Monday, October 17, 2005

Movie Mon. - Likeable Stars in Ho-Hum Films

Pretty full week of movie watching. I had wanted to make it to the theater to see the remake of The Fog, but between working on Saturday morning, line-dancing on Saturday night (more on that soon), and a full day of church-stuff on Sunday, never was able to squeeze it in. Nothing too exciting opening up this weekend (not really wanting to spend full price for Doom), but the following week features the premiere of Saw II, which I am looking forward to.

On the DVD front, tomorrow marks the release of Romero's latest zombie flick Land of the Dead, the classic Hitchcock film Lifeboat, the excellent Batman Begins, and, last but not least: Season one of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

And now, please, a brief moment of silence for Serenity which is projected to have fallen out of the top 10 in only its third week.

{crickets chirping}

Okay, now on to the reviews!

House of D: Writing and directorial debut of David Duchovny. What a painful experience this one was. The very definition of "trying too hard." Most of the scenes between just the kids are pretty well done, but any scene featuring adults (including Robin Williams as the mentally challenged Pappass) is just awkward. I'm usually a big champion of Williams, but man, was he ever off this time. And the logic behind Tommy saying he got Pappass to steal the bike still escapes me.

Cypher: I don't know if I can handle any more films predicated on the idea of double and triple agents who are so deep undercover that even they don't know they're double and triple agents. The constant reversals don't shock anymore, they just exasperate. And I don't mind seeing the "twist" coming as long as enjoyment of the movie doesn't hinge on being surprised by it. Figured out The Sixth Sense at the beginning, still enjoyed the heck out of it. Figured out Cypher early on, and afterwards thought "Well, that was a waste."

Fire and Ice: Animated film from the early 80s. One of those films I've been dying to see since I was a little kid and which, naturally, can't come close to living up to my expectations. On the positive side, the design work is pure Frazetta, with some very cool visuals. On the negative side, the script, by comic book veterans Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, is pretty weak. This is no He-Man, I can tell you that!

Funny Ha Ha: Pet peeve #486: movies which try to emulate the cadence of real life conversations by having the characters say "um" and "uh" and "er" and "[long pause]" between every other word. It doesn't sound like real conversation, unless it’s a conversation between two terribly inarticulate people. And, maybe it's just me, but I don't watch movies to listen to two terribly inarticulate people converse. Throw in some blatantly self-aware acting, and you have the sort of film that gives the word "Indie" a bad name.

Childstar: The beginning of the movie showed a lot of promise: opening camerawork reminiscent of Wes Anderson, hilarious spoof of Hollywood pitches, a fun initial appearance of Dave Foley, and a bit of a different role for Brendan Fehr. But then we reach the point where the 12 year-old child star wants to lose his virginity, and it's downhill fast. The only part of the film I really enjoyed after that was Gil Bellows showing up as a wannabe gangster agent, and the meltdown of Brendan Fehr's character.

11:14: Several different stories which all intersect at a climactic moment in time. Quite a cast of folks I like: Colin Hanks, Ben Foster, Hilary Swank, Shawn Hatosy, and a slightly puffy Patrick Swayze. The Wiz warned me that after watching this film she was torn on whether she liked it or not. I wound up on the "liked it" side of the fence, but I did have a couple of issues with it. I enjoyed the dark humor of the first two segments, and most of the Patrick Swayze and Swank/Hatosy segments, but the Rachel Leigh Cook segment, which is the linchpin of the film, fell flat for me. All of the other characters, even if a bit goofy, felt real; her character was just so out-and-out manipulative, mean-spirited, and soap-opera-style evil that it took me out of the film.

Undead: Australian zombie comedy with an extraterrestrial component. I found the whole alien aspect to be an interesting idea, but the comedic aspect fell flat. Some nice effects at times, but all-in-all, unless you're a super-zombie fan, I'd give this one a miss.

Dead and Breakfast: So very, very torn on this one. A horror comedy that isn't all that funny on the whole. But, it has a cast full of actors I really like (Erik Palladino, Ever Carradine, Gina Phillips, and Kendra from Buffy), and two or three aspects of it that are pretty funny, which only makes the non-funny parts stick out more. I probably would have given it a negative review, if I hadn't decided to watch the commentary. And, not for the first time, after listening to the commentary I developed a whole new appreciation for the film. This usually happens when I'm not paying close enough attention the first time around (I'll admit it, much blog posting was going on during my first viewing) and so catch some stuff the second time around that had escaped me at first. But also, sometimes the spirit of camaraderie and good-will between the cast and crew is infectious, and I find my enjoyment of their interplay seeping into my opinion of the movie as a whole. And, most of the time, this commentary-conversion happens with horror films, probably because I'm more likely to listen to the commentary track of a horror film I didn't particularly like than any other genre. Chalk it up to an odd interest in the mindset of horror film-makers; often there's something really intriguing to me about the true depth of their concepts and designs which don't always translate as well to the screen. And, sometimes I just like to laugh at how pretentious they sound when trying to defend their schlock. My relationship with horror movies is a complex one.

One last thing about Dead and Breakfast: the best parts of the film are the musical interludes by Zach Selwyn. Funny and catchy, makes me wish there was a soundtrack for sale.

3 comments:

CAP'N Disaster said...

um..What are pet peeves er...1 through um...485?

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Patience, Cap'n D., patience; all shall be revealed . . . right around the time they clear up all of the mysteries on Lost.

Anonymous said...

Personally i like Shawn Hatosy(http://www.most-wanted-movies.com/star/Shawn-Hatosy.aspx) See his filmography at Most Wanted movies.