Posted in Movie | 1 Comment »

This movie blew my fucking mind, which is clearly exactly what it wanted to do. You have no choice but to go see it multiple times. Unlike Memento or The Sixth Sense, other mind-blowy movies, you don’t just watch this movie and you get the “a-ha!” ending and you go home and you’re done. You keep going back and peeling back the layers, trying to figure out what the fuck is happening. And the answer is there, you just know it, you just have to pay close enough attention to all the little excruciating details. If only you can knock the rust off your brain, surely you’ll puzzle it all out.

Christopher Nolan continues to do what he does best: admire and respect his audience enough to not spell it all out for them. Christopher Nolan knows you don’t need the whole thing exposited to you; Christopher Nolan knows you’re smart.

Another thing he does exceptionally well is have beautiful people do amazing physical stunts in nifty environments. These people, they are beautiful. I think the person-candy element to this movie is glossed over too often in other reviews. There is something for everyone, and each member of the cast is totally delicious in their own special way. Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears the hell out of a vest while defying gravity, for crissakes. Marion Cotillard is carved from marble. Ken Watanabe just gets improbably hotter with age. All of them: gorgeous. All of them: sharply intelligent.Christopher Nolan does not suffer fools, and would never ask you to.

I’ve read some reviews that accuse this movie of not having enough emotion to it, but I am not sure what movie those reviewers have been watching, because the one I saw abounded with sorrow, devotion, anguish, love and pain. There’s quite a lot of pain in all of Christopher Nolan’s movies, isn’t there? Christopher Nolan knows pain is the common human denominator. His characters can’t sit back and wail about their pain; they have work to do, saving each other and saving themselves. Christopher Nolan believes you can keep up.

This movie fills the brain-puzzles-with-hot-people hole in my heart that was left by the departure of Lost, except it fills it with 14 karat gold and chocolate and puppies. In its daydreams, Lost wants to be Inception when Lost grows up.

Toy Story 3

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

I cringed when I saw the first trailers for this one. I thought it stank of desperate money-grubbing, and that far too much time had passed since the first two films for the franchise to be relevant. I could not have been more wrong!!

Not only is this movie great, just as awesome as Toy Story and Toy Story 2, but what impressed me the most was the way all three movies fit together. Tone, characters, pacing, and design are all completely consistent. I don’t think the same can be said for any set of sequential movies. Think about that for a minute…it’s remarkable. Even sets where I like all 2 or 3 or 4 films, which is rare in the first place, those movies will vary wildly individually.  Aliens is very different from Alien; Back To The Future 3 is fully distinct from the original. Pixar seems to have lightning in a bottle, and good for them.

So, basically, if you loved the first Toy Story, you have got it made! If you disliked Toy Story, well, may your God have mercy on your shriveled, blackened soul.

Also, I can’t believe they got the real Andy. There are a lot of weepy moments in this, as Pixar’s favorite thing is to make me cry (yet I somehow don’t resent them for it).

The Good, The Bad, And The Weird

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

I like westerns; I like Korean movies; I like movies set in the 1930s; I like movies with hot guys in them. Really, for the first half, there was nothing not to love about this film. Our three protagonists are all interesting characters (and did I mention the hotness?), and there’s a fast, punchy, tongue-in-cheek Guy Ritchie style happening as we meet all the characters and set up our central conflict. So far, so good.

Then the shooting starts. Please, don’t think I have problems with violence or gunplay in movies – I really, really don’t. I enjoyed the first shoot-out of this movie immensely. The second was good, too, but longer. The third was less entertaining, but even longer. Eventually, the time between gun battles (you know, the time when normally the plot furthers) telescoped down to 2-3 minutes, while the battles themselves bloated. Towards the end, or rather what I hoped was the end, there was a protracted gun battle on horseback. You’d think that would be pretty exciting, with the BANG BANG BANG and the horses and the running. I fell asleep after about 5 minutes of that. When I woke up, I found that 10 minutes had passed, and the horseback gun battle was still happening.

This movie is about 2 hours long, but it feels like 5. It’s really a goddamn shame, because this could have been terrific. Instead, it’s a deafening slog that barrels past the limits of patience and obliterates the joy and fun of the first section.

Clash of the Titans

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

I am a huge, slavering fan of the 1981 original movie – it wasn’t a good movie, in fact it was very silly, but it was a lot of fun and gave birth to my stop-motion animation obsession. I knew there would be no stop-motion in this reincarnation and made peace with my disappointment and went in with rock bottom expectations and a beer in my hand.

