Sunday, August 31, 2008

Friday the 13th part 3 IN 3-D!!!!!!!!!!! (2-D version)

Saturday, August 30 2008

This is both one of the best made Friday the 13th sequels, and most unintentionally hilarious. The movie was shown in 3-D in theaters, but is always 2-D on home video. So there's constant shots of things flying at the camera, often times for no good reason, and in 2-D it's borderline surreal. I mean, I can see why Jason would shoot that speargun thing right at the camera even in 2-D, that could look cool, but what about that part where the kid points his baseball bat at the camera, or where the guys juggle right into the camera, or when there's a 5 second shot of popcorn popping right at the camera. It's fucking awesome.

Diary of the Dead

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I pretty much knew this one was going to suck, but it's a Romero zombie movie, so I felt compelled. It has a terrible premise, a lot of awful, heavy-handed dialogue made even worse by a voice-over narration that explains the already over-stated themes and ideas. I don't exactly expect subtlety in a horror movie, but this is ridiculous. The few good ideas the movie does have are ruined because the characters have to draw attention to them and point them out in case you didn't get it. Ugh.

The zombie stuff is good though. It's a lot like Romero's Day of the Dead, where a terrible movie is made watchable by some entertaining zombie action.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

I have been meaning to check out a Kieslowski movie for a long time. This one is the first in his "Three Colors" trilogy: Blue, White and Red, and I certainly plan on checking the others out. This is a very peculiar drama with a lot of strange stylistic touches. It's a bit of a challenge at times, not in a boring way but in a "what does this all mean?" sort of way. I'm still not sure I got everything, but that can be a good thing. It means that there's a lot to chew on here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I don't feel like I gave this one a fair chance. The movie wasn't engaging me, so I kept losing my focus and flat out stopped paying attention at points. Not showing a lot of kommitment, I know, but I wasn't enjoying myself.

So I'm probably not qualified to say too much about it, other than what I saw wasn't working for me. It's an early Roman Polanski horror movie, and I'll admit to general ignorance of his work, but for some reason I thought this would be a good place to start. Other than maybe a couple of cool shots and ideas, I thought this was a bore, and I'm rarely one to criticize a movie for being boring. Hell, I'm the guy who's a big fan of Gus Van Sant's Last Days and who thought Werckmeister Harmonies was pretty cool.

There's a girl, and she's a prude about sex, and not much interesting happens for a long time, and then her sister goes on a vacation and she's left alone in her apartment. She starts to go crazy or something, but in a very slow, uninteresting way, and eventually kills some people in a handful of awkwardly staged scenes. I got the sense that this was trying to be an artier horror film, which I'm all for, but it's not very interesting. It tries to imply all this subtextual, subconscious sexual stuff going on with the main character in an attempt at depth, but none of it makes the movie scary. I mean, I could care less if her insanity stems from her deep seated psycho/sexual issues when her insanity is so tedious. All the "depth" in the world doesn't make this a scary movie.

But like I said, I lost my concentration a lot during this movie a feel like I missed quite a bit. Maybe if I had been more into it, I would have noticed more details I liked, or notice that it created a mood, or whatever.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Know Who Killed Me

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's gotten to the point now where I just ignore this movie's many flaws and focus on it's insanity. I noticed this time that images of owls are hidden all over the film. It's kind of like Where's Waldo?

White Heat

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Between this, The Godfather, and the arrival of season 5 of The Wire, this is turning into Gangster Week here or something.

This is a famous gangster film starring James Cagney, and I had seen two other movies by this director, Raoul Walsh: The Roaring Twenties and High Sierra. Those were both pretty decent old crime movies, but this one is a big step up. It's surprisingly cold blooded and reasonably exciting, with a good over-the-top performance by Cagney, showing the same kind of bluster that Pacino would go for years later in Scarface. I haven't been as into the gangster films as I have other noir-y movies of the era, but this was one of the better ones.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Godfather

Monday, August 25, 2008

Oh boy. Where to start. A while back I ashamedly admitted that I had never seen The Godfather Part 2, my reason being that, um... I wasn't really a big fan of the first film.

I know, I know. Pretty much every human being on the planet agrees that The Godfather is a great movie. I recognize that I am clearly in the wrong. But let me explain myself a little.

I had only seen The Godfather one time. And the thing I noticed about it was I didn't feel like it was the first time I saw it. The film is so deeply ingrained in our culture that every scene was familiar... it was a collection of moments I had already heard about. There was no impact.

