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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, March 16, 2008 :::

Inland Empire

Why I saw it: I've acquired a liking for David Lynch.

What I think about it: For the majority of filmgoers, watching Inland Empire is going to be three solid hours of "WTF?!?"

For people familiar with the previous works of David Lynch, there will still be plenty of that, yet there will also be many nods of recognition and appreciation for this melange of deconstructive surrealistic film experiments that almost plays like a David Lynch highlight reel. There is no useful point in describing the plot and I couldn't even begin to apply meaning to it all, but basically you are either in the mood for this kind of mindf*ck or you are not. I was somewhere in between. I appreciated certain elements of Inland Empire and marveled at many of the unforgettable sights as well as the bravely unhinged performances, but please don't make me sit through it again. And if you see it yourself, go in with the mindset that you will not understand what you are watching, and that this is intentional. Then you won't be disappointed.

I'm infinitely grateful that these types of art movies can still get financed and released, but I think I prefer Mr. Lynch's less abstract work, or at least the films for which some sort of narrative structure can be applied.

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::: posted by dan at 5:17 PM :: #

Gone Baby Gone

Why I saw it: Because I wanted to hate Ben Affleck even more than I already do.

What I think about it: Surprisingly, Ben Affleck seems to be a better director than I would have ever imagined. I tend to dislike Ben very much, and I've been known to compare his acting abilities to a number of inanimate objects. But I have to give him credit: Gone Baby Gone is an intriguing mystery/drama with appropriately subtle acting, a brooding tone, and an interesting moral viewpoint. It didn't exactly fool me at all, as its twists and turns were fairly predictable and overly foreshadowed, but it did offer a few exciting surprises and some nicely built tension, and the final denouement was sincerely thought-provoking. On the surface, it's about a kidnapping in a Bostonian town, but underneath all of that it's about how idealism and altruism can create difficult choices that may even be morally suspect. That's an impressive amount of heady material to pack into a modern day thriller if you ask me, so kudos to the man who did it.

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::: posted by dan at 5:05 PM :: #

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Why I saw it: I was on a plane, and I wanted to see the Oscar Nominated performance.

What I think about it: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is long, slow ("deliberately paced" is what they usually call it in the biz) and perhaps overly maudlin, but it still barely held my attention for almost three solid hours. This story about Jesse James and his relationship with his eventual assassin is interesting because it tells the story of the infamous outlaw without any flash or embellishment, and with utter lack of gun powder. I appreciated the direction and most of the acting (Casey Affleck was indeed impressive, but Brad Pitt seemed terribly miscast), and when all was said and done it actually had something interesting to say about the consequences of what it takes to be infamous. I think they could have accomplished the same thing in half the time, though. The editor of this picture gets an F, regardless of the fact that I don't regret my subsequent sore backside from the three hour run time. But to be fair, I was on a plane and had nowhere else to go.

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::: posted by dan at 4:57 PM :: #

Planet Terror

Why I saw it: I loved the Tarantino contribution to the Grindhouse double feature, so I wanted to see the other half.

What I think about it: It turns out I'm not that big a fan of Robert Rodriguez movies after all. I think I mistake my admiration for his kinetic shooting style and unbridled enthusiasm for actual appreciation of the resulting film. Because when I think back on it, there's not much in his catalog that I would ever care to see again. I found Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico to be infinitely cool in some aspects, yet infinitely lacking in others. The Spy Kids movies are throwaways. Sin City was a pointless, nihilistic exercise in style. From Dusk Til Dawn was close to being good, but somehow it didn't take itself seriously enough. I think the only thing he ever did that I honestly liked was his "The Misbehaviors" segment from Four Rooms, and that's because it's short length better suited its subject matter. Basically, I've realized he's all flash and little substance.

Planet Terror is the same: juvenile humor, gory action, and an utter lack of logic aimed straight at its core audience - sex and violence obsessed male teenagers. I understand it's supposed to be schlocky, and there are some truly inspired moments (the boy with the gun in the car and the "missing reel" segments come to mind), but when all is said and done it basically collapses under its own lack of weight, and suffers from being more akin to watching a car wreck than watching actual entertainment.

I'd like to see what Rodriguez could do with a serious story, without cartoon characters and cliches. Basically, I'd like to see if he can stop making movies like he's still a hormone-crazy teenager who found his dad's digital camera hidden in the closet. I'd like to see if he could grow up for once.

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::: posted by dan at 4:28 PM :: #


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Inland Empire
Gone Baby Gone
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Rob...
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There Will Be Blood
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