Friday, February 27, 2009

Wasted postage

The US postal service claimed some gagillion dollar loss last year, and lobbied congress to only deliver 5 days a week instead of 6, which would totally suck for Netflix subscribers. At least I've done my part to spur some biddness for snailmail, ordering more movies than I could watch on a daily basis. Here's a round up of some from the last several months (minus movies I've already written about here). The Juice Box motivated me to do this again.

Mystery Train (1989) - You can imagine Tarantino watching this film during his video clerk days, daydreaming, "Man, I could totally use this style and structure, add tons more "fucks" and pop culture blending with buckets of blood. Bingo! somebody get me an eight ball and a typewriter."
Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train follows three separate groups of people (including the Japanese couple) as they travel to Graceland. Non-linear story telling, and a Joe Strummer appearance make this an indie classic. B+

Choke (2008) - The edginess felt affected, and the voice overs often sounded like someone just reading the Chuck Palahniuk book instead of an adapted screen play. I love antiheroes, but Sam Rockwell's character Vincent and all his pals were mostly just unlikable. At worst, the dialogue sounds like Fight Club clips rescued from the cutting room, at best, it bites and snarls with the best of 'um. C

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) - Similar problems to Choke. Smith's critics often say his characters all sound like they are reading one big continues monologue. In Mallrats and Dogma, it works and fucking cracks me up. This had its funny parts for sure, but even Seth Rogen became grating. B-

Dead Man (1996) - Jarmusch is quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers, and only he could make a western like this. "Dead Man" is Johnny Depp's two hour existential quest after being shot by a jealous fiance, with spiritual guidance by an outcast Native American, and several run ins with inept yokels. Niel Young's score kills. B+

Rosemary's Baby (1968) - Scary as fuck without any jump scares. Polanski is a master, and this one holds up as well as any of his other work. A

Wanted (2008) - Everybody needs a good action movie here and again, right? Wanted mostly delivered the goods. B-

Hitman (2008) - See above, Hitman defied expectations for a film based a video game were you just fucking kill people. Timothy Olyphant is sort of a bad ass. B-

Delicatessen (1991) - Best film I had seen in a while when I watched it this fall. Same French director as Amalie and City of Lost Children. His direction looks like no one elses, and once you've seen one of his films, all his other work is unmistakable. Murky yellows, his sets and production values leave nothing up to chance. The Hotel/Delicatessen setting is as much a character as its bizarre inhabitants, who all want to eat the new handyman living in the building. The whole thing bubbles with a little post-apocalyptic atmosphere and little things often tangent out to Rube Goldberg-devise shenanigans. A

The Proposition (2005) - Written and scored by Nick Cave (of gloom kings Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) this Australian western is as grim and violent as anything set in the new world. This thing is fucking nihilistic to the core. Same director as the upcoming adaptation of Cormack McCarthy's novel "The Road," which seems like solid bet considering how dark and unforgiving "The Road" is and this film are. B

The Wackness (2008) - Pretty good coming of age story (with plenty of drugs and Ben Kingsly) set in early-mid '90s New York. The old school hip-hop score keeps the slow parts from dragging. B

City of Lost Children (1995) - See Delicatessen. Same inventiveness and twisted story telling, different plot. B+

RocknRolla (2008) - Surprising return to form from Guy Ritchie. B

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) - I'm not schooled in the French new wave, but I've read enough wikiblahblah to know the basics. Supposedly this (with Bonnie and Clyde) is where American directors started using some of the French New wave playfulness (jump cuts, etc). Really, though, 40 years later this just feels like a hippie flick disguised as a buddy action/comedy western. Redford and Newman are cool dudes, but I can only handle so many gun fights framed with aren't-we-sweet dialogue. It was entertaining as shit, though. B

Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - See above, this one came out a year or so earlier than Butch Cassidy. There wasn't really a likable character in the film. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunnaway are both smooth and extremely good looking, but they're vapid waifs, with more substance in the lapels of Clyde's jacket than between either of their ears. But, it was shockingly violent for a '60s flick, with bloody head shots and pretty awesome gun battles. B

Annie Hall (1977) - I started educating myself on Woodie Allen this year. This was a perfect place to start, with his neurotic humor, manic over-analyzing and non-stop philosophising. And it's funny. A

Manhattan (1979) - More serious than Annie Hall, but with Diane Keaton and Woody, again. Some of the best black and white photography of New York I have ever seen. And it's funny. B+

Semi Pro (2008) - Ferrel needs to stop making sports movies. I didn't even finish this. D-

The Kingdom (2008) - This movie was fucking awful. I just wanted 'splosions and Hollywood types fucking shit up in Saudi Arabia, and I received a dumb ass procedural that tried to market war moves to the CSI crowd. D

Southland Tales (2006) - Maybe I should have given Richard Kelly's follow up to Donnie Darko a better chance. But I just couldn't finish it. -

The Graduate (1967) - Even seeing this classic for the first time, I can totally understand the resulting tectonic culture shift both commented upon and created by the film. Existentialism, confusion and coming of age never blended so honestly. I've never been a big Dustin Hoffman fan, but his nebbish tendencies worked here, even if he was (purposefully) infuriating at times.Oh, and Mrs. Robinson is still a fox. B+

Zombie Strippers (2008) - Yup, name says it all. Freddy Kruger plays the strip club's seedy owner. Jenna Jameson is the main zombie stripper. Lots of boobs, which then turn into Zombie boobs. Also a satisfying amount of head 'spolsions and zombie slaying. B for boobs

Cloverfield (2008) - Entertaining enough, gimmick was interesting. Not much else to say. B-

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten (2008) - Pretty good documentary on the Clash's leading voice. Displayed the man as a complicated character instead of just fawning over him. They did not label any of the talking heads or interview subjects, which made it hard occasionally when over the course of two hours, dozens of people come on screen and you can't keep them all straight. B

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - More Woody Allen. Classic film making, felt like old Hollywood. It's nice not having Allen on screen sometimes, just concentrating behind the camera, doing what he does best. B+

Death Sentence (2007) - Xtreme-to-the-max revenge !!! Hollywood blight with Kevo Bacon kicking ass and asking politely for names. Entertaining enough, though riddled with cliches. Props for using the Black Angels in the soundtrack. C

Body Double (1984) - Brian De Palma's sleazy '80s nod to Hitchcock. Look for the chainsaw guy from Scarface as a porn producer, dude has mad street cred. Body Double mixes suspence, horror, soft core and even a Scooby Doo plot devise. Pretty awesome stuff. B+

2 comments:

The Juice Box said...

1. I think we had a conversation (online or in person) about Hitman once. Totally awesome.

2. I had the same exact thoughts of Semi Pro. Except I turned it off after about 15 minutes.

3. I can't believe you hadn't seen The Graduate until now. I think I watched that movie with my parents when I was a kid ... might explain things. ha.

... said...

i love "the proposition." i'm always surprised more people haven't seen it.