Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Movie Dump for John

I'm pretty seriously behind in my blogging (reading and writing), but John, in the lovely way that he has, convinced me to try to transfer my Flixster reviews to my blog. Honestly, If I'd have known it would be this easy, I'd have done this long ago... I suspect that Blogger's new format makes it possible for me to copy and paste wholesale like this. Also, I didn't do any editing to speak of, so there are typos.

This is pretty much all the films I've seen this year, most recent to least. Some I've written about, most I haven't. While I'm not expecting anybody except John to read all of them, there's quite a lot in here I'd LOVE to discuss. So if anyone has anything to say, I'd like to hear it!


My Ratings

    The Birds
    33 minutes ago via Flixster
    The Birds (1963)
    More layered and engaging than I thought it would be. The whole setup with the characters in the first half of the film makes their interactions so much more interesting later on. The Birds really stands out from typical horror in this fashion. It's almost like he was making some kind of Cary Grant witty romance film and then threw a bunch of birds at the audience as a F--- you. I haven't seen a lot of Hitch, but I wouldn't put something like that past him.
    Porco Rosso (Kurenai no buta)
    36 minutes ago via Flixster
    Off the beaten track where Miyazaki is concerned. I loved and hated the ending, and that the mystery of the curse is never explicitly answered.
    The Sandlot
    38 minutes ago via Flixster
    The Sandlot (1993)
    I saw this several years ago, but recently with my wife and son. It's a really good family movie. Heart-warming and silly.
    Halloween H2O
    13 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Halloween H2O (1998)
    Unimpressed. Not surprised, necessarily. I saw this awhile ago, but I'm getting rid of it so rating it now.
    Marvel's The Avengers
    16 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Really well put together, very few complaints. Well-written, well acted. Great use (and not overuse) of the Hulk. Excellent work, Whedon!
    Paradise Lost 2 - Revelations
    16 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    John Mark Byers is the real "star" of this show, with his crazy antics. Nice follow-up to the original, though they might not have had a whole film's worth of material. Really looking forward to the third installment.
    Paradise Lost - The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
    16 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Fascinating, thought-provoking, shocking, sad.
    The Curse of the Cat People
    19 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    I liked the beginning a lot, but it didn't seem terribly related to the first film or the whole "cat people" mythos. The ending was a little lame as well. But the little girl acted like a champ!
    Final Destination
    20 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Probably crazy to rate this Lower than the sequel, but I think it was trying a little to hard to be serious, where the second one knows right what it is and gets right to it. This series really stands on its own as a unique addition to the annals of classic slasher type horror films.
    Final Destination 2
    20 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    A very serviceable sequel. Nice creative kills, GREAT car crash scene. Though the fact that they were total strangers made it a little less cohesive.
    Martha Marcy May Marlene
    23 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    I'm not a big fan of flashback storytelling, but it seems to be appropriate in this case. I wasn't completely convinced by the cult and cult figures; I'd like to read more about Durkin's research and why he chose to write this particular cult this way. It was a little too generic, with elements of religiosity but then other elements that seemed to contradict that. Olsen does a great job with the post-escape characterization, but you never get the feeling that she completely buys into the cult and so it doesn't really make sense why she stays as long as she does, especially considering some of the things that happen while she's there. Other female characters do a better job of acting brainwashed. Still, very well made. I look forward to more from this director.
    A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
    23 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Funny, but not as good as the second one, which is probably the best one. It would have been fun to see in 3-D as the use of 3-D was over-the-top in a way that reminded me of Friday the 13th part 3.
    25 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Biutiful (2010)
    Depressing and yet somehow hopeful. Why? It's finding grace in such infinitesimally small moments, but in places one would never expect or hope to find it. It's in seeing the worth and humanity in people of low esteem, even if it takes tragedy for it to happen. This film is relentless in its portrayal of misfortune. What is beautiful about it? A man's love for his children, his compassion for those less fortunate, tainted though it may be of self-interest, his high value of life, no matter what it's station. We, in turn, are more forgiving and compassionate towards him, and because of him can be more compassionate towards other characters in the film who nay not be as deserving of it.
    25 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Melancholia (2011)
    Melancholia draws you into its world so as to put you in a trance. Every facial expression, every word spoken matters and evokes some kind of emotional response. You hate these characters, yet you feel for them. Their impending doom almost seems a blessing. And Melancholia, lovely Melancholia looms like the angel of death itself. So beautiful, so harmless-looking, so deadly.
    La Ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much) (The Evil Eye)
    27 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    I enjoyed this, but as usual it's difficult for me to judge it, not having seen many films from the period. The twist ending is a little strange, as I never suspected the killer, nor ever thought there was reason to suspect. I suppose a second viewing would be in order. I can see where comparisons are made with Hitchcock here more than any other Bava film I've seen. I've also been surprised by his range, as I thought he only did horror films before. Granted, so far, those are still his best, but his films in other genres aren't bad either. I also want to briefly mention the ending, which seems to parallel those of Bava's other films, which in the last minute almost makes a joke of everything that's come before. You see it in Black Sabbath and Bay of Blood as well.
