Monday, March 05, 2007

Movie Mon. - If You Haven't Rented Stranger than Fiction Yet, Go Do So Now; I'll Wait.

Full Metal Jacket: Stanley Kubrick's look at the horrors of war, not to mention Boot Camp. Yes, this was the first time I've ever sat down and watched FMJ; Zinger's been bugging me to rent it forever, and I finally broke down and moved it to the top of my queue. And the verdict? Awesome movie; wish I would have seen it back in the day so that all the zillions and zillions of lines which have seeped into pop culture would have seemed fresher, but even that couldn't dampen my enjoyment of the film. I know lots of people love the first half of the film and don't care for the second, and I can understand why, as the shift between Boot Camp and the Drill Sgt. From Hell to The War Itself is pretty severe. But, while I do think the first half is a bit more enjoyable, I found the film as a whole to be a solid piece of work. Vincent D'Onofrio was great as the first pathetic, then psychotic Pyle. My biggest shock in watching the film was finding out that it featured an early performance by Adam "Jayne on Firefly" Baldwin, who could have been one of Jayne's ancestors with the size of gun he was toting.

Flags of Our Fathers: Clint Eastwood's look at the history of the famous picture of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, and how affected the men involved. A well done film with some fine acting all around; I did feel that it was a bit character-heavy at times, especially when the soldiers start dying during the battle scenes and I had trouble telling which were named characters and which were just red-shirts. Still, if nothing else it got me thinking about the power of propaganda and just how difficult it would be for a stationary image to capture the imagination of our current society the way that one did.

The Return: Snooze-inducing "horror/thriller" about a woman who has been suffering from visions of murder since her youth, and who finally finds herself drawn to the scene of the crime. I see this one as proof that Sarah Michelle Geller really needs new representation that can actually screen out the crap scripts; bland and unappealing film which literally put me to sleep.

Babel: Slow moving drama which focuses on three separate stories: an unfortunate American couple who are the victims of a shooting and the perpetrators of the crime; a Mexican nanny whose decision to take her charges to her son's wedding leads to difficulties with the law; and a deaf-mute Japanese girl with a rebellious streak. So, have you ever watched a critically acclaimed film and wondered what the heck everyone was so excited about? That would be the Babel experience for me in a nutshell. The story of the American couple held no emotional resonance for me, while the story of the Mexican nanny just made me frustrated. I was interested in the story of the Japanese girl, but in the end even that story was not enough to make me willing to say I liked the film. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood to watch it, but there's no way you'll be able to get me to sit through it for a second chance.

Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny: The story of the formation of the most awesome rock band in the world and how they decide to hunt down the mythical Pick of Destiny so they can win an open mic night and pay their rent. First of all, your enjoyment of the film will be directly proportional to you enjoyment of Jack Black and his antics; if you don't care for J.B., give this film a wide berth. And, even if you are a J.B. fan, your mileage may vary; I thought the first half of the film, chronicling how J.B. and K.G. formed The D was great, but once they started their search for the Pick, it went downhill fast. I think my biggest problem was that hardly anything in the film felt as fresh or funny as the short lived D series on HBO; there's enough here to recommend this to fans of The D, but others should probably save their money for other things.

Stranger Than Fiction: Inventive story of an IRS agent (the unusually low-key Will Ferrell) who wakes up one day to discover that he's hearing a disembodied voice narrating his life, which is only an inconvenience up until the point the narrator announces he's going to die. Loved this movie with a bloody passion; great writing, great acting, great directing. It made me briefly think "Was this a Charlie Kaufman script?" and as someone who lists Being John Malkovich and Adaptation among his favorite films, that's high praise indeed. This is one of those rarities in life: a film with a message which doesn't jam the message down your throat and never devolves into saccharine schmaltz. Highly recommend this to one and all.


Flunky lover said...

I felt the same way about 21 grams as you did about Babel. ( I think it may be the same director.) In the end I just didn't care about the characters at all so while it was critically acclaimed I would never personally recommend it.