Monday, June 05, 2006

Movie Mon. - Backtracking

Time to play a little catch up with the movie reviews.

London: Upon finding out that his ex London (Jessica Biel) is leaving town for good without telling him, Syd (Chris Evans) crashes her going away party to confront her, only to spend all of his time hiding in the upstairs bathroom, doing cocaine with an unbalanced Brit (Jason Statham), and reliving his past mistakes that have brought him to this point. I liked this one more than I thought I would; for the first time, I was able to buy Evans as a dramatic actor. The film is a bit rough at times, with copious drug use and expletives galore, but at its heart it's the story of a man trying to figure out where he went wrong in his life, and hoping to salvage what he can.

Game 6: Set during game six of the 1986 World Series, this movie follows a playwright (Michael Keaton) who is convinced that his life will be a cursed failure, much like his beloved Red Sox. An odd little film, featuring an odd guest-starring role for Robert Downey Jr. as the paranoiac theater critic who always goes out in disguise packing a gun, and whose reviews have driven playwrights into despair. An interesting and entertaining little film that wasn't the touchy-feely film I had feared from the description I'd read. I also enjoyed the appearance of Harris Yulin (Quentin Travers on Buffy and Roger Stanton on 24) as one of the play's stars who's having trouble with his lines due to a brain parasite.

Transamerica: Story of Bree, a pre-operative transsexual (Felicity Huffman) who discovers that his/her one and only sexual experience back in college resulted in a son when said son calls looking for his father to bail him out of prison; forced to help him out in order to get her therapist to okay her surgery, the uptight Bree struggles to set her son (a druggie hustler whose big dreams revolve around becoming a star in gay pornos) on a better path without revealing to him her true identity. Very well done movie, with an excellent performance from Huffman. The subject matter is sure to turn some away, as there are some pretty frank sexual situations, but I really enjoyed it a lot.

Camp Slaughter: Incredibly low-budget slasher film with an interesting premise: a group of four friends find themselves stranded at Camp Hiawatha, a summer-camp inhabited by rejects from the 80s; they soon discover that they are trapped in a time loop, forced to relive a single day from 1981 endlessly, a day which involved the wholesale slaughter of the entire camp. The movie is an obvious homage to the good ol' 80s slasher flicks like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp, and has lots of funs with the 80s stereotype characters, all of whom are played over-the-top; I'd like to believe that was a directorial choice, and not just bad acting, but the execution of the rest of the film makes it hard to believe. Horrible camerawork, dismal ADR, and some of the choppiest and most confusing editing I've ever seen, not to mention plot holes big enough to drive a B.U.S.* through. Which is all a shame, since the premise had a lot of potential. Still, there were a couple of inventive death scenes (Ivan's first death being a favorite) and lots of laughs, both intentional and otherwise, so I would definitely recommend this to fans of bad horror films; it's practically begging to be MST3Ked.

School Killer: Another low budget horror film, this time from Spain. This one revolves around a group of friends who visit an old abandoned school only to be plagued by the ghosts of a group of students murdered there years ago. While Camp Slaughter was entertaining in its low quality, School Killer was just boring, not to mention peopled with far less entertaining characters. I'd say give this one a miss.

Date Movie: Parody of all sorts of romantic comedies such as Hitch, The Wedding Planner, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Along Came Polly, My Best Friend's Wedding and the like, with an occasional "What the heck?" reference thrown in (LoTR, Kill Bill, etc.) for good measure. All I can really say about this one is that it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be; trust me, that's not saying much. The film survives on the comedic chops of its two leads (veteran Allyson Hannigan and newcomer Adam Campbell) alone, who are able to carry the uninspired script through sheer force of will; also worth mentioning is the always funny Jennifer Coolidge during a great Barbara Streisand impression. I've seen better, and I've seen worse, but I really wish I hadn't had to see the horrible "cat on the toilet" scene; nothing like gratuitous toilet humor to turn me off of a film.

Freedomland: Here's the Netflix blurb:

When a single mother (Julianne Moore) reports that her teenage son was murdered by a black man from the projects, an intrepid African-American detective (Samuel L. Jackson) and a white journalist (Edie Falco) team up to dig for details. But what they unearth is hard to believe.
So, when Julianne Moore's character says that she has a four year old son, and Edie Falco's character claims to be a leader of a concerned parents' group and not a reporter, I kept waiting for their deceptions to be revealed; but, of course, they were telling the truth, and it was Netflix which was lying. *sigh* As for the film itself, I thought it was well acted, especially Edie Falco as the strong-willed crusading mom; her monologue to Moore on the grounds of Freedomland was Oscar-worthy. But unfortunately, the bulk of the film revolved around ignorant characters doing ignorant things which result in a mini-race riot. That aspect of the film kept me from buying into it 100%, but I think the film is still worth a viewing for the performances alone.

Grandma's Boy
: Low-brow comedy about a middle-aged video game tester who gets kicked out of his apartment and has to move in with his grandmother and her two roommates. This is another of those "not as bad as I thought" films; there are some groanworthy scenes, and lots of predictable jokes, but there's also some flashes of wit and originality. The most entertaining character was probably J.P., the former child prodigy who dresses like Neo and acts like a robot when he gets nervous or upset; to be honest, he seemed like the sort of guy who could have lived in Parker Hall back in the day. Now, I'm not suggesting anyone run out and rent this, but if it ever happens to come on your cable and you feel like watching a mindless comedy, you could do worse.

*B.U.S. is what the 80s kids insisted on calling the present-day kids' S.U.V.