Like I said though, I'm aware that I'm wrong. And since I'm kommitted 2 klassiks, I decided that it was high time I watched the entire Godfather trilogy. So I now present you with Godfather Mondays for the next 3 weeks, to fill in the gap left in my heart now that Rambo Mondays are over.

I figured this time, having seen The Godfather once before, I could get over the fact that I knew everything that was going to happen, because everyone knows everything that happens the second time through. It would be an actual second viewing, instead of my original sort of 1.5 times viewing. And I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, this is a pretty damn good yarn, well made, well acted, and obviously iconic. Pretty strong stuff.

I still didn't exactly love it.

I'm sure I'm going to sound like I'm just trying to be contrarian, but let me promise you that I'm at least not intentionally trying to do that. Maybe subconsciously, I don't know, but I'm not disagreeing with the general public just for the sake of disagreeing. I had a handful of serious issues with the film.

For one, the portrayal of women. All the female characters feel hazily defined. Diane Keaton disappears without a mention, only to reemerge whenever the plot requires. She has reservations about Michael's family, but then suddenly she's married to him even though she seems opposed to what he does. And then there's Michael sister, who isn't really given a personality, is almost entirely defined by the fact that her husband beats her, and then is expected to carry a big emotional scene near the end where she calls Michael out on his villainry. And maybe worst of all is the woman Michael marries in Sicily, who has almost no dialogue of substance, yet we just sort of accept that Michael loves her, and then she gets killed and is never mentioned again.

In fact, I have a problem with the whole Sicilian chunk of the movie. I understand that it's about Michael becoming closer to his roots, which will influence him in taking up the mantle of godfather, but ultimately it all feels too long and has little bearing on anything. As I mentioned above, there's his underdeveloped marriage that feels like little more than a plot device. But for me it really felt like there was a lack of progression, not just in terms of the subplot that doesn't add up to much, but in terms of Michael's character.

Which leads me to my final complaint: Michael Corleone's character arc. I love the idea of him going from disassociated from his family to becoming the new don, like it was his fate or something. But it's not very well transitioned. For the first hour or so, Michael is little more than a peripheral character, mainly defined by his objection to the family business. Then, after his father is shot, he's suddenly on board and raring to go. He's in all the way, no sense of hesitation. I think in the end his story is supposed to be sort of tragic or dark, but it doesn't really come across. We never see how a good man becomes bad, we don't see him fretting too much over his decisions, or debating his values or anything. One minute he's a good man, the next he's a killer. It's like they skipped the transition, which to me would be the interesting part.

All of which isn't to say I didn't very much enjoy this movie. The strength of the performances and the filmmaking and the immensely quotable screenplay really covers up a lot of these problems. And if nothing else, this movie is incredibly watchable. I am genuinely excited to see part 2 next week, and from what I gather it's considered better than this one.

Well, like I said, I'm not trying to be contrarian here. Still though, I'd love it if this pissed some of my friends off and they wrote in to tell me how wrong I am and that I'm an asshole.

The Dark Knight

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I thought it would be pretty cool to check this shit out in IMAX, and I was right, even if only a small amount of the movie is actually in IMAX.

I'm thinking that Christopher Nolan's talent is in his ability to flesh out and make plausible a completely implausible world. Very little of this film or The Prestige can really apply to our actual lives, but they feel real and authoritative. I'm not sure there's much relevance in a real world sense, but I'm also not sure that art requires that. It's pretty cool how he explores the emotional and ethical depths of a reality that doesn't exist.

Now, The Dark Knight is topical and relevant in certain respects, in how it may pose ideas of terrorism and surveillance and some of those issues. But mostly it's about the psychological and moral duel between Batman and the Joker, two characters who could not exist in our world and do not really serve as an accurate metaphor for anything either. I don't mean that as a criticism. In fact, I think it fucking rules that they've created this moral and psychological depth for two outlandish characters, that they've made a patently false world seem like a fully realized world.

I especially like the idea that the very existence of Batman would create the need for a person like the Joker. And I'm greatly intrigued by the Joker trying to make a philosophical statement with his crimes, although at times he does seem like he must be a big fan of the Saw movies or something, or maybe he's like Anton Chirgurh.

One of my favorite touches in the movie is that, in true noir fashion, characters are constantly compromising or redefining their values. Batman, Gordon, Harvey Dent, Fox, even Alfred all make choices in the moral grey area, and I'm not always convinced they make the right choice. No one seems to stick to their values... no one except, of course, the Joker, who understands exactly what he is and what he stands for. Few movie villains have been this self-aware or this philosophical.

