Saturday, April 21, 2007

Movie Reviews

Since I'm an avid movie buff, I'll be giving you my take on some random flicks I've seen recently. Unfortunately for you, I see nearly nothing but kid movies. OK, that's not true, but that's MAINLY what I watch. Anyway, nothing fancy here.

16 Blocks: I really liked this movie despite it being a complete ripoff of Clint Eastwood's 'The Gauntlet' and Bruce Willis' hairpiece stealing every scene (more on this trend coming later). Just a basic, no nonsense action flick that throws in a few surprises. Good job by Willis, too.

Happy Feet: Pixar has spoiled me. This alternated between being breathtaking and beautiful and completely annoying. Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Robin Williams butcher the voice work. Williams mysteriously decided to use a Spanish accent on one of the penguins. That's right, he does multiple voices. Lucky us. Kidman is supposed to be sexy (I think) but uses a breathless, airy voice that just bugged the shit out of me. She couldn't have used her own voice? Jackman plays 'Memphis' as an lame Elvis impersonator. Plus the story veers off into how humans are over fishing the Antarctic and starving the penguins. But it's all made better because one of them can tap dance. If that sounds surreal, then you've got the gist of it. Still, there are scenes that mesmerize: The first swim of hundreds of penguins, the ice slide, the leopard seal chase. Plus, it was directed by the guy that brought us Mad Max. That's got to be good for something.

Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest: Confession - I was working while watching this, so I completely lost track of the plot. Either that or there really was no plot and I didn't miss anything. Whatever the reason it seemed a bit confusing for what is supposed to be a 'check your brain at the door' type of movie. I do know that this wasn't nearly as fun as the first one. The biggest surprise of the first was Johnny Depp and since that isn't a surprise any longer, the appeal was missing. Slightly amusing, I guess, but seemed to be trying way too hard. Johnny Depp's eyes going wide was funny once or twice, but not the 35 times they use it in this one. Oh, and did they have to end it like that? Don't want to give away too much, but be ready for a sequel.

Note: Before you get all high and mighty on me, I do know they filmed both sequels at the same time, but why is it they can't have movies stand alone anymore? This started with 'The Empire Strikes Back' and continued with the second Matrix movie. As it stands with this one, you can't watch this without watching the third one for the 'conclusion'. Just trim things down and make one movie out of it. Or better yet, tighten up the writing and make the second one good enough to stand alone.

Sidenote to the above note: I exempt the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy from this as it followed the same path as the books and, shockingly enough, each of the three had a beginning, middle and end and can stand on their own.

This Movie Is Not Yet Rated: If you are a fan of movies at all, you should see this documentary. It takes on the MPAA Ratings Board. You know, the ones that pre-screen the movies before they're released and decide if it's PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17. There are plenty of clips to explain what scenes caused the most controversy and interviews with the film makers and actors. But the best reason to watch is because the film maker, with the help of some private investigators, manages to out the raters. They are supposed to be anonymous, typical American parents (one director asks what, exactly, defines 'typical') with kids between the ages of 5 and 17. I won't ruin the surprise, but the ain't. He then submits his film to the board to be rated and the telephone conversations between the director and the MPAA are hysterical examples of bureaucratic idiocies and lawyer speak. Not only is it entertaining, education, baffling and infuriating, but there are a ton of sex scenes. Gotta love the sex scenes.

City of Industry: Caught this one on the Independent Film Channel over the weekend. It's from '97 and stars Harvey Keitel as a thief who gets screwed over by one of his crew. Yeah, nothing especially out of the ordinary here, other than Keitel's character (Roy Egan) seems to be invincible. Still, it was a nice distraction and I didn't hate it. One thing I did notice is Keitel's presence onscreen. He just seems so natural. Has anyone ever seen a bad performance by him? We got all the Scorcese films from the 70's, we have the 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Resevoir Dogs' Tarantino flicks. Christ, he was even good in 'Thelma and Louise'. And of course 'Bad Lieutenant' and 'The Piano'. He just makes it look easy.

Since we here, actors who make things look effortless:

Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Jack Nicholson
Dustin Hoffman (except for 'Meet the Fockers')
Robert DeNiro (except for 'Meet the Fockers' - man, I hate that movie)
Owen Wilson (recently added after 'Wedding Crashers' and his work in 'Cars', but if you want to see what I really mean, go rent 'Shanghai Noon'. Seriously. Note on this: I have not seen 'You, Me and Dupree' so I maintain the right to remove him if he sucks in that)

Red Sox - Yankees: This one had it all. An excellent villain (A-Rod), a former award winner trying desperately to play the goat (Schilling), another class act unexpectedly mailing in his performance (Rivera), and a twist ending nobody saw coming. Plus the good guys win. Two notes here: First, if you watched Coco risk his body for A-Rod's second home run you know why Boston fans like this guy. Was nice to see him get a key hit, too. Second, Rivera looks hurt. He was grimacing and had the 'deer in the headlights' look for the first time ever. Something is wrong with that dude.

So there you go. If you only have time for one movie this week, choose 'This Film is Not Yet Rated'.

Today's distraction: A tough obscure movie actor quiz. I rated the middle one on it but at least I have names to go with some of the actors I see over and over.

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