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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, December 17, 2006 :::


Why I saw it: It was starting in two minutes, and I wanted to see a movie. I thought any movie would do.

What I think about it: For all the effort the filmmakers clearly put into being authentic with costume, make-up, sets and locations to tell this story of a Mayan-like civilization at the brink of its own demise, you'd think that the screenwriters would have also attempted to avoid trite Hollywood conventions and formulaic cliche, but nope. Setting up your typical hero revenge story, Mel Gibson and this troupe of unknown actors use every trick in that big ol' bag of worn-out and tired Hollywood plot devices to a laughable degree. Try NOT to roll your eyes at the prophetic oracle child, or the fate-saving solar eclipse, or the poisonous frog darts, or the waterfall leap of faith. By the time you get to the quicksand... yes I said quicksand... you'll wonder how this gore-fest fantasy for 14-year-old-boys ever got greenlighted in the first place, especially when the moral of the movie ends up being "love conquers all", a lesson I learned from Julia Roberts decades ago, only back then I wasn't forced to sit through a hundred beheadings to grasp it.

Worst of all, it never seems authentic. Not once will you actually forget that you're staring at an actor in make-up. Not once will the emotions or mannerisms of the characters seem at all appropriate for their implied time period. And not once will you believe that that native is actually out-running that jaguar.

It's gruesome, gory, nihilistic, pessimistic, dark, unredeeming, and pointless. It's torturous to sit through and meaningless to analyze. It's like The Last of the Mohicans only without the meaningful plot, the three-dimensional characters, the disbelief-suspending authenticity, or the sense of purpose. Ok, it's nothing like The Last of the Mohicans. Oh, and it's loooooooong.

The only reason it gets one and a half stars is because they actors make a good go of what they have been given, and for the costumes and cinematography.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 11:01 PM :: #

For Your Consideration

Why I saw it: I love Christopher Guest comedies.

What I think about it: I absolutely love Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting for Guffman. I consider them to be a trifecta of near-perfect comedies. A movie-making hat trick, if you will. But as it turns out, if you take the mockumentary out of a Christopher Guest movie, you lose the funny as well. For Your Consideration is more like a typical scripted movie than it is another Christopher Guest ensemble mockumentary, and therein lies the problem: when you lose the feeling that you are getting a behind the scenes peek at this sorry lot of sad-sacks, they turn out to be more annoying than funny. Plus, it's nice that Mr. Guest wants to include all of his regular old friends in all of his projects, but there has gotten to be way too many of them, so everyone gets about five minutes of screen time total, which rarely gives anyone a chance to be truly funny. In fact, except for one big reveal moment involving Catherine O'Hara's character (which almost ends up redeeming the entire picture - almost), there is barely a laugh-worthy moment in the entire movie. The premise is weak, the set-up is shaky, the script is predictable, the running time is too short to allow any sort of resonating build-up, and the result is ultimately disappointing. It doesn't sully their previous work at all, but I certainly won't feel obligated to buy the DVD just to maintain a complete Christopher Guest collection. It's definitely not worth it.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 10:41 PM :: #


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