Monday, April 20, 2009

Movie Reviews

It’s been a while and I have much to get to. So let’s plunge right in.

Quantum of Solace: Not nearly as good as the first one, but still one of the better Bond movies. First of all, it cuts out a lot of the clutter and clocks in at an hour and forty minutes. Usually Bond movies are bloated to over two hours with lots of nonsense thrown in for no good reason. Second, the relentless, merciless Bond is still fully in play only this time he’s out for vengeance. God help the bad guys. Lastly, Bond is not only still recovering from Vespa’s death from ‘Casino Royale’, but may be emotionally damaged by the entire incident. An interesting take regarding Bonds’ womanizing isn’t that he’s suave and smooth (although he is), but that it’s a defense mechanism. Witness one of the final scenes when a female suggests he needs to ‘forgive himself’ and he replies by making a pass at her. I also enjoyed the new age technology used to identify certain people and M, of all people, beginning to doubt her own judgment. Not just of Bond but of the people surrounding her. That this is all done in one of the more action packed Bond movies ever is just a bonus. Good times!

Redbelt: Let me first say that I’m a fan of David Mamet. ‘Homicide’ still has one of the best opening scenes in movie history, ‘Spartan’ is one of the most under rated movies ever, and ‘House of Games’ ushered in a new generation of con movies. This was typical Mamet. Seemingly heading in one direction before veering before coming to a halt before peeling off in a completely new direction. It involves a mixed martial arts instruction who is floundering financially while still trying to impart honor, strength and nobility into his students and friends. Through a complex set of circumstances he’s decided to re-enter the competitive world of fighting and…

…that’s when things fall apart. Seemingly on the verge of becoming one of the best sports movies of all time, Mamet shifts gears again. The surprise isn’t out of tone with the movie, but I was really hoping to see what the main character would do when faced with true competition. Instead we’re left with an ending so abrupt I can’t help but wonder if the movie ran out of money. I would recommend this for the first three quarters, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Be Kind Rewind: Not bad. Some very funny moments and I liked the theme of local businesses being the glue that holds a community together. Remaking the movies into 20 minutes shorts was hilarious, but that can only take you so far. An easy going, good natured and amusing way to spend a rainy Saturday.

By the way, between this movie and his guest turn on ‘House’, Mos Def is becoming a very good actor. Thought he was good in ’12 Blocks’ with Bruce Willis, too.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: Just ok. Nothing super hilarious or ground breaking, but a cute, great sound track movie that you forget nearly as soon as the movie is over. Could have been so much better if they did an adult version of this instead of a teen friendly, PG-13 version.

Changeling: A warning that I will be spoiling some things so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, read no further. I need to discuss them, though, to explain what my problem with this movie is. And it is a big problem.

Angelina Jolie stars as a woman who comes home to find her son missing. She calls the police and they search but nothing. Having supposedly found her son, they bring him back on a train, get press together to show how great they are (the LAPD needed all the help it could get in those days) and she proceeds to tell them ‘That’s not my son’. You’ve all seen the ads, so you know what I’m talking about.

The police react in a typical police way by hiring a psychologist to tell Jolie that her son may seem different because of his trauma. By different they are referring to the fact that he’s lost 3 inches in height, is missing birthmarks and is now circumcised. After that doesn’t work they have her committed to a rather nasty insane asylum. She fights on, though and winds up becoming the driving force for reform and firings through the city.

Meanwhile, a rather gruesome parallel story involving an axe wielding child killer deflates any sort of campy fun that could be had by drinking every time Jolie utters ‘my son’ throughout the movie. This includes highly graphic and disturbing images of the dude chopping little boys to pieces. Not pleasant at all.

But my big problem with this movie is that after all this depressing rhetoric and shower inducing scenes of the killer (including his execution), Eastwood (who directed) ends things on a false positive. After learning that her son actually escaped the axe maniac, Jolie has ‘one thing I never had before.’

