Monday, January 23, 2006

Movie Mon. - Pushing Obscure Motion Pictures On Unsuspecting Souls

Yesterday at lunch, Cap'n Cluck mentioned that she hadn't heard of most of the movies I reviewed last week; somehow I don't think this week's batch is going to be much better. But, I see this as part of my Pushing Obscure Motion Pictures On Unsuspecting Souls (or POMPOUS) program, a way for me to try to bring some of these lesser known films to light for those of you who don't spend inordinate amounts of time scouring AICN, IMDB, and the like for new and interesting films.

Heck, who knows, maybe one of these days someone will read this and actually rent one of them.

Not holding my breath, though.

Dirty Deeds: On my list of "guilty pleasures", you can include "teen comedies": Can't Hardly Wait, Bring It On, 10 Things I Hate About You and the like all hold some strange appeal for me; don't ask me to explain it. And so, I'm more than willing to give occasional teen comedy a try out of curiosity. Sometimes I'll end up with a winner, sometimes a stinker, and sometimes something that falls somewhere in-between; Dirty Deeds falls into this last category. There are some funny moments and ideas here and there, but the film falls into way too many clichéd moments, and without the grace and style of the better teen movies; the attempts to show the different social strata and cliques feel heavy-handed and clumsy compared to similar things in Clueless, Can't Hardly Wait, etc. To be honest, the film pretty much lost me about 10 minutes in with a needless flatulence joke; on the list of "things that fail to amuse me," fart jokes are pretty high. Not a horrible movie, but not one I'd recommend to anyone.

Lord of War: Nick Cage as an arms dealer. Just could not get into this one; couldn't care enough about any of the characters to get invested in what happened to them.

Venom: Horror movie about a voodoo ritual that goes awry, trapping multiple evil spirits in a recently deceased corpse. Incredibly bland film that squanders what little promise the premise holds.

Lost Things: Australian horror film about two couples who set off on a surfing weekend, and wind up on a stretch of beach where very strange things happen. Starts off okay, with some characters who are initially likeable, but their personalities become more grating as the film progresses; granted, there's a reason for the personality shift, but having a reason doesn't necessarily make it any more bearable to sit through. The reason for the strangeness wasn't quite the clichéd one I complained about in my spoiler-heavy post about November, but it was close.

Open House: Very low-budget musical comedy about the wonderful world of real estate. I only stumbled across this one because it came across my desk at work (part of my job includes checking in the videos and DVDs the library buys), and I checked it out because it was a musical starring Jerry Doyle, a.k.a. Security Chief Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5; if you think that I could pass up a film that held a chance of me seeing Mr. Garibaldi singing, well, you don't know me very well at all. My favorite performances came from Sally Kellerman (Hot Lips in the movie M*A*S*H*) as the seasoned professional real estate agent, and Anthony Rapp as the high-strung newbie. All in all the music isn't much to write home about, although whether that's more a product of the song-writing or the style in which the songs were recorded, I'm not sure. You see, rather than having the songs looped in like most musicals, each song was captured live, with all of the music provided by a man playing a keyboard off-camera. Very obvious that there was no clean-up done to the vocals in post, and also obvious that the actors were not hired for their singing talents. And yet, Anthony Rapp's very Music Man-like patter at the beginning was impressive, his final song "This Is My Father's House" was nicely bittersweet, and the oft-repeated "Do You Love This House?" tune still gets stuck in my head.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance: Very well done Korean thriller about a deaf-mute who tries to raise money for his sister's life-saving surgery by turning to kidnapping; of course, the kidnapping goes wrong, and things go bad for all parties involved. Let me just warn you up front; not too many people wind up happy in this one. Gets a little brutal a couple of times, but that's to be expected in a revenge picture. Some really beautiful compositions here; director Chan Wook-Park (who was also responsible for the excellent revenge flick Oldboy) can sure make some pretty pictures about people doing ugly things. Just added his Sympathy for Lady Vengeance to my queue.

Junebug: What a quirky little film this one was, but in a good way; an art dealer and her husband visit his small-town Southern family for the first time, where she has to deal with a disapproving mother-in-law, a distracted father-in-law, a surly brother-in-law, and his fawning wife. It was the brother-in-law (played by The O.C.'s Benjamin Mackenzie) and his very pregnant and even more air-headed wife (Amy Adams, probably best known to most blog monkeys as the purse-selling-girl-who-was-dating-Jim on The Office, but who will always be Tara's crazy cousin Beth on Buffy to Rebel Monkey and me) who made the movie worth watching; as much as the art dealer is the catalyst for everything that happens, it’s really the relationship (or lack thereof) between Mackenzie and Adams that propelled the movie for me. My one small complaint was the way the art dealer’s husband reacted to her when she called him from the crazy artist’s house (yes, I know that’s vague, but I don’t want to give anything away); I know it was a rough moment for him, but dang, that was cold. I think my favorite moment in the film was watching the big city art dealer’s reaction to how well her husband fit in at the church dinner; I loved the look on her face when he was asked to get up and sing “Have a Little Talk with Jesus.”


Magic Pants said...

Another thing that happened at lunch yesterday was that a potential nickname for the former "nickless one" was reveled to all...

For the record: I must say that "magic pants" is one of the most creative nicknames I have ever received and will happily be dubbed such a nick from now on. (It simply took a little getting used to, that's all) :)

Look out world, MAGIC PANTS are IN! ...and for three easy payments of 29.99, they can be yours if you order within the next 20 minutes...

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Excellent; I shall now add the Magic Pants story to my work-in-progress post about our Texas Dance Depot adventures Friday night.