Monthly Archives: August 2011

Slacker

I’ve mentioned that I’m a fan of Kevin Smith before. I like his movies, but I also really like his podcasts, which has actually influenced my enjoyment of his films. After listening to his podcast I started watching some of them for the first time or re-watching them and I became a fan. Anyway, anyone who listens to his podcasts or knows something about him is probably aware that he attributes Richard Linklater’s film Slacker as the inspiration for him to make Clerks. I’m a fan of Dazed and Confused (I love that movie), but had never seen Slacker and always wanted to watch it because of what Smith said. Well, I finally got around to it.

Slacker is different. It is very much an indie flick so that is a strike against it for some people, though it shouldn’t be. I hesitate to say this, but I’m still going to. It’s kinda like Clerks. It’s not as dirty or really as funny, depending on your sense of humor. What I mean is that they are both sort of movies about nothing. At least that’s how I see them. Clerks a much more stationary film (in many ways), while Slacker just kind of drifts…

The movie has no central characters. You just follow random people around Austin fora  day. You start out with a guy in a taxi cab (Linklater himself) and he encounters someone else and both parties part ways with the camera following the new guy. Every now and then when a new person enters the frame, even if it is in the background, the camera will start following them. It could easily be just some bloke with a camera filming random people and be some odd documentary. There is more to the film than that though and the stories you see are interesting, if a bit bizarre at times.

I enjoyed it, but I don’t know about repeatability of watching it. I feel like I’d enjoy it every time mostly because I would catch something new. It’s also a movie you could re-watch as in the background.

Still, it isn’t for everyone. A lot of people would get bored by it, which is fine. Still it is an intriguing film to watch at least once.

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“What a piece of fecal matter.”

So I watched Bicentennial Man the other night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went into watching recalling all the negative comments made about the film and didn’t have high hopes. I believe I was in fourth grade when this movie came out and I do remember seeing it at the theaters. I’ve always enjoyed Robin William’s work since I was young (including some of his not so great works), but I don’t really think I’ve seen this since the time it came out. Maybe on VHS (possibly DVD) as a rental back in the day, but not any time frequently.

Again I loved it, though part of that might be in part due to my lowered expectations. The acting is great all around, and actually I found myself wondering who Little Miss was. I kept thinking “She looks like Jesse Eisenberg.” Due to the wonders of the internet, it turns out that the similarity was right on. Almost. It turns out Mr. Eisenberg has a younger sister, Hallie Kate. Sam Neil, Embeth Davidtz, and Oliver Platt support Mr. Willaims and are all actors I adore. Even Bradley Whitford makes a small appearance, which I wish was more. There are a number of other faces you’ll recognize as well.

I understand complaints about the length of the film, but honestly, I was so caught up in it that I didn’t notice the 132 minute length. As a kid that is probably one of the things that turned me off. And I do admit that it is extremely deep. A lot of topics get covered in this film and I feel like people expected it to be a straight Family Comedy and it really isn’t. I mean it is based on Isaac Asimov’s work. The biggest downfall to me is that the film defiantly trails off towards the very end. I feel like things got a bit rushed and the humor disappeared by the last thirty minutes. It fit what was on-screen, but it was quite a turn and for those who may be tuckered out at that point, I can see it as a huge turn off.

The special effects and makeup were quite nice and visually the film is pleasant. I found myself intrigued by the score the entire time and couldn’t quite place who it belonged to. I have a fondness for film scores and tend to be able to place a couple of the composers. I was rather close when James Horner’s name flew through my head at one point as it is his score. I always love his work and it fits with the movie and made it even more enjoyable.

I feel like I’m skimming over a number of things, but maybe it’s just because it has been a while. The movie really is good and I plan on watching it again, although not right away. It’s defiantly not a film you pop on when your bored. The fact that it is so well-rounded does make it more enjoyable to watch.

I actually interrupted a viewing of a movie to post this. I’m planning on watching Gus Van Sant’s “Death Trilogy,” which consists of Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days. I’ve only ever seen Gerry and that was when I was in middle school. Needless to say I was nonplussed with the film. I’ll make an individual post on each of them and probably do a third to tie it all up. I may not publish them till tomorrow or later, but keep a look out for them in the next day or so.

Deceiving Trailer. Film is much more of a Drama than this lets on. Mainly shows the first half of the film.

Arthur 2: On The Rocks

I assumed the sequel to Arthur would naturally sucks. Sequels or anything other than the original do not always stand up the the first film or book, etc. Arthur 2 was surprisingly good.

