Brief thoughts on some movies I've seen sort of recently.
Goon - I do love it when HDNet Movies shows movies before they hit theaters. Saves me the anguish of not seeing them, since I rarely ever get out to a theater anymore. Anyway, Sean William Scott is a hockey fan who has never played hockey. During one game, he gets into a fight with someone in the stands and beats the snot out of him. The coach of the local team sees this and immediately offers him a contract to play. There's funny bits of him learning to skate and play hockey mixed with funny bits of him getting in fights and beating the shit out of other hockey players. Eventually, he becomes a fan favorite and is signed by a real minor league team, where similar antics occur and he also shows his new teammates how to be a "team". Really funny, full of heart and the best hockey movie since Slapshot easily. Might even bet better than that'n. You owe it to yourself to see this.
Tabloid - I remember reading reviews of this when it was playing in theaters and wanting to see it, but I never got around to it, so I was happy to see it show up on the movie channels. It's an Errol Morris documentary about Joyce McKinney and the "Mormon sex in chains" case.
I loved it. Took me a little bit to get the hang of Morris' style, but the story was engrossing and entertaining and McKinney herself was kind of fascinating. She comes off as a down-to-earth southern gal, but there are little hints of crazy that peek out enough to make you wonder whether or not she's telling the truth. The first documentary I've seen by Errol Morris, certainly not going to be the last. Highly recommended.
To Live And Die In L.A. - I don't know why I waited so long to watch this (I've had it on DVD for years), but this is a great fuckin' flick. I'd have to think about it, but this might be my favorite Willem Dafoe performance, and I LOVE that guy, so that's something.
He plays a counterfeiter who is being chased by a cop, played by William Peterson, after Dafoe and co. kill his mentor. Peterson's character becomes obsessed and willing to do anything, including break the law, to catch him. Fucking LOVED this movie. It's intense, funny and Dafoe is fucking perfect. The ending is brilliant. Go watch it.
The Reef - A bunch of Australians decide to go visit a remote island for vacation, but the boat hits a reef and capsizes. So they're stuck in the middle of the shark-infested ocean and have to swim if they want to survive. It's pretty standard and about what you'd expect from this type of movie. The filmmakers did a good job building tension and making you yell at the characters to quit just sitting and there and fucking move, but the film is brought down by most of the cast being annoying and/or stupid. By the end, you kind of feel like they all deserve their fate. Meh.
Paper Man - Almost didn't bother with this because the reviews for it were pretty bad, but the Emma Stone factor made me want to give it a shot, anyway. That chick is cool. Jeff Daniels is a writer with writer's block who decides to take a sabbatical in a remote town in the hopes that it'll help him make good on the huge advance his publisher just gave him. It's not that easy, but he becomes friends with local girl Emma Stone and they, alongside his imaginary superhero friend Captain Excellent help him get his shit together.
I'm glad I did decide to watch this after all. It was a pretty good movie, I thought. The acting was solid all around, and the relationship between Emma Stone and Jeff Daniels was developed really well. Definitely more drama than comedy, but the funny bits worked. I wouldn't buy it, but I liked it.
Pulp - I can't believe I hadn't even heard of this movie until the day I saw this was on. Pulp was my favorite band for a while in high school and I didn't even know they'd taken their name from a movie. Lame. What a great movie to take a name from, though.
Opinions on it seem to be pretty well divided, with half of the reviews on Amazon and IMDB saying it was boring and incomprehensible and the other half loving it. Well, count me in the latter half. I thought it was really funny and clever in the way that British comedies can be. Really dry and strange, but I was laughing quite a bit. The DVD is only $4 on Amazon, so I already own it, as well. The Lady hated it, but I recommend it highly.
Daydream Nation - Kat Dennings is the new girl in school. She dresses kind of weird and acts different, so she hangs out with the stoner kids. This doesn't do any favors for her popularity, and she still doesn't really feel like she fits in. Then she meets her new english teacher, played by Josh Lucas, who is similarly disaffected because his students don't seem to care. So, naturally, she starts having sex with him. At the same time, one of the stoner boys develops a huge crush on her and as much as she tries resisting it, she starts liking him back. And thus the drama unfolds.
