I've wanted to see the 2002 Sam Rockwell vehicle Confessions of a Dangerous Mind since about the time it came out, but never got around to it until now. If I were going to do a tweet-review of this, it would be "Way darker than I expected; don't watch it if you're in a misanthropic mood."
Monday, March 3, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
You think YOU've got it bad? Try being Woyzeck for a day. He's a grunt in an indeterminate mid-1800s European army—I assume German, but he could be German-French in the same sense that most movie Romans are British-Roman. He's being cuckolded by his young wife (who looks like Jewel Staite with a crushed spirit) and the high-school-quarterback-like drum major. He's also a human guinea pig for an ambitious scientist who's been feeding him nothing but peas, and who rewards him with much-needed cash every time he behaves crazily.
Naturally, therefore, Woyzeck's descending into insanity, and just as naturally, there's no going back…since this is a Werner Herzog film.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Imagine Time Chasers if its plot entailed not time travel but alligator smuggling, if its cast had far less investment in what they were doing, if the chase scenes were even more cheap and stupid, and if it induced Z-grade celebrity actors to somehow embarrass themselves—in this case, Michael Berryman (Captain Rixx from the TNG episode "Conspiracy"), Antonio Fargas (TV's Huggy Bear), and Joe Estevez, who of course is reason I watched this.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
The success of The Lego Movie—following as it does the Toy Story franchise and the similar Wreck-It Ralph—introduces the distressing possibility that all the best kid's movies from now on will revolve only around toys. Whether that grim harbinger of things to come proves accurate or not, at the very least we'll have a curious little "golden age" of quirky kid fare.
I suppose it would not be the best use of my time in this review to tell you that "Everything Is Awesome!!!" about this movie; you likely already know that most of it is. Therefore, I will focus on expectation-management: what are the places where The Lego Movie falls a little short, so that those of you who haven't seen it don't get your hopes up?
Monday, February 3, 2014
My goal in this review is, as much as possible, to make you understand so you don't have to see it. Because whatever else can be said of this movie, it has a certain uniqueness, and unfortunately that can be attractive sometimes.
Be assured that Road House is in fact repellent from start to finish.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
What's not so forgivable is when you make a movie about a flash-freezing weather phenomenon and you obviously lack understanding of what being in harsh winter conditions is actually like. I hypothesize the director and/or screenwriter must've been natives of Tasmania—the setting of the cheap disaster movie Arctic Blast, which I only assume was on SyFy—where it doesn't go below zero (Fahrenheit). There's a special kind of sadness in a movie with such scientific pretensions and yet such obvious scientific failures.
Most of the "action" in Arctic Blast takes place in rooms full of computers—which is at least the right feel for a movie like this—but when it's not staring at screens, it gets a lot of mileage out of its main flash-freezing visual effect, which is obviously cheap but not terrible. Yet the antagonist—the titular "arctic blast"—never seems to fall below -120° F for the whole movie. Dangerously cold, yes; infrastructure-challengingly cold, yes; but end-of-the-world cold? Flash-freezing cold? So cold that you can't even see your breath?
Monday, January 27, 2014
That last one's the real stake through the heart. I'm pretty sure I've never been as bored by any Bond movie, and I saw Quantum of Solace—and the '60s Casino Royale. And that boredom's not just due to this movie being a remake of Thunderball. Yes, much of the story is the same, but most scenes have no direct analog in the original, and some entire plot developments are new. It's all just…so dull. The main reason I didn't give up on this movie at the hour-thirty mark was just in case I'd miss another scene as batshit as the video game. (Also, it was directed by Irvin Kershner—director of The Empire Strikes Back, the best Star Wars film. Didn't help.)
I will answer your franchise-apostasy questions below, so that idle curiosity does not compel you to waste two-plus hours on this.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Rewatching 2001 recently, I was struck by just how slow it is. I mean, you can't not notice it, but this time through it almost felt like it was daring people to finish it (as was, inarguably, Barry Lyndon). I don't think this is, as Nicholas Carr would allege, a symptom of my personal overexposure to the Internet and its having conditioned me to expect lightning-quick gratification. Indeed, I felt less impatient with 2001 than I have during any previous viewing. But the slowness is one of the things that intensely stands out, and newcomers to this legendary film should account for it before idly sitting down to it.
