Monday, November 12, 2007


To say this movie caused me heart pounding anxiety and grief is an understatement. I'm not usually down with Mel's movies, (except Braveheart), and I'm certainly not going to watch "The Passion" but Apocolypto offered a history that has always interested me. I like learning about ancient native cultures. On impulse I grabbed it off the shelf at the movie store.

What annoys me is my recent trend of watching movies with a "pregnant woman in danger." I was so upset after watching Children of Men that the review still sits in my draft posts. I couldn't sleep that night. And here I was again looking at the poor woman's face and thinking about the baby in her belly. Whew.

Apocolypto was so grand and brutal I spent most of my time on the edge of my seat, my heart pounding as hard as the ones sacrificed. The movie is extremely fast paced and I didn't notice I was reading subtitles. The actors use so much of their facial expression to convey emotion it makes watching the latest reality TV show even more shallow and ridiculous.

The story begins simply with a small group of mayan hunters nabbing a tapir, and preparing it to bring home to their village. A disturbing incident occurs and oddly enough, only our intrepid hero, Jaguar Paw, takes it to heart. The story unfolds in the abovementioned breakneck fashion with some serious action. It does not disappoint although it may crush you at times.

I was visually amazed at the detail to all the makeup and bodywork. Since folks were mostly naked in the warm climate they had a lot of exposed skin to decorate. And they did. I was interested enough to watch the bonus material which discussed the costumes and makeup and was duly impressed.

It's pretty obvious that I recommend this movie. Try to forget it's a Mel movie and go for the action with a pretty good story. You won't be bogged down with annoying dialog and stupid characters. That's pretty tight here. There is a little surprise at the end that I wasn't sure felt right but I decided I could let it go. Just take some deep breaths during the scary parts. It's what I do.

Monday, March 12, 2007

300: Small name, big movie

I must admit I was enamored of this movie long before it came out. I enjoy tales of epic battles with brave kings and strong willed queens. The marketing of 300 was genius, becoming my "friend" on myspace and feeding me exclusive trailers and clips in advance of the film. In fact, I was even able to link back to the trailer from my own myspace page, sharing it with everyone who cared to click on it. Such cleverness tickles me to no end. I watched it over an over, until I could speak with Leonidas, "tonight! We dine! in HELL!" That line still gives me goosebumps.

Going to see the movie in the theater gave me a bit of worry. Separating myself from $8.50 on a Sunday evening is a big thing. I thought I might have over-hyped myself like I did with X-Men 3, which left me angry at the end. Many critics hacked on the comic-book feel to the movie, saying it was over-CGI'd (to CGI, verb, to use a computer instead of a camera to make a movie, usually with crappy results). I agree that the sepia-tones used gave 300 an old time feel. At one point I was reminded of the 1963 movie (thank you, imdb) Jason and the Argonauts which had a similar fake feel to it. But 300 did not disappoint.

300 could have become a hopeless B-movie had it used lessor actors. But folks like Gerard Butler (Leonidas), Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes) and Lena Headey (Gorgo) took their roles seriously enough to act in front of blue screens, imparting the appropriate passion to deliver their lines with conviction. The fighting was cool, too. Oddly enough, my friend remarked that the CGI rendered the blood spatter less graphic than that of Braveheart, for example, making it easier for the delicate lady to handle.

I consider myself to be the perfect demographic for this sort of movie: I like battles, men, guts and glory. I like strong women characters pitted against the evilest of bad guys. I don't know enough about history to be annoyed with imperfect retellings. And a good sword fight, well that floats my boat. If that sounds like you then I would definitely recommend 300. It's sexy. You'll dig it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Brothers Grimm: Completely unwatchable

It would be my guess that out of all the movies ever made about these famous German brothers this most recent one, starring Heath Ledger and Matt Damon, has them doing spins in their respective graves.
I thought the idea was clever: mixing in the lives of the Grimm Brothers with their stories into a quasi-action movie. Heath plays Jacob, the dreamer and fool, who also seems to be a drunk. Matt plays Wilhelm, the smarter brother, whose role it is to keep his brother out of trouble and be the brains of the duo. I think there is a sidekick or two in there but I didn't watch long enough to find out.
I really should have watched the whole thing before writing about it but I just couldn't. After about 20 minutes of enduring the opening scenes I had a conversation with my husband that went something like this:
Me: "Dude. This movie, like, blows."
Husband: "Shut it off."
M: "I can't, I got it from Netflix"
H: "Who cares? Just send it back and get another one."
M: "But I'm supposed to watch the whole thing before I blog it."
H: "Dude..."
M: "O.k."
I stopped suffering soon after that. I know those dudes got paid to make this movie. I just hope they had fun hanging out in Prague while they were doing so.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Arty. Noir. Sick. Surreal.

