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Posts Filed Under Movie Reviews

Oh Yes, There Will Be Blood

Filed Under: Movie Reviews

mastershake-281x450I know what you must be thinking: “Damn those Saw movies is good.” Well, friends, you are right - which is why I actually spent real American dollars acquiring the DVDS for Saw II through V (believe it or not, the first one was the worst). And that’s why I’ll happily tap out a review of much-anticipated (for me at least) Saw IV, whose DVD release is pegged for Jan. 26, according to Netflix (I no longer buy DVDs, even highly-coveted sixth installations of favorite horror series, primarily because its not 2002 anymore). But until then, you’ll have to be satisfied with what this really is: a year-late review of There Will Be Blood.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to TWBB; perhaps because all anyone ever said about the film was “Daniel Day Lewis is so good in that,” or “I drink your milkshake!” The former is certainly encouraging - but a singular stellar performance does not always a great movie make (see: everything Jim Carrey has ever made). The latter is what some might consider the film’s signature line (naturally, Daniel Day Lewis doesn’t say it until the last 10 minutes), and all manner of ironic T-shirts have been fashioned in its honor. But even combined, these two impressions hadn’t been enough and so here I am, months behind the curve, finally getting the joke.

Everything people said was right: Daniel Day Lewis IS amazing in the movie, in the way anyone is amazing who can make you forget they’re acting. The fact that Lewis is a rather selective actor only helps: unlike Will Smith’s flip-floppery between “I’m a real actor” and “I’m a superhero malcontent,” Lewis appears so sparingly in pop culture cinema that I found it easy to become immersed in his character. Good thing, too - since he’s on screen more or less the entire movie, and communicates via facial expression or prolonged silence as much as actual dialogue. And the milkshake line - well, it lives up to the hype. Read More ›

 
kira

12:13 AM on January 19th, 2010 | 

Posted by kira

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What A Crock

Filed Under: Movie Reviews

julie-and-juliaI just watched Julie & Julia with my family – a Christmas Eve compromise between It’s a Wonderful Life, which I’ve watched more or less every year since I was five and could probably recite from memory, and Star Wars, which Spike TV is currently playing in marathon and, honestly, never gets old. In fact, despite the movie choice being in actuality a compromise, it’s about as far from my normal decision-making process as possible: an entire film (and a long one, let me tell you) about the literal joys of cooking, as compared with several nostalgic hours of pre-Calista Harrison Ford and animatronic banthas. For someone who owns approximately one pan and has used her oven twice in ten months (and one of those times was to make pot brownies), the choice would have otherwise been fairly obvious.

As it turns out, J&J wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Which isn’t to say it got bad reviews; most critics seemed wowed enough by Meryl Streep as Julia Child that they overlooked the movie’s rather tedious length and borderline endless discussion of actual cooking. In fact, in some deep-seated female part of my being, I guess the movie did make me want to cook a little – only because Amy Adams/Julie made cooking seem like such a respectable alternative to sitting around in your apartment and watching TV. It seems downright productive.

No, this is what really annoys me about Julie & Julia, and movies like it. Shit like that doesn’t really happen. Not to normal people, not often enough that watching it happen isn’t in actuality just as infuriating and depressing as anything else. People don’t dash off to France and magically overcome historical prejudice so they can go on to be one of the most famous chefs of all time. They don’t just happen to have husbands with government jobs that afford them plenty of leisure time to pursue a completely (at least at the time) absurd hobby, or pen pals who just so happen to know major book editors who just so happen to be interested in not only reading, but testing out, cookbooks from otherwise unknown authors.

And back in New York, in 2002, government employees don’t just decide to start a blog and then within a year not only have mastered cooking but also gotten numerous book deal offers, to say nothing of a movie starring, oh, Meryl Streep. People who live in dipshit apartments above pizza places in Long Island City are supposed to CONTINUE living in dipshit apartments above pizza places, or Chinese places, or butcher shops, to make the rest of us (read: me) feel like it’s totally OK to continue living in Brooklyn next to a car wash with a neon sign that sometimes blinks through our window the entire night.

So, in conclusion, fuck you Julia Child, and Julie Powell, for your uncommon success and its alleged ability to inspire (rather than depress) those of us who are forced to sit through a movie about your lives on Christmas Eve. This isn’t even a tale of hope, or of overcoming hardship. This is a story about two relatively happy people who became even happier through a series of fortunate and lucky events. And those stories, like Santa, aren’t real.

 
kira

10:33 PM on December 24th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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An Offer I Can Refuse

Filed Under: Movie Reviews

pacino-352x450

"What's my line?"