I really like Josh Lucas and think he did a good job in this and I like Kat Dennings (though not as much as some others) and together they made this movie watchable. She had lots of funny, sarcastic lines and handled the drama fairly well. The movie was pretty good for most of the way through, but the ending was a bit off for me. As things grew and headed towards the climax, they got a bit silly so that by the end of the film, I wasn't much of a fan of it anymore. Add this to the fact that most of the music played during the film is really, really bad and the one Sonic Youth song they used was used at a strip club (Daydream Nation is the name of a Sonic Youth album, fyi). Oh, and the music played during the climax sounded like a half-baked Requiem For A Dream ripoff. So... yeah. Rent it if you feel like you need to see it for Kat, but go in knowing her boobs are absent.
Naked Fear - So this chick gets kind of tricked into coming out to New Mexico and being a stripper without any money and without anyone friendly that would be willing to come get her, just as a bunch of strippers and prostitutes are disappearing all over town. Bet you can't guess what happens!!!
I don't know why I watched this. Ok, no, I do. It has Joe Mantegna in it and I wanted to see some gore and violence. I'm not ashamed. Well, there wasn't really any gore or any violence. It was all offscreen. Actually, I'll just say this instead of wasting any more time: this movie sucked and was a complete waste of time. Most of the acting was hammy, the plot was entirely predictable and ALL THE VIOLENCE WAS OFFSCREEN. I fast forwarded through the last 45 minutes or so. Wish I'd never bothered.
Room Of Death - Ever since seeing Inglorious Basterds, I've wanted to see more Melanie Laurent, so I was really happy to see this show up on Sundance channel, even though Sundance channel isn't in HD. I braved the stand definition waters to see if this movie could clue me in as to why Tarantino chose her for the lead in that movie.
I don't know if this movie had any direct influence on QT's decision, but after seeing it, I wouldn't be surprised. Laurent plays a rookie detective, who is also the single mother of two baby boys, fighting to show what she can do amongst a team of seasoned veteran cops. Her first case ends up being the death of a child and the death of that child's father, who the cops discover was killed on his way to pay a ransom for his kidnapped daughter. From there, the movie twists and turns and gets a little weird, but Laurent anchors that shit like a fucking pro. She was excellent (and totally cute as a brunette). The movie is very heavily influenced by Silence Of The Lambs (Laurent even has a copy of it on her bookshelf), but beyond the main character being a rookie female and some similarities during the climax, it stands on it's own as an excellent thriller. I'll probably buy it at some point, though the US release looks pretty shitty, so maybe I'll look for an international copy.
The Artist - I'm sure everyone's heard of this, and everyone's heard how great it is. It won all the Oscars and got tons of hype and pretty much all of it was spot on. This movie was a blast pretty much from start to finish. Jean Dujardin's charisma is incredible and, goddammit, no disrespect to Christopher Plummer, but the dog Uggie should have won Best Supporting Actor. Great cinematography, great directing and a lot of fun. Lived up to the hype.
John Carter - Went in to this expecting a relatively good time, but left the theater almost in awe of the fact that I had a GREAT time. It's hard for me to pin down what makes this movie so much more fun than many of the other blockbusters of its ilk. I think it just came down to the fact that it's got a LOT of heart. Much, much more so than something like Cowboys & Aliens. I'm willing to bet that having Michael Chabon as a screenwriter helped that along, but whoever is responsible should be commended.
It's unfortunate that the movie did so poorly at the box office, as I'd now really like to see a sequel get made, but something tells me the chances of that are not very high. Unfortunate. You can also now put me squarely in the Lynn Collins for Wonder Woman camp. Sorry, Gina Carano, this lady IS Wonder Woman. I'm actually sort of tempted to re-watch that ****ing Wolverine movie again after finding out she played Silver Fox in it. But, yeah, John Carter was very good and I would buy it, but I'll probably let my dad buy it and then just borrow his copy.
The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence - So, this fat, ugly guy is obsessed with the first Human Centipede movie and decides to one up it by creating a 12 person long human centipede. Easy, right? Right.
This one goes straight for the gross-out jugular and doesn't really bother with as much in the way of story as the first one (which might be saying something), and in my opinion suffers for it. There are some great moments, the part where he tries to get the Centipede to "pass" food is my favorite, but it's not as much fun as the first one and not really a very good movie. Whereas the first one had Dieter Laser who was hilarious and awesome as the mad doctor, this one doesn't have anyone in it whose presences makes it work. Having said that, I still enjoyed it for what it was (disgusting) and am happy to have the Blu-ray on my shelf.
Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie - Do you watch Tim & Eric's show on Adult Swim? Then you know what to expect. If you don't, I highly recommend you do before you even consider watching this film. Their sense of humor is very strange and offbeat and it's not for everyone. Personally, I find them sometimes funny. Sometimes really ****ing funny. Sometimes not very funny. I will watch the show when it's on, but I don't always laugh. Sometimes I laugh a lot. My enjoyment of their material is almost as random as their show. So, yeah, 90 minutes of their show all at once was kind of hit and miss, but overall I'd say I enjoyed it. I laughed enough to justify the time spent watching it, but I'm also glad I got to see it for free on HDNet Movies.
Track 29 - All I really knew about this movie going in was that it was directed by Nicolas Roeg and it starred Gary Oldman and Christopher Lloyd. Good enough for me to want to see it. Oldman plays this weird, young British guy in the States looking for the biological mother he's never met. He randomly comes across Theresa Russell, who is in an unhappy marriage with Christopher Lloyd. Lloyd is a doctor who is much more interested in his model train set than he is in sleeping with his wife and is also having an affair with his nurse, played by Sandra Bernhard. Oldman and Russell start spending some time together and we find out that Russell gave up a child for adoption when she was very young at the behest of her parents...
This was, honestly, one of the weirdest fucking movies I've seen in a while. It's very hard to keep a handle on what's going on at certain times and Roeg seems to almost revel in the obscurity. No hints, lots of vague suggestions. It wasn't a bad movie, but I actually found both Russell and Oldman to be really annoying characters and had a hard time watching them. Oldman especially, as he turns into this whiney, bipolar asshole who talks like a baby a lot. Just really fucking bizarre. I would recommend it only as an item of curiosity. After watching it, I read some reviews on IMDB and it seems that nobody there really had much of an idea about what the fuck was going on, either. It felt like Roeg was trying to make a point or maybe say something, but whatever that was was lost on me and, apparently, on everyone else.
Bodyguards & Assassins - A political drama disguised as a kung fu movie. All I really knew about this one going in was that Donnie Yen was the star and that he would be fighting. I had no idea that there would be an actual attempt at a story, or a real character drama or that Yen wouldn't even throw a punch for the first hour. I wasn't quite prepared and it threw me. I was patient and stuck with it, but I kept waiting for the fight scenes to show up. Maybe that's my own fault, but look at that (terrible) cover. Why would you think anything different?
It's basically a movie about an underground resistance group fighting for democracy in China against the Qing dynasty. It's done well enough and has enough good actors to make the dramatic elements work and not be a bad film, but I couldn't help but be disappointed in the lack of fighting. And when the fighting finally does happen, it was somewhat underwhelming. This is a film I might have liked more if I'd watched it under different circumstances, but even then, I don't think I'd like it a whole lot more. It's ok. It's fine. But nothing special.
The Last Wave - Richard Chamberlain is a lawyer in Australia who gets sort of roped into being the defense attorney for a bunch of aborigines accused of killing one of their own. He suspects that the killing may have something to do with a violation of tribal law, but none of the aborigines will say anything about it to him. He also starts having creepy, apocalyptic dreams involving himself and the aborigines and his investigation into both leads him into the dark and murky world (oooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo) of the aborigine tribes.
Really liked this one. There's a great amount of atmosphere and tension running through it and it's got some genuinely good creepy bits, too. The ending is fantastic. Recommended.
Burke & Hare - Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are good-for-nothing poor guys who begin killing people and selling their bodies to a local doctor for medical research. It's directed by John Landis, has a ton of people from Spaced in it (Jessica Hines!!!!), and a great supporting cast besides. It was also met with lots and lots of really bad reviews. So I wasn't sure what to expect. For the most part, though, I liked it. It wasn't hilarious, but it was entertaining and had some decent funny bits. I'd give it a thumbs up and I'd say it's worth a watch, but probably not a buy. Damn the critics!
Clash - A Vietnamese action flick about a woman, Trinh, who hires a team of mercenaries to acquire a laptop that she needs to give to a gang boss who has her daughter. Pretty standard action flick, with some good fight scenes and an attractive lead who beats a lot of people up, which pushes a couple of my cinematic fetish buttons. The story and some of the acting are a little subpar, but the fight scenes mostly make up for it. They're not as spectacular as some others, but they're enjoyable and they make this movie worth a watch, but not a buy.
