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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.

Thursday, October 25, 2007 :::


Why I saw it: I was on an airplane, it was playing.

What I think about it: No, I'm not talking about the esoteric period piece starring Ralph Fiennes. I'm talking about the low-budget sci-fi thriller from Danny Boyle starring the forever-intriguing Cillian Murphy. You may not have heard about it because it enjoyed abosolultely zero marketing or promotion from its studio, but it's definitely worth your time. The plot involves a team of scientists on a space ship in the near future who are attempting to jumpstart the sun by shooting a nuke into it, and although the actual plot mechanics are beyond old hat and derivative, the production values and the creepy tone are astoundingly impressive. The story itself eventually devolves into an Alien-style slaughter-in-space horror slasher, which is a little unfortunate, but it still somehow manages to come out feeling fresh, probably mostly due to some inventive production techniques and some well-built tension. All in all, a fun little project that mostly succeeds at drawing you in, even if you've seen it all before.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 10:10 AM :: #

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 :::

Eastern Promises

Why I saw it: I like David Cronenberg movies.

What I think about it: A Cronenberg movie is usually characterized by an intense mood and hypnotic pacing, and he seems to take pride in how easily he can make you feel uncomfortable. His movies might not feature the most humanistic or typical stories, but they are always absorbing. And I like that. His latest movie, Eastern Promises, a drama/thriller involving the Russian mob in London, unfolds with some intriguing plot developments, and although some scenes in particular are very unsettling, there seemed to be something amiss with the production. Basically, everything felt unfocused or off-center, with characters that were distant and hard to identify with. This might be typical of Cronenberg's style, but in this instance it didn't suit the subject matter very well. In fact, the plot almost felt like it was being handled as an aside to Viggo Mortensen's performance, as if the story itself was not as important as how it was being told, or more precisely: how Viggo was telling it. The actual production of the movie seemed sloppy in parts, and Naomi Watts' performance was undeniably, and uncharacteristically, terrible. All of these problems seriously undercut the tension, until even the climax, which should have been a real nail-biter, felt like a wash out. I can't help but think that in the hands of an appropriate director this movie would have been better focused and more effective. I just don't think crime dramas are Cronenberg's forte. They require too much character development in order to build the amount of tension required to really hook an audience. His focus seemed to be elsewhere. But still, I have to say it was not difficult to sit through, and some scenes (such as the brutal bath-house brawl) are so well done that it almost made it all worth it in the end.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 9:33 PM :: #


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