That said, this movie was actually lots of fun! The plot is obviously nonsensical, but who  watched this movie to learn more about the Greek myths?  Seriously, though don’t try to follow the plot; it will just give you a headache like the one Sam Worthington is clearly battling throughout, with furrowed brow instead of a sword.

Sam Worthington is a very good actor, in his way; his range may be microscopically small, but he genuinely looks as though all this is really happening to him. Although maybe his headache came from his leather miniskirt. That costume was so short, I worried that there was going to be some uncomfortable upskirt action in the fight scenes.

All the actors in this movie are slumming it something fierce; seriously, Pete Postlethwaite? Liam Neeson? Oh my lord, Ralph Fiennes. The Greater Fiennes is a thing to behold as our villain, Hades. He devours the scenery, and it’s wonderful!

The special effects are decent – nothing remotely realistic, but these people are marching through volcanic mountains in pristine white tunics draped casually over their shoulders; realism isn’t even an option. More importantly, the special effects are FUN! Giant sand scorpions made of rocks or whatever! It’s no stop-motion skeleton army, but it’ll do.

The various creatures and monsters are all wonderful to look at. Archie the clockwork owl has only 2 seconds; apparently Sam Worthington hated the little contraption as much as he hates America and Freedom. The Pegasus is there, but this time in black. Because white horses are for pussies!

Maybe if I had honestly expected a serious, sweeping epic invested in its ancient source material, I would have hated this. I would also have been stupid to have expected that! A serious Clash of the Titans would be a phenomenal movie, no doubt, but even the posters let you know exactly what you will be receiving – this movie is loud, fast, pretty, and dumb. Nothing wrong with that.

Careful with that miniskirt; we can all see your sword.

The Ghostwriter

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

Roman Polanski is a nasty old rapist, but he can make a hell of a movie.This film was taut, extremely well-acted, never pretentious or noisy. It was just good.

Pierce Brosnan, I knew you had it in you. My hope is that now that he’s getting on in years, Brosnan will get the opportunity to act in his movies instead of just holding up his handsomeness. Here as a thinly-veiled Tony Blair, you absolutely forget Remington Steele. Olivia Williams remains fairly typecast, but dammit, she’s good at that brittle, seething intelligence, barely suppressing hysteria character she does. Ewan MacGregor can basically do no wrong. Kim Cattrall is very distracting but does her job; apparently she is slightly British in real life, but it’s a bit confusing here.When Tom Wilkinson shows up, you know you’re in a good movie.

Anyways, good, grown-up movie. Simple, elegant, no delusions of grandeur or overwrought action sequences. Nice job, Nasty Old Rapist, although not good enough that it should keep you out of jail.

A Single Man

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

Not a lot in common with A Serious Man, other than the extremely compelling suffering of an attractive white man in the 60s that you definitely need to watch.

Directed by first-time director and famed fashion designer Tom Ford, obviously the clothes and sets were going to be sublime and elegant-yet-manly. He is working with top-notch talent from exquisite source material, of course, but Ford really needs a round of applause for the sheer quality of this film.This does not feel like a first-timer’s movie.

The cast is tiny and perfect; Colin Firth, beautiful and grave as always. I hear he’s really a goofy, rumpled, dirty-minded imp in real life, and that makes me enjoy his tortured, repressed typecasting all the more. Nicholas Hoult you may remember as the boy in About A Boy with Hugh Grant, but he is all grows up, my word. I look forward to him in the upcoming X-Men prequel spin-off. Julianne Moore, exactly as she often is: shrill but absorbing and vulnerably gorgeous. Matthew Goode, in flashbacks as Firth’s dearly departed, is breathtakingly pretty but…I dunno, there’s something sort of poisonous about him that I think is the actor, not the role. Right here and now, I’ve decided that I dislike Matthew Goode. So there.

I knew what the story was about, so I was expecting something much, much sadder than it truly was. True, it is a very sad story – we’re carrying the weight of this man’s grief with him for only a day, and it’s overwhelming. But his story is more about the many ways life and happiness keep trying to reach out to him, and his ultimate success saves it from being depressing.

A Serious Man

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

The Coen brothers have this special hand with black comedy that is absolute perfection. I’m not going to say that they’re infallible; I genuinely thought their ship had sailed 10 years ago. The Man Who Wasn’t There was well-made but soul-crushing, Burn After Reading wasn’t nearly as adorable as it thought it was (except for the unexpectedly delightful Brad Pitt), and I was apparently the only person in the Western Hemisphere who actively disliked No Country For Old Men, *ptooie*.

