Friday, August 28, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (Brodie) OMG QT is OTT!

Ah, Quentin Tarantino. He's good at making movies that have me cheering and clapping. What a good show! It's quintessential QT: gory violence, larger-than-life characters, dialogue that's amusing in its weirdness (despite being in other languages), overdone cinematography, loud obnoxious music... he's good at what he does.

Now, he has made the Nazi movie to end all Nazi movies (which must now be pronounced natsees). He creates a movie land that is great to play in. It has nothing to do with reality, and that's why we like it... (ok, so maybe it has a little to do with reality, but that's also why we like it). Projects like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers have started to make it more difficult to watch a good Nazi-killing flic without thinking and feeling a little deeper. But not to fear, QT--no doubt, toying with that fact--serves up a treat for the blood lust in us all. In that way, this movie joins those ranks of the-movies-that-make-it-hard-to-enjoy-Nazi-hunting; because from here on out, we are jaded and know that we'll never have it so good.

It should be seen and enjoyed. Yet, on spotting the 3-year old walking out of the theater with her parents, I feel I should restate that this is a movie about killing... people... violently. You know, blood, bludgeoning, and QT gore. It is not a family film meant for everyone. And I loved it!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Julie & Julia (Brodie)

Loved it! Deliciously delightful (sorry, can't help myself). Julie blogs about her attempt to cook all of Julia Child's 524 recipes in 365 days. Dynamic, fun characters who are especially relatable in their searches to spice up their mundane lives. Two functional marriages, which is so rare to see in movies (and elsewhere, for that matter) that it's a sight to behold. And of course, I'm partial to watching a blogger become famous by sending her words into the ether. J&J was great fun and kept me smiling throughout. I somewhat expected it to be sentimental or saccharine and was so happy to be proven wrong.

I understand that a movie starring a women, let alone two, will inevitably (and unfortunately) be labeled a "chick flick,"but the characters and stories are too engaging and sincere for anyone to pass up. If you need more convincing... um... the main characters' husbands are present enough to add a pinch of testosterone! But really, it's just a great story about people.

My advice: whether you fancy yourself a cook or not, you may want to be sure that your kitchen is well-stocked with butter for after the movie.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lady in the Water (Brodie)

I really liked this movie too. I saw it for the first time about a month ago. It was a movie for big kids--adults who are childish enough to suspend their disbelief and jump in with both feet. That was a quality I loved about the film. Many times, far-fetched movies show the characters trying to convince themselves that these bizarre things are actually happening. They have moments of "I must be losing my mind" or other characters questioning their sanity. This movie was void of all of that, and I loved it. It was a fable and everyone seemed to except that it was. I think "cute" is a great word for it. It was a delightful story that was also meaningful--just as a kid's bedtime story should be. For those adults who want to curl up and hear a story reminiscent of what was read to them years ago--this is your movie. For those of you who want to be riveted by dialogue and awed by a revelation of human struggle; well, just hush up and go someplace else... the rest of us are trying to enjoy the story.

Lady in the Water (AKA- the apology letter written to M. Night Shyamalan)

Saw this movie for the second time today.

I'm pretty hung over, some what sensitive and emotional today I think I'm having a hormonal imbalance- or maybe just this movie speaks to me.

Cute(I know a word like this brings my being into question but it's the best adjective)- my definintion for this movie. It's just an adorable little film. (I know it's big but in reality it's a little film based on how little was spent making it and the low budget tricks they implemented or seem like artistic choices which Night's mentor was great at-see Hitchcock)

I love this movie. When I first saw the movie I wanted to write a giant apology letter to Shyamalan. Have really enjoyed his movies- Sixth Sense, Unbreakable (at the time I thought it might have been one of the best superhero movies ever), Signs (redunkulous- loved it).

Of course then came the backlash, if you went into Signs thinking giant alien invasion flick ala Independence day you were mistaken and abashedly felt robbed.

The Village came next, I still enjoyed the filmmaking but it was clearly the lesser of his films overall. I still fell for the story though and that is another story.

After Village, many people heavily criticized Night. For many these two in a row were very bad news.

Lady in the Water was next. I doubted his work. I read the reviews calling for him to stop writing and directing and please for god sack stop putting yourself in the movies. The backlash was incredible and I actually decided I would wait to see the movie. (his movies had become events for me).

Boy was I wrong.

Bed-time Stories, Fables and tales by the fire are the origins of our entertainment. (Night supposedly read this story to his children)

Movie gives me hope that there is a purpose for everyone and that even the smallest action undertaken alone could enact significant change in others-a ripple effect into the future. It comes together well with a message of people of all backgrounds coming together despite doubts and disbelief in each other and themselves and accepts the roles they play in trying to save "Story". Funny how the movie is entirely about saving "story" and getting the "story" home-what was on his mind that night?

