Monday, February 20, 2006

Movie Mon. - See, Cap'n Cluck, Only 3/8 Are Horror; Don't You Feel Silly Now?

At our Valentine's Day party I made the comment that I had meant to bring a couple of the Netflix that had just come in the mail that afternoon; Cap'n Cluck said "but all you have in your queue is horror movies!" I assured her that just wasn't true; only 3/4 of my queue are horror; the other 1/4 are totally obscure and quirky Indies. I did have a couple of films that I thought might have been okay for the group, but I'm glad we didn't get to watch them, partially because the evening turned out pretty well without us having to sit glued to a movie, and partially because one of the films turned out to be more intense than I expected (Proof), and the other turned out to be more annoying (Zathura).

On to the reviews (only 3 of which are horror)

Zathura: Thematic sequel to Jumanji, only this time the mystical board game has a space theme. Let me say this first of all: the little kids annoyed the crap out of me. I realize as an only child I might not be the target audience for stories revolving around sibling rivalries, so that might have colored my perceptions a bit; the fact remains that through the whole movie I wanted the older brother to stop being so push and the younger brother to stop his blasted whining. Not being able to like either of the kids really made it hard to care if they made it through the ordeal or not; the only character I really liked was the stranded astronaut. Some nice visual effects, but the movie as a whole fell flat for me. I'd recommend renting Jumanji again instead; much superior film, even with that stupid "David Allen Grier invented 90s-style sneakers in the 60s" thing.

Proof: Well done drama about the daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow) of a mentally disturbed genius (Anthony Hopkins) who is dealing with the fear that she might have inherited her father's madness, a fear shared by her control-freak sister (Hope Davis), but not by her father's former student (Jake Gyllenhaal). Well written and well acted film with engaging characters; a bit intense at times as the characters clash. I sometimes got frustrated with Paltrow's character, but not nearly as frustrated as I got with the controlling sister; afraid some of that might have been carry-over from despising her character in The Weatherman so danged much, but I think a good deal of it rests on the character itself. Despite wanting to throttle both of them multiple times while watching this, I still would recommend this film to anyone looking for a good drama.

Silent Night, Bloody Night: Not to be confused with the Silent Night, Deadly Night series of serial-killing Santa movies (which I really need to talk about at some point); this is an entirely different low-budget slasher movie. An abandoned house which was the scene of a brutal death years before has been put on the market, an act which summons the cause of the original death to return to the scene of the crime. Definitely a B-grade film, but an entertaining one; if nothing else, the flashback to the breakout from the asylum was majorly creepy.

The Prowler: Slasher film using that time-honored plot: murders happen at X, forcing it to close, the Y years later some foolish kids open X up again, causing the murderer to return to continue his/her bloody work. The film opens up well, with its WWII setting, and the initial character introductions kept me interested, but I'm afraid that once the killer struck in the present day, the film stalled out. Worst part of the movie was the "humorous" interlude involving a surly motel clerk; pointless waste of time that only served to annoy me. Pretty blah film, overall.

The Misfits: Marilyn Monroe (in her last completed film) stars as a newly divorced woman who stumbles into a relationship with an older cowboy, played by Clark Gable in his last role (he died less than two weeks after filming wrapped), a relationship complicated both by the presence of his friends (who develop feelings of their own for Monroe) and by the vast gulf between their personalities and worldviews. Written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston; if that doesn't get you on board, well, it should. I was impressed with Monroe's dramatic turn in Bus Stop, but she really outdoes herself in this one.

Reel Paradise: Documentary about Indie-film maven John Pierson who moved his family to Fiji for a year to take over an old movie theater and use it to show free movies; the film chronicles their final weeks there before returning to the states. I had seen a trailer for this somewhere, and it had piqued my interest; unfortunately, the film left me underwhelmed. The Pierson clan came across as very unlikable to me; patriarch John was the worst, exuding condescension at every turn, but rebellious daughter Georgia was a close second. I'm not sure if the glimpse into the Fijian culture was worth having to put up everything else.

Zombie Honeymoon: Low-budget horror film about a young couple whose honeymoon is disrupted when the groom is slain by a shambling monstrosity, only to return to life with a hunger for human flesh; after discovering his new found appetites, his bride has to decide just how far "'til death do us part" extends. Not your typical horror movie, this one spends the bulk of its time exploring the relationship of the couple; yes, there's gore aplenty, but it's almost secondary to their personal struggles. This is another movie that had me hooked early on, but stalled out about 30 minutes in; nothing glaringly jarring or grating here, it just failed to hold my interest for the full time.

Mirrormask: Feature film debut for long-time collaborators Neil Gaiman (writer) and Dave McKean (director); I could try to do a plot synopsis of this one, but describing an Alice in Wonderland meets Labyrinth plot just can't do justice to the movie; this one is really all about the visuals. Honestly, the plot and dialogue are far from Gaiman's strongest efforts, but the surreal visuals provided by his and McKean's creative collaboration are what carry the film. Honestly, if you look at some screenshots and don't find yourself filled with a sense of "Oooo, cool!" then this movie probably isn't for you. As for me, well, the movie was worth it for the sphinxes and monkey-birds alone.


Cap'n Cluck said...

My name's in a title!!! My name's in a title!!!

Have a Cluckity Cluck Cluck Day!

Magic Pants said...

Breathe, Cluckity... Just breathe....