Monday, August 25, 2008

All the Real Girls

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here's another home run from David Gordon Green, fast becoming a favorite director of mine. I don't even understand how he can make a movie that feels both poetic and down-to-earth at the same time. Something this artsy usually feels... if not pretentious, then at least like it exists on some other level. But Green's films feel like they're about real people, and they have a quirky charm and humor about them.

I can't really figure out what I was trying to say next. The film is about a womanizing young man who falls in love for the first time and tries to form a real relationship. This could inspire a pretty typical romantic comedy or something, but somehow it feels like much more; a meditation on the different kinds of love, and on the way we depend on our connections with others, and maybe just on the passage of time. It deals with some big ideas, but somehow expresses them without having the characters sit down and talk specifically about them. A lot is expressed, even when not a lot is happening, and there are a lot of moments that strike exactly the right note and feel perfect, even though I can't exactly explain why. Which I guess is the mark of a great film.

American Graffiti

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another one on my list that I'm a little embarrassed I'd never seen before. Needless to say, this is a pretty good one. I'm not interested in or nostalgic for the 50's at all, in fact I hate a lot of the music and fashion and all that shit, but George Lucas still gives this one a lot of charm and humor. I didn't have the impact that Dazed and Confused or especially Superbad had on me, but I enjoyed it a lot and can see why it's a classic in the teen movie genre.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

I'm gonna have to alter my viewpoint on Alexandre Aja a little bit. I was convinced that this guy was one of the most promising young directors in the horror genre today. His breakout film, High Tension was 2/3rds of a great slasher movie, exceptionally well shot, that starts to drag after a while and then reaches a stunningly terrible ending that kind of ruins everything that came before it. But, you know, it was clear he had talent and would likely improve. Then he remade Wes Craven's kinda terrible The Hills Have Eyes, and that's one that I think totally fulfilled his potential, and is one of the best slasher movies of this decade. Exciting, disturbing, tense, great looking and with surprisingly solid writing and acting, and deeper themes and symbolism than you might expect in a movie about mutant hillbillies. I was pretty excited to see what he did next.

Turns out what he did next was take a big shit. I honestly hated this movie, I don't think any of it worked for me except perhaps a few isolated moments, and I would have to be feeling pretty generous to even give it that much credit. There is one aspect of it that I did kind of like, the burned down department store set (even though it doesn't make any sense... why are all the walls and ceilings and floors burned, but lots of random pieces of furniture and things like curtains aren't?), so of course hardly any of the movie takes place there after the first 15 minutes or so.

The movie has a stupid premise, and executes it in my least favorite way possible. Which is to say, it's another ghost movie where the supernatural evil force can essentially do anything it wants, no rules are established, so all the "scary" stuff seems arbitrary.

I'm not gonna call Aja a sellout just yet (even though this movie is another American studio remake of a recent Asian horror flick) because his last film was a remake and it was pretty good. But even with some fairly graphic violence, this movie feels kind of like a ball-less mainstream horror movie without much of an original identity. Aja's next movie is Pirana 3-D, and although I bet I'll go see it, I'm not feeling very excited. It just seems like another step on the path to him becoming a generic, hired-gun sorta director.

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Since Saturday was my birthday, I was able to drag Shenan along on a double feature at the theaters: Woody Allen's new one Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Alexandre Aja's long-awaited (by me) follow up to The Hills Have Eyes. Kind of a weird pairing, I admit it, but they were the only things out I really wanted to see.

I skipped Woody's last two movies because they were supposed to be turds, but this one shows that he's still definitely got it. It's good enough that I might still give Cassandra's Dream a chance, despite the bad reviews, although Scoop looks so deadly that I don't know if I can bring myself to watch it.

I don't know why it took me so long to figure out, but like 2/3rds of way into this one, I realized that it was Woody's homage to Jules and Jim, complete with 3rd person narration, off-beat threeway romance, and an unstable woman unexpectedly pulling a gun. Allen's done plenty of movies about romantic and sexual relationships, but I can't remember any that had ideas this open about the characters' sexuality. Which is all the more interesting because this is more chaste than some of his other films.

This also reminds me that I should work some Truffaut into my K2k. I saw The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim and Day for Night back in college, and it's about time I saw some more.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Saturday, August 23, 2008

This was kind of a Casablanca knock off, at least slightly, although a much better one than To Have and Have Not, and with a lot more noir thrown in. This is, I believe, the 2nd Rita Hayworth film I've seen, and although she's no Ingrid Bergman, I can see the attraction. I could have done without the unnecessary song and dance sequences, which really wreck the mood of what's otherwise a dark story. It's even worse than when she suddenly started singing for no reason in The Lady From Shanghai. I'm sensing a weird trend here of studio executives shoehorning her other talents into movie in which they don't appropriately fit. I wonder if it happens in her other movies?

