Saturday, September 30, 2006

Scarry Movie Season

In honor of halloween lets get some favorite scaries going so I can know what I need to see.

1. Susperia (CREEPY)
2. The Shining- i love this movie
3. Lady in White - this movie scared the urine out of me as a kid and I love it for it

Movies for the masses

So i caught some decent flicks this week as seems to be the way to do it I'll go from top to bottom.
1. JackAss: Number Two. I loved this movie, not a film by any means just a movie but it is the funniest 105 minutes I have ever sat through. Its raunchier than the first so its not for all but I laughed for about all but 5-10 minutes of it.

2. Freaks: any movie that was banned by more countries than it was allowed to be viewed in is a great thing especially if it has no real reason to be banned other than being twisted, the ending is possibly the best of any movie not called The Usual Suspects.

3. All the Kings Men: Critics hated it and I can certainly see how they could, its over the top and I didn't really care that much for the story but THE ACTING IS GREAT<>

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Devil & Daniel Johnston

This is a great documentary about a mentally disturbed kid who lived on the edge of art and insanity. He drew cartoons and wrote and recorded songs in his parent's basement. They try to force him to work but he can only focus on art. He runs away and joins a carnival and ends up in Austin Texas where he solicits his home made album to the people at the South By Southwest festival. He ends up winning "best song writer" and even gets to perform on MTV winning over artists such as Beck, Wilco, Sonic Youth, and Pearl Jam who have since recorded his music. The film is sad, funny, and sometimes astonishing but in the end, I found it inspiring. Although Daniels art is fueled by the demons that haunt him, you get the feeling that his art might just triumph. The filmmaker, Jeff Feuerzeig, wades through much source material including home movies, audio taped recordings from Daniel's private journal, as well as current interviews from his friends and parents. I thought they could have cut about fifteen minutes out of the film towards the end but overall I loved it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Some Movies

United 93 - like Bryan i found this movie to be excellent. totally gripping. totally appropriate in my opinion. didn't try to make the event into a grandiose heroic thing - just felt really real and horrifying.

Slackers (not the Richard Linklater one) - Jason Schwartzman is hilarious and charismatic as "Cool Ethan" in this college comedy. the problem is he's the guy we're supposed to be rooting against. The lead character who is the one we're supposed to want to get the girl is completely unlikeable and not in a good way. Just an issue of miscasting I think. Still had some pretty funny parts in it. Many good lines from Schartzman.

The Sentinel - Kind of blah. It was good for a rental.

Tremors III - Just what I expected - almost. It had horrible FX, bad writing, stupid plot, and some pretty campy moments. The problem with this one is that they dangle Michael Gross' gun-toted fanatic in front of you at the beginning showing you his weaponry and huge cement re-inforced compound but they don't really utilize it. He doesn't even shoot a gun after the first five minutes of the movie. That was disappointing.

Funny Ha Ha - First independent feature from writer/director/editor Andrew Bujalski. His stuff has been compared to Cassevettes and Mike Leigh's. He just finished another one called, "Mutual Appreciation." The budget for "Funny Ha Ha" was next to nothing. It's shot on 16mm and all the actors are non-pro and non-paid as well as crew. Bujalski himself plays a hilarious supporting character named Mitchell. While watching the movie I was alternating between bored and fascinated. It's like a Woody Allen with less plot and less jokes. But even in its boring moments its kind of fascinating in the way it feels so real. If you like naturalism then this movie is for you.

Freeks and Geeks - Finally started watching this series. And so far it's living up to the hype. The writing is just great. I find myself asking, "how could a show like this only last one season when Malcom in the Middle has lasted like 7 or 8 or whatever." Not that Malcom in the Middle is a horrible show but it's just not anywhere near as good as Freeks and Geeks. Airing after The Simpsons helped Malcom quite a bit I'm sure.

What I saw 8/29 - 9/25

This will be quick. No big explanations on how I felt. Although a couple of films probably deserve a little more debate.

In order of favorite.
United 93: A classic. Just as gripping as the first time I saw it.
The Wicker Man (2006): I'm glad I saw it before the reviews came out cause I would have skipped it. I'm surprised how much everyone hates this movie. I loved it. It creeped me out more than the first one. When everybody says this movie was really cool, I want it on record that I said it first.
Tsotsi: Deserved to win the oscar for best foreign film. Held a big punch.
X-Men 3
Nacho Libre
Grandma's Boy
The Illusionist
Scary Movie 4: Pretty good for the type of movie it is. I just don't care for this type of movie.
Little Miss Sunshine: I hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. I found the ending to be unbearably creepy. Good acting but what I schmaltzfest.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Charlie Kaufman