Me sitting on my couch: ‘Oh, shit. Don’t say hope, don’t say hope…’

Jolie in movie: ‘Hope!’. She then smiles and walks away. On screen comes the caption: ‘She never stopped looking for her son’ as the music swells and the credits start rolling.

Well, fuck. If she never stopped searching for her son doesn’t that mean she never found him? And if she never found him doesn’t that mean he was chopped up by a murderer and buried in a mass grave in a desert? How can you possibly create a happy ending out of that scenario? You can’t.

Given the subject matter and how things turned out it would be forgivable for the movie to be a downer. In fact, it’s to be expected. But to tack on a ridiculously inaccurate happy ending is insulting. Eastwood should have stuck to his guns and kept things grim. I would bet money the ending was changed because the original one was too depressing for test audiences.

Stupid test audiences.

Role Models: Just what I needed on this particular night. Politically incorrect, crass humor with F-bombs and boobs popping out everywhere. I would like to take a minute and thank ‘Wedding Crashers’ for reintroducing film makers to the seemingly lost art of gratuitous nudity. I’m quite enjoying this renaissance. Anyway, Paul Rudd is quickly becoming a king of comedy with ’40 Year Old Virgin’, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, ‘Anchorman’ and now this. I can’t remember an actor more at ease with his own unease. Kudos to the woman playing the counselor for the boys, too. A recovering drug addict who throws her own demons into nearly every conversation she has with anybody. The ending is a bit schmaltzy for my taste, especially after everything that led up to it, but I still had a good time. Isn’t that what you want out of your movies?

Quarantine: Nothing terribly original here, but any wanna be film maker should watch this as a great example of how to make an unnerving, creepy, at times very scary movie on a low budget. Sort of a ‘Dawn of the Dead’ meets ‘Cloverfield’. The only thing that pissed me off was they give away the ending in the fucking previews. I shit you not. The final scene would have been much more disturbing if I hadn’t seen it 40 times during football season and pay per view ads. Fuckers!

Today’s distraction: 11 Predictions ‘Back to the Future Part II’ got correct. Pretty impressive!


Anonymous said...

Paul Rudd is fan-freaking-tastic. I loved Role Models as well, I don't think it gets much better than that when it comes to the R-rated comedy.

Kid: "Nice cow costume homo. Where can I get one, the gay zoo?"
Danny: "No, no. It's not a cow. It's a a minotaur. It's a creature of myth. And he got this one out of your mom's closet."
Wheeler: "She let me keep it after I fucked her."

Hammen said...

I just watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist yesterday, and you nailed it. It was a good watch, and 10 minutes later it was forgotten.

I don't know how familiar you are with Chappelle Show, but Mos Def was fucking hysterical every time he made an appearance. Watch the 'Black Bush' skit and see his role as the Black Head of the CIA.

Clayton Bigsby said...

I liked Role Models so much I watched it twice. Paul Rudd is the man. Sometimes I see the episodes of Friends with him and they are the best ones.

BeachBum said...

I'm shocked how funny Rudd is considering his first movie I remember him from is that awful Anitson movie where he was a gay guy. I often wonder what that movie would have been like if they let him loose to ad lib.

'Object of My Affection' I think that was the name of it. Just horrible.

10, that scene at the beginning is where I first thought 'Oh, this is going to be GREAATTTT!'

Love the elevator scene where they were discussing how Wheeler lost his kid getting a 'blow job'.

'It wasn't a blow job, we were FUCKING!' Meanwhile there is an 8 year old kid in there with them.

Hammen, haven't seen much of Chappelle only because I could never figure out when it was on and when it was on I couldn't watch it in front of my kids.

Anyone seen 'I Love You Man' yet? Heard from multiple people (even girls) that it was hilarious.

Hammen said...

I Love You, Man is definitely good. It can't touch Role Models in my opinion, but definitely worth watching, probably multiple times once its out on dvd. The disappointing thing is that the outtakes of Rudd ad-libbing that you can find on the internet are way funnier than the actual movie.