Child's Play

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I don't know why, but I don't think I realized that this was directed by Tom Holland. Which means that, along with Fright Night, he made two minor classics in the 80's horror/comedy genre. And then he didn't ever do anything good ever again. Weird.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We Own the Night

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I had kinda wanted to see this one when it came out in theaters, but the reviews weren't too hot and whatnot and I didn't get around to checking it out. The story is pretty standard stuff, but the filmmaking is pretty strong (almost artsy) and gives the movie a lot of atmosphere and a respectable amount of tension. I dig crime movies a lot, this one kind of reminds me of Street Kings, where there's a lot of great stuff, but also some serious flaws that keep it from being something better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Essentially the French take on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which sounded like something I was game for. There were definitely some things I liked about this one, but ultimately it just didn't work for me. It's way too slickly and stylishly edited, with speed ups and slow downs and rapid cutting and all that shit, like almost music video style, which I don't think usually works in the genre. It never really manages to create a tone or build the right rhythm, and doesn't end up amounting to much.

35 Up

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I didn't mean to take this long to get to the next entry in the series, but I was sidetracked a few times and then Netflixed crapped out last week. I won't complain though, it's better to spread these out since so much of the material is repeated in each film.

It's weird to have so little to say about a movie you thought was great. My thoughts here are more or less the same as my thoughts on the other entries. Each film accumulates a little more power and effect, and further solidifies the wonderfulness of the series. There's 2 more to go (at least on DVD, presumbly they'll make another one in 2011) and I can't wait to watch them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Monday, August 18, 2008

Okay, yeah, I know I've been lax on the K2K again, but it's not my fault. You'll know this if you're a customer: Netflix totally crapped out and I didn't get any movies from them all last week until Saturday. Then, I had company for the weekend and didn't want to make them sit down and watch some pretentious art movie with me.

I had originally queued O Lucky Man a long time ago because it sounded cool. It's 3 hours long, stars Malcolm McDowell and is apparently some sort of surrealist musical. But then I heard that O Lucky Man was the sequel to If..., so I figured I should see this one first.

I'm gonna say that ultimately I enjoyed it, but I didn't entirely get it. It's sort of a mix of drama and absurd satire, with some surrealism or abstraction thrown in, about English prep schools. It's strange and mostly entertaining, but I think it's probably more of a "you had to have been there" sort of a thing. If I was a British teen in the 60's, I suspect this movie would have meant more to me. As it is, it was worth seeing, has a strong Malcolm McDowell performance and numerous interesting touches, but I'm also not necessarily in any rush to see O Lucky Man. Some day, for sure, but I'm bumping other stuff up my list first.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Rambo Mondays concluded with Rambo IV: Rambo (or maybe it's Rambo: First Blood Part 2: Part 2 or Rambo III: Part 2: First Blood Part 4. It's really hard to figure this shit out). It's simultaneously the best and worst of the series. It's the worst because of the corny writing and manipulative storytelling that is layered so thick in self-seriousness, including an inappropriate use of actual war footage. It would be offensive if it's message wasn't so muddled. On the one hand, it seems to genuinely want to make a political statement, and try to show the brutal realities of war. On the other hand, all the best parts of the movie involve awesome, awesome violence, effectively cancelling out the message.

And that gets us to why this might also be the best Rambo movie: the awesome fucking action. I've mentioned before that I'm not really a big Stallone fan, but I think it's clear here and in Rocky Balboa that he's matured into a reasonably talented director, and the action in this one is top notch. It's on a smaller scale than the last 2 entries, but feels twice as exciting and accomplished. And it's graphic as all hell. I mean, if this had been a horror movie and not an action movie, there's no way they would have given this an R rating. The action is more brutal and mean spirited than Bad Boys 2. It's like Verhoeven without the irony. And even though it's more "serious" than the other Rambo movies, it's conversely more fun for people who like violence. The last 15 minutes or so is just a rapid succession of "oh snap! that's awesome!" moments.

So it's hard to say if this one is my favorite... it's the best made on a technical level, the most exciting and the most fun (though I'm not sure it's trying to be). But it takes itself too seriously (I know, they all take themselves too seriously, but this one shows actual war footage and presumes itself to have actual significance to current events), and muddles any "message" it had by combining dark, disturbing violence with over-the-top action-extravaganza fun. I don't think Stallone had a clear idea of what movie he was making here, but his technical skill shines through, and as an action movie lover, I can't dismiss that. This is an A minus action movie trapped inside a C plus corny B-movie, trapped inside of a D minus political/artistic statement.