Many little moments and layers bring this film an awkward human silliness that is just gentle and real to me. Giamatta is great, Jeffery Wright is great, the critic was great, the actor playing Shyamalan's sister was great.

Love the whole devise of the movie critic used in the film, and that he is the only person to be attacked and ripped apart by the scrunt. He was mocking himself in the film, mocking the film within the film and then taking a stab back at movie critics.

Both times I have seen this movie, I have felt something (maybe the score helped), something tangible the movie does it for me. Can Identify with any number of the characters who live in the complex. Love the role of Cleveland Heap as a Healer who only Heals himself by healing others and that idea of the exchange between a doctor(healer or anyone who works with patients) and a patient as a two way street.

So I'm sorry I initially listened to the critics on this one Shyamalan, of course then again I did see "The Happening" based on the tremendous previews. What was in the previews and basically the first 15-20 minutes of the film were great and then, WTF just happened? Awful Awful Awful. The movie was renamed "What Happened" in reference to what happened while you were writing this. So the your next film "The Last Airbender" I'm gonna see it opening night but I really am praying for more Signs/Lady/sixth/unbreakable and not "The La(o)st Filmmaker"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

District 9 (Or just Dic-nine)

Preface. (yes that's what I do)

1) Spoiler Alert (aka Rancid Banana behind the couch?)

2) Have yet to read the Official Brodie Review but have interviewed her extensively

Humanity. The Horror.

The setup-tremendous. 20 years ago an alien space craft, looking like a metallic upside down wedding cake, limps into Earth's atmosphere and abruptly stops and chills over the fine South African city of Johannesburg (Jo'Burg). On Board a race of low class, malnourished, worker bee, giant fugly insects festering in their own filth. We do what any good humans would do faced with a mass of refugees- we put them in a slum shanty town/concentration camp and blame them for all our problems. The Films exponsitionary vehicle is the documentary style they enact with lots of talking heads foreshadowing events while providing compelling back story of historical events melded with "live" action footage.

Any bonehead that claims this movie is deeply allegorical or has undertones of actual events is in fact proving that they are a bonehead. That is not to say it's great it's just hearing or reading of the "undertones" people discuss makes me puke. IT's A friggin BAT to the FACE. Which is great cuz the movie doesn't pull any punches in that sense. The environment is dark gritty real despite giant insect like click-clacking aliens all part of the action. The prominent back drop ,which is the upside down wedding cake or the bottom of cloud city from Empire known as the alien spaceship, serves as a great image for the movie and is used often juxtaposing the area between downtown and the ship as District 9. Some real nice shots for an eye candy addict like myself. The Aliens are always a close part of the action and with the creation of the documentary style allows me to suspend all reality and fall into this cold world.

Wikus Van De Merwe (Newcomer Sharlto Copley) is the Main Character as we follow this bumbling over acting heavy accented corporate stooge lead a excursion into the 9 in order to serve eviction notices to the Cat Food Eating populace. I'm Loving everything about this movie until about 30 minutes into it when I suddenly realize I'm trying hard to like this guy, chuckling a few times thinking it's supposed to be funny. It's not, it could have been, but it's just not. I really thought it was bad overacting and my biased desire to like this film was getting in my way and thus took me out of the film. Never fear, 4-5 quick handfuls of popcorn and sucks of a diet coke revived my interest. "Vikus" is a racist bastard who really has no redeeming qualities and I found myself routing for No one at the end except for the one Humane aspect of the film who was Chris Johnson. Yup the only intelligent alien. Chris Johnson. Love it.

The Pace is brisk and I was tearing my fingers into the armrests at times. Mix in some cool ass alien technology and a pretty satisfying few action sequences merge into basically a giant chase sequence make it a good movie to see especially in the theatre.

I feel the movie had the ingredient maybe to make a bigger impact; move me; cause change.
It just presents the world as shit and we are destined to shit all over each other and gravely repeat mistakes. I think potentially a more sympathetic character could have led me there, but then again I love the fact that it wasn't formula, wasn't cheap in it's character development (cuz there was none) . I found myself not routing for anyone- wishing for the humans to die, the main character to suffer, the aliens to die except for the two most "human" aliens. Maybe in hindsight that was the point. But I felt a little emotional devoid. Empty I left my seat really liking the movie yet thinking somehow they fucked up. Maybe they just held up a mirror and I didn't like it one bit.

They are destined to return in a possible sequel, wouldn't mind seeing the aliens creating district 10 made up of humans.

District 9 (Brodie)

I loved it. I'm going to try not to give anything away. I went into the movie knowing nothing and was glad I did.

