Saturday, July 01, 2006

June in Review

I don't have much to say about this month. It does a really cutesy little full circle thing that I kinda want to punch it in the face for. Totally unintentional, I swear.

Also: I feel like kind of a jerk for saying this, but I'm getting kind of embarassed by my logs lately. I've just been living with friends of mine lately, and basically every minute of every day I'm either spending time with them or I'm at work or I'm sleeping and I haven't been able to really watch movies in the sort of solitary, serious way that I'd like to more often. I'm trying to figure out a way to structure my days so that this fact doesn't really impact me as much anymore, because I've got a screenplay I want to work on and I've got a bunch of movies I want to see.

Alright, without further ado: June.

Billy Madison, Tamra Davis. [x] june 2nd 2006.
[Man, this is just a fun, stupid movie. I hate it when folks say they go to the movies to not think, but I still find myself capable of going into this state sometimes. (Third to last question in that interview, by the way.) That said, when things go bad, I zip out of that state pretty quick and start getting pissed off. Which I guess means that I'm always an active viewer, just sometimes I'm an inactive active viewer, if that makes sense. Anyway, I get pretty inactive and chuckle during this sometimes. Still the best Adam Sandler Movie, although not the best movie he's ever been in. Either way, I don't really wanna rate it or consider it. I ate some chips while watching it and then I went out.]

Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee. [A] june 3rd 2006.
[Maybe someday I'll write a real involved thing about this movie, but today is not that day. First time I saw it I cried uncontrollably all through the riot scene. Spike Lee has made me cry more than any other modern filmmaker, I think. This, 25th Hour, He Got Game and Bamboozled all got me, to one degree or another.]

Imitation of Life, Douglas Sirk. [B] june 4th 2006.
[For some reason this didn't blow me away anywhere as much as All That Heaven Allows did. That movie killed me. I feel like I owe this another view. Something about the way the story kept jumping in time kept taking me out of it and made it very hard for me to invest myself emotionally in any of the characters.

The Aristocrats, Paul Provenza. [C-] june 4th 2006.
[Not a good movie, but it's got a couple laughs. "The tragic events of January 4th" especially. Anyway, they keep cutting in the middle of jokes to other comics talking about how good the guy they cut away from's telling of the joke is. Why not just let me see the joke? Also, about 5 actual points get made in this movie, then they get repeated a billion times. Really kind of tedious, overall.]

The Break-Up, Peyton Reed. [C+] june 5th 2006.
[I wish this movie had more conviction. It positions itself as a movie that offers an honest look at relationships, but still vilifies the shit out of Jennifer Aniston's character while allowing Vince Vaughan the opportunity to be the same loveable yet crude, slovenly fast-talker he is in every movie. The movie works for a while, but it just keeps resorting to easy ways out of complex situations. The movie offers up a couple of okay laughs, most of them cheap, and at the very least it has the decency to not throw together a saccharine kiss and make up ending at the last second. Still, completely inconsequential.]

Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, Liam Lynch. [D] june 8th 2006.
[Funny comedian makes unfunny movie. Happens pretty often, but I don't get how a funny stand-up comedian can make an unfunny stand-up movie. It's really sort of an achievement, if you think about it.]

Cars, John Lasseter. [D-] june 11th 2006.
[Good lord. I had a lot to say about this when I saw it, but figured I'd hold off on my log. Later in the month I started getting into the habit of writing these little blurbs in the .txt file on my desktop immediately after I saw the movie. This isn't one of those instances. I'm going to edit down a thing I wrote on a message board about it:

First off, the premise in and of itself is easily the weakest, most uninteresting one Pixar's ever had. The title itself gives away how creatively bankrupt the movie was from the get-go. Even Finding Nemo wasn't fucking called "Fish."

Pixar's loudest, crassest movie is so thrown together it can't even stick to one form of internal logic. If the cars have feelings and experience pain, can think and speak, why is the car crash at the beginning of the movie played for laughs, rather than being a disturbing massacre? And why is the car crash at the end of the movie then played as a devastating injury? Why are there tire tracks in the sky as a visual pun in one scene, but then later in the film we see regular planes flying? Why does the main car make a face every time the tow truck sticks his hook under his bumper, implying anal penetration, but other injuries like popping a tire and shit aren't treated as a broken foot? You anthropomorphize mechanical objects and then pick and choose when these rules apply. I realize this is something that most people will call me finicky about, but some of this stuff, especially the car crash at the beginning of the movie seems especially disturbing. When the tow truck rides in the helicopter near the end I found myself feeling legitimately bothered by the fact that one creature was riding inside of another living creature.