In a bout with swine flu earlier this week, I watched not one, but two recent Al Pacino movies, figuring, as many (movie producers included) must, that at the very least, Pacino’s inclusion in a film means it couldn’t possibly be so awful as to not amuse me on my deathbed, whilst I am surrounded by used tissues and empty packets of Theraflu.

Oh, how wrong I was. Now, three days later, I find myself still trying to figure out what exactly happened in 88 Minutes, Pacino’s 2007 thriller about a forensic psychologist who gets a death threat from someone he presumes to be affiliated with a serial killer whose conviction was by no small measure secured through his expert testimony. Sounds complicated, right? You have no idea. Granted, I was in a medicinal daze and probably by no means qualified to decipher complex movie plots (I’m reminded of the time Aaron I tried to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang high and gave up after at least three attempts, each of which ended after the first five minutes with one of us going “Wait, what’s happening?”). That said, 88 Minutes didn’t need to be complicated.

The idea was simple enough. Pacino puts bad guy away, bad guy has large following of soft-hearted Americans who believe he didn’t really do it, Pacino’s credibility is called into question, another murder happens whilst the presumed serial killer is in jail, Pacino receives death threat, and an hour and 50 minutes of “action” ensues in which Pacino and a revolving door of females in supporting roles try to get to the bottom of things. Of course, throw in an almost obnoxiously large cast of red herrings, as identified for the audience through a series of “Oooh, creepy music, maybe this one’s the killer!” moments; along with Pacino’s character’s background (his younger sister was killed by a crazed murderer, who took guess how long to torture her), which in the end has very little to do with anything, and the long list of young women he appears to have slept with, each of them yet another “lady with a possible grudge” viewers are meant to remember.

Ultimately the writer got entirely too bogged down in what I imagine he thought was “character development” - when the reality is Al Pacino hasn’t played anyone other than himself in years. By the time the actual twist rolled around, I couldn’t have cared less who killed whom, so long as someone delivered a few choice moments of torture to the movie’s producers. Read More ›

 
kira

9:38 AM on June 12th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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The Whelming Watchmen

Filed Under: Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

So, it finally came out. And we finally saw what had been brewing for nearly 20 years. A Watchmen adaptation fairly successfully executed in a time when the level of special effects could do the source material justice. But a good movie is not all special effects (I’m looking at you, George). And so we were… not quite underwhelmed… I don’t know, maybe just whelmed.

Maybe the procession of critics over the years saying that Watchmen was unfilmable were right, even in a time in cinema history when a movie’s budget can include $16 million dollars to create just one of its characters (then again, that’s about $40 million cheaper than Will Smith, so who’s the real superman now?) Maybe “unfilmable” meant more than special effects or time constraints — comic book to silver screen adaptation poses a tougher language barrier than the current fad of giant blockbuster superhero epic IMAX experiences may suggest, and invariably, some things get lost in the translation.

Saturday Morning Watchmen - Click To Watch

Nonetheless, animated short Saturday Morning Watchmen uses a far more liberal execution of the term “translation” — it’s a vibrant, freakish Candyland where Adrian might stop a nuclear war by giving all those damn ‘toons The Dip. Indeed, where the famed Ozymandias and his mutant sidekick Bubastis chase ghouls around haunted amusement parks ala Shaggy and Scooby Doo, just without all the backstage pot smoking. A place where Dr. Manhattan can somehow actually be more surreal than when he’s building elaborate, gyrating castles out of Martian sand.

Saturday Morning Watchmen - Click To Watch

Yep… it’s pretty fucking weird, and hilarious… though there are far fewer boobies and guts in this particular adaptation. Instead, those have been replaced by Josie’s (of the Pussycats) keytar and good lessons about protecting the environment.

Still… part of me can’t help but fondly imagine a crossover with the Turtles. When pizza would be totally radical in the past, present, and future simultaneously.

 
aaron

2:57 PM on March 9th, 2009 | 

Posted by aaron

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Transformed

Filed Under: Movie Reviews

transformers1Ever since last year, when I made my first attempt at watching Shia LaBeouf flirt with women way out of his league in Transformers, I have had a vehement hatred for the movie which was, among other things, poorly acted and exceedingly melodramatic.