O.k., I gotta stop reading those advertising blurbs they write on netflix and stick with my gut. I like my movies as straight up stories. Kiss Kiss indulged in talking with the viewer and pulling little tricks like rewinding the film and messing around in general. It annoyed me as did the story. We engage in an improbable tale of the seamy side of Hollywood (as if it's anything but) as told in an old fashiondey, pulp fiction kind of way. There's murder, fistfights, booze and broads. It's very tongue-in-cheek and Robert Downey Jr. is convincing in his twitchy, alcohol-gulping way. Val Kilmer plays a gay private investigator but is not convincing in his gayness. He says the words but his eyes don't say he loves men. He could also use some slimming down although his man-shaper helped. Sorry, Val.

There's also a quirky beautiful woman sidekick named Harmony is who is embroiled in the drama. She is annoying. The bad guys aren't afraid to bat a woman around and she takes her lumps. I almost shut the movie off ten times or so but having it sit on my shelf for three weeks guilted me into finishing it.

Kiss Kiss was a movie that was way more clever than I. It's half a send up of old-style noir films and a serious story. The twists were sometimes sick, such as the door-slamming incident, and the love story tinny. Unless you're a serious movie buff who likes to be titillated by clever directors I would skip this one.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Match Point: The Talented Mr. Ripley Redux

I absolutely loathed this movie. What was I thinking? Woody Allen? I know what I was thinking. I got sucked in by Scarlett Johansson and her big boobs. I thought this was going to be a hot, sexy movie and it was not. I can't believe how boring it was: a story about snooty wealthy British people slumming with commoners about whom they know nothing.

Tennis. Who cares? And all the philosophical garbage about luck vs. faith and love and crap. You know what bugged me about this movie? No one was likeable. Our two main characters, Chris and Nola, are emotionally vacant gold diggers who like each other better than their marks. It was sickening. The two of them are like looking in a mirror. When I thought the movie would keel over and die Woody supplied a plot twist that put my CSI-teeth on edge. And then he made me watch some more! I shocked myself by watching this movie to the end and I can't tell you how pissed I was at the way it turned out.

Should you see this movie? Well for a posh time put it on your netflix queue straightaway! It's absolutely brilliant, darling, and all that.

Whatever. That's the last time I EVER see a Woody Allen movie. Scarlett might get a do-over. Maybe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: The Wedding Video

I admit I watched this movie with absurd fascination. With all the hoopla surrounding the birth of Brad and Angelina's baby I wanted to see how they fell in love. And while I have no hope of scheduling a sit down with the two of them to discuss it I had to opt for second best, and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" was it.

Was this a good movie? Not really. As a married person I'm interested in stories of marriages in trouble, but as me, there must be some shooting or explosions going on or I will lose interest. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is the story of two people who have grown apart in their five years of marriage. Oh, and they are both professional assassins, and have been hiding their profession from their spouse the entire time. This is a fascinating premise and I was extremely interested in the outcome.

They did a silly thing early on in the film. For a few scenes they pretended that the audience did not know what our protagonists did for a living. This led one to suppose Angie was going off somewhere to cheat on Brad (oh no!) instead of meeting him at the Caldwell's for dinner. Knowing what she was really up to, I was annoyed with the deception and I got that pissy frown on my forehead. In the same scene we are also treated to Angie in her best dominatrix-wear which is titillating until she whacks the dude in an effortless and cunning way. (Oops, that's a small spoiler).

This movie walks a very fine line with Brad and Angie's characters. They are both being asked to be meticulously well dressed, excessively attractive and expert assassins. But there is this undercurrent that Angie is better at everything. Brad trips and falls, has a stupid friend in Vince Vaughn, and was fooled by Angie in a very devious way. I wondered why he had to bumble about. They even have him shake a leg as he takes a public piss. It was out of character for him as a nattily dressed person. I thought it was unnecessary to the story to cut him down that way. But I guess it allowed him the opportunity to rise up and allow Angie to see what a real man he was. Blah. Kind of yucky.