The little songs interspersed throughout the movie were awful and the whole idea of bullshit nostalgia for this whitebread idea of an idyllic America that I'm not entirely certain ever actually existed is corny as fuck, but in a movie that relies on every single classist and racist stereotype in the book for a whole bunch of its jokes, it's especially offensive. Beyond which, what is it that we're lamenting? Walter Chaw wrote this in his review of the film and it made me laugh out loud: "McQueen [...] is stranded in a Podunk nowheresville that, we see in flashback, used to be a garish tourist trap before the department of transportation rendered it moot." In one sentence dude completely undermines all the film's sentimentality. He's right: it was just a shitty little neon town with a diner and a gas station designed to get some motorists to stop in on their way through. Who gives a fuck? "Main street isn't main street anymore." Please.

The thing that was so charming about previous films this studio put out is that they hit actual emotional marks, and even if the points they were making were often simple, they were handled gracefully and never felt corny or insincere, as this movie often does.]

Imitation of Life, John Stahl. [C] june 14th 2006.
[Nothing to say.]

The Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach. [A-] june 17th 2006.
[I really wish I had written these things after seeing the movie. This was one of my favorite movies of last year. Short and bittersweet, it's a really nice, honest movie about a bunch of messed up people messing up over and over again until they finally realize they're messing up. Then it ends.]

Hustle and Flow, Craig Brewer. [C-] june 18th 2006.
[I had a hard time caring about this guy. I understand the whole rags to riches thing, but I'm not gonna stand up and cheer as the orchestra swells when a dude forces a woman to have sex with a guy for a microphone as much as I am when a guy is having a really tough time climbing a mountain, but manages to push himself all the way to the top. I guess I just dig mountain climbing movies or something.]

Amelie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. [C-] june 20th 2006.
[I didn't even actively watch this. I was in and out of the room, but I've seen this a couple times before and I guess I just wanted to go on record as saying that I don't like this movie. It's hyperactive and self-consciously cute and overall sort of unbearable. I feel as if my teeth are going to rot when I watch it and I find it thoroughly unpleasant.]

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Justin Lin. [B+] june 20th 2006.
[A technically flawless, emotionally hollow piece of shit that I just couldn't help but love. I can't account for it, I wish I could, but this is good times.]

Good Night, and Good Luck., George Clooney. [C+] june 23rd 2006.

Pitch Black, David Twohy. [B+] june 25th 2006.
[I was pretty happy to find myself really impressed by this movie. A mainstream Hollywood thriller that isn't afraid of complicated characters and moral gray areas. Not to mention a surprisingly experimental visual style, although the structure of the film is wholly traditional. Marred by a cheesily cliched side character that feels as if he got lost on the way to whatever film he was supposed to be in and decided to stay and an inexplicable audience-insulting flashback that feels completely inconsistent from the rest of the film and an unnecessarily underlined conclusion that wasn't all that subtle to begin with. Still, a fine film that's really well worth seeing.]

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, Peter Chung. [F] june 25th 2006.
[I don't want to talk about it.]

The Chronicles of Riddick, David Twohy. [C] june 25th 2006.
[A friend of mine bought the Chronicles of Riddick trilogy on a whim and I decided to marathon it with him. Perhaps this is the reason I didn't enjoy The Chronicles of Riddick as much as I may have otherwise. I was so impressed by Pitch Black's unconventionality in a conventional genre that, when I saw this film I was inevitably disappointed. I've since read a couple reviews of the film that point out a lot of scenes and set-pieces from this film that I completely forgot. Maybe my rating is undue, but it's the truth. Regardless, the movie is entertaining enough, but reeks of a cash-grab in the same way that the half-hour long piece of shit Dark Fury reeks of making a "trilogy" for the sake of marketability. Judi Dench's character feels completely superfluous, I still can't explain her purpose, and all the dutch angles in this movie started pissing me off after a while.

Still, some great action sequences and fun Vin Diesel moments. If he and The Rock would team up on a movie, I would be in the theater opening day yelling at the screen and headbanging after every stupid one-liner. Anyway, apparently the ending in this Director's Cut is slightly different from the Theatrical. My friend explained the difference and this one really is much better. Seeing the way the end of the movie builds towards that moment is really sort of worth the price of admission alone.]

The Corpse Bride, Tim Burton and Mike Johnson. [B-] june 26th 2006.
[I like this movie when it's a pretty, austere tribute to German Expressionism and stop liking it when it turns into a shrill musical. The songs are awful and the whole thing is a little too over-the-top in its morbidity. I don't like how the main character's two suitors are treated, either: thrown away and picked up again at will with almost no motivation.]

Defending Your Life, Albert Brooks. [B] june 29th 2006.
[Occasionally cheesy, occasionally interesting and mostly fun.]

Click, Frank Coraci. [F] june 30th 2006.
[The most painfully idiotic piece of shit I've seen in a long long time. Two things made the experience bearable: 1) Kate Beckinsale is so painfully attractive that I could look at just her face while getting stabbed with needles and I might not chalk up the experience as a total loss. 2) They sell booze in theaters down South. (I'm in New Orleans for the summer.)]