Thunderbolt & Lightfoot - Clint Eastwood is a master criminal bank robber and he meets up with Jeff Bridges who is more of a petty thief kind of guy and they get together with Clint's old crew to put on a heist. It's kind of a strange take on the buddy guy movie with there being a little more to it than just jokes and tapping beer glasses together. It's an entertaining character drama disguised as a buddy movie and it works really, really well. Liked it a lot.
I Melt With You - Four buddies have their annual get together where they binge on alcohol and drugs. As their weekend progresses, personal problems begin surfacing and things start to go really bad really quick.
For the first half of this movie, I was mostly enjoying it. All the characters were kind of assholes, but it was pretty well done and I'll watch Jeremy Piven and Thomas Jane in pretty much anything, so I was with it. Then, about halfway through, something happens that takes the movie in a different direction that's... a little hard to buy. I never got really onboard with it. It was a little ridiculous, I thought, and all of a sudden I could see why this movie got such bad reviews. It's not a completely worthless movie, there's some great scenic shots, it's got the aforementioned actors, Sasha Grey has a small role and she takes her top off. So it wasn't all bad, but I would say it wasn't very good.
David And Lisa - Keir Dullea plays a teenager admitted to a special school because he has an OCD-type mental illness that causes him to freak out whenever anyone makes any kind of physical contact with him. He's very smart and an anti-social prick, but that eases up a bit when he meets Lisa, a schizophrenic young lady that will only talk in rhyme. He becomes interested in Lisa and starts talking back to her in rhyme, slowly beginning a friendship that helps them both deal with their respective illnesses.
Excellent movie. It's a bit slow, but the acting is great, the cinematography is great and the story is really, really nice. Even though David is a prick for most of the movie, you don't really dislike him because Dullea did such a good job showing the illness. I'd never heard of Janet Margolin and after watching this was sad to see that she really didn't do much of note beyond this other than small roles in a couple Woody Allen movies and in Ghostbusters II. She was really, really good. I was also really sad to read that the cinematographer, Leonard Hirschfield hadn't done much else because there was some seriously beautiful work in this.
The only issues I had with the movie were the score, which was way too over the top and distracting at times, and there were a couple parts that were a little melodramatic. Otherwise, I really liked this movie a lot. Would buy.
EDIT: Ok, so apparently Janet Margolin died in 1993 of cancer. That sucks.
The Secret World Of Arrietty - The new Studio Ghibli film, this one written but not directed by Hayao Miyazaki. A young boy is sent out to his aunt's house in the country to rest in calm surroundings before a heart operation and he discovers little people living beneath the house.
I thought it was a really sweet, enjoyable movie that works for kids and adults. It's not on the same plateau as some other Ghibli stuff, but it was still a pretty good film. Wouldn't mind seeing again.
The Conversation - Had never seen this before, but I've read that this is Francis Ford Coppola's favorite movie that he directed and IMDB says it's Hackman's favorite movie of his and I felt like a douche for never having seen it. So I watched it. Gene Hackman plays a surveillance expert who records a conversation between a man and a woman in a busy park. As he's filtering the recordings, he becomes worried that the people he's taped might be killed because of what they're saying. It's happened to him before and it left a mark on him, but his employers really want the tape and are willing to go the extra mile to get a hold of it.
Very good movie. Pretty tense, very well acted and interesting. It's nowhere fucking near the level of Coppola's better work, but it was a solid thriller worth repeat viewings.
Rebecca - Another film that I was sort of embarrassed I hadn't seen. I could say that about a bunch of Hitchcock movies actually, but this one I'd heard a lot about, so it was a little higher on my list. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier get married somewhat impulsively after a short romance and go back to his large mansion to live. Joan Fontaine finds out that Laurence is a widower whose wife, Rebecca, died at sea not too very long ago and still haunts him. Really liked this movie. Especially the ending.
Jane Eyre (1944) - Watched this not cognizant of the fact that it was another Joan Fontaine movie, I just knew it was Orson Welles playing Rochester this time and that was enough for me. This is only the second version of Jane Eyre I've seen, but after liking the recent Michael Fassbender/Mia Wasikowska one so much, I'd be open to watching pretty much any of the other adaptations (and there have been many).
