Monday, September 18, 2006

Movie Mon. - What's a cowsay?

Dead Man’s Shoes: Interesting little British revenge flick about a former soldier who sets out on a mission to pay back the scumbags who terrorized his mentally challenged brother. I found this to be a lot more engaging in the first half of the film, when the vengeful brother is playing cat and mouse games with his prey; once the actual violence kicks in, the film loses a bit of its focus. Not that it becomes a mindless bloodbath or anything; the on screen gore is remarkably low-key. I guess I just preferred watching the scumbags slowly going nuts due to the harassment as opposed to going nuts because they just saw the corpse of one of their friends.

Relative Chaos: Lightweight made-for-TV movie about Dill, the youngest member (Christopher Gorham) of the super-competitive Gilbert family, and his drive to finally win the annual Gilbert Cup which has been claimed by his two older siblings Gil (Nicholas Brendan) and Lil (Jennifer Robertson) every year, a drive that's been encouraged by his go-getter of a girlfriend (Charisma Carpenter). Nothing ground-breaking here, but it was an enjoyable enough piece of fluff which I watched mainly because of its cast of former WB stars.

Saturn 3: SF film from the early 80s about two free-spirited researchers (Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett) who find their world turned upside down when their research station receives a visit from a borderline psycho (Harvey Keitel) and his borderline psycho robot pal. Odd little film which had some interesting ideas (and at least one really successful creep-me-out-sequence), but sadly most of the interesting aspects were obscured by unbelievable character decisions and horrible over-acting by Douglas. I can see why this one has sort of faded into obscurity.

The Miracle Match: Based on the true story of the first U.S. World Cup soccer team and its unlikely victory over the English team. Like many sports movies, this one is a tad on the predictable side, but the dialogue is well-written and the cast is engaging and likeable, which helps buoy the film above its relatively generic plot structure. If you enjoy underdog sports films, you should give this one a look.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World: Comedy in which Albert Brooks portrays himself as a struggling actor-comedian who gets chosen to head a government investigation into just what makes people in other countries laugh, a project that requires Brooks to head to India and Pakistan for research. First off, I generally enjoy Brooks's films. Lost in America, Mother, and Defending Your Life are all great movies; the less said about The Muse the better. While I don't know if Looking for Comedy is quite up there with the first three films, it's definitely closer to them than it is to the latter. My only real complaint with the film is that Brooks has written this fictionalized version of himself as a bit too whiny and self-involved, which at times makes it difficult to identify with him. However, the script is full of the typical Brooks wit, and the stuff that made me laugh far outweighed the stuff that didn't. Not for everyone, but if you like Brooks, you'll probably enjoy it. And if you don't know if you like Brooks, then go out and rent Defending Your Life first, since it's a much better film.

Kicking and Screaming: Will Ferrel vehicle about a perpetual loser who decides to coach his son's soccer team after the son is kicked off the team coached by his grandfather (Robert Duvall). Where to begin with this one? Well, Duvall is hilarious as the overly competitive grandfather, and there are some really funny parts sprinkled throughout the film, many revolving around the idol of Chicago Super-Fans everywhere, Mike Ditka, as Duvall's next-door neighbor and long-time rival. But for every moment that made me laugh out loud, there were at least three or four that made me wonder "who in the world thought that bit was a good idea?" All in all, it was a struggle to get through, and unless you're a super-obsessive fan of Ferrel, Duvall, or Ditka, I'd say give this one a miss.

The Wicker Man: The original, cult classic British film about a straight-laced police officer who travels to an isolated island community in search of a missing girl only to find that the island is populated by pagans whose beliefs include, among many things, sacrifices to the old gods. Now, I have not seen the Nick Cage remake as of yet, but I have a feeling that it contains only a fraction of the intelligence, daringness, creepiness, and downright oddness of the original. This is a difficult film to summarize accurately, since it's such a departure from the usual horror film tropes. In fact, while it is nominally advertised as a horror film, it's probably more accurate to describe it as psychological thriller with supernatural overtones which at times borders on becoming a straight-up musical; three days after watching it, I still have the Maypole song running through my head. I liked this one quite a lot, and am now looking forward to the righteous indignation that's sure to fill me when I finally see the recent remake.

The Sentinel: Snooze-inducing "thriller" about a veteran Secret Service agent (Michael Douglas) who gets framed and has to outwit the agents chasing him (Kiefer Sutherland and Eva Longoria) long enough to find the real culprits. Didn't care for this one at all. None of the characters clicked with me, especially Eva Longoria, who was so horribly bland in this that her character might as well not even have existed. Oh, and that "snooze-inducing" crack wasn't just a joke; I did actually fall asleep halfway through my first attempt to watch this.

Lucky Number Slevin: Intricate mistaken-identity comedy-thriller about an unlucky young man named Slevin (Josh Hartnett) who gets pulled into the feud between crime lords known as The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley) thanks to the machinations of a mysterious assassin known as Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis). By far my favorite movie of the last few weeks: great dialogue, great actors, great movie. A lot of the big twists I saw coming early on, but there were still a few that took me by surprise, and even knowing the twists were coming didn't dampen my enjoyment of the film a bit. I particularly enjoyed Lucy Liu's performance as a bubbly, semi-scatter brain love interest, partly because it was a good role and good performance, but also because it was such a departure from her usual roles as stone-cold insert-pejorative-term-of-choice-here. If you rent this and enjoy it, I recommend checking out the deleted scenes, which are of a higher quality than most deleted scenes, especially the scene with the two Israeli bodyguards, which PigPen, The A.C. and I watched a couple of times.


Zinger said...

I believe you mean "Kicking & Screaming". "Kicking and Screaming" is a different film. I'll let The Sports Guy explain:

"One of my top 20 favorite movies of all-time ... and it's finally out on a Criteron DVD, no less! Yes, that deserved an exclamation point. Everyone mistakenly believes that "Singles" and "Reality Bites" were the defining Gen X movies, and maybe they were to some degree (especially the music). But "Kicking and Screaming" was the best Gen X movie -- by far, actually -- and unlike the other two, it still holds up. The only reason the DVD happened was because it's Noah Baumbach's first movie and he made a big splash with "The Squid and The Whale" last year.

A couple of additional notes:

D. The fact that some people confuse this movie with the insufferable Will Ferrell soccer comedy from last year genuinely injures my soul."

And on that note:

Phil Weston: You're my assistant. You're supposed to back me up and go get me juiceboxes whenever I want. Now go get me a juicebox!
Phil Weston: I'm talkin' to the juicebox guy!
Mike Ditka: You're crazy!
Phil Weston: I'm not crazy, I'm just thirsty!
Mike Ditka: OH, YOU GO TO HELL!
Phil Weston: No, you go to hell, and while you're there, why don't you grab me a juicebox!

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Mea Culpa.

Actually, I have Kicking AND Screaming in my queue as well; when I first got the notice that I was getting K&S I thought it was KaS and I was happy; then I found out it was the Ferrel film instead, and was much less so.