Monday, January 02, 2006

Movie Mon.- The Hop-Clop Goes On

Got lots o' movies watched over the last week, two of which I'm going to save for a separate post since my thoughts on them require not only some pretty big spoilers, but also some ramblings. I'll summarize thusly: Cry_Wolf, possibly worth your time; November, not so much. But, more on that later. For now, enjoy the following nine pellet reviews, including one which will probably insure that I get a few interesting Google hits.

The Producers: Entertaining film version of the hit Broadway musical, which was in turn based on an early Mel Brooks movie. I do agree with those who have been critical of the direction; there were several scenes which suffered from the static set-up. I also had a bit of trouble dealing with Matthew Broderick's early "melt-down" scene, which felt too much like he was trying to channel Gene Wilder, and not doing a very good job of it. But, from the instant Will Ferrell came on screen as the crazy German playwright, the movie started to click, and it was a fun ride from then on. Be sure to stick around through the end credits to hear his love-balladization of "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop," entitled "The Hop-Clop Goes On," which ends with his pimping of "Mein Kampf"

Devil's Rejects: I hadn't planned on watching these semi-prequel to Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses, since in my mind that movie was pretty much a festering pile of manure, but when I was at the video store looking for stuff that my dad and I might enjoy watching when mom wasn't around, I noticed this one and the big "Two Thumbs Up!" label on the box. Curious about just how Rob Zombie was able to bamboozle Ebert and Roeper, I went ahead and got it. Gotta say, about a zillion percent improvement over Corpses in terms of style, pacing, writing, etc. However, this is a brutal movie; the scenes with the crazed killers tormenting the musicians at the hotel made me pretty uncomfortable a few times. Lots of dark gallows humor here, lots of blood, lots of profanity.

Must Love Dogs: Pretty enjoyable romantic comedy starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. I think my favorite thing about the movie was the relationship between Lane and her family, especially her sister played by Elizabeth Perkins; their sense of humor when dealing with each other added a nice dimension to the film. My biggest complaint is that, honestly, I felt no chemistry between Land and Cusack at all; their romance didn't ring true to me one bit. So, if that's the sort of thing that you base your enjoyment on, then you might be out of luck here, although I'm sure others would disagree with me. Despite my not buying into their relationship, the quality of the writing kept me engaged.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: "Audiences know what they expect and that is all they are prepared to believe in." So says the Player King in this odd bit of cinema, and truer words have rarely been spoken, sadly enough. Not a new movie to me, but one that I hadn't seen since college. A very strange movie focusing on the titular characters, both of whom were taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet. In fact, the film re-enacts all of the duo's scenes from that play, as well as having them overhear several others; a familiarity with the play would undoubtedly aid the enjoyment of the film. But this is not a movie that hinges on plot; no, it hinges on dialogue and character. Tim Roth plays the forceful Guildenstern while Gary Oldman plays the naive yet inventive Rosencrantz . . . or is that the other way around? Not even they are sure which is which for most of the film. If you want a film that is all about linear storytelling, give this a miss; however, if you don't mind something a little off-beat with some really entertaining uses of language (the scene where the two play a game of "Question" is one of my favorite scenes), this might be a nice diversion. I think the movie's worth watching just to see Gary Oldman play a good-natured, slightly goofy character, as opposed to the usual psychos and crazies, if nothing else.

Creep: British horror movie staring Franka Potente of Run Lola Run fame as a party girl who gets trapped in the London subway system at night and is stalked by a psycho killer that turns out to be a little bit more (or is that less?) than human. Pretty enjoyable little slasher film; the Creep was an interesting character with enough quirks to set him apart from the generic slasher. And man, was the operation scene creepy; dad and I were both squirming in our seats for that part. Biggest problem with the film is that it featured a few too many of those "Oh, I hit the killer with a blunt object, knocking him down, but instead of taking advantage of the situation to make sure he stays down, I'm going to drop the weapon and run away" moments; those drive me crazy.

Bad News Bears: One of the less enjoyable remakes I've seen recently. Not necessarily a bad film, but as my mom said while watching it, it often felt like they were trying too hard. Some of the changes worked well (such as having the litigation happy parent be a high-power businesswoman), others less so (the inclusion of the paraplegic kid was ludicrous).

The Exorcism of Emily Rose: A movie that definitely suffered at the theater due to mixed messages; it was billed as a horror movie, when it's really more of a courtroom drama with horror trappings. All in all, a well-done movie with some good performances all around.

Dark Water: Remake of the Japanese horror film Honogurai mizu no soko kara. I liked the original okay, but wasn't too impressed with the Americanized version, which is kind of the opposite of my usual reactions; thought The Grudge was much creepier than Ju-on, and liked The Ring a bit more than I did Ringu. But in this case, the film just did not translate well at all.

The Curse of Debbie Does Dallas: No, this was not porn; yes, it was a movie about porn. Specifically, this was a documentary about the history of the ubiquitous Debbie Does Dallas, focusing on what exactly it was about the film that made it such a cultural phenomenon. One of the most interesting things about the doc was that all of the men who were in the original film agreed to be in the documentary, while all but one of the women refused, and the one who did agree only did so on the condition that her interview not last longer than fifteen minutes. Was also entertained by the stories of the mob connections which helped the film to flourish. One thing that struck me was how they kept hitting on the fact that almost all of the cast were people who were trying to make it as legitimate actors, and who thought that a role in a porno would actually be a good stepping-stone, or at the least not be a detriment to their careers; in just about every case the film was either the last thing they ever did, or was just the first step in their burgeoning pornstar lives. I realize that the porn industry in America was in its infancy at the time, but come on, did they really think that something like that would possibly help them make it big in Hollywood? I can only think of a handful of actors who were able to make the transition from porn to legitimate acting; of course, none of them had the misfortune of landing a role in the most famous porno of all time.

And with that, I'll now just sit back and wait for all of the "porno" and "Debbie Does Dallas" hits . . .