I’ve always understood that there’s an element of superhero tales, and Transformers in particular, that I will never understand or appreciate – I was, after all, never a 13-year-old boy. And even though the social issues brought up by X-Men, or the chiseled abs highlighted in Batman, had enough universal appeal to cross gender lines, Transformers was a distinctly male show. (This is the point at which indignant females will insist that they watched, and loved Transformers. To which I say, shut up and stop lying). The concept, after all, is a veritable orgy of adolescent male favorites – good guys and bad guys, cars, trucks and giant robots. Throw in a cowboy and some astronauts and the sheer perfection would emotionally stunt boys the world over.

So it was with trepidation that I even approached the film in the first place. After all, I have no real nostalgia for Transformers and until Optimus Prime t-shirts re-entered pop culture as go-to apparel for endearingly nerdy 20-somethings, I barely had any idea what to expect, save a lot of metal and…gears and stuff.

Yet despite my initial rejection of the movie – and subsequent refusal to accept anyone else’s opinion on the matter – I took it upon myself to give the whole thing another go this week. Last night I sat down with some warm soup, cold beer and a bowl of …“Cheerios,” turned the lights off and settled in for some intense robot-on-robot action. (I’m talking about fighting, jeez). After all, my neighbors have been playing an ancient Mary J. Blige CD on repeat for weeks, at an absurd volume, so two hours of gunshots and screeching steel seemed a fair auditory rebuttal.
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kira

2:26 PM on December 19th, 2008 | 

Posted by kira

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In The Land Of Douchebags

Filed Under: Movie Reviews

in_the_land_of_women-320x450Okay, so you know how Seth Rogen has been exploiting his recent status as the go-to funnyman for teen comedies as an excuse to set up plots wherein he makes out with and/or beds women far too beautiful to ever consider talking to Seth Rogen, let alone banging him?

Well in a fit of boredom yesterday I sat down with my Chinese food and a few beers and took in Adam Brody dramedy In The Land of Women, in which a 26-year-old disillusioned softcore porn writer (Brody) reacts to a bad breakup by moving in with his mildly demented grandmother. While there, he does some much-needed soul searching and, more importantly, makes out with every woman in a 100-foot radius.

Seriously, while Brody’s smarmy nerd-appeal was endurable on The O.C., where he was overshadowed by “I never smile” Benjamin McKenzie and “I’m straight, no I’m gay, no I’m straight again” Mischa Barton, given free reign to dominate a script as the lead male, Brody comes across as pretentious, annoying and oddly nasally. 

In the hopes of ruining this movie so you won’t be duped by HBO’s nonstop playing of it in the future, I’ll tell you what happens: Brody’s grandmother just happens to live across the street from an equally disillusioned mother (played by Meg Ryan) and her angst-ridden teenage daughter (Kristen Stewart, now of Twilight fame), both of whom he manages to make out with in a short amount of time. In fact, considering the movie opens with a pathetic breakup scene between Brody and his French-model girlfriend, the fact that only a few short days in Chateau Demented Grandma has him fending them off with a stick makes the movie just that much less belieavable. Not that I really believed Meg Ryan would ever make out with Adam Brody (spoiler alert), even if she did have breast cancer. 

Land of Women offers the same sort of cliche and heartwarming sentiments proferred by equally tear-jerky movies like Stepmom, except with the addition of masturbatory pats on the back from Adam Brody to, well, himself. Predictably, although Brody doesn’t get either girl, he turns the entire thing into the sort of coming-of-age novel that probably went on to inspire The O.C. in the first place. And while teenage girls the world over were fawning over his witty commentary and floppy hair, I was vomiting discreetly into my lap.

 
kira

4:48 PM on December 3rd, 2008 | 

Posted by kira

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Paradise Lost

Filed Under: Movie Reviews, Screenshots From Kira's Television

leonardo-450x340

Okay, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know The Beach was bad. Even though this movie came out in 2001, when Leonardo DiCaprio was at the veritable height of his career as a teenage heartthrob (not to be confused with his current career as an adult heartthrob), all anyone really knows about it now is that it’s bad. Things like the mildly ludicrous plot, or the highly ludicrous editing, were lost as conversation topics over the years, replaced with the more vague and easier-to-remember “The Beach? Man, that movie fucking sucked.”

But Sunday wasn’t exactly full of television options, and in a hungover daze on Saturday morning, I actually watched The Truth About Cats and Dogs, so I figured the bar was already set pretty low. Read More ›

 
kira

9:24 AM on November 24th, 2008 | 

Posted by kira

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