But this movie…this movie is a gem. The story is fairly simple, a basic re-telling of Job. One by one, every part of Larry Gopnik’s nice little life goes to shit, and it is hilarious. You also feel just terrible for Larry, and that somehow makes it okay that you are delighting in his misery. Poor, poor Larry.  A different actor from Michael Stuhlbarg would have made Larry grating, or a loser, or made the whole thing too depressing. But Stuhlbarg’s big blue eyes, full of hope and disbelief make you reluctant to believe that it won’t all work out. He tries so hard to be rational, to do the right and compassionate thing at all times, seeking advice from all corners – surely it has to come right in the end?

Visually, this film is gorgeous and delightful. The cinematography is achingly beautiful in some spots, and set the rapidly-changing moods so perfectly.  The set design and costumes are so much fun! All the actors are enchanting, with this way of seamlessly flowing from a caricature to a deep, real character. I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s because the majority of them are plucked from theater, not LA, and this is so what the talking pictures need nowadays.

I think there is a special meditation in this movie on the role of suffering, individually and collectively, in the Jewish community. Obviously, I miss a lot of the significance by not being Jewish, but conversely I also think this movie is trying to illustrate it for us non-Jews. The Coens leave a lot of doors open, spots for you to try to figure out what they meant and what might have happened next, and why. There’s a lot of why in this movie.

And if you’re familiar with the old joke about Job, you know both God’s answer to Job’s “why?” as well as the Coens’ answer: “Fuck if I know!”


Posted in Movie | No Comments »

I will admit that I balked at seeing this movie at the International Film Fest, and that what got me over my reticence was hearing that it was from the director of (and included several actors from) The Host. The Host was absolutely one of my favorite movies in 2006 – so unique, it was like 4 movies for the price of one. Mother sounded heavy and boring.

Well, clearly whoever wrote the blurbs at the film fest should be sacked, because Mother was a hell of a thing. It’s a mystery that slowly unravels, and I found it so gripping that I straight up forgot to breathe on occasion. The story isn’t so complex or unusual, but every character in it was extremely complex and unusual. After a while, I stopped trying to figure out the story and where they were going with it, because it never went where I expected. The moments of hilarity were laced all through it, and capped with a powerfully poignant ending.

Maybe everyone in Korea is that interesting and weird/compelling. I mean, I dig pretty much any movie that shows people in other cultures going about their totally foreign daily business, so they had me there. So now Korea can add “movies” to the list of Things I Think Korea Must Be Making For My Joyous Personal Consumption, alongside kim chi, karoake TV shows, bulgogi and college roommates.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

Much like Snakes On A Plane, a movie that spells its premise out in the title is helping its audience to be prepared. This movie is exactly what it purports to be: funny, a bit crude, slightly dumb, and lots of fun. It’s actually much sweeter and less raunchy than you might expect – sort of a 40-Year-Old Virgin Lite.

Glovershock!! I had no idea Crispin Glover was going to be in this, and he did not disappoint. All is forgiven for Alice In Wonderland, Crispy; you can come back home. Rob Corddry is clearly a genius, but until now I’ve not been that into him because his characters are usually really unpleasant (although hilarious). He’s usually on-screen for maybe 5 minutes at a pop, but having a full movie to shine really works for him and he develops a subtle warmth and depth to his character. Corddry has all the best jokes, and there are so very many. He is totally my boyfriend now. John Cusack plays a soulless douchebag, which doesn’t seem like a stretch. Also, the actor who represents Young Cusack looks just like he did in the 80s – freaky. Clark Duke, fresh off small parts in Superbad and Kick-Ass, is beautifully snarky and has replaced Michael Cera as my Sarcastic Awkward Nerd Boy Du Jour – his timing is perfection. Craig Robinson, just as adorable as on The Office. All the female roles are throwaways, but who thought this was going to be a feminist movie?

Oh, all the 80s fashion and pop music! It’s not the greatest movie ever made, I certainly don’t suggest you pay full price to see it, but it’s cute and fun if you like that sort of thing (and I do).

One more thing! There is a pleasantly and surprisingly decent bit of CGI towards the end – totally unexpected!

Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto)

Posted in Movie | No Comments »

Adorable! Trying to summarize this movie makes it sound contrived and cutesy, but I swear it’s the opposite. Lonely, mildly alcoholic, cash-strapped middle-aged Italian dude caring for his elderly dramatic mother gets roped into hosting a passel of extra elderly, dramatic Italian ladies and throwing a dinner party for them – wacky antics ensue! It’s not slapstick, it’s not cloying, but neither is it heavy or manipulative. It’s just sweet, real, very funny, and man, do I love watching Italian people going about their Italian business. I would religiously watch this if it was a weekly television show.