Monday, October 16, 2006

Movie Mon. - No, Seriously, What Was Up With the Clocks? I Have to Know!

Kicking AND Screaming: Not to be confused with Kicking & Screaming (as Zinger pointed out a while back), this is a mid-90s Indie about a group of friends having trouble moving on with their lives following college graduation. Funny, witty, dialogue-driven film which highlights the acerbic skills Chris Eigeman as the pessimistic Max. This one got marketed as a romantic comedy back in its day, but that's quite a misnomer; I think the marketing folks had no idea what category this really fits in. It's really more of a character study, focusing on four verbose guys who have no idea what they want out of their lives. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Headspace: Fairly well-done low budget horror film about a guy whose brain kicks into overdrive, imbuing him with heightened intelligence and psychic abilities, with the side-effect of gruesome deaths befalling anyone he encounters. Production values are pretty high, and the acting and dialogue are a cut above most horror flicks, but by the mid-point I had grown so bored that I actually fell asleep. Woke up, was confused by what was going on, rewound, and found that it didn't really help clear anything up. A few too many plot holes for my liking.

Eight Below: Family film about a group of sled dogs forced to fend for themselves in Antarctica for several months while their owner tries to find a way to save them. Now, as you can probably tell from most of the movies I tend to enjoy, I'm not exactly a "feel-good flick" kind of guy; that being said, I enjoyed Eight Below quite a bit. The actors were likable, the script was funny, and the dogs were cute and entertaining without being cloyingly so.

The Roost: Odd low-budget horror film about a group of friends who break down in the middle of nowhere and are besieged by a swarm of killer vampire bats whose victims turn into zombies. A little slow-moving at times, and the inclusion of B&W creature feature host segments sprinkled throughout made for an unusual viewing experience, but all in all I enjoyed this one.

Click: Innocuous Adam Sandler vehicle about an over-worked family man who acquires a mysterious remote control which allows him to affect reality. Mildly amusing film has a few chuckles, but overall nothing to write home about. Sandler's character didn't strike me as all that likeable, making it hard for me to get into the film at times.

Stay Alive: Horror film about a haunted video game which kills anyone who plays it is not nearly as bad as that concept makes it sound. There are some logical gaps here and there, and actor Jimmi Simpson continues his streak of playing characters who annoy the ever-loving crap out of me every time they open their mouths, but it had some interesting ideas and a couple of cool effects . . . plus, it didn't put me to sleep, which has to be a point in its favor.

The Puffy Chair: Low-budget Indie comedy about a guy who goes on a road-trip with his demanding (and not all that likable) girlfriend and his hippie-ish brother. This one made it into my queue because it won an award or two at Sundance. The acting in it is interesting, in that it's not the horrible wooden acting of full-on grade-Z films, but neither is it the polished acting of a Hollywood flick. Instead it's somewhere in the middle, feeling somehow both natural and forced at the same time, if that makes any sense. Not a bad little film, but I had a hard time liking most of the characters, which made the film a drag at times.

Population 436: Interesting horror film about a small town whose population has remained static for decades and the unsuspecting census worker (Jeremy Sisto) who stumbles onto the town's dark secret. This one's more of a psychological horror film than a gorefest; in a way, its plot reminds me of the original Wicker Man, although that film was much, much creepier. But while Po. 436 might not be the scariest or creepiest flick around, it was still an entertaining film, if for no other reason than to see Fred "Limp Bizkit" Durst playing the incredibly naive "aw-shucks" small town deputy, and doing a really good job of it at that. The movie fell apart a little at the end, and I still want to know what the heck was up with the clocks, but on the whole this was a well made, well acted, dark and amusing flick.

A Prairie Home Companion: The latest from director Robert Altman is a snapshot of the behind-the-scenes action during the last night of Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion radio show. As to be expected of an Altman film, this one is almost entirely character work with very little plot. In fact, what plot there is is kind of out there, between Kevin Kline playing private detective turned security worker Guy Noir (apparently a recurring character in the real Prairie Home Companion) who is just a bundle of slapstick waiting to happen, and Virginia Madsen as a strange woman wandering around who may or may not be the Angel of Death. Although I enjoyed the film a lot, the fact that neither Guy nor The Dangerous Woman really seemed to fit into the same world as the rest of the cast took me out of it several times; once again, consistency of tone is a big factor in my enjoyment of a work. Definitely not for everyone, but if you're a fan of Altman or Keilor (who plays a fictionalized version of himself), this is worth a view.

Art School Confidential: Off-beat and often dark comedy by the creative team behind Ghost World follows the misadventures of love-stricken art school freshman Jerome Platz as he tries to capture the heart of a beautiful model amidst all the politics and hypocrisy of the art world. Funny film that has fun with all the typical art school stereotypes, while also mining some dark comedy with the subplot of a serial killer. Interestingly enough, although a lot of critics blasted this film for its lack of focus and inconsistency of tone, I had no problem with it. For me, the disparate plot threads blended together well; yes, the film grows darker as it progresses, but that mirrors Jerome's spiral into depression and his eventual desperate actions. The movie didn't strike me as having the yo-yo effect of swinging wildly from one extreme to another, which is when such inconsistencies really gripe me. I will admit to being a bit let down by the ending, and I really wanted to smack Jerome around for not figuring out who the killer really was (so painfully, painfully obvious), but I enjoyed the rest of the film so much that I can easily forgive a brief stumble or two at the end.