I really liked the first-person documentary style, and the CG effects were great. The story was very thought-provoking without the sledge hammer bluntness we can usually expect from Hollywood. Though, the choice of setting was inescapably poignant. The "multi-national" nature of the people shown ensured that no one could evade the finger that was being pointed at humanity. And what a finger! The message was bleak, dark, and depressing. The one party scene that could have been fun and celebratory was shown as invasive, uncomfortable, and unbearable.

There was only one likeable character--well, one and a half if you count his son. And there were other glimmers of decency in some minor tertiary characters--those people who knew this was a story worth telling and exposing.

So why did I "love" a movie that was so bleak? Well, it was certainly original and different. It had some of the most gruesome violence I've seen since the exploding zombies of Planet Terror, and to me that was part of the point--in a world of such violence, there are no good guys. There is no Bruce Willis to sweep in and save the day. The world is what we make of it, so if we create a world of hatred and violence, then that's what we get.

For those of you looking for an action-packed movie that doesn't have a "bigger message," District 9 should still satisfy. It was pretty non-stop, and as I said, was filled with some great violence.

I don't know about you, but I'm anxious to see what will happen in three years.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hurt Locker (Brodie)

Compelling, revealing, important...
(The story of a US Army bomb squad in Iraq, focusing on three soldiers.)
I'm hesitant to say that it was a realistic portrayal of war because what do I know? But being that it was void of messages about patriotism or the why-are-we-in-Iraq-at-all discussions, I'm more apt to trust it. It wasn't about THIS war, it was just about war and the people who live through (or die in) them. It showed the everyday lives of the soldiers. It was about each moment, each mission, and the guy next to you, and from what I've heard from those who have been, that's what war is about.
Some parts seemed overdone to increase suspense, which brought in a little Hollywoodiness I could have done without, but those were exceptions and didn't detract much from the overall portrait (at least not for someone who's never served).
I was also impressed how--with a degree of subtlety--it showed why, despite the torment of war, some soldiers do want to go back.
Because the movie didn't preach or force a message down my throat, it felt honest.
Really well done.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

G.I. Joe (Brodie)

I haven't seen this movie nor do I plan to. I feel as though I could review it without doing so, and it turns out, I'm in good company. Here is a review from the Wall Street Journal:

‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’
The folks at Paramount wouldn’t screen “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” for critics—they must love the movie so much they want to keep it to themselves. But why do I have to see it to review it? People debate the merits of movies they haven’t seen all the time—especially on the message boards of the Web, where vast numbers of fanboys, apprentice fanatics and professional grousers turn an endless supply of baseless assumptions into groundless conclusions.

At first I felt shut out, but then I realized I was missing the point of a double blessing. Paramount has spared me the pain of sitting through another military-toy epic (the recent “Transformers” sequel having been a near-death experience), and the studio has set me free to reach my own conclusions—not quite groundless but close—on the basis of the “G.I. Joe” trailer.
The first thing that happens in the trailer involves the Eiffel Tower, which is hit by a missile and makes a splash by falling into the Seine. I don’t like movies that trash the Eiffel Tower, although I loved “The Lavender Hill Mob,” in which Alec Guinness’s mild-mannered bank clerk smuggles gold bars out of England by turning them into Eiffel Tower paperweights.

The second thing involves an actor intoning, voice-over: “We have never faced a threat like this. A team is being assembled. They’re the best operatives in the world. When all else fails, we don’t.” Even apart from the actor pronouncing “assembled” as “assimbled,” the speech suggests a sound clip from an early rehearsal of a junior-high-school pageant. I don’t like movies with bad actors reading dumb lines.

Most of all, I don’t like vast industrial productions based on toys I never played with as a kid (although the first “Transformers” was actually good fun). When I wrote a review suggesting that the sequel would hasten the end of civilization, a reader emailed me to say, “I have more than 700 Transformer toys and you don’t know . . . ” That’s as far as I read, since what I did know is that he was right. I am no more qualified to judge the details of these toy-based monstrosities than a toy critic—there are toy critics, aren’t there?—would be qualified to review “Casablanca.” (Though a battery-powered Rick puffing real smoke might be collectible.)

Nonetheless, I insist on my right to say that “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” will also hasten the end of civilization and may well be as dreadful as it’s said to be by countless online blatherers who, exactly like me, haven’t seen a single frame of it on a big screen. These days, not seeing is believing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Food Inc. (Brodie)

This movie was pretty good. And I highly recommend it. It was educational to learn about the unique and deadly E. Coli strain created by the "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" or CAFOs (no real need to call them "farms" anymore), to learn of Monsanto's monopoly on soy, of the national and international effects of subsidized corn, and more. I agree that we should know what we're putting into our bodies. The level of disconnect that we now have with our food is scary. The movie had enough sentiment to remind us that there are people getting very sick and even dying from this system, but emotions and sarcasm didn't dominate the movie like a Michael Moore film might do.

