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September 5 2006

Mini-Reviews

With the Fall TV season about to start up, and nothing on this weekend due to the Labor Day holiday, I decided to catch up on DVDs I had rented from Blockbuster Online & Netflix (more on why I belong to both in another post), and from ones I had bought it and not gotten to yet. I started on Thursday night and decided to keep a log of mini-reviews because…well, I always need blog material. Warning:Some spoilers for each movie, so skip any movie you plan on watching!

Thursday:

It Happened One Night – This is part of my AFI Top 100 Films quest. A 1934 Frank Capra classic starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, is the standard all romantic comedies are judged by. It’s hard to watch in present day because you have the feeling you’ve seen it all before. Well, you have, because this film taught all the one’s that followed it. Girl marries man she loves, family tells her she’s wrong, she tries to get back to him, meets another man along the way, falls for him, stays with him when it’s all over. It also contains the famous “hitchhiking scene” where Claudette shows Clark how hiking up her skirt will get a car to stop for them, a scene parodied/copied so many times over the years.

Waiting… – Loaned to me by a co-worker…eh. It’s ok, but I think it’s funnier if you’ve worked in the food industry. Crass humor, silly set-ups, characters that go nowhere, don’t go out of your way for it.

I hate how modern comedies don’t know how to edit themselves. The writers will come up with a joke, in this case it was the Lesbian bartender, that they like, and they’ll just ignore they have nothing to do with the character past the one joke. She got her joke out of the way and then she was just kind of there, serving no real purpose. They went back to her couple times, but it felt more like was an obligation than any real need.

Running Tally:2

Friday: (Only one movie today due to other things going on)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – Another one off my AFI 100 checklist! A 1948 feature directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart. The plot of the film can be summed up in one word…”greed”. The whole story revolves around how the lust for gold can twist a man’s soul, even when they have been warned it might. Walter Huston, father of the director, serves almost as a Deus Ex Machina, he dispenses all the necessary info to the main stars, Bogart and Tim Holt, and to the audience, about how gold will twist you. “I know what gold does to men’s souls.” Well worth your time, but expect to see plot devices familiar to you now, but put it in context of when it was made.

This is also the film that gave us “stinkin’ badges”, a line used in so many movies and TV shows, it’s stunning. “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.”

Running Tally:3

Saturday:

Grandma’s Boy – *sigh* Another loan from a coworker, it seems he wants to kill me with sub-par, bathroom humor comedies. In the first 5 minutes you have a man masturbating to a doll…need I really say more?

Silent Hill – Ok, my coworker redeemed himself with this one! I was actually impressed! Well shot, somewhat logical (I stress somewhat), and the first video-game-turned-movie that I’ve seen that FELT like a video game! Finding useful items in drawers, clues coming from random sources, maps to memorize, tasks to do, and the entire story making sense when she gets to “the boss” level. Dark, disturbing, and a lot of fun. The images ARE very disturbing, so be warned this is not for the squeamish! If you think you can take it, it’s fun!

A Mighty Wind – Done in the mockumentry style of This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and Best in Show, this one is brought to you by the same guys and focuses on folk singers. I loved Spinal Tap and Guffman, but I think the format was starting to feel stale in Best In Show, and it gets even more stale with A Mighty Wind. It’s cute, it’s still fun, but they seem to be too self-conscience now about what parts fans have liked and amping those up. The acting is superb, as always, but it just felt too “been here, done that”. I enjoyed it, but I’m not going to rave about it, if you feel the need for this style, just watch Spinal Tap again.

Bend It Like Beckham – Formulaic, but you know what, I didn’t care! There is just something about this movie that it sucks you in. A coming of age story, a culture clash story, a girl power story, it has so many things going for it, so much happening, and all with an under-lying sweetness that is just hard not to like.

Starring Parminder Nagra, best known in the USA for playing Dr. Neela Rasgotra on ER, and Kiera Knightley, both women turn in realistic turns as women who want to play football even when it seems like no one else cares about it. They have a love for the game and play for passion, not huge paychecks. It’s just plain sweet, warm, funny, and best of all, likeable. I highly recommend it!