I haven't seen all of Kaufman's movies, but I think I have seen his best three. Those are Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. The other two, Human Nature and Confessions of a dangerous Mind, haven't received very favorable reviews from people I generally trust ( Although I did really like the Bjork music video "human nature" that Michael Gondry directed). Anyway, of the three that I have seen my favorite must be Eternal Sunshine. My friend Chris would be supremely disappointed to hear me say that. But, the fact is, I loved it. As you may know, this one was directed by Michael Gondry and the other two were directed by Spike Jonze. And, although I really like Spike Jonze, I think I am more in tune with Gondry's style. I found Eternal Sunshine to be very imaginative and very profound. What a brilliantly way to show how we shut out pain. But, without the pain where does the joy come from. Kahil Gibran said something like this in The Prophet and it has always been something I have tried to embrace. I have often thought about how to portray this idea in a movie and I think that Spotless Mind did as good a job as can be done. There are other themes in the movie as well that I really enjoyed but I'll leave it at that. In addition to the "moral", I thought all the actors were terrific. (I think Jim Carey should only do Drama). I really liked the art direction which is signature Michael Gondry. And I am not upset at all that it won best original screenplay. (It didn't really have much competition except maybe The Incredibles).
I don't know if I like Adaption or Being JM better. They both have things that I really like about them and they both have things I don't like. With Being JM I was blown away by the randomness of the story and I loved it. I really like John Cusack and Catherine Keener but I can't stand Cameron Diaz! I think she was completely miss cast for the part. Which is really sad because I think she was supposed to be the empathetic character, not John Cusack, and I really hated her so it was hard for me to feel anything at the end of the movie. Also, I have never been able to look at John Malkovich the same since. Adaptation had an all around great cast and it did some great stuff with story telling and following the rules in screenwriting and all that. So much so that I am not entirely sure I understand it all. I need to watch it again. The problem is that I don't really want to watch it again. That is my problem with both Spike Jonze movies. After watching them I felt like I needed to wash. Maybe I am the only one that feels that way, and I can't really point out what makes me feel it but there it is. While I am watching them I am completely enthralled and taken by the uniqueness of the story but afterwards I just feel kind of ... yucky. Maybe that is good because it is something different but it doesn't make me want to watch it over and I think these movies should be watched over.
All in all I really like all three movies quite a bit, but Michael Gondry's style is more suited to my tastes. And I am really excited about his latest movie "The Science of Sleep". I think it looks fantastic. If you haven't seen a preview go to then go to quicktime and look it up in Movie Preveiws. I think it is worth taking a look at.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Nacho Libre

I loved Nacho Libre. Yes, loved. For me it fits in the category of movies where if you like the character played by the lead you'll like the movie, (e.g. Austin Powers and Anchorman). I thought Jack Black was hilarious as a Mexican. His accent fluctuated between Spanish, Italian, and even a kind of southern twang but it just added to it for me. I loved the look of the film and the Danny Elfman score as well. And Nacho Libre confirmed and strengthened my conviction that CG is most effectively used for comedy or when you don't know it's there or not at all.

I liked this one better than Napolean Dynamite because the Napolean character became hard for me to watch half way throught the movie. He's a hilarious character but he's also kind of a downer. Where as Jack Black's Ignacio is enthusiastic and ambitious and fun to watch.

I'm convinced that Hess is obsessed with weird, funny mouth expressions. Jack Black's were hilarious. His partner, Eskeleto's were a little forced sometimes. But Eskeleto was a fun character.

There were those Napoleanesque moments in the movie where Nacho says things like, "so anyways..." and things like that. It worked for me.
I also didn't mind when Jack Black sang his song and broke character because of the moment when he turns to the camera and sings, "Encarnacion." It took me back to the Novellas I heard on my mission. They totally sounded like that part of the song.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Tale of Two Films

Over the long weekend, I watched two films. Crank and The Illusionist.
I was rather excited about Crank. It was such an amazing premise, combining the ideas of the film noir classic D.O.A. with the 90's action flick Speed. I had hoped for some great action sequences with what would ultimately amount to a vengeance story.
What I got was a rather poorly written exploitation film that was ultimately pornography for violence and sex.
There's a new documentary that just opened up called, I believe, This Film Not Yet Rated. About how the MPAA rates movies (or rather, how nobody is willing or can tell them how the MPAA actually rates it's movies, why it is harsher to independent films yet soft-tailing to Hollywood...etc.) If that's the case...then, for the most part I think I better look a little closer at the films I want to see. Had I rated this, it would have been an easy candidate for NC-17.
And ultimately, though it had some clever moments and asome interesting action sequences: I wish I would've never seen it.

The Illusionist however was a different story. Though I can't fully recommend it, I found it to be captivating, the performances quite good, the cinematography excellent... In fact, pretty much everything in this film is great...except some of the direction...oh, and the story.
The first half of the movie is wonderful, combining romance with magic...which...well, aren't they the same thing?
And they do it rather well at a nice even pace. It's when the movie begins it's second half that the director and possibly screenwriter begin to lose their way. The drama gives way to thrills that do little to quicken the pulse. The romance disappears like a cheap parlour trick. And we realize that we don't know what we are supposed to be feeling... In fact, it's fairly clear that the director isn't sure either... the latter half is quite uneven. Where the entire movie should build, instead, it flounders.
And yet, even with all of this, the glowing performances and the enchanting world are enough of an illusion to captivate me for the latter hour.