Friday, March 23, 2007

Hot Fuzz, Ghostbusters

Hot Fuzz:

I don't want to say too much about this movie, because I don't want to ruin any of the surprises or jokes, so let me say this, please, please, please go see this the day it comes out. Don't read any reviews till after you've seen it (I wish I hadn't. I had two plot twists revealed to me.)

I haven't seen an audience respond this way to a movie since Borat. The audience was belly laughing, and gasping (it's scary, scarier than Shaun of the Dead. Funnier too. Also more gory. This is some of the funniest gore I've seen in a long time.) I loved this movie.


Saw Ghostbusters on the big screen a couple of weeks ago. Some thoughts:

1. I didn't realize how much noise made a difference to the movie. Remember the joke when they are on the elevator and they talk about how they haven't tested backpack and that it is basically a nuclear device. When Dan Ackroyd switches it on, Harold Ramis and Bill Murry back away. In a theater with a loud sound system, the noise was kind of scary. It made the joke that much funnier. Several of the moments were generally creepy instead of cheesy because of the sound.

2. Another creepy scene was when the Environmental Protection Agency guy shuts off the ghost containment unit and then the ghosts start taking over the city. On television it always seemed cartoonish, but in the theater was effective. Mostly because of the eighties synth music. That music doesn't work and dates a picture faster than anything, except horror movies. Then the music is perfect for some reason.

3. The EPA is the bad guy. You don't see that very often in a movie.

4. The most dated thing in the movie, and it pains me to say this, and may make me not very popular, is Bill Murry. Now before I explain, let me say that he is one of my favorite comedians and I thnk Groundhogs Day and Rushmore will be watched for the next fifty years. Groundhogs Day even longer. I think he is genuinly funny.

But there is something about his smart assness in this movie that rubbed me the wrong way, and I think it rubbed the audience in the wrong way. Dan Ackroyd received more laughs than Bill Murry did. Something I wouldn't have thought possible when I watched the movie in my teenage years.

Bill Murry seemed too removed from the action, like nothing around him was effecting him. He reminded me a bit of Steve Guttenburg in the Police Academy movies. A lot more entertaining, because he's Bill Murry, and he's hilarious, but still, it seemed the work of a different era. (Compared to say Midnight Run, which was made around the same time, and yet could have been made last month.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Killing Fields and Black Book

The Killing Fields

In Great Britain, the newspapers sometimes contain free DVDs. Since there are several national newspapers, each of them put in free stuff (posters, dvd's, coupons for books, stickers, etc.). Well a week ago The London Times offered free DVD's of The Killing Fields. I'd never seen it but I always wanted to.

1. It is really powerful.
2. It was made in the eighties so the music is very dated. It sounds computery. Usually this ruins a film for me, but for some reason it worked. And it usually only works in horror films like Day of the Dead, because the crappy music for some reason makes the movie even more creepy and surreal. And since The Killing Fields is kind of a horror film (not the make you jump because a Japanese girl is in the sink kind but the kind of movie that makes you feel horror) I think the music actually added to the dread.
3. Then they ruined it by playing "Imagine" by John Lennon at the very end. I hate that song. I hate, hate, hate that song. Yeah, John Lennon, if there was no country or religion and everybody lived for today, I'm pretty sure there would still be a lot of killing. I like his other songs though.

Black Book

I don't believe this has come out in the states yet. I tried to get a friend to see it with me, but he didn't want to because he was bored with WW2 movies. I don't blame him about that. I'm kind of bored with WW2 movies myself, but I'm glad I saw this one. It was WW2 in the same way Raiders of the Lost Ark is, not Saving Private Ryan (And for my money, Raiders of the lost Ark is twice the movie Private Ryan is.) This is a kick-butt adventure movie. It's nice when I can't tell the twists of a movie. And it is nice to actually be shocked by what happens. I admire this movie very much.

Buyer beware, it is a hard R.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


David Fincher has been hit and miss with me, but he has always been interesting. The fincher thumbprint is only recognizable here in a few cases. One is the obvious look of the film. Visually, it is very much a Fincher movie. I have noticed though that this could also pass for a Micheal Mann film. It looks like it was shot on digital with the way the lights in the city illuminate and with the depth of detail you see in the skyline. The other element is the way that people are filmed when in conversation. Very little two shots used, mostly one shots, dead center. I was surprised that Fincher would return to this genre after being the one to invigorate it with Se7en. Se7en is what he is known for and to do another serial killer movie would only harm his reputation, or the films, or pigeon-hole his career. But all this is OK because he really does not rely on any of the conventions of a serial killer movie here. There are a few violent scenes early in the film that get the movie going but then it really becomes a detective story after that, and Fincher shows a lot of restraint in relying on the story and the characters. One of the problems I have with the film is that it works pretty well as a detective story except that it doesn't want to. Midway through the film, the character emphasis changes to Jake Gyllenhaul's character, who is a cartoonist for the San Francisco news paper. The movie stops becoming a film about the Zodiac killings and starts becoming a film about Jake's obsession with the Zodiac and him writing a book about the killer. His obsession with solving the mystery drives him from his family and puts him in a few dangerous situations. This half of the film just doesn't work. It's trying to pay off something that was never really set up in the first act. Also Gyllenahaul seems miscast here. He is too nice and not nearly erratic or eccentric enough to be interesting. Robert Downey Jr. however is great as one of the newspaper's writers. He is essentially written out of the story about half way through, and only referred to later. I am sure that some of the story decision were made because they reflected real life events, but it only hurts the film. There is a lot to enjoy here, but it feels like the film is way too long and never satisfies.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Host

I don't have time to write a review but I wanted to say that I highly recommend this movie. It is a very tense and funny, Godzilla-type movie. If you like moster movies - go see it. If you don't like monster movies - still go see it. It is top-notch.