    Quante volte... quella notte (Four Times that Night)
    27 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Entertaining, if only for how different it is from Bava's other films.
    5 Bambole per la Luna d'Agosto (5 Dolls For an August Moon)
    27 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    More interesting for the mood than the plot. Very seventies, lounge music, women sitting around looking good, etc. I loved the freezer scenes, though.
    Black Sabbath (I Tre volti della paura) (The Three Faces of Fear) (The Three Faces of Terror)
    30 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    I wasn't so keen on the first story, but the last two were pretty great. Technicolor creates a really wild atmosphere in several scenes. I also appreciated the humor in the last minute of the film. Horror directors that present their material tongue-in-cheek (and the best ones often do) are my favorite.
    Reazione a catena (A Bay of Blood) (Twitch of the Death Nerve)
    30 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Funny how judging it is challenging because I've seen this sort of film so often. But apparently this was one of the first. I liked how multiple parties were involved in the killing. And it has a wickedly funny ending.
    Battleship Potemkin
    30 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Some nice camera work. Some Surprisingly moving scenes. Propaganda that was actually somewhat effective.
    Blackenstein (Black Frankenstein)(Return of Blackenstein)
    42 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Started out funny and campy, but far too much screen time of blackenstein doing nothing but lumbering across a room or up, then down the stairs. Never knew that DNA serums were so versatile.
    The Pyx (The Hooker Cult Murders)
    42 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Seventies murder mystery Satanic cult horror is so frustrating sometimes. Seems like too many want to be cop movies and horror movies and end up being neither. There was pretty much no horror in this film until the end, and it was too little, too late. The only horror films I've seen that have successfully navigated this formula have been Rosemary's Baby and the Exorcist. But they tried in the seventies, oh how they tried. This gets an extra half star for its interesting simultaneous flashback/present storytelling, allowing us to see what happened in real time to Black's character as the cop discovers it. I liked that the viewer was expected to get the format and follow along without too much handholding.
    Julien Donkey-Boy
    44 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    A Difficult but honest portrayal of a mentally ill man and his broken family. Too many films either shy away from or sensationalize mental illness. As with his other films, Korine strips away the veneer. It would be easy to accuse this and other Korine films of being hopeless, and you might be right. But those of us who have hope know that before anything can change you have to be willing to see it as it is. Herzog is a fascinating choice for the father. He's not a likable character, but he makes you want to know more about him. How did he fall so far? Or was he always this broken? Sevigny plays the willfully-in-denial daughter perfectly, despite the shameful origins of her pregnancy.
    Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
    44 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Lindsay Lohan is actually a talented actress. Let us not let her poor personal decisions take away from that. This is not a great movie, but considering its targeted audience, it wasn't bad. Believe it or not, the first time I rolled my eyes was at the ridiculously smooth choreography during the high school play at the end. It was also amusing watching Megan Fox in an early role, and noting that she hadn't strayed too far from that character so far in her career :P.
    The Challenge
    44 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    The Challenge (2003)
    The best part was the end when all the boys showed up from their other movies and the Olsens broke character. It was weird but fitting for the very unusual life they've had.
    45 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Primer (2003)
    I had to read an explanation before I could rate it :). Terribly confusing, but when it's explained seems almost brilliant. It's probably a 4 star movie, but I'll have to watch it again to be sure.
    45 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Criminal (2004)
    The lame ending totally ruined it for me. Good acting all around, especially JCR. But the ending makes the whole thing implausible. Apparently it's a remake of the Argentinian Nine Queens. I'll have to check that one out.
    Cat People
    45 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Cat People (1942)
    I'd heard good things about this and it didn't disappoint! Solidly entertaining. Our favorite was the skeevy psychologist.
    The Secret World of Arrietty
    45 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Pretty much perfect. Lovely soundtrack, beautiful animation, relatable characters, bittersweet plot, imaginative setting...Miyazaki hits another grand slam, and he didn't even need to direct it!
    Castle in the Sky
    45 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Classic Miyazaki. Laputa's design is wonderful. I loved the robots and the scene where Dola's overhearing the kids' discussion in the crow's nest. I totally didn't recognize Mark Hamil's voice!
    The Cabin in the Woods
    46 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Maybe 5 stars is premature, but Whedon has created a new standard for horror. Fantastic!
    Japanese Story
    57 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Two things make this film worth watching: the gorgeous landscape and the scene where [SPOILER] she tries to get his dead body into the car. That part seemed so real and raw. It was stunning.