So, as far as the entire series goes, this one might be the most watchable, but perhaps it's overall value ties with parts one and two, with Rambo III coming in at an affectionate last place. This isn't a great action series, but it has great moments, and I enjoyed all 4 movies. I'm a little surprised that the character became such an icon, except in the sense that part 3 does kinda represent the pinnacle of 80's action movie excess, and maybe works as a symbol for the Reagan era. Other than that, the series' positive contributions to the genre are minimal (I certainly don't think the style has been as influential as Die Hard or Terminator 2, and it's probably responsible for inspiring a lot of bad 80's action movies), but I'd still be on board if they made another one. I'm guessing Stallone would helm it again and it would more directly follow-up on this one, so maybe they could call it Rambo 2.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hmm. I guess this probably requires some explaining. See, Andy and I promised to go see this together because we had seen the original together 3 years ago. You know, like a tradition. So that's that.

Oh. That just raises more questions. Um. I think we went to the first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as a goof, or something, after seeing the trailer and ironically acting as though we really wanted to see it. Trying to make some sort of ironic statement, maybe, except I have no idea who we would have been trying to impress. So it's more likely that we both just subconsciously wanted to see it. Or consciously wanted to see it but were ashamed to admit it.

Anyways, if you haven't seen the original, it's a well made and well acted movie for teenage girls, not really my thing, but at least recognizably a superior example of its kind. And the sequel is more or less exactly on that same level: good at what it does, but not exactly the kind of movie I'm into. This one is a little darker (almost miserable at times) and has some more mature subject manner, although it's all kind of simplified for pre-teen girls. Sort of like what a 12 year old imagines being a 19 year old is like, or something. There are numerous implications of sex, but the details are always hazy.

The more I think about it, the more I'm confused by the part where one character loses her virginity. Afterwards, her boyfriend tells her that his condom broke, and she asks if it was a fake one. Huh? Am I being dense here? Do people actually wear fake condoms as some sort of ruse so they don't have to wear real ones? Because that doesn't make a lot of sense. Or is there some sort of evil crime syndicate that goes around selling phony condoms to young men to drive the birth rate up some they can sell more black market baby strollers? I don't get it.

Digression over. If I were a middle or high school girl, I would probably love this movie. It's reasonably well made and well written, with solid acting all around.

Oh, and it has Kyle McLachlan. How can you not love that?

Monday, August 18, 2008

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This is like, what, th 20th time I've seen this movie? And it never gets old.

Tropic Thunder

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's a good time for comedy, when you get a movie like this just one week after Pineapple Express. It would have been funnier if they had actually gotten Tom Cruise to play the Ben Stiller role, but you can't complain too much when you see how funny Cruise is as the studio executive. The man has a surprising gift for this kind of comedy, I'd definitely be on board if he tries something like this again. Stiller maybe mis-cast himself a little as an action star, but obviously he's funny enough of an actor that you don't really mind. It's a fine line... Zoolander is funnier because Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are not remotely plausible as models, but Tropic Thunder is hurt a little because Stiller isn't a plausible action star.

The ensemble is great. Robert Downey Jr has already received plenty of praise for this, so instead let me heap some love on Matthew McConaughey, who reminded me that he's actually a funny and charismatic actor when he's not starring in complete shit.

Reno 911!: Miami

Friday, August 15, 2008

I do love me some Reno 911. And I will never be able to wrap my brain around how Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant can make something this fucking funny, then turn around and make shit like Taxi, The Pacifier and Balls of Fury. It must be some sort of elaborate prank. Either that, or they just aren't as funny when they're not working with Kerri Kenney.

The Signal

Friday, August 15, 2008

Holds up on a second viewing. I'm really impressed with what these guys accomplished on a small budget, the writing, directing and acting are all uniformly strong, and the directors wisely focus on the character/psychological aspects of the story. Definitely one of the best films of its kind.

Purple Rain

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I didn't really know what to expect going into Purple Rain, which I had been meaning to watch for a long time. Great music, obviously, but could it actually be any good?

It actually turns out that it's a great example of a kind of movie that I've been growing fond of lately, that I need to come up with a name for. It's a movie like Demons where it's both genuinely a good movie and entertaining, yet also bad in places, but bad in an entertaining way. And then stuff that initially seems bad maybe starts to seem good later. The line between good and bad becomes some hazy that the distinction ends up being meaningless, and you finally just have to admit that the movie is really, really entertaining.