Bring It On – A high school comedy about cheerleaders starring Kirsten Dunst. Silly, predictable, but yet fun in the way Clueless was. You feel guilty for liking it, but you like it in spite of yourself.

Running Tally:8

Sunday:

Seed Of Chucky – This one didn’t come from a DVD, but my Tivo instead as I need to make room for all the fall premieres. This is the 5th in Child’s Play series and….yeah, we didn’t need it. Cute reference to old Ed Wood movie, Glen or Glenda, but otherwise it was just mind numbing. There’s just so much you can do with a serial killing doll, and even the murders were boring in this one.

The Producers – This was the new musical version with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, and I have to say it was even better than I expected! I loved how they really captured the feeling of the classic musicals, and I can see why they were such a smash on Broadway. The only thing I wish is we could have at least had a small cameo by Mel Brooks, we heard him, but no sight of him.

Finding Nemo – Yes, I finally got around to seeing it. Cute, but that’s what I expected. I have to ask though…what does Disney have against mothers???? Ellen Degeneres was by far the best thing in the movie, it’s worth watching just for her.

The Crow – Salvation – I love the first Crow, but everything since has sucked. They keep trying to recreate the feel of the first movie and they all fail. This one seemed promising for the first 45 minutes, but then one of the worst car chases I have ever seen happened and it was all downhill from there. And what was Kirsten Dunst doing in this?? Even if you love the first movie, just skip this shamble of a movie. (I could go on for hours about all the plot holes)

Dick – Who would have ever thought you could make a comedy out of the Watergate scandal? Basically the movie revolves around Deep Throat was really two 15 year old girls who accidentally kept wandering in to portions of the scandal. Great cast, cute concept, just a lot of fun. And yes, I realize this is my third movie with Kirsten Dunst in 24 hours. No, I am not that big a fan of hers, she just happens to be in movies I haven’t watched yet.

Running Tally:13

Monday:

Ah, the last day of my marathon. I’m running out of movies I have on hand that I haven’t seen! I have a stack of foreign movies to get through, but I’m going for quantity right now, and they tend to slow me down.

Midnight Cowboy – The AFI 100 list strikes again! I imagine at the time this was released it was quite the shocking film, but now it suffers from what most early 1970’s film do, drug induced flashbacks as a method of storytelling. If you want to do silent flashbacks, fine, but give me more than 2 seconds to look at it, and don’t do color strobing effects over it! Never mind the fact I would like to have known a little more about what happened with Voight’s girlfriend back in Texas. Amazing performances by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman though.

Memento – Interesting format with learning everything in reverse, but as much went unexplained as explained. If you’re going to do such a format, make sure all your bases are covered and everything flows logically. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the rule you set up about not being able to learn new memories…how does he never forget about his condition?

Revolver – What happened to Guy Ritchie? I loved Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch was ok, but this one…I think he just wanted to see how complicated he could make it. Was it a gangster film? An exploration of one’s psyche? A con film? A morality play? Who knows…skip it.

Lilo & Stitch – Okay, enough death for today, I needed something lite, so off to Disney I went. A lot funnier than I ever thought it would be. Pretty original and doesn’t beat you over the too badly with the message about family…well, maybe a little bit. Still cute.

Omen IV – The Awakening – Ok, I was really desperate! This came in a boxed set I bought of all the movies, which I love, but I have always avoided watching this one like the plague. The first three were always planned as a trilogy, this was a tacked on, made-for-TV follow-up. I have to say, it wasn’t QUITE as bad as I suspected…until the Devil’s Chorus randomly showed up in an alleyway and sang to the private detective…WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!? Rest of it so-so, that scene mind-blowingly horrible.

FINAL TALLY:18

So, in summary, the good ones are The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Silent Hill, Bend It Like Beckham, Bring It On, The Producers, Finding Nemo, Dick, and Lilo & Stitch.



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  • Jo

    A personal favorite of mine, old black and white, is “The Women”. Netflix has it. All woman cast – no guys, but the story is all about guys.

  • thanks for the recommendation! I’ve added it to my queue:)

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