This may be what I enjoy most about Kubrick movies: the space to imagine. That what we imagine should terrify the ever-loving fuck out of us is merely an added bonus.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The Avengers assembled (YEP I WENT THERE) its constituent hero team from a scattered group of uneven but generally successful superhero movies connected by rather thin and easily-ignored tendons of in-universality. This strategy obviously worked in terms of getting butts in the seats, but more than that, it worked for each hero-specific film: it freed up each filmmaker to pursue styles and stories independently for each feature, with really very little need to worry about stepping on the compound franchise's toes. This not only gives each feature a freshness that one doesn't get in more limited and repetitive franchises (such as Harry Potter) but also opens up the potential for pretty impressive feats of long-form storytelling. I personally don't feel that the Marvel films have achieved any such feats (though Iron Man 3 was a step in the right direction), but the potential is there, thanks to the Marvel formula.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Now that Western popular cinema has entered the post-Marvel, post-LOTR age—where serialization is not just accepted, but expected, in our blockbusters—it's interesting to look back on an era when such things were still pretty new. The original Star Wars trilogy began the modern version of the trend, and, alongside the Indy trilogy, the Star Trek film franchise reinforced the trend, proving it to be a viable strategy and not a series-specific aberration.
Contrast this with the comparatively abrupt opening of Star Trek IV. The opening council scene with John Shuck's Klingon ambassador provides some indirect summary of the previous two movies, then Kirk's first captain's log says "We're in the third month of our Vulcan exile," never fully explaining why they're exiled, let alone why the planet Vulcan would be harboring them. Ironic that the most financially successful Trek film (up until 2009) opens in a fashion so impenetrable, almost hostile, to the uninitiated viewer. It's not as though they could have assumed that every audience member saw The Search for Spock. (Indeed, it seems they even tacked on a weird prologue for the foreign markets under the assumption that too few people overseas had seen III.)
Friday, December 13, 2013
(The following actually transpired in my dream last night. Observations and analysis provided in footnote form.)
It's the pilot episode of Wayne Enterprises, a TV semi-reboot of Nolan's Batman franchise featuring a younger and more marketable actor as Bruce Wayne1 and an emphasis on smaller-scale threats to Gotham—some villains, some mere troublemakers, but no supervillains. The gist is, this is what Batman does in between blockbuster-scale threats.
Open on a boardroom, discussing a thorn in the company's side: a take-no-prisoners alternative-media journalist (MADtv's Debra Wilson) who seems bent on portraying Wayne Enterprises in the worst possible light, using flimsy and out-of-context evidence. They call her…"Bane."2
Bruce tells the board (via a flashback) that he's met her, at some clothing store in what he's now convinced was no chance encounter. But he assures the board that she's probably willing to listen to reason, and therefore not a serious threat to the company, and that either way, he'll handle it—ignoring their perplexed reaction.
Cut to Bruce driving his own limo, as incognito as Bruce can be—but the limo's sort of a Batmobile Jr., outfitted with all kinds of high-tech controls in both the driver's compartment and the (currently unoccupied) passenger compartment. Bruce has used his considerable means to identify Bane's car, and is following it at a discreet distance on a freeway. He initiates an infrared scan of her car using a Bond-like outfolding center console…and detects an anomalous heat signature on a rear edge, close to the gas tank. The limo's computer calculates a high probability that it's a bomb.
Bruce is genuinely surprised, and considers two possibilities. One: Miss Bane here is a terrorist and/or industrial saboteur, about to bomb some facility that's part of Wayne Enterprises' interests. Two: Bane's about to be the victim—has some other target of her nosy reporting decided to dispose of her? Either way, Bruce has to intervene.
Then I woke up.
1 - Throughout the dream, I perceived things from Wayne's perspective, initially as the character, then as myself observing this TV show, but in neither case was the actor identified.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Those of us who are cursed to occasionally find ourselves in the mood for an Asylum mockbuster could do worse than American Warships, which came out the same time as Battleship and likewise concerns naval warfare with aliens—in this case, centered on the aging USS Iowa. Cheap and dumb by any measure, American Warships nonetheless displays minimal competence in story, pacing, some of the dialogue, and the leads' acting.