I did have some problems with it. It touted Stonyfield as a potential hero; however, I question how great big organic farms are. Their "natural" pesticides can be very toxic, their transportation and storage can be very energy intensive... My point: organic may not be the answer, and may not be enough.

But what is? I want to know more about what we can do. What will the consequences be for the world if we stop subsidizing corn? How can we afford to eat if the market does properly reflect what goes into our food? How can we vote with our dollars if Monsanto owns 90% of soy beans and soy is in everything? Does organic mean GMO free? I have so many more questions I want answered, and as they continued to remind us--there's a veil over the whole industry, so how do we learn more?

To be cheesy, I'll say this: "Food, Inc." left me hungry, and I'm ready for seconds. I guess, that was the point. I recommend that everyone see it. As I said originally, we should know what we're eating. To quote another movie that I'm not likely to see, "and knowing is half the battle."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Funny People (Brodie)

First, I'm going to point out, in case the comedian-battles-with-a-terminal-disease trailers didn't tip you off, it's not all that funny.

For everything else it tried to be, I give a definitive "eh" and shrug, (but even that's a gift that I'm giving probably only because I have a little crush on Seth Rogen).

How many times are we going to be force fed the "money bad; friends and family good" message from Adam Sandler? Who is he trying to convince? In this version, all of his character's growth (which I'm assuming the movie was supposed to be about) was saved for the last 60 seconds of the movie (the movie was 2 hrs 35 mins long), so I can't say that this one was much more profound than Click, and I can be almost sure that it was supposed to be. At least, I certainly thought so going into it.

He did, however, earn some points by seeming to show a sense of humor about the types of goofball, funny voice/funny face rolls that have been a staple of his comic career.

As far as being a showcase for many of Hollywood's funny peple, there are some enjoyable stand-up comedy scenes and great cameos--my favorites being from Paul Reiser (I was just happy to see him again), Sarah Silverman (as inappropriate as ever), Ray Romano and Eminem, whose assholeishness and sledgehammer-like subtlty was quite refreshing when turned on vapid actor Sandler.

To sum up, not much happens, it's not all that funny (despite the sprinkling of great comedians) and did I mention that it's 2 hrs and 35 mins long? This is the second review where I've had a problem with the length of a movie. Robots fighting is really only that entertaining for an hour and a half, maximum; and likewise with funny people who aren't being all that funny--or anything but present, for that matter. Where have all the good editors gone?

500 Days of Summer (Brodie)

Good soundtrack (Regina Spektor and Carla Bruni). Playful and refreshingly different in some ways but not terribly deep or revealing. The initial description of Summer was mockingly and amusingly done in a 1950's black and white educational film reel style about the "ideal" woman. And her character throughout seemed a little flat. The scene that had the most potential of giving us a glimpse into her character (her crying--practically sobbing--at the end of The Graduate) only teased us, and left us to simply conjecture about her unique reaction. I tend to think this was done to reveal the shortcomings of Tom's character and his perception of her, but it did mean that the movie didn't achieve a level of character or story depth that I thought it would. Maybe the film's intenion was to show love as shallow or maybe it was an inadvertant exposure of the writer's view. Hard to know. Either way, it was cute, but I was hoping for more.

Frost/Nixon (Brodie)

My lack of prior knowledge, makes it difficult (if not impossible) to assess an historical story for its accuracy, but I liked it. I felt it revealed a level of humanity and the remorse that I was reminded I still crave from our previous presidential administration. At least Nixon seemed to have a conscience and was articulate enough to explain why he didn't always follow it. It was a good story with a refreshing sense of justice, even if it was brought to us by the wonders of television.

Brick (Charlie)

I love this movie. You never get a true Detective Story these days. This is in my Top 10 favorite movies. The second the credits stared to role it ended up being a favorite. The next day i watched it again just to make sure i really liked it. You know what? i liked it even more. If you have not seen this movie then run , don't walk, to a store and pick it up. Great, just thinking about this movie makes me want to watch it again. Hollywood should not be scared to make more detective stories.

Brick (Brodie)

Very entertaining and riveting. Old-time intricate private investigator story set in a modern day high school complete with anti-hero protagonist, sleazy women he knows not to trust, his source that he protects by keeping hidden, a story he unravels by throwing himself into the knot, and quick, nearly incomprehensible dialogue--even with the English subtitles, it was like I was listening to another language. A reinvention of an old black and white genre--a gritty detective story told in a new, imaginative way. I applaud the director for his efforts; it must not have been easy. (Saw this one on DVD; was originally released in 2005.)