Tuesday, February 3, 2009

2008 part 12...

More of this, more more more. I saw "My Bloody Valentine 3-D" in the theatre this weekend, and I was planning on writing about it, but I don't really have anything to say about it, except that for a slasher remake, it was very entertaining, and I enjoyed seeing a 3-D movie on the big screen. Lots. Lots and lots and lots. This weekend is New York Comic Con, so that should be cool, I'll write about that if anything interesting happens, but most likely not. Meanwhile, it keeps not really snowing in New York. Like, it snows, but not really. Not enough. What happened to the snow? Global warming sucks. I miss the frigid, blizzardy winters of my D.C. youth. I miss lots of stuff.

Here's ten more flicks from 2008...

1. Charlie Bartlett- Not awful, but unremarkable. Oh, and it's not clever to reference "Harold & Maude" in your whimsical comedy drama, unless your movie is actually as good as "Harold & Maude," it just reminds viewer how much a better film that is compared to the one they're watching. And if your movie is as good as "Harold & Maude," you're probably smart enough a filmmaker to know not to reference "Harold & Maude." This film references, directly and repeatedly, "Harold & Maude."

2. Speed Racer- Awful, and looooong.

3. Meet the Spartans- Seriously awful, but mercifully short.

4. W.- Has there ever been a biographical film made about a president while they were still in office before? I'm not really a fan of Oliver Stone, but this was alright. Not great, but alright. At first it seemed like sort of a comedy, damning Bush with his own words, and there are certainly a few instances where that's true, but ultimately, despite some great performances, I was never really sure what this movie was supposed to be about, or why Stone was making it. I mean, it's clear that he's critical of Bush, but there seems to be some sympathy there, maybe even respect, and, like, I don't want to see that. Being about a controversial poltician gives the film a sense of depth, but ultimately it has no substance.

5. Sex Drive- Yet another teen sex comedy from last year that I sort of liked. See my review of College, this is basically exactly the same, only a little better, but mostly just the same. Nah, it was better. Apparently I'm a sucker for stupid comedies.

6. Boarding Gate- Asia Argento plays a damaged, hypersexualized criminal, just like in every other movie she's ever been in. And, seriously, she's such a horrible actress, I'm totally vexed by critics and cineastes whoare so endlessly fascinated by her. Because she's not fascinating, she's not extraordinarily attractive nor especially unusual looking, and she can't act, not even a little. Not even a smidge. And her dad's movies really aren't that good either, except for "Suspiria." It's like everybody with the Argento surname not only gets a free pass for sucking, but the get lauded and adored for it. Anyway, "Boarding Gate" is terrible. It's like a student film, long scenes of pretentious (but not smart pretentious, just talking about trite things in a really obvious, boring way pretentious) dialogue punctuated with occasional moments of violence or running. Like, take a little bit of "Breathless," a little bit of "Chungking Express," take everything wonderful out of them, and that's "Boarding Gate." Acutally, that would have been better than "Boarding Gate." They should have called it "Boring Gate." And people seemed to like it, too, which bothers me, because it's all so totally obivous and typical. It's an obvious pseudo-art film. It's sleaze for people who think they're above watching real sleaze, or want to treat it as an excercise, or a concept. Snob sleaze. Which is almost more sleazy than actual sleaze, but not sleazy in a good way. I think I hate Oliver Assayas. Oliver Assyass. I liked his "Irma Vep," but that was more than ten years ago, and between this and "Demonlover," I think he's just really pretentious and uninteresting.

7. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane- Inexplicably, this far above average teen slasher film remains unreleased in the states, despite the rising popularity of star Amber Heard (she was the girlfriend in "Pineapple Express"). Jonathan Levine's film, from a script by Jacob Forman, is pretty lean and mean, sexy and occasionally surprising. Plot twists are rarely effective in movies like this, they're either predictable or too out of left field, but there's one here that's genuinely pretty cool. And the film captures the vague, unfocused menace of teenage sexuality, the predatory nature of boys, general sexual mystique, mystery, uncertainty etc. all quite well. I hope this comes out eventually, it's far better than "Donkey Punch" or "Frontier(s)" or any other horror film that got overhyped this year. I mean, what the fuck? The remake of "Prom Night" got a heavily advertised release, and this isn't even out on DVD. Seriously, what the fuck?