The story is more fleshed out than the first film and it defiantly is meant to be more than just ARthur running around drunk. In some respects I think Arthur 2 is better than the first film, but I’m not confident enough to say that for certain. It defiantly is a great movie and would still be good if the first film didn’t exist.

Unfortunately the ending was kinda crap. It was anticlimactic and just didn’t live up the the rest of the movie.

Ignore the fact that it is a sequel and watch it.

Arthur (1981)

Since I watched the remake earlier I decided to re-watch the original Arthur after the fact and the sequel is up next. I found it fitting to do some drinking while enjoying the film, so my opinion and this post be impaired.

Arthur is indeed a classic. Dudley Moore created a fantastic character that can never be remade. That being said, I stand by my original thoughts on the remake. Look that post up if ya want.

What is so lovely about Dudley Moore’s character is that he doesn’t piss you have. He’s a happy drunk that doesn’t do much harm. Not much really changes about him, but it’s no biggie. You love him throughout the movie because he doesn’t do anything wrong. And Moore is amazing with the role. -Side Note- I thought it funny that Moore is rather short and in the remake they chose Brand who is taller than most. Just odd that both Arthur’s were vertically challenged/blessed.

Liza Minnelli was really good. Don’t know much to say about her other than that. Had no qualms. John Gielgud was great as Hobson. Amazing wit and dry humor.

Might not be much of a review, but there isn’t much to say. This is a classic for a reason. It’s iconic for a reason. If you haven’t watched it than you need to. As far as the remake goes, I felt that it tried to expand more on the original. They tried to add some more emotion to certain aspects of the film, while the original is pretty cut and dry, which is why it is amazing. I’ve never seen the sequel (about to though), but I’m sure it’s worse than both the original and remake.

Arthur (2011)

Let me preface this with my thoughts on Russell Brand. I love this man quite a bit. Not everybody likes him and I can understand that. He can be annoying at times. However having been aware of him through his radio show, I feel like I’ve grown to love him. He was brilliant on the radio. Actually his best stuff was on the radio. He has a special brand (pun intended) of comedy and to some extent it takes some getting used to.

So to the recentish remake of Arthur. I’ve seena n own the original. Dudley Moore was fantastic. I have not seen the original in some time however and I’ve avoided seeing it before finally getting around to watching the new remake. I wanted to see without the original fresh in my mind. Part of that has to do with the fact that I like Russell. I wanted this to be a good movie, the original be damned. As horrible an idea it is to remake the original, I hoped that the remake could be a decent film on its own.

It is. I’m not ashamed to admit that I laughed loudly quite often throughout the film. Again I like Brand and he was actually pretty good here. His performance here reminded me of the work he did in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was great.

The remake is exactly that, a remake. It’s not a duplicate of the original. They didn’t take the old script and just do it word by word. They changed it and made it their own film. Russell Brand can not pull of Dudley Moore’s character Arthur. The two versions are completely different and both played to each actors strengths. Neither could successfully play the other and that is a good thing because it made them separate films.

I already mentioned how much I enjoyed Brand. I also loved Greta Gerwig. I thought she did a fantastic job. Helen Mirren was also really good, but I felt disappointed by her character. I had hoped that they would have done more with her, but it seemed like her material was cut out of the script somewhere.

This movie is actually funny. I mean the Batman stunt at the beginning was a lovely opening all by itself. It’s also quite touching at times. You have to go into the movie with an open mind though. If you watch it already hating it than no wonder you aren’t going to enjoy yourself. No it does not rival the original, but how could something that iconic be overthrown by a remake? Even if it was a brilliant film (which it isn’t) it would be hard for anyone to allow it to gain that status.

~Stay tuned for my thoughts on the original and it’s sequel (yes the made a sequel)

~Edit: Watched the original. The new Brand version does borrow a basic plot outline and there are some similar scenes and even reused dialog, but it’s not overwhelming and the new version keeps it fresh.

Captain America: The First Avenger

I saw Captain America the other day. Don’t know what to say. I enjoyed it. I thought it was really good much like all of its sister films. I haven’t had much of a problem with any of them.

I was really looking forward to the period setting, but that kinda was a let down. The Germans were uber advance and you basically never saw anything period about them. The USA had more retro stuff, but even they had quite a bit of tech. It kinda killed the mood for me. I didn’t want them running around in a base that looks sleeker than stuff we have now.

The casting was pretty good. I don’t care for Chris Evans. He always just seems like a bitch or something most of the time. Arrogant I guess. He was pretty good here though and I think this is the best acting I’ve seen from him. Hayley Atwell was brilliant. Tommy Lee Jones had a nice bit as did Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper, and Neal McDonough. Hugo Weaving was pretty good as Red Skull as well. I love when movies have great supporting cast members like this. Unfortunately, as is often the case, they don’t get enough screen time.