On the "bad" side of things, you have a lot of corny dialogue and some over-acting (especially all the weird humor in Morris Day's subplot), the ridiculous fashion styles, and some inexplicable story elements (my favorite: Prince lives in a lower-middle class home, still with his parents, yet somehow affords this ridiculously extravagant and flamboyant wardrobe, as well as a custom motorcycle. He's simultaneously supposed to be some sort of larger than life musician but also a down-home boy with a tough family life). I don't mean any of this as a complaint. It all adds to the movie's sense of fun, really creating some outlandish world that doesn't quite make sense. Like it's the Roadhouse of musicals.

And then, what the movie does right, it does great. Like I said, we know the music is gonna be great. And it's not a surprise that it has a pretty slick visual style. But what I didn't really expect was the strength of Prince's performance, and how compelling a lot of the drama actually is. Like I said, it's a little cheesy and overblown, but also throws a lot of neat twists into the formula, and goes to some places you wouldn't expect in a movie that, based on the premise, should really be little more than a vanity project. But no. Prince's character is actually kind of an asshole. He's a temperamental artist who doesn't let his bandmates write any music or give any creative input. He has an abusive father who he hates, but then Prince ends up getting abusive towards his own girlfriend. And then it turns out that his father was also a musical prodigy, and it raises the question of whether or not their violent behavior is somehow related to their art. Is Prince just like his father? Or can he strike a balance between living his art and being a decent human being? I mean, you didn't see Britney Spears or Lance Bass dealing with issues like these when they did movies.

I would also like to single out the editing for praise. Particularly during the music sequences. They do this awesome thing where, during a song, the editing will skip around in time, showing us images of things going on now, things that have happened, things that will happen later. I know that doesn't sound all that interesting, but it's an effective storytelling tool that helps tie the concert scenes to the plot.

I'll say it again, unlike most other musicals the music here is actually great. And it leads to some weird touches, like when Prince's dad plays a melody on the piano, and if you're familiar with the soundtrack, you'll recognize it as the awesome fucking guitar solo from "Computer Blue." So I guess in the world of the movie, Prince steals that tune from his dad. Without asking permission. And at the end of the movie, Prince makes up with his bandmates by writing lyrics for a song that they wrote the music to... "Purple Rain." Which is odd because I'm pretty sure he wrote that song by himself in real life, but the movie makes a big deal about how the song is a collaboration. (An even weirder touch is that one of his bandmates doesn't look too happy when they play the song at the end. Prince even gives her a little peck during the song, and she just gives him a hateful glance. I guess she didn't like his lyrics).

So the good stuff is great, and the bad stuff is entertaining. And who's to say that the bad stuff is actually bad and not just fun? What I'm saying is, good or bad, this is a terrifically entertaining movie.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

The main flaw with my K2K is that it hasn't left a lot of room for rewatching movies, which would allow for better analysis. I think once I cease with the constant updating, I'll make an effort to go back and try to look a little deeper at some movies. That's kinda what I meant to do here, although I ended being distracted and not really following it closely. So maybe next time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Simple Plan

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sam Raimi's best movie? Hard to say. What I would call his three best (this one, Evil Dead 2, Spider-Man 2) are all great for very different reasons. A Simple Plan is, for my money, an all-time klassik thriller... one of the few movies that genuinely gets my stomach in knots at a few points, but also with uncommonly strong character work. The morality of the film I particularly like. We've seen a lot of films where good people do bad things to get money, but rarely are the movies this good at expressing their thoughts and beliefs in a way that people might do in real life. For me, it's kind of like Unforgiven, where a lot of seemingly simple and straightforward dialogue contains a lot of truth and insight.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I was glad to see this one again. It's not one of Argento's best, but I would venture to say that it's his most bizarre. Which is saying something. This time I was able to accept that the movie is a little too slow, not as well shot as most of his movies, not as well constructed, etc etc and really just focus on its stunning weirdness, Like the voice over narration that shows up about 15 minutes into the movie, just long enough to say one line, and then never shows up again. Or the part where a young Jennifer Connolly, who can communicate with insects,  teams up with a fly named the Great Sarcophagus and tries to find a dead body. Or the subplot where a helper monkey's master is killed, and the monkey finds a knife and tracks the killer down for revenge. If nothing else, there really isn't another movie like Phenomena.

