Monday, May 26, 2014

Hush up, little girls, a lot of cats have that name.

Black Dynamite - 4/5
It was funny. Not by being intentionally bad, which it may be sold as, but by being intentionally funny. I loved this shit, yo.

I don’t want to add my name to that list.

Layer Cake - 2.5/5
Feels like a copycat. A copy of an entertaining thing, yes, but a copy. It was like someone learning to draw by tracing. 

In heaven, everything is fine.

Eraserhead - 2/5
More than anything, I think David Lynch just has a bunch of thoughts. Pictures pop in his head and he wants to see them play out. Sometimes those pictures are whole stories. Sometimes they’re just vignettes that hope to be a whole story. This one’s like waking up with a vague memory of a dream but not being sure what it’s about and having forgotten how it ended. To his credit and discredit, I’m not so sure he cares if we see what he sees or saw. He’s unburdened by us. It’s less about our own enjoyment as it is about opening a window into his own head because he thinks it’s worth peeking inside. And he’s such a genuinely weird dude, I’d hate to ruin it by calling it self-indulgent. But it is a chore. 

Relaxed fit.

Neighbors - 2.5/5
The movie likes all of its characters too much to define any one person as the bad guy. The frat guys are too much fun. The parents are the least funny and perhaps most evil but they are the oppressed fighting back against the Youth Trend. This seems like it could have been handled with a deft ‘maybe we’re the bad guys…??’ but it instead just amps up the evil of the frat. So who do we root for? The fun evil guys or the less fun evil parents? They’re better together than fighting each other, so we just end up rooting for them to stop being idiots and just, you know, fucking hang out together. The movie seems like it could have had multiple feasible ‘abouts,’ but it would rather make a gross-out joke than string together a story logic. When jokes land, they land hard, but the story just kind of falls to the floor. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Never fail to do what’s right.

The Rescuers - 1.5/5
It feels like a Don Bluth movie. Dark and rough-edged. The cute voices are cute. Shit, I don’t know. I didn’t feel anything, so it must’ve sucked. 

If nothing ever happens here, why does it always happen to me?

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape - 2.5/5
Trapped in a small town-type shiz, except the trappings are “responsibility to others.” He’s got shit to do. Too much going on to risk running off. Can’t leave his fat mama or his skinny-brained brother. Gilbert wants to be a good person, but it comes at the cost of being himself. Like if Superman didn’t give himself permission to be Clark Kent. When you’re a good person, your choices are made for you – doing the right thing – and that’s the eventual problem with the movie: his mama dies, so he doesn’t have to deal with the heroic feat of making a choice for himself, of himself. The gates are open and he’s free to roam, but he didn’t have to pry them open. So that’s flat, much like Gilbert himself through the duration of the movie. It’s nice when he gets mad, because that’s a spark and there’s way too much of stamping out the flames. It’d be nice to see something burn. 

It was always going to be someone else’s way.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - 3/5
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - 2.5/5
It’s that special breed of movie – the market research cool. Wisecracks without a smile and no visible weaknesses. Badassery as decided by a committee of teenage boys. A kiss-less make-out session on dirt bikes and a bungee-swinging kung-fu fight that almost so close has the potential to slip a booby. It’s weird and stupid and glorious. The second installment goes down a notch because it takes itself a pound-and-a-half more seriously. Did people say the first was too campy? We need more gritted teeth and shooting of the man you love? I don’t know. People, man. 

A world without Spider-Man.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 2.5/5
What a frustrating movie series. Its Spider-Man *looks* great, he *moves* great – but it’s all on the surface. He’s a superhero, but he’s not a very good person. Manipulative, flaky, a promise-breaker – those things he was supposed to fix after his Uncle Ben got shot, yo. He’s a borderline-abusive boyfriend, holding back a clearly better woman. (And I think there’s been an unfortunate byproduct of the end of ‘Batman Begins’ which implies that superheroes cause more trouble than they stop – “escalation” – which may be true, but it’s a dangerous line of thinking when the ultimate end result is to continue being that hero.) I think the recent trend in blockbuster movies is to use likability as a spackle to fill in holes in the story. ‘Say a funny joke’ replaces ‘fix inherent problem with story.’ It’s smart – it creates a sheen, a surface-level cleanliness. If you’re not trained in the art of writing increasingly long movie reviews on your personal blog, you may miss it. But still – there’s enough there within that likability to make me desperately want it to be good. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are so good. They should go off and make a million movies together. Her ending has meaning not because of the story, but because the one thing worth salvaging about this franchise is now dead. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Do you think I’m pretty?

Under The Skin - 3.5/5
The closest I can get to understanding: it’s the power and burden of pretty people. Scarlett Johannson drives around Scotland in a white van, picking up real people who didn’t know they were being filmed (GREAT), who jump at the prospect of a PYT giving them a ride (GREAT). Of course – had that been a 40-year old man picking up young women, it would have been creepy. And she is creepy; but she’s beautiful. That is her power: she can get away with it. And then, as the movie progresses, she wants more than to Be Seen, she wants to know herself and to perhaps Be Known, and she gets trouble for it. When she controls the object (her cooter), she has power. When she is objectified, she is helpless. She can get away with a lot, but she’s not seen for much. That theme runs through the outer edges of the movie, even. The lower classes (and me!) are enticed by the notion of seeing Scarlett's boobs, and then they see more boners-per-minute than most movies you can find in a mainstream movie theater. They expected skin, they got UNDER IT, GUYS. THEY GOT UNDER THE SKIN. I enjoy the idea of that and I enjoy what I see as the themes of this movie. But also, bros? This movie can be boring as shit. It’s repetitive, it’s long, and it’s intentionally obtuse. What it had to say – which I believe to be worthwhile – would have been worth more to more people had it just, you know, had someone slap it in the face and say ‘stop wasting my time.’ It’s a beautifully-made story, not a beautifully-told one. 


Noah - 1.5/5
Who is this movie for? The religious shit does not appeal to me, the unaffiliated, while the giant mudrock angels very much appeal to me (even if they be looking dumb), though I find it hard to believe they’d be easily accepted by the god-fleshed ones. The fact that this movie was made in the way that it was made is astounding to me. It’s either incredibly courageous or incredibly stupid, and I honestly have no idea which it is. This movie so straddles the line between ‘we did it because of God’ and ‘we can rationalize anything if we think about it long enough’ (which is literally the final major dramatic beat of the movie) that I’m left with nothing but a big ‘what the fuck was that.’ The subject matter courts the Christian audience and then feeds them poo-crackers, and a big-named director courts the likely-not-religious audience while feeding them — what? A poor message? Doctrine? Again – who is this movie for? I’ll throw an answer into the dark void – it was made for its creator, to do with as he pleases. All praise Him.