8. Shotgun Stories- I'm kind of bummed I missed this during it's brief theatrical run in NYC, at the IFC (which almost rhymes!), cuz it's really a decent film, very low-key, low-budget, but really beautiful, and with great, very natural acting. The story, set against a southern working-class backdrop, is about a feud between two groups of late-20's, early-30's half-brothers, but it really isn't a narrative in the traditional sense, I mean, it's all presented in a linear fashion, but it's about the characters, not the story, so it's, I dunno, "realistic" isn't a great word to use when talking about films, obviously, films aren't really "realistic," but "Shotgun Stories," written and directed by Jeff Nichols, approximates a kind of realism in that it dosen't conform to traditional standards of movie narrative, it's all very slow and minimal and kind of great. The cast is led by Michael Shannon, a very profilic character actor who I first caught in Tracy Letts' play "Killer Joe" about a decade ago, and it's great to see him in films, usually pretty interesting ones, like this, "Jesus' Son," William Friedkin's "Bug" (written by Letts) and "Let's Go to Prison," where he's kind of hilarious as "the kind of dickhead who gives nazis a bad name." Anyway, "Shotgun Stories," yeah, great film.

9. The Wrestler- To give Darren Aranofsky's much overhyped film credit, I didn't totally hate it, and I thought I would, because I seriously, seriously hated both "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream." Well, I hated "Requiem for a Dream," I just didn't like "Pi." No, I kind of hated it. Well, I found it annoying. Anyway, the intense response to "the Wrestler" kind of perplexes me, not that it's a terrible film, it's just kind of...obvious. Y'know, redemption, family, aging, career, blah blah blah sex, drugs, blah blah blah. Mickey Rourke isn't bad, but he's not that great (and he looks like a fucking meatloaf monster). This is, like, a really unchallenging film for people who want to believe they are watching a challenging film, but it's nothing new, nothing special, and it's not really about anything, except that vauge idea of repdemption that's, like, such a tired movie cliche at this point, and then the character really isn't redeemed in the end, so I guess that's supposed to be the challenging part, or something, but it just made me feel like I'd spent a couple of hours watching a movie about someone who's really stupid, like really stupid and self-destructive in a totally obvious way. And why is everyone so keen on the "triumphant return" of Mickey Rourke? Since when was Mickey Rourke this like cherished cultural icon. Yeah, he was pretty good in "Pope of Greenwich Village" and "Barfly," but, c'mon, have you seen "9 1/2 Weeks?" "Wild Orchid?" "Harley Davidson & the Marlboro Man?" "9 1/2 Weeks 2?" the remake of "Get Carter?" "Spun?" "Domino?" He's not the most discerning performer, and it's not like he hasn't been in movies for the past 20 years, he's just been in really shitty movies, because he's kind of shitty. Hey, wait, maybe I did hate "the Wrestler." Maybe I just hate that people liked it so much. Totally whatever, though.

10. Milk- Though his earlier films were much more nuanced, for the past decade at least Gus Van Sant seems to fluctuate between two modes of filmmaking: aggressively experimental (well, not really aggressively, and not experimental exactly, but, y'know, the slow minimalism of "Elephant" and "Paranoid Park") and blandly commercial ("Good Will Hunting," "Finding Forrester"). "Milk" falls squarely in the latter category, but it's kind of thought provoking, and kind of an important film, especially in the year of Prop 8, getting people to think about gay rights. But that's all it really does, maybe that's all it intends to do, on a cinematic level, it's really kind of uninspired, but I guess people should see it, because of its' depiction of human rights/civil rights issues, but, I mean, couldn't it have been a better movie? Or would that have perhaps distracted from the issue? So, I dunno, important, totally, but a cinematic powerhouse? Not really. But it's not bad, y'know, just too...straight, in a way. Not sexually, I mean, it's pretty frank about its' sexuality. Maybe I'm just too jaded to appreciate how something like this might play to a less, and I don't want to be pretentious here, but a less enlightened audience. Because it is an important film, and it's coming out (so to speak) at the right time, and it makes you think about the things it needs to make you think about, but, I dunno, it just lacked pep, or something.

Ok, I'm getting pretty bored with this, it's time to move on to writing about something else. Well, maybe just a few more. But seriously, bleh. Yawn.

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