Le Samourai

Monday, August 11, 2008

I recently got two Criterion DVDs for the price of one, and I picked Yojimbo, a samurai movie, and this one which, despite its title is not literally a samurai movie. I love this movie, but I'm not going to get into that right now. Because, once this blog hits it's first birthday, I'm going to stop posting every time I watch a movie, and start focusing on doing longer, more in depth (and less frequent) posts. And one post I'd love to do is to watch Le Samourai and Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai and do a compare and contrast type analysis. These are two movies I care for on a very deep level, and they share more than a few major similarities.

So here's hoping I actually getting around to that one day!

Rambo III

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's been interesting to watch how this series went from a smaller action movie with a heavy dramatic slant, to basically becoming the epitome of 80's action movie excess. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. Rambo III is so far removed from the tone of the first film that Rambo takes on the entire Russian army, Troutman joins in for the action, and they even trade one liners and shit. Oh, and Rambo uses a tank to play chicken with a helicopter. Even the nonsensical title (there never was a Rambo II) just seems to perfectly encapsulate how a major studio insults the audience's intelligence in favor of creating a brand. Like it's not a film, it's a product.

It's a little boring in the first half, and definitely a stupid, soulless movie, but I'd be a liar if I didn't say the second half is fun. There's still some sort of pretense of seriousness/relevance, what with Rambo teaming up with the rebels in Afghanistan to fight the Russians (oops! I don't think Rambo meant to pave the way for the Taliban to come into power), but that all takes a back seat to the action.

I've never been a huge Stallone fan, he just doesn't have the track record that Schwarzenegger or Willis have, but having now recently seen all the Rambo movies, I'll give him credit for making a series without a bad entry. I mean, that's more than Van Damme accomplished. Still, his body of work (in action movies) as a whole maybe ties with early Steven Seagal.

This isn't as good as parts 1 or 2, but I still kinda liked it, as an action aficionado. Worth your time if you like this shit.

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I really need to make "Samurai Movie" a tag on this blog, but I'm too lazy to go through and add it. (Update 7/2/09: No longer too lazy!) I heard good things about this one, and it starred Toshiro Mifune, so I went for it. It's the first entry in a trilogy, I believe loosely based on the real life of a famous swordsman, and it's good enough that I'll probably check the others out some time, though not so much that I'm in any rush to do so. The movie looks good (the colors are especially nice) and is entertaining enough, but isn't on the level of the Kurosawa samurai films I've seen. A little more satisfying than Samurai Rebellion was for me, but not a great movie like I was hoping for.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Showdown in Little Tokyo

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I guess maybe I detoured a little too far from my K2K this weekend, but shit happens. I watched Showdown in Little Tokyo because it was directed by Mark Fucking Lester, director of a lot of B-movies that seem like they should be terrible, except they are actually kind of incredibly entertaining. He did Commando, Class of 1984 and Roller Boogie. I had heard this might be another good one.

It's not, at least not quite. There are defintely some moments, a lot of odd details wedged in to seperate this from other generic, low budget action movies. There's just not enough of that, so instead of feeling like an oddball comedy disguised as a generic action movie (like Commando) it just seems like a generic action movie with a few nice touches. What a shame.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

A few weeks back I was shopping online for gifts for Shenan and I came across a shot glass with the Halloween logo on it. I ordered it for her, thinking "She'll love this." Then, 5 minutes later I thought "Screw her, I'll love it even more," and I claimed it for myself.

Once it came in, I knew I had to sit down, watch Halloween and sip booze out of my new shot glass. Good fucking times.

Pineapple Express

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sadly, this isn't the single greatest movie ever made, and only turned out to be really good. Siiiiiiiiiiiigh. Oh well. I guess that title stays with Maid in Manhattan.

Seriously though, I dug this one a lot, but not on the level of Superbad or 40 Year Old Virgin, as I was expecting. I hate when I get myself too excited, because it can add a tinge of disappointment to something that otherwise rocked.

This mines somewhat similar material as Hot Fuzz, but with added pot humor. I was curious to see how David Gordon Green, who is more of an art-house director, would handle this mainstream material. As it turns out, pretty well. He not only knows how to sell the humor of the movie (I could have guessed that, his movies are pretty funny), but he can actually direct a respectable action scene. All the shoot-em-up shit is good, but even better is an early fight scene between 3 guys who don't know how to fight, which really builds a wonderful comic momentum. That this movie and George Washington are in the same man's filmography is pretty awesome.


Friday, August 8, 2008

This might be Dario Argento's most unfairly underrated movie. There's really a lot to love here, with a lot of great sequences of violence, suspense and high style that rival some of his best work. It also happens to have some pretty atrocious acting, some weird technical mistakes and the worst plot twist ever. So it misses the mark of being a great movie, but there's so much to love here that I still think it ranks with his better work. There's a sequence where a little kid sneaks into the killer's house that's one of the most exciting things Argento has ever filmed. And all sorts of other cool touches, like the butterfly POV shots, or the killer's particularly unsettling means of dispatching their victims. Definitely a must-watch for fans of this type of stuff.

