April 21, 2008

The Mist

2007
Directed by Frank Darabont
Starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden






     The Mist has been somewhat divisive. Some consider it a high-mark of recent horror; others find it to be on par with the Sci-Fi Channel's original movies. I hate it, personally. The premise of a group of people defending a supermarket from an alien mist is promising but The Mist misses completely. It's not long before the horrid acting, terrible CGI, and one-dimensional, stereotypical characters sink the ship. What really bothers me, though, is the heavy-handed, self-righteous message that is presented so unrealistically as to be entirely meaningless. Toss in some groan-inducing religious yap and voilà, a thoroughly unbearable movie.

April 06, 2008

The Lost Boys

1987
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring Corey Haim, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland






     Some people think the 80s were radically tubular and some people think that, regarding pop culture, they were the worst ten years ever. I'm wholly committed to the second camp, so my feelings about The Lost Boys and its bodacious vampire sensibilities should be fairy clear. I hate: how cool the movie tries to be, the Coreys, the humor, the stupid one-liners, the fact that there are some brothers name "Edgar" and "Alan", and even that guy who performs a shirtless sax solo. It's completely watchable and the special effects are decent, but I cannot support something so disgustingly "80s".

April 01, 2008

Into Great Silence

2005
Directed by Philip Gröning
Starring monks






     Into Great Silence is a minimalist documentary that records the lives of a reclusive group of French monks. The mystique of monasticism deserves a thorough examination that simply isn't offered here. Groning seems primarily concerned with long, silent, artful shots and an absolute vacuum of information. There's no narrative, no score, no insight, no nothing except for monks praying, eating, chanting, walking around, so on. The documentary seems to want viewers to experience the tranquility and ritual involved with monkhood rather than, say, learn anything about it. That's nice, but it makes for a unbelievably dull and monotonous 2.5 hours.

Hey, I kept my word!

March 22, 2008

     I'll be taking a break for the remainder of March.

February 02, 2008

Zombi 2
(a.k.a. Zombie)


1979
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Starring Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson






     Zombies on a tropical island, people in peril, all you need to know. The misleadingly titled Zombi 2 is a slow, straight-ahead zombie movie that never quite gets rolling. Aside from two indisputably classic scenes (zombie vs. shark and eye vs. splinter) the movie is mostly dead air spent waiting for some zombies to actually show up. There's minimal serious focus on anything other than gore, but very little of it materializes. When the undead finally arrive, it's passable (particularly the make-up), just too little too late. It's mostly wasted potential, just watch this scene and you're good to go.

January 18, 2008

House Of 1,000 Corpses

2003
Directed by Rob Zombie
Starring Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, Karen Black






     House Of 1,000 Corpses, Rob Zombie's directorial debut, shows a love of thinly-plotted gorefests and slasher pics of decades past, but is bogged down by very glaring, fundamental flaws. Never mind that the point of the movie is to watch the road-tripping 20-somethings get hacked up by freaks, there's a blatant mismanagement of character and focal points. We're given no reason to like or empathize with the villains, yet they have center stage (this was corrected in The Devil's Rejects). The story's universe is constantly changing and there's never much reason to the grisly rhyme. Clearly ambitious, but entirely unpleasant.

December 18, 2007

The Great Happiness Space:
Tale Of An Osaka Love Thief


2006
Directed by Jake Clennell
Starring Issei, host boys, and emotionally wrecked women






     The Great Happiness Space unveils a seedy aspect of the Osaka nightlife: clubs entirely devoted to providing women with companionship. Young, charismatic "host boys" entice sensible-looking women and entertain them at exorbitant fees. Not quite prostitution, women essentially pay for a fraudulent, unsustainable relationship. The male employees consider it purely a business transaction, openly admitting to disliking some clients. The women (far from saintly themselves) seek serious commitments, sometimes even marriage. All of the people highlighted in the documentary are unimaginably broken emotionally; the guys can't form lasting bonds and the girls are irredeemably dependent. It's equally fascinating and tragic.

December 10, 2007

Superbad

2007
Directed by Greg Mottola
Starring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse






     Superbad really feels like two separate movies; there's a "let's go party" story that maturely addresses friendship and then there's an over-the-top, off-putting story about some wacky cops. I really enjoyed the scenes dealing with the two main characters' friendship, but generally disliked any of the hi-jinks with the police. The latter scenes were of an ill-fitting brand of comedy and harshly clashed with any realism. The dialogue is consistently strong but the situational writing is lame and forced. I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing it, but it just didn't click for me. Great beginning and end, very forgettable middle.

December 04, 2007

Paprika

2006
Directed by Satoshi Kon
Starring the stuff of dreams






     Paprika caught everyone's interest with its fantastic trailer*, but the movie is all style and no substance. After a dream machine is created for therapeutic uses, crooked hands corrupt the technology, resulting in a dream leak that begins to affect the conscious world. The plot is ripe for inconsequential surrealism -- and there are heaps of vibrant, bizarre visuals -- but the development of story and characters is non-existent. The pro- and antagonists are fuzzy outlines, the half-baked story fails to engage, and the repetitive images eventually over-stay their welcome. It's A beautiful movie that offers little else, pretty disappointing.

* In retrospect, the trailer is really too good. It reveals way too much and the pace and excitement of the movie would never have been able to live up to it.

November 29, 2007

Rescue Dawn

2007
Directed by Werner Herzog
Starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies






     I expected to love Rescue Dawn, as I greatly admire Herzog and I enjoyed the documentary that it's based on, but I'm left lukewarm. It's quite straightforward: pilot is shot down, taken prisoner, plans escape. The true story is very moving, but Herzog's undying adulation for Dieter Dengler becomes an issue. There's a troubling lack of doubt or tension, Dieter should be wearing a cape and tights. The latter scenes have many nice touches, but the early scenes are fairly predictable and forgettable. The devoted performances are notable, writing's iffy, but it's worth a look. Better story than movie, though.