I also like how international this cast is and that Americans never seem to play Nazis. It’s usually the Brits, which doesn’t quite make sense.

The reviews are all good for a reason and unless you want to be left out of the Marvel machine and the lead in to the Avengers than you should see this.

 

PS: There is an Avengers trailer (sorta) at the end of the credits, which takes a long time. It’s nothing special, but probably the best teaser that they’ve had.

I Love You Phillip Morris

I Love You Phillip Morris has had my interest for some time, more so because of Ewan McGregor being in it. I’ve never really been a huge fan of Jim Carrey.

Yes the movie deals with homosexuality and I felt it was handled nicely. If you are a homophobe or a gay basher you wont like the film obviously. The homosexual aspects of the film aren’t gratuitous and aren’t really mocked as far as I noticed. It seemed actually very well handled.

I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t brilliant. It was funny, interesting, and kind of moving, but it was going nowhere. The movie follows Steven (Carrey) around as he tells part of his story, but there isn’t really a goal. You just kinda are being shown snippets of this man’s life and occasionally getting his thoughts. Things just kinda move along in a way that felt weird to me to the extent that I got hung up on it.

As weird as the plot seemed, the movie moved quickly. It doesn’t drag despite it seeming to lack a direction. The acting by Jim Carrey was really good. He’s kinda over the top, but I felt that he kept things reined in pretty well. I liked it. I enjoyed his somewhat restrained performance more. Ewan McGregor was really good as well, though he really only has a small part.

Worth checking out, but not really a “classic” Jim Carrey role that people might be looking for. And yes it’s based on truth.

Falling Skies Season 1

I enjoy television, but I don’t get to watch shows regularly. I usually just can’t fit it in my schedule to watch every show I want, so I usually just stick to watching some of the comedies like HOw I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, and the Big Bang Theory. That and browsing the late night shows the next day (Ferguson, Conan, Fallon). During the summer however I can actually watch TV! Unfortunately most of those great shows aren’t on so I see them via DVD, so I was glad that I could sit and watching Falling Skies as it was airing (didn’t always see it on air).

Falling Skies has Spielberg’s name branded on it so that is going to draw everyone in as it did with me, especially since the premise is basically aliens have invaded Earth and the show follows the survivors of that initial attack an their attempts to fight back. Seems cool, especially with Spielberg’s name thrown around. Unfortunately it really isn’t great.

The show started out pretty good. It focuses on the characters interactions with each other more than the actual resistance. It is a drama so that makes sense. Unfortunately about halfway through the show they get caught up on this one little point and just don’t budge. The action that you see earlier just comes to a halt and it gets repetitive. I tuned in to see nothing new has happened and nothing has really advanced. Not what you want on television.

Fortunately they got past that and they picked up speed and the last episodes were really good and the finale wasn’t spectacular, but they did a good job at making it so that anyone whose been watching will probably want to tune in again to see what is going on.

The cast is ok. Everyone generally does a great job. I don’t know how much I enjoy Noah Wyle. He still seems to bubbly most of the time. Moon Bloodgood does a good job as well and actually is probably better. Will Patton is great though. I like his movies and he does a great job here. It would actually be nice if he was the focus more that Wyle’s character. Sarah Carter also enters the cast later and is really good. Again she definitely needs more screen time since her acting is good and her character is actually interesting. Colin Cunningham eventually enters with Carter as a character everyone thinks is psychotic, but they never do a good job at showing that. He’s just kinda an asshole at times, but again he’s interesting and Cunningham doesn’t blow. Basically they need to focus on those secondary characters more because those seem to have some of the better actors and more interesting characters.

Not as great as the expectations were, but it still seems like a good solid sci-fi-drama for television, which isn’t something that usually seems to last on tv.

 

PS: Falling Skies was renewed for a second season.

Dragonheart

So I was home briefly the other day and my sister had rented Dragonheart from the library to watch and I decided to watch it with her. We actually own the movie on VHS, but alas we don’t have a working VHS player anymore.

I loved this movie when I was little. Watching it again, it really isn’t quite a kids movie, but it sorta is. To me it falls in some weird in between area. There are some bloody moments and a younger audience may miss a lot, but it is lighthearted enough for the most part that kids would enjoy it. I certainly did and it still holds up.

This is not a great movie though. It’s just something you pop in to kill time, or like me, to feel some lovely old nostalgia. And while I don’t think it’s great, there are a number of reasons to watch it for your first time as an adult.