I didn't like this one as much as the recent one, but I still liked it a lot. It didn't have the supernatural atmosphere that runs through Cary Fukunaga's version, but it was still really dark and moody. The cinematography was fucking awesome (and done by George Barnes, who also did Rebecca) and pretty much stole the show for me. Orson Welles was great and intense; he plays a good asshole.
Having said all that, there were some story elements missing that I wouldn't have noticed (or probably cared about) if I wasn't already familiar with the story, but since I am, I did. The entire second half of the story feels rushed, like they had shot the first half of it and then realized that the movie was going to end up being 5 hours long so they had to cram the rest of the book into 45 minutes. I also didn't like Joan Fontaine's Jane anywhere near as much as Mia Wasikowska's. She was much less fierce and independent seeming most of the time. A lot more obviously emotional. Overall, though, I still liked it a lot and would definitely watch it again. Might even buy it at some point.
The Proposition - Been a while since I saw this, so when it popped up on one of the HD movie channels, I decided to see it again. Guy Pearce is Charlie, one of the outlaw Burns brothers, known for being particularly brutal and murderous, back when Australia still belonged to Britain and the Brits were attempting to "civilize" it. Ray Winstone is the captain of the local police and he manages to capture Charlie and his younger brother Mikey. He takes Mikey off, but let's Charlie go, telling him that he will kill Mikey in 5 days if Charlie doesn't kill or capture his older brother Arthur (played by Danny Huston), with whom Charlie is on the outs because he doesn't like murder and rape all that much.
It's a dirty, violent movie that feels like it's straight out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Which is unsurprising given that it's written by Nick Cave and directed by John Hillcoat, whose next movie was the McCarthy adaptation The Road. And just like Cormac McCarthy novels, it's really fucking good. Great story, great acting, great cinematography, great score... I like pretty much everything about this movie. Danny Huston gives a Colonel Kurtz-ish performance that is still the high point of his career for me in a pretty solid resume. Highly recommended.
Map Of The Sounds Of Tokyo - Rinko Kikuchi is a hitwoman who also works the graveyard shift at the Tokyo fishmarket. She's hired to kill Sergi Lopez (the bad guy from Pan's Labyrinth) because Lopez's girlfriend committed suicide and her father blames him, but she falls in love with him instead which does not please the people who hired her much at all.
Not a bad movie, but not a great one, either. Some good cinematography and not a bad story, but it just didn't have the impact it clearly was expecting to. I never really cared much about any of the characters and so when bad things happen to them, it didn't have much effect. There are some pretty explicit sex scenes that are pretty good, even though neither actor is very attractive, but there isn't a whole lot more this film has to offer. It's ok. Rent it if you like Rinko Kikuchi or meditative, artsy movies.
Haunted - I swear, I set this to record before I knew it had Kate Beckinsale's boobs in it. I did. Serious. So, Aidan Quinn is a professor at some high end British university who makes a side living debunking paranormal phenomena. And he gets a letter from a woman who lives in the town he grew up in, where he accidentally killed his sister, complaining about her house being haunted. So he goes to investigate, hoping to put the woman's mind at ease. And, of course, he finds out that there are such thing as ghosts.
The actual reason I DVR'ed this was because a lot of the reviews on IMDB said it was underrated and creepy. A bunch of people saying that is usually enough to make me curious. I didn't find out until I was watching it that a very young Kate Beckinsale shows herself without a shirt multiple times. That was a bonus, but it didn't do a whole lot to help the movie, honestly. It wasn't bad, but it had a very definite TV-movie sort of feeling. There were a couple decent creepy bits, and the ending wasn't too hard to guess in advance, but it was pretty solidly entertaining otherwise. Just not anything special.
Nothing But Trouble - Hadn't seen this since I was a kid, and I remembered it being gross and funny, so I was happy to see it pop up on a movie channel recently. Chevy Chase, Demi Moore and a couple friends are driving through a small podunk town and get pulled over by John Candy for speeding. Candy takes them before the judge, Dan Akroyd and **** gets weird. I didn't find it as fun or gross as I remembered, but it was still pretty entertaining in a ridiculous WTF sort of way. A lot of reviews call it one of the worst movies ever made, but I thought it was fun.
Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages - A silent film from the 1920's that is something of a documentary about the history of witchcraft from the middle ages until present (1920's) day. Lots of people in rubber suits and makeup that actually looked pretty good, considering when this was made. The guy painted up as the devil was really cool looking. The film itself is fairly interesting, though requires a certain amount of attention span that not everyone possesses, with stories about what happened to people who were accused of witchcraft and stuff. Really, though, the visualizations are what make this a worthwhile. Sometimes the imagery used is creepy, sometimes it's funny. I was hoping the music would be a little darker and more foreboding, which would make me want to acquire a copy of the soundtrack, but it was a little too light most of the time for me. I watched the actual silent version, and I just read that the DVD released by Criterion includes an alternate version narrated by William S Burroughs. Bet that's interesting. Recommended only for people with immense patience and an interest in witchcraft or people dressed up as demons.
Essential Killing - Vincent Gallo is a terrorist who kills some white (US? UN?) soldiers in Afghanistan. He is captured, tortured some in a detention camp and then while being transported through Serbia or Russia or somewhere snowy and mountainy, escapes after the truck holding him gets into an accident. He then spends the rest of the movie running from soldiers and trying to survive the cold wilderness.
I remember when this film was announced, or first reported on. It sounded fucking nuts. Looking it up, I saw it mostly had good reviews (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) and even though Vincent Gallo is supposedly a huge asshole, he can be a good actor, so I decided to give it a try. It was not at all fucking nuts, but was instead a very restrained, almost slow movie. The torture scenes felt, to me, to be fairly tame as did any and all subsequent killings. I'm not sure if that's because it was intended that way or because I've been desensitized by horror movies. Anyway, it was a pretty solid survival flick and it was interesting that they went with the middle eastern terrorist stuck in the snow angle, but it worked. I never got the feeling that they were being overly preachy or political about it and I'm not even sure I know what the point of doing it the way they did it was, but it was a decent film. Worth a rent, maybe, or a watch if it happens to be on again.
Legacy - Do you like Idris Elba? If so, you need to see this. Do you dislike or not have an opinion about Idris Elba? Then you need to see this so your answer to the first question is yes.
Elba plays a black-ops soldier, home from a particularly difficult assignment in which he ended up captured and tortured. As he stays holed up in his apartment, his mind starts to unravel and he becomes more and more dangerous, both to himself and to others. I really, really liked this movie. It's pretty low budget, has only about two actual locations and of the film's 95 minute runtime, there's maybe 5 minutes in which Idris Elba is not on screen. He does a fucking fantastic job with it, too. Intense, twisted and surprising. Very highly recommended.
Air Force One - I had never seen this before and The Lady wanted to watch it, so we did. Harrison Ford is the president and his plane gets hijacked with him and about half of his cabinet onboard. But he's also a Veteran, and the kidnappers, led by Gary Oldman, just fucked with the wrong dude.
Didn't really care for it. It was entertaining enough, and it's always worth it to watch a Gary Oldman performance you've never seen, but the movie was really predictable and silly. Harrison Ford makes the same exact facial expressions and throws punches the exact same way in all of his movies, apparently. It's old. The supporting cast did a fine job and Oldman was particularly enjoyable, but... yeah, there just wasn't much to this one.
Super - Rainn Wilson is a normal, average guy whose former addict girlfriend, Liv Tyler, gets hooked back on the drugs thanks to her sleazy asshole boss, Kevin Bacon. Distraught at losing the love of his life, he sees and is inspired by a fictional superhero known as The Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion) to become a superhero himself. Along the way, he acquires a sidekick (Ellen Page) and together they team up to beat up crime and win Liv Tyler back.
Holy shit, I loved this movie. It's funny, wrong and fucked up in all the right ways. A dark comedy as good as any I've seen in a while. I have some slight issue with the ending, but beyond that, this is a favorite. Another winner from James Gunn. Loved it.
Dressed To Kill - Nancy Allen is a high end prostitute who witnesses the murder of one of Michael Caine's psychiatry patients in an elevator. Michael Caine comes home from the police station and hears a message on his answering machine from a former patient of his (that he stopped seeing because he wouldn't agree with the patient's desire to undergo a sex change operation) basically confessing to the murder. Michael Caine and Nancy Allen investigate!
