Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Super Month-End Movie Review

In honor of my Blockbuster movie pass expiring yesterday, here are a bunch of movies that I'd recommend (or not recommend) that I saw during the month long binge of DVD-mania. I know some of the reviews will be conflicting with other people's opinion, but I suppose that's what makes the world turn! Anyway, here it is.

The Likes (in no particular order)

City of God
I've read tons about this film, and finally got to sit down and watch this sprawling epic that's full of characters (200 or so) and tells the gangster chronicles of the favelas in Rio De Janeiro. Every single character is instantly expendable in this violent pic, so by the end of the film, you're just so glad that some of characters made it, and some didn't. Still thinking about this days later.

The Last Samurai
Tom Cruise is okay. He's Tom Cruise in whatever movie he's in, and we watch it because we like him. There, I said it. I think other than the wonderful direction by Ed Zwick to keep it pretty realistic (in the world of CGI and fancy ass shots, he kept a lot of his action plain and simple. There were plenty of chances for cheap effect shots, but he kept it real and heavy. And Ken Wantanabe. What an actor. His presence reminds me of Chow Yun Fatt, who is instantly watchable the moment he is on screen. Every move he makes, every word he utters, you're just waiting in anticipation to what he does on screen. I'm glad he got picked up for the new Batman. Hope to see more of him.

Freaky Friday
A teen movie it is, and for some reason, it was made at the same caliber as a Disney Channel movie, with less effects, I must say so. I just enjoyed Jamie Lee Curtis having so much fun in that, that she was intergral to the movie's success. Either Lindsay Lohan makes it seem so effortless, or I'm just not seeing what the big deal is about her. But really, Jamie Lee Curtis seems to be a really cool person.

Matchstick Men
Watching Nicholas Cage tap into his comedic side is always fun, and this film manages to be fun, entertaining, and completely heartbreaking all at the same time without compromising the ending. Ridley Scott keeps the pacing tight, Ted Griffin keeps the story smart, and the actors all seem to be having a ball doing their thing. Really dug the film.

Master and Commander
Despite the unfortunate title, I actually rented this as an obligation to myself to check out films that I wouldn't ordinarily care for. My wife and I watched this adventure and it was quite enjoyable, once you turned the subtitles on - being how I'm not very seaworthy and need all the help I can get, the subtitles gave more clarification. But always a fan of Peter Weir now, this is worth a look even if you don't care for ships and captains and whatnot.

The Dislikes (in no particular order)

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Yes, scream and wail all you want, but I'm the only one person that I know who's not completely immersed into fantasy worlds and hobbits. Yes, I did watch all three, and yes, it was entertaining. I was entertained throughout, and it was quite the epic. My biggest gripe is the multiple endings whereby you think the hobbits will die on the moutain, but they don't. Frodo wakes up and Sam's there, but it doesn't end. Frodo goes away, and it doesn't end. I think I had to be a fan of the genre, but there were times whereby I was begging for some gravity, some real interpersonal relationships or something. Yup, not a fantasy fan at all.

Lost in Translation
Forgive me, but a film that's as eye-opening as this whereby the camera simply gazes and enjoy the Japanese scenery is wonderful, if the characters didn't talk. My big gripe about this is how much the characters are so American. I mean it in the sense that Sofia Coppola really likes Japan's modern landscapes, the towering spectacles and the coolness of the culture. But in a lot of ways, the filmmaker mocks the Japanese people repeatedly. Most times through the Bill Murray character, whereby he towers over the fellow elevator passengers, whereby he remarks that Japanese people get their "L"s and "R"s mixed up, and obviously, the media in Japan is made up of corny foreign shows and colorful TV personalities. Never mind if any of this is true or not, it's like reinforcing prejudices by showing the absurd, but not the normality of Japanese life. The counterpart of this would be "The Last Samurai", whereby there is a central Japanese character, and the protaganist has this profound love for the culture he is in. I come away from this film thinking that Sofia Coppola got divorced from her husband, Spike Jonze, probably because of this film. The similarities aren't that hidden.

Ben Affleck is like the new Alec Baldwin. They appear from movie to movie with the same haircut, doing the same things, having the same wooden expressions. John Woo really needs to shape up or pair up with Chow Yun Fatt, because although the action in the movie is tight, the scripting needs a little help. The plot holes open up bigger and bigger as time passes, the biggest one being - how come when the characters see themselves in the future, it's in third person?

Club Dredd
I hate, I hate, I hate when marketing decides to sell a film differently from what it really is. And Broken Lizard seems to have lost the balance between comedy and horror in the making of this film. Marketed as a comedy, this film is too seriously violent and light on the jokes. Horror fans? Too hokey in some parts, not even targeted to the horror genre. In the end, an uneven, unfunny, and very disappointing film.

Stuff I still have to watch
Spartan, Thirteen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Cooler, Kill Bill, Amores Perros

And yes, I did forget a bunch of stuff that I did watch.

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