The acting is iffy. Sean Connery voices an animated dragon, which for the most part looks pretty good considering the time and what the budget was probably for this film. His voice is amazing and he does a good job just voice acting. Dennis Quaid isn’t stellar. He’s kinda charming and his accent/attempt at a gruff voice annoyed me. Most of the smaller performances really aren’t that great or at least I didn’t feel blown away. I did enjoy Pete Postlethwaite’s small supporting part as a monk or whatever it was. Clearly not his greatest work but he was nice to see. Jason Isaacs also makes a small appearance and is good, though I always like him. David Thewlis though. That man was the best here. As mediocre as some of the acting may have been, he seemed to be doing a great job. I recall being creeped out by him as a kid and that feeling stuck. The man is a great actor and even in a less than stellar film he did a great job. Also it was cool to see Thewlis (Lupin) and Isaacs (Luciaus Malfoy) and think of their Harry Potter roles during this film.

I also continually feel very moved by the end of the movie. The score here is amazing and used wonderfully, and the finalish scene is a great example of utilizing that. Maybe I’m just a sucker for these kinda emotional bits in odd movies. I don’t really cry often or really at all (not trying to sound macho, but I tend to keep my emotions to myself. I’m just weird like that), but if I did I would sob by the end of this movie every time.

I dunno. I also feel like this isn’t as dark and grim as some movies are. I enjoy those lovely gritty pieces, but it’s nice to be able to enjoy something that is lighter or in this case a bit more balanced.

Not a great film, but a nice sorta family film. Enjoyable for a rainy day or when you are stuck inside.

Cowboys and Aliens

I haven’t made it to the theater lately so hopefully I’ll be making up for lost time before classes resume soon.

I’ve been dying to see Cowboys and Aliens. Ever since I first heard of it I was intrigued and my curiosity continued to grow as things developed. I was sold when Harrison Ford was secured to act in the film. I love that man so I would have wanted to see the film regardless of what it was.

My biggest hesitation going into the film was how the would balance the two genres. Honestly I though that the western aspect would be pushed aside in favor for the sci-fi aliens. I was wrong. The western elements of the film were the best and they could have had a hell of a western if they took out the aliens and retooled the story a bit. It looked great (though the tailor-made clothing  bugged me, mostly on Daniel Craig). I felt like they did a great job of catching the feel and look of a western and initially the whole alien thing was working out great. You don’t get any answers, just questions. Like the cowboys you are left in the dark, which I loved. Unfortunately the finale of the film is what kinda blew it. You get to see the aliens in all of their glory and it just felt a bit underwhelming. It didn’t seem like as much effort was put into that ending with the aliens. They were just there, substituted for Native Americans or a gang of outlaws.

Part of the issue with the aliens was that they were just there. You get some really great character development from the “cowboys,” but nothing from the aliens. Well, there is one that get’s slight development because of a previous encounter with Craig, but that really wasn’t development.

The acting was really good all around, which also helped the movie. There is humor in the film and I suppose it is sorta in the vein of Iron Man, but the movie is deadly serious. It isn’t a camp film with aliens attacking. Craig and Ford do a wonderful job of taking the whole scenario and making it seem real. That this isn’t just some hokey mashup.

Daniel Craig is great. He’s pretty quiet in the film and remains pretty much detached, but you do get some great emotional bits from him.

Harrison Ford was great as well, but I’m biased. He kinda does his grumpy old man bit here to an extent, which actually makes me think of him as taking over Sean Connery’s role as Indy’s dad in that film. As an older man he would have done a good job as his own father. That aside, he does a nice job and again you get some great development from the character and you see some emotional strings pulled very nicely.

Olivia Wilde felt out of place. Everyone else was male, but they were also pretty gruff and dirty and whatnot. She just didn’t fit in. In retrospect this makes sense as we learn something odd about her, but at the time it was just kinda meh. She did a good job though for what her role is.

Sam Rockwell was as good as ever. I don’t know if I’ve ever not liked him. Paul Dano is really good here as well, though he really only has a small part at the beginning of the film. He is a great source of humor though. Clancy Brown does a nice job as the Priest for a small role as does Keith Carradine (Lundy from Dexter) as the Sheriff. Adam Beach also deserves a nice nod for his role as the surrogate son to Ford and David O’Hara also has a very nice appearance where he beats up Craig (briefly). Basically a lot of great performances by actors playing very small parts that only appear for a few minutes.

I enjoyed the film. I’m not sure what turned everyone off. I mean the film is called Cowboys and Aliens, so I would feel expectations should be set accordingly. I thoroughly enjoyed it though and have no regrets.

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