Monday, September 22, 2008

Movie Mon. - "Annubis, Egyptian Jackal God? Or Melted Football Shape?"

Speed Racer: Big screen live action adaption of nostalgia laden cartoon which was not only filled with striking visuals, but also nowhere near as bad as I had feared it would be. As a matter of fact, I actually wound up liking it. Yes, during a couple of the races the CGI was a bit too much like watching a gigantic video game; and sure, once or twice I was worried the flashy lights might trigger an epileptic seizure or two; and, of course, there were times I wanted the comic relief younger brother and monkey to just drop off the face of the planet. But, on the whole, the Wachowski Brothers managed to create a film that captured the style and energy of the animated series without totally compromising the reality of the film, something that other live action attempts at adapting cartoons (The Flintstones, Scooby Doo) weren't able to accomplish. Not sorry I waited for it to come out on video, but also not sorry I rented it.

Snow Angels:
Fairly depressing drama that tells two parallel stories: the first about a teenage boy struggilng with his parents' separation, and the second about the boy's former babysitter (Kate Beckinsale) who is struggling with being a single mom after kicking out her volatile (and suicideal) husband (Sam Rockwell). Although well done and well acted -- especially Rockwell as the down-and-out ex trying to get his life together and failing pretty misearbly -- I just never connected well enough with any of the characters for their dramas to effect me on a deeper level. Can't really pick out any glaring reasons why this was; could have just been that I was watching it while fighting off a major sinus attack. But, for whatever reason, I can neither condemn nor recommend this film Kind of ambivalent towards it.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film:
Documentary about the popular horror sub-genre, chronicling the many ups and downs in the popularity of the slasher genre over the last 50 years or so. Probably only interesting to fans of the genre, but if you are a fan, then there's some nice interviews here with some of the big names in the biz, from Wes Craven to John Carpenter to Tom Savini to the screen-writer of Psycho. Also, the girl who played the main character in Sleepaway Camp, who reveals that she had no clue about the ending until she saw it on the big-screen with friends; bet that gave her nightmares. Some may quibble about the films it focuses on and the films it ignores -- trust me, there are some really heated threads on the IMDB boards -- but whether you agree with the pool of films that it draws from or not, there's some interesting information to be gleaned here.

Documentary about the Young@Heart chorus, a group of senior citizens who travel the world performing songs by The Beatles, Sonic Youth, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, etc. The film is at its best when it allows the seniors to just be themselves; anytime the director steps in to ask questions or do the voice-over narration, the film just came to a screeching halt for me. I also found the director of the group to be more of an annoyance than anything else, and often wished that some of the sassier seniors would tell him off, but I guess none of them wanted to kicked out of the group; either that or they actually like the guy. A lot of the success of the group comes from humor garnered from the juxtaposition of the elderly boogieing on down to James Brown or doing a disco classic

while other times they capitilize on the extra poingentcy added to more sentimental songs, such as "Forever Young" or this Coldplay tune

And then there was this nice cover of a Talking Heads song*

which made me track down the original version

which in turn made me want to go and rent the Talking Heads movie True Stories which I haven't seen in ages, and which contains one of my favorite non sequiter musical sequences of all time

But I digress . . .

The Plague Dogs: Animated film based on Richard Adams' novel about two dogs who escape from a government lab and must learn how to survive in the wild while being hunted down by farmers who have become convinced the dogs are savage beasts infected with the plague. Pales in comparison with Adams' much superior Watership Down.

Quirky comedy about Salman, a terminal screw-up (writer and director Scott Penergrast) who moves in with his semi-estranged sister-in-law (Lisa Kudrow, playing the uptight-and-bitter part of her acting range) to help her with the kids while his brother is overseas and who, when his help turns out to be more of a hindrance, gets a job as mascot for her company BlueNeXion

Defintiely my favorite movie of the week; would have been prime Odd Squodd material if Li'l Brother hadn't gotten shipped off to Lufkin. Kudrow's character did grate on my nerves at times with her short temper with Salman at the beginning, but all of that was washed away as soon as he put on the mascot costume. I don't know what it was, but pretty much every sight gag based around that costume cracked me up, as did his oldest nephew's homicidal tendencies.** Throw in some hilarious random pieces of dialogue -- "Alright, now, which night-light? Annubis, Egyptian Jackal God? Or melted football shape? " -- and a realtively dark outlook on life with just a tinge of hope, and you have a film that was made just for my people.

*With just a sprinkling of The Isley Brothers' "Shout" thrown in for good measure
**If you don't listen closely you might miss him whispering "When Uncle Salman's asleep let's burn down the house."


Jaxon said...

I just read one of the early reviews of choke. Looks like a really good movie. I love the book, and cant wait to see it.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

I haven't read Choke yet, but the movie has definitely been on my "must-see" list ever since I first heard about it. Sam Rockwell's one of those "if he's in it, I gotta see it" actors for me