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I watch movies. On DVD, at the theater, via cable TV. Sometimes I want people to know what I think about the movies I watch, regardless of whether or not they care. I promise I will make my reviews short, but I won't be ashamed to throw around cliches like "beautiful cinematography" and "post-modern irony," so be warned.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 :::

There Will Be Blood

Why I saw it: PT Anderson.

What I think about it: It's really impossible to talk about this astonishing movie without gushing or seeming glib. It truly is an amazingly deep and profound work that creates a character study out of its various personifications of greed. It brutally examines and tries to illuminate just how far different people, in entirely different positions of society, will go in pursuit of meaningless success and power. Based around a turn-of-the-last-century oil man and his relentless quest for money and success, the movie becomes a brilliantly effective allegory for the madness and uselessness of good old-fashioned American capitalist greed in the twentieth century, regardless of whether that was its intention or not. It's a movie with incredibly lofty aspirations, and surprisingly it succeeds at meeting and exceeding those aspirations on all levels. The relentless plot and bleak foreboding are spellbinding, and the incredible technical feats of the filmmaking itself are too numerous to mention. Even the soundtrack (which seems to steal heavily from Kubrick - especially The Shining) seems revolutionary in how it is used.

It's not exactly fun to watch, though. It's harsh, brutal, and unswerving. The ending, which might confound some people, is inevitable and appropriate, although staggeringly bleak and depressing. I'd give the movie five stars if it didn't make me want to slit my wrists.

Regardless, it's really an incredible movie, but those who like to go to the movies for escapist entertainment best look elsewhere.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 4:32 PM :: #

Ocean's 13

Why I saw it: I enjoyed the first one.

What I think about it: I liked Ocean's 11. It was a laid-back and sufficiently fun crime caper with lots of pretty people in it and a snidely clever sense of humor that was very self-aware. I think Ocean's 12 pretty much blew it by taking the "snidely clever" bit into obnoxious territory, and by drowning itself in a boring plot and an uncomfortable setting. The third one is back in Vegas and seemingly back on track. The laid-back attitude has returned and the humor, although less clever this time around, is thankfully less annoying. For some reason though, it just isn't enough anymore. It's all very been-there-done-that, which, although moderately entertaining for an hour and a half, still seems pointless. I think it's time for these fellas, who are admittedly talented and exciting as a team, to start a new franchise.

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::: posted by dan at 4:13 PM :: #

Grindhouse: Death Proof

Why I saw it: Why not.

What I think about it: I'd heard that out of the two Grindhouse movies, Death Proof was supposedly the least successful, and my enthusiasm had waned dramatically for this B-movie wannabe. So maybe it was due to the fact that my expectations were so low that I found Death Proof to be so incredibly enjoyable. Sure, this overlong slasher flick about an aging stunt man who uses his death-proofed car as a murder weapon has WAY too much setup, and sure, most of the dialogue was not up to par for a typical Quentin Tarantino movie (which was most likely intentional, considering its B-movie aspirations), but I can't help it: the last 30 minutes of this movie were an absolute blast. The tone was pitch-perfect, the action was packed, and the climax was exhilarating. Some people might find the characterizations in the last half to be a bit annoying, and I can totally understand that, but they fit the tone of the movie perfectly, and in the end I was practically cheering. It's not as re-watchable as most of Quentin's previous movies, but as a singular movie-watching experience, it was one of the most memorable ones I've ever had.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 3:54 PM :: #

The Bourne Ultimatum

Why I saw it: the Bourne movies are always above average.

What I think about it: It's pretty much just an extended version of the second movie, and I don't know how much more they can wring out of the amnesiac super-soldier plot device, but the third Bourne movie succeeds in the exact same way the other two did: it delivers action and intrigue at a fast pace and with sympathetic characters. I really like the use of Julia Stiles and Joan Allen in this movie, and Matt Damon is still just as solid as always in the role, but I think the director has a habit of getting a little too close to the action, making it hard to really see what's going on half of the time and inducing motion sickness the other half. Regardless, it's still a fun movie, even if it is beginning to strain credibility. But I guess "far-fetchedness" is no stranger to Hollywood action movies.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 1:05 PM :: #

Friday, January 04, 2008 :::


Why I saw it: For the reviews and for Ellen Paige, who was so unbelievably awesome in Hard Candy.