Thought this was ok. I don't remember where I read that this was a pretty good movie, but Brian DePalma is usually worthwhile, so I gave it a shot. I got the feeling that the film was much more effective back when it was originally released because I felt like I'd seen a lot of this already. It wasn't hard to predict what was going to happen. Some of the kills were pretty awesome, though and I could honestly watch Michael Caine in anything, so I'd say I enjoyed the movie, just not a whole hell of a lot.
The Killing - Stanley Kubrick's first real feature film is about a group intending to rob a racetrack. As in all heist movies, it doesn't really matter how meticulously you plan, something is eventually going to go wrong. Sometimes during the heist and sometimes not until after. An excellent movie with a super great ending.
Blue Valentine - Plot synopsis: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams go from happy young couple to dysfunctional, fucked up older couple, with scenes from the early and later periods of the relationship mixed together. A sad, but kind of nice little film with good performances by both leads. I'm assuming the "provocative" moniker comes from the scene in which Gosling gives Williams oral sex, but that really didn't seem too outlandish to me. I realize it's not something you see very often...
This movie felt very similar to Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind to me, except nowhere near as awesome or affecting. Not that it was trying to be, but it gave me the same kind of feelings. A lot of the romantic bits were nice, and the dysfunctional bits were sad and it ends really well, with a perfect dovetailing point of the two points in their life/relationship. I liked it.
House Of Games - Lindsay Crouse is a psychologist and an up and coming star writer and she offers to help one of her patients who is a compulsive gambler. She goes to the House Of Games, where her patient says he owes 25 grand and talks to Joe Mantegna who is owed that money. He offers to forget the marker (which is actually only $800), if she will help him out in a poker game by watching for a tell on another player when he's out of the room. She is then drawn into a whole new world of con-men that she never knew existed.
I really liked this movie. I don't know why I haven't seen Joe Mantegna in more starring roles, but I also really like him. Some of the acting in the film isn't very good (Lindsay Crouse kind of sucked) and some of the twists are a little easy to predict, but it works. Writer/Director David Mamet does a really good job of making you feel like the main character, being fascinated watching these guys play games on people, even though some of the twists are a little predictable, as I mentioned. It kind of felt like an Andrew Vachss book, only without all the dirt and reality. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The Vanishing - A couple are on vacation and road-tripping through France when they stop to get gas at a busy station. The girl leaves to go get some sodas at the convenience store thing and never comes back. 3 years later, the guy is still looking for her, obsessed with finding out what happened. He goes on TV to plead with the kidnapper, saying that he isn't interested in punishing, he just wants to know what happened. The kidnapper sees the broadcast and decides to give the guy exactly what he wishes for.
I know it's early in the year, but this is without a doubt the best movie I've seen so far this year. It is FUCKING AWESOME, and that's a word I try not to use as much anymore. I feel perfectly justified using it here, though. It's a slow-burn, intense film that has one of the most mouth-agape, "holy fucking shit" stick-with-you-forever endings I've ever seen. Fucking phenomenal. I'm tempted to buy it immediately because I NEED to have this in my collection, but the fucking Criterion DVD doesn't have a single special feature. I don't know how that's possible, but it is. So I'm really hoping they've got a re-release planned sometime soon. Highest possible recommendation. I'm probably building it up too much and someone's going to be disappointed, but the reviews on IMDB are almost all insanely positive and it didn't ruin anything for me, so I'm leaving it in.
The director, George Sluzier, directed the American remake with Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock. Apparently they changed the ending for American audiences, though, which is both sad and unsurprising. I imagine it's something a lot of people will find unsatisfying, even if only because it's not something anyone would expect. I hear the remake is shitty beyond that, anyway. Supposedly, Jeff Bridges' performance is pretty out there (as the bad guy). I'd like to see it just out of curiosity.
Diabolique - Another great foreign movie with an apparently shitty American remake. This is a French movie from the 50's about two women (the wife and the mistress) who team up to kill the husband, an abusive asshole. They kill him and hide the body, but then things start to happen which make them doubt whether or not they actually did succeed, especially when no body is not found where they thought they had left it.
This movie gets a lot of mention for being Hitchcock-esque and it really deserves it. It feels a lot like a Psycho to me. It's really well done and the climax is fantastic. Creepy and expertly executed. The cinematography is great, especially during the climax and all the acting is good. I also give this a very high recommendation, especially if you're into Hitchcock type thrillers. I'm kind of curious to see the original, but mostly because I have a weird fascination with Isabelle Adjani.