    Project X
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Project X (2012)
    I know this was marketed as a comedy, but I didn't see it as one. I think not seeing it as one is essential to getting what the film is about. It's about a party. It's meant to be about a party. That's it. Is that a bad idea for a movie? Ask the kids across the country who threw Project-X inspired parties for weeks after the film opened. It made an impact on them; it made an impact on me. What it does best is show the madness and nihilism of the party scene like few other films I've watched. I've never been to a party like that, but I was convinced from watching the film that that's what they're like. So it was effective. I kind of wish it hadn't been tied up neatly together at the end, with boy getting girl and audience getting updates about what happened to the characters. I wanted it to end at the bleacher scene, with Dax walking away from Thomas and Thomas getting smaller and smaller and fade out. There was too much tacked on to the end that wasn't necessary and didn't add anything significant to the plot (ok, maybe not "plot," per se...the setting, the concept, perhaps). The music and editing is effective and does a really good job of making this sort of thing appealing. The flamethrower guy single-handed turns the party from a "clean up all day Saturday" to a "house burned down and neighborhood traumatized" affair, which is a bit lazy, I think.
    Red State
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Red State (2011)
    I really liked this, though I wanted it to be a little more clear about what its message was. Great camera work, great characters, thought-provoking, exciting, harrowing. Better than I expected and different from Smith's usual stuff, which was refreshing.
    Dead Snow (Død snø)
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Really fun to watch, but totally ridiculous. Faithfully follows your standard horror template, right to the end. It was noted, however, that these zombies are more interested in killing than eating. Just don't mess with their gold and you'll be all right.
    Broadway Danny Rose
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Allen plays his most likable and sympathetic character I've seen so far here. The way he is challenged to live his own philosophy at the end of the film and how he responds to that challenge is truly heartwarming. Allen and Farrow have such great chemistry; it's a shame what he did to her. And I haven't even seen Annie Hall yet!
    Tucker & Dale vs Evil
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Fantastic! Funny, clever, original...Craig knows his horror tropes and skillfully and humorously turns them on their heads here. He doesn't sacrifice internal logic for the jokes, either, a la Scary Movie. Right up there with Cabin Fever as one of the best horror films I've ever seen.
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Rapa-Nui (1994)
    I really liked the setting; I've never seen a film that took place on Easter Island. That alone was enough to get me to sit through a hour and three quarters of really mediocre cinema.
    Margot at the Wedding
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Fascinating characters, even when they are unlikeable and unsympathetic. Kidman does better with her character than I would have expected, and it's fun to see Jack Black in a serious role that still allows him to be funny. Baumbach is consistently able to create highly dysfunctional characters that are thoroughly entertaining to watch and that make us feel better about own own neuroses.
    2 months ago via Flixster
    Topsy-Turvy (1999)
    It took me a little while to get into it. I actually didn't care much for the first 40 minutes or so of the film. But when the G&S dynamic got going, it became a lot more interesting and was pretty much wonderful from there...
    Eaten Alive
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Eaten Alive (1976)
    This was a terrible film, but a great watch!! Neville is fantastic as the innkeeper, but the rest of the acting is only so-so. Lots of weirdness, awesome soundtrack. Hooper loves his homicidal outcasts, doesn't he?
    Paranormal Activity 3
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    The second is my favorite, I think. This one was pretty good, too. The ending was a little weird, but I love the format of all three films. Love the natural dialogue, the lack of a soundtrack, the commitment to not showing the demon. Great stuff, and #3 is another quality entry in the series.
    The Crazies
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    The Crazies (2010)
    Fun to watch, not particularly groundbreaking. I'll confess I would have rated it higher had I not known it was a remake.
    Lonely are the Brave
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Good movie but I hated the ending. Four, maybe 4 1/2 stars right up until the last 6 minutes. It was a great ride for most if the film.
    The Broken
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    The Broken (2008)
    I thought this was very clever. I don't think a lot of people got it, due to a lot of comments about it being confusing and open-ended. It relies on and executes quite well a classic perspective switch, and if you don't make the switch, you're off track for the rest of the film. I watched it twice and was able to appreciate its quality much more the second time around.
    Romper Stomper
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Romper Stomper is shocking and mundane at the same time.I found it while looking for films like American History X, but it's still not really a one-to-one comparison. AHX hits harderbut is more melodramatic; RS has a more profound overall impact. AHX preaches and moralizes while RS does nothing of the sort. Yet, RS gets the message out more profoundly. There's less time spend on the neo-Nazi ideology in RS, and more focus on the relationships between the characters. I'll confess that the first half of RS was less impressive; it was a lot of shouting and running and fighting with no real story. But once the neo-Nazi gang moves into their new place, the plot gets going and the stakes get higher, as Davey's affection for Hando's girl becomes more apparent. The last 20 or 30 minutes or so are intense and tragic and more than make up for a slow start. It almost becomes two films at this point: one about the life of the gang, and another about the tragedy of a relationships that comes into conflict with an ideology. The final scene on the beach is incredibly powerful and makes the film worth watching if nothing else.