I found Vince's sidekick schtick to be extremely annoying. He is so shrill in his assassin paranoia I wanted him to shut up. He dominated every scene with Brad which is understandable given his rapid-fire delivery compared to Brad's mouthful of marbles. You could tell Vince really practiced his lines. No mistakes, ever.

Jane and John's "get back together" scene was accompanied by gun blasts, kicks and punches which did make me wince a bit. Jane is supposed to be one tough broad but, even though she is behind the sofa, I did not relish the sight of him kicking her. He worked too hard at beating the crap out of her. I guess I'm old fashioned.

The movie has a lame plot twist toward the end that leads to the "REALLY LONG GUN BATTLE." (RLGB) That was cool until it was late and got boring. The only thing that piqued my interest was that our protagonists change their clothes and expose Brad for the metrosexual he really is. As Jane and John prepare for the RLGB they get all decked out in their superhero clothes, you know, the kevlar and stuff. Looked wicked snappy. But then they enter a home store and Brad 1.) comments on "what a good store it is" and 2.)changes into a matching gray suit with Jane. It was really unnecessary and a strange thing.

I can't say I would recommend this movie, unless you like spending time with Brad and Angie. Now that their baby has been born and photographed, the public has lost interest. I tried to imagine a sequel for this movie. Maybe they'll have kids and open their own assassin business.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Fantastic Four - Flame On!, people!

I know, I know, I'm on a superhero kick. But I'm really having a good time with myself. Many people hated this movie but I kind of liked it. It tells the story of how our superhero friends Sue and Johnny Storm (brother and sister), Ben Grimm and Reed Richards become The Fantastic Four. Oh, and Dr. Doom too. I think my favorite character was Chris Evans as The Human Torch. Although I couldn't believe that he could have been a real astronaut I could believe he rides a motorcycle and looks sexy with his shirt off. And when he finally learned to fly all torched up it was really exciting! His antics teasing Ben Grimm and setting things on fire brought some comic relief to a film dulled by the performances of Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffud. Those two were really boring.

Ioan played Reed pretty straight - the scientist geek loses the girl as well as his pride and has no qualms about a little boot licking to further his research. I understood he needed to make a journey into his leadership role but even in the end you could tell he was always going to be a pansy. But good old Ioan (IMDB kindly provides a helpful pronunciation guide for his name "YO-an") doesn't seem to have the chops to be a top loser scientist. Too young perhaps? I can't put my finger on it but there is no way this guy went to MIT. I saw Good Will Hunting and I KNOW.

I thought Jessica was a little weak as well. I was completely hooked on her in the series Dark Angel so I'm no stranger to her being a superhero. But someone effed up her makeup and she looked really reddish-beige all over. Her constant hen pecking of Johnny and pining for Reed was a turn off.

Michael Chiklis rocks as The Thing (no pun intended) and even manages to show emotional pain after his transformation. He notes that he's the only one who doesn't get to stay his sexy self, and that's rough. And with a heart of gold all he's trying to do is get our lovebirds, Sue and Reed back together. Awww. At least they give him proper manpris, instead of the blue underpants of the comic.

Know what's been killing me about these two movies? Spider-Man 2 and Fantastic Four? The crowds. Both movies are set in New York and there you have our intrepid New Yorkers enjoying their new superhero citizens. "Spider-Man, take me!" and "There's the Invisible Girl!" Instead of screaming in fear and running for their lives folks are down with old Spidey and The 'Four. X-Men's premise is the division between human and mutant so there's no such hammy friendliness. But I'll hit that in another post.

Although the film is bloodless as anticipated Dr. Doom has no trouble putting large holes in the middle of his enemies' bodies. I thought that was a little edgy - "hey, he didn't just knock that guy down with his electric blast!" That surprised me a little. Julian McMahon brought a level of evil smarminess to the role and I sincerely didn't like him. I guess that's good acting.

See? Fantastic Four was good. The action was good, the CGI was better than Spider-Man 2 - Reed is SUPPOSED to look rubbery, and Johnny Storm was excellent eye candy. Oh, and I'm sure Jessica was too. But I think if you're looking for a movie just to see her you'd do better with Into the Blue.