What I think about it: It's not exactly breaking new ground or redefining cinema as we know it, but somehow Juno - a cute little tale about a rambunctious teen dealing with her teenage pregnancy - avoids all cliches or pandering platitudes or eye-rolling moments as it tells you a story you've heard a thousand times before. More than that, it is so laid-back and easy-going and confident with its warm fuzziness that all you want to do is hug and kiss everyone around you in solidarity. By the time the movie reached its inevitable climax, you couldn't have removed the smile on my face with coarse sandpaper.

Of course, my enjoyment of this little movie might also have to do with the fact that the dialogue sounds like it was lifted straight out of an episode of Gilmore Girls. In fact, given the similarities in the plotting and tone, I couldn't help but fantasize that the incredible Ellen Paige was actually portraying a 16-year-old Lorelie Gilmore. And evoking a Gilmore Girls feeling could never be considered a bad thing.

But seriously, the movie never makes one false step. It's practically perfect.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 7:57 AM :: #

I Am Legend

Why I saw it: Honestly, we were bored and wanted to see movie and nothing else was fitting our schedule.

What I think about it: I'm a junkie for post-apocalypse movies, and I'm an even bigger fan of zombie movies, so even though I try to avoid all Will Smith movies made after Six Degrees of Separation, I thought it might have enough going for it to overcome that huge hurdle for me. Will Smith is a competent actor who just chooses bad movies, so his turn here as the "last man on Earth" in New York City after a deadly virus has turned the population into rabid flesh-eaters is pretty enjoyable, but the movie itself lacks consistency and definition, and it wavers from intriguing, to nail-biting, to ridiculous, to banal with way too much ease. But my main problem with the movie was the zombies. They are so clearly computer animated and enhanced that I didn't for a second find them believable. There really was no reason for the use of CG here. An actor in makeup would have been more than sufficient, and infinitely scarier. And cheaper. But I suppose if you want to promote yourself as a big-budget action adventure movie starring Will Smith, then you have to actually BE a big budget action adventure starring Will Smith, so why not pile on the special FX? I'll tell you why not: because they ruin the movie by undercutting the believability. Sometimes bigger isn't better.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 7:45 AM :: #

Hot Fuzz

Why I saw it: I loved Shaun of the Dead

What I think about it: Well, it seems the filmmakers certainly have a distinctive style, because Hot Fuzz is pretty much a remake of Shaun of the Dead, only without the zombies, and frankly the charm is beginning to fade a bit. It's a mildly funny tale about a super cop in Ireland who is sent away from the big city to command a small country town because he was making everyone else look bad. Of course, nothing in this quaint little village is what it seems and bullet-riddled chaos ensues. The movie definitely has its moments and the two main characters are every bit as fun to watch as they were in Shaun of the Dead, but honestly I think I was expecting a more biting satire of Action Movie cliches than a movie that actually succumbed to them.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 7:38 AM :: #


Why I saw it: Reviews

What I think about it: A lovely little romance/musical about two lonely strangers in Dublin finding a way to communicate through their mutual love for Damian Rice music. Seriously, though, it's cute and effective and the music isn't half bad. It doesn't exactly have a plot and it definitely avoids anything like a climax or a denouement, but it's sweet-natured and laid back and it might even succeed at bringin' a wee tear to your eye.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 7:33 AM :: #

The Host

Why I saw it: Good reviews.

What I think about it: The action sequences in this movie about a pollution-fueled mutated sea monster in Korea are breathtakingly staged and the filmmakers are definitely able to sketch some sympathetic characters as they tell the tale of the resulting governmental paranoia run amok, but the movie itself tends to meander a tad, and the resulting lack of focus mixed with the fact that some of the substance has undoubtably been lost in the translation means you're left with little more than a stylish/well-made monster movie that clearly wants to have more meaning and significance than it actually does. Still, it's quite entertaining, although not nearly as scary as I thought it would be.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 7:06 AM :: #


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