    The Illustrated Man
    3 months ago via Flixster
    Steiger overacts a bit in the by-the-lake scenes. I never get what he's so angry about. That's what you get when you let your lower half think for you. Regardless, there are a few things to like about this film. It's a little slow-moving and a little confusing, but the sets are cool (especially the all-white futuristic set with some really cool furniture) and Rod's tats are pretty rad. I love late-sixties/erly-seventies sci-fi in particular for their sets (think 2001, Rollerball, Sleeper). That alone makes this film worth the price of admission, so to speak.
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Ink (2009)
    Impressive indie with an excellent cast (particularly the lead) and an intriguing if somewhat confusing plot. The film tips its hand too early (for me around the hour mark) and becomes less mysterious, but the images and the sets will stay with me. Great choreography for the fight scenes, too. All this for only a quarter mil. Nicely done, Winans.
    The Interrupters
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    A shame this film got snubbed by the Academy. Sobering and heartfelt and even humorous despite its grim subject matter, the Interrupters manages to convey an amazing amount of hope. Important both as art and social commentary. A tad bit long, but I don't hold that against it.
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Slacker (1991)
    Linklater's vehicle for personal philosophy is entertaining and novel, though towards the end it starts to become a little tedious. Still an amazing film and an obvious forerunner to Waking Life, which totally bored me.
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Beautiful (2009)
    Started off intriguing and atmospheric, but became a stupid melodramatic nonsensical mess by the end. Blah.
    Love Is the Drug (Addicted to Her Love)
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    JP Amedori really sold his anguish towards the end. Turned a typical "teens and drugs" movie into something a bit more. Good acting by Caplan as well.
    Brother Born Again
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Not bad for an amateur effort. Good ideas, but the narrative was a bit flat.
    Suspect Zero
    4 months ago via Flixster
    Suspect Zero (2004)
    Not bad. Nice mood and atmosphere, but a little too predictable in a TV drama kind of way. That remote viewing stuff is interesting and freaaaaky, though!
    The Tempest
    4 months ago via Flixster
    The Tempest (2010)
    There are things I really liked about this and things I really didn't like. Mostly the low-budget-looking special effects.
    Cold Weather
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Cold Weather (2010)
    Great genre-bending film, may be one of my all-time favorites.
    4 months ago via Flixster
    Drive (2011)
    It lost a half star because I didn't like the ending at all. Great atmosphere. Quiet, meditative...
    4 months ago via Flixster
    Tabloid (2010)
    Morris at his best. Tongue-in-cheek, entertaining, subversive. A bit lighter than his other stuff--he doesn't maintain so much of his characteristic lack of bias here. Maybe he's been watching too much Herzog lately.
    The Ghost Writer
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Ewan plays the wide-eyed naive ghost writer very well, Brosnan is also wonderful, as is Williams. Quaintly Hitchcokian, but everyone says that.
    The Curse of Frankenstein
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Wonderful! What makes this a cut above is that it's not just the story of the making of a monster, but of the unmaking of a friendship. Of work that gets in the way of relationships, of principles that cloud judgment. Paul and Victor both bore responsibility for what happened in some fashion. Though Victor did seem, from the beginning, to have been missing some empathy. Perhaps he was on the autism spectrum.
    The Satanic Rites of Dracula
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    This was my first Hammer Studios picture and I really liked it! Lee and Cushing have great onscreen chemistry; it's a shame they weren't together more in this film. It moved pretty good for a seventies horror flick. Some cheesiness (the roomful of vampiresses) but it kept my attention and was entertaining. I can't wait to see more!
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Secretary (2002)
    Saw this awhile ago, but getting rid of the DVD from my collection. Great job by Gyllenhaal in an unusual film about an unusual relationship.
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Pontypool (2008)
    Original idea, excellent job working within the constraints of a small budget. Created tension and suspense with words more so than action and violence. One of the more unique zombie films I've seen. Recommended.
    The Sitter
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    The Sitter (2011)
    Argh! So disappointing! I don't find putting kids into dangerous adult situations comedic at all, really. And I have a hard time identifying with a protagonist who does it. Add to that the fact that he's unlikeable, selfish, and incompetent and you've got a movie that doesn't have much appeal for me. DGG, please come back to us!! I know they've kidnapped you and are releasing terrible films in your name and you yourself can't be blamed. But you'll escape and make everything right again, I just know it.
    Miracle on 34th Street
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Can you believe this was my first time seeing this? Classic.
    4 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Zelig (1983)
    Most unique Allen film I've seen. The first modern mockumentary? My favorite part is when he becomes a Nazi.