’t turn into a large parable about humanity.

The Lives of Others ****

I wish I could give this film more than just four stars. It’s one of the most outstanding films I’ve ever seen. It’s subtle, emotional, harsh, and ultimately a stirring film that you won’t want to turn your eyes or ears from.

Chinatown **

An overly layered plot and characters not acting in entirely rational ways turned me off to this movie.

3:10 to Yuma **

A good movie to watch once, but doesn’t have many redeeming qualities to want to ever view it again.

Cronos **

It kept switching languages in the middle of dialogs, and I found the backstory of the device much more interesting than the modern plot.

The Baader Meinhof Complex ***

I liked this movie, but the method of revealing major plot points with newspaper and broadcast montages was not a huge hit with me. Despite me saying “hunh???” in my mind a few times while watching it, overall I would recommend this as a glimpse of a German radical group in the 60s and 70s.

 

January **

Another month, another movie review! These are films that I have never seen before, and decided to watch them based on a) cultural significance, b) recommended by a friend, or c) looked interesting.

Last December, I claimed that my rating system was something like “One star is ‘ter­ri­ble’ and 4 stars is ‘most amaz­ing thing in my life.'” I’d like to revise that a little bit, and add that a three- or four- star movie means that I would watch it again gladly. A two star movie is one that I wouldn’t suggest, but would watch if it were the only choice. One star? I would probably walk out of the room or get on my computer.

With that in mind, let’s begin!

The Terminator **

Hot: Crafting a movie where dialog is not critically important. Dystopic future with a ruined LA and giant robots with police strobes.

Not: Plot? Weak at best.

Reservoir Dogs ***

Violent, profane, and darkly humorous: Reservoir Dogs was different than my impression that it was a “heist” film. However, the oddball characters made this film. Entertaining throughout, with a deeper thread of social criticism for those who wished to find it.

Downfall ****

A painstaking re-creation of the final days at the Führerbunker as Berlin fell around it, Downfall takes a look at the inner circle of the German command staff as they contended with a delusional leader. The plight of the German civilians is gut-wrenching, and the thought processes of the various leaders and military officials is compelling. Downfall is a reminder that war is no less brutal in modern times. An excellent film.

Pan’s Labyrinth ***

With amazing landscapes and visuals, one wonders what del Toro could do with an unlimited budget and vision to create an entire movie like his dream-like sequences in Pan’s Labyrinth. Interspersed with the Spanish Civil War, this film is billed as a fairy tale for adults, and doesn’t disappoint. Dark, beautiful, and with an outstanding performances from Sergi Lopez and Ivana Baquero, I thoroughly enjoyed this. If only it had more fairy-tale sequences…

Dune *

Perhaps the fact that I had not read the Dune series before viewing this film worked against my enjoyment, but I do have fairly extensive knowledge of the Dune series through word-of-mouth, Wikipedia, and other references. With a confusing plot, poorly explained points, and laughable visuals, this is not a movie I want to view any time soon. Even Patrick Stewart couldn’t save this one. The best part? I liked the House Atreides military uniform collars.

Winnebago Man ***

This documentary grew on me as it progressed. The film-maker did an outstanding job of portraying this man as more than just the “angriest man in the world.”

Road to Perdition **

Predictable, unbelievable characters, and a plot that meanders along, I would have given this film except for the scenes outside. In the rain. Because I loved that imagery. Otherwise, one star.

Moon ****

2001 for a modern age. This is what hard Sci-Fi should be. Amazing graphics, stark lunar scenes, and an amazing performance from the main (only) character, Moon is worth your while. My only nitpicks are that it was a hipster plot; it didn’t really care about the big plot “twist,” and the ending was rather uninspired. Despite these, I feel this film deserves my highest praise.

Primer ***

Mind-warping. I’m currently keeping it at three stars because I need to watch it again to sort it out, but this is a great film that deals with time travel, invention, technology, and morality.

District 9 *

What. The. Hell.

Terrible movie.

I have nothing more to say.

This is Spinal Tap ***

Ever wonder how aging bands feel like? This is a great “fake” documentary that pokes light at those who believe themselves to be the most amazing human specimens on Earth, but are something less. With subtle bits of humor and a quick pace, this is certainly a film to watch for fun.

I Like Killing Flies ***

Amusing documentary on a foul-mouthed and hard-working restraint owner in New York. Four stars for the first 45 minutes of the film, and two stars for the last 45 minutes.

Fight Club ***

Undecided. I felt like this movie went overboard in points, and in others understated major plot elements. Despite these flaws, overall this is a good movie to view a few times: if for nothing else than to unravel the plot.

Movie Autumn: Catching Up With Culture

One of the most particular aspects of being a fully-graduated adult with a “big kid” job is that I suddenly, for the first time in my life, have quite a lot of free time without the threat of papers or compelled readings to distract. One aspect that didn’t change after I graduated was that I was still the “guy who never gets movie references, because he never sees them.” These circumstances, combined with the magic of modern technology, quickly spiralled into a Netflix-fueled movie watching project. Attempting to combine Sci-Fi, Quirky Humor, and Obscure Films, the following are the films and series that I am now “culturally aware” of.

(I’ve also done some sort of star system. One star is “terrible” and 4 stars is “most amazing thing in my life”)

Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined Series) **

I was disappointed after watching BSG. This was not Science Fiction as I knew it, but a CGI-riddled drama that just happened to be set in space. This show had a dystopic future with no real backstory, gratuitous violence and sex, and a complete disdain for technology. Telling question to ponder: how many times did you see the engine room of a ship in this series? Or perhaps how often they discussed some science-related question? The answers are “twice” (briefly) and “never.” Farscape is a much better series than this crap. BSG has an identity crisis: Is it a SciFi? No. Mainstream drama? No. Religious exploration? No. Then what is it?

Battlestar Razor ***

I liked this film. Since this is a movie-length feature, I’m classifying it as a separate entity than Battlestar Galactica. It features Ensign Ro from ST:TNG! The same issues with the BSG series appeared here as well, but it at least touched some darker themes that didn’t hold any punches when comparing the decisions of Admiral Cain. Her tactical strategies and abandonment of civilians to their fate offer an excellent counterpoint to Adama’s constant campaign to somehow not act like a military dictator, even though he clearly was.

Flame and Citron ****

“Flame and Lemon” is a modern-day Danish film that combines the ethical considerations of Denmark during World War II with a unique brand of Film Noir. An absolutely amazing film that starts with clear-cut battle lines and ends in something much more subtle and nuanced. As two assassins work to eliminate Nazi supporters, they find themselves betrayed by everyone around them. Highly recommended; excellent film style. Continue reading