Step Up 2 The Streets

Friday, August 8, 2008

Is this telling me that it's the sequel to Step Up, and that the subtitle is The Streets? Or is it saying that The Streets are something I have to Step Up 2 (to)? I love it.

I had been looking forward to this for a long time, since it pretty much looked like the spiritual sequel to You Got Served, a favorite so-bad-it's-good-yet-conversely-so-good-it's-awesome movie of mine. In a lot of ways, Step Up 2 The Streets is a better movie, but maybe in ways that make it less fun.

Thing is here, the filmmaking is competant, the cast is better, there aren't as many unintentional laughs. Which, you know, means that the movie feels more run of the mill and bland.

However, the dancing is way more fucking awesome, and that's something. The final dance in the rain probably tops You Got Served's big rain-dance sequence. And I got to say, I kind of love this crazy, highly stylized shit. Like the dance floor with trampolines on it. Or the way the dance crew all faces the camera and not the audience watching them. It's great shit.

So I'm mixed here. I think the biggest complaint is that the final dance, while amazing, is just a dance and not a dance off. I really wanted to see them go toe-to-toe with some other dance crew, but the plot doesn't really go in that direction. Makes it all seem less dramatic.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Wednesday, August 8, 2008

This is kind of like a quirky, more likable version of Herzog's Aquirre: The Wrath of God. I don't think it's quite as captivating or brilliant insane as that film, but it's pretty good, and treats you to the amazing sight of a large boat being dragged up a mountain.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Prince of Darkness

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I used to think that this was a good but lesser John Carpenter film, but I've seen it 3 or 4 times now and I like it more with each viewing. My friend Patrick is of the opinion that, with remakes of Carpenter films seemingly in high demand (Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Halloween) that they should remake this one, as it's the only one that could really benefit. I see what he means: it's got a lot of great ideas, but also some serous flaws that could use ironing out. Repeat viewings have enhanced my appreciation of it, so if they never get around to remaking it, I'll be happy with the original. It's got the great Carpenter visual style, a lot of good ideas, and a few nice subversive touches. It's no Halloween or The Thing but maybe I'm now ranking it at about In the Mouth of Madness level.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Alternately funny and terrifying animated movie about growing up in Iran. Some of the dramatic impact is muted from having too brisk of a pace, but otherwise it's entertaining and visually wonderful.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rambo: First Blood Part 2

Monday, August 4, 2008

If I thought First Blood was more like the new Rambo than I remembered, then Rambo: First Blood Part 2 aka Second Blood is practically the same movie. And much like that movie, it's dramatic shortcomings (and perhaps a confused message) are redeemed by some good action. The action in the new Rambo is better than in the old original Rambo (meaning this one, not First Blood... god I love these confusing titles) but this one is more fun, with a certain indelible 80's-ness and earnest corniness that certainly adds a lot.

Okay, so if we're ranking these, then First Blood is a better movie, but Rambo: Follow-up Blood is more fun. So, um, I guess it's a tie?

Murmur of the Heart

Monday  August 4, 2008

My first shot at a Louis Malle film, and it was a pretty good one. It's a coming of age story that goes to some strange, disturbing places, but has a light touch and sense of humor about it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cool Hand Luke

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This one was certainly a long time coming. I think it's supposed a story of what happens when a man refuses to conform to the society he lives in, but after reading Roger Ebert's write up for his Great Movies column, it's hard not to se it as the story of an extreme masochist. Either way, it's a very entertaining movie.


Friday, August 1, 2008

This is a pretty sweet movie, but the sequel is even better. It's one of those rare sequels, like Escape From L.A., that seems to exist more to parody the original, or perhaps mock the idea of sequels in general. I think it might be closer to Joe Dante's actual sensibilities, whereas the first one has a much clearer Spielberg influence.

The Prestige

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm pretty fucking busy the next few weeks at work, so I will likely be falling behind on this due to tiredness and whatnot. And I'll probably keep my posts brief.

Christopher Nolan has improved greatly as a director since Memento, and his last two have been great. I'm not sure if I like The Prestige or The Dark Knight more, although I suspect this one will hold up better for me.

I've never thought of myself as a Hugh Jackman fan, although with this, X2 and The Fountain, he's done 3 movies I love. So maybe I like him more than I realize.