Monday, September 15, 2008

Movie Mon. - "You Have the Vocabulary of a Drunken Spice Miner and the Hairstyle of an Arrakeen Whore."

The Burbs: 80s comedy about a group of suburbanites who become convinced the their reclusive new neighbors are up to no good. This is one that I just never got around to seeing when it first came out, but which got added to my queue after it got mentioned a recent Onion A.V. Club article about Joe Dante's work on Gremlins 2* -- and yes,that's why I re-watched Gremlins 2 last week. Anyway, I appreciated the obvious horror film touches throughout the film, and was mildly amused by most of the humor. Think my favorite aspect of the film was Corey Feldman as the neighborhood kid who keeps inviting friends over to his house to watch his paranoid neighbors pursue their witch-hunt.

Masters of Horror: The Screwfly Solution:
This installment of MoH got moved in my queue due to the fact that it was directed by Joe Dante. The plot revolves around a strange virus which only effects men, turning them into vicious killers anytime they become aroused. Not one of the stronger installments of the series.

Be Kind Rewind:
Mildly disappointing film from director Michel Gondry about a couple of dim-bulbs who start to make their own versions of movies after an accident destroys every film in their video store. The sequences where they're busy making their movies work really well -- especially the first big montage which is filled with trademark Gondry goodness -- while pretty much everything else falls flat. Although, maybe I just expected too much from it.

Who Can Kill a Child?:
70s horror film about a British couple who go to a quiet island off the coast of Spain on holiday only to find that all the children on the island have become homicidal and wiped out all the adults** -- yes, I thought of Children of the Corn too when I read the synopsis, but Who Can Kill a Child predates even the King short story by several years. This movie had a lot of potential, but ultimately I was put off by the idiotic behavior of the two main characters, which was often extremely moronic even for a horror movie. It's never good when you're actually relieved that the protagonists are getting bumped off.

The Forbidden Kingdom:
Chinese mythology fueled fantasy about a kid obsessed with Kung-Fu movies who gets mystically transported to ancient China where he is tapped to fulfill a prophecy to release the Monkey King from the clutches of the Jade Warlord with the help of a drunken master (Jackie Chan) and a mysterious monk (Jet Li). Mildly entertaining film has some nice fight scenes with Chan and Li, which is really the only reason anyone wants to see this anyway. I also really enjoyed the initial Monkey King/Jade Warlord duel, some good stuff there.

My Science Project:
80s SF-comedy about a grease monkey who stumbles across an alien artifact and decides to use it as the basis of his school science project, only to have said artifact unleash a space-time warp that brings people and creatures from the past and future into the present. This is one that I saw several times when I was younger, and it holds up better than I thought it would, but still not one I'd urge you to rush out and rent.

Baby Mama:
Slightly uneven comedy from Tina Fey who stars as a successful business woman who hires a surrogate mother (Amy Pohler) after being told that she herself is incapable of becoming pregnant. Fey and Pohler both do their typical shtick here, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're a fan of their work, which I typically am. However, my favorite parts of the film were those dealing with Fey's New Age-y boss, played by Steve Martin; the scene were he "rewards" Fey for her good job with five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact had me rolling.

The Grand:
Largely improvised mockumentary about a group of poker players vying for the winner-take-all stakes of The Grand poker tournament.

A little uneven, as many of these highly improvised films can be, but overall a pretty funny little movie. The biggest point of interest is that the final table of the tournament was played for real; going in, nobody knew which of the six actors would wind up the winner and in fact, the director says that he was really surprised by who the winner was. My favorite scenes in the film were those dealing with Chris Parnell's character, the brilliant but socially awkward player who still lives with his mother -- upon whom he heaps copious abuse -- and who likes to pretend he's a Mentat from Dune, reciting the Mentat creed while comparing other players to Arrakeen whores and Romulan Birds of Prey.

The Fall:
Visually engaging film from the director of The Cell tells the story of a hospitalized stunt-man (Lee Pace from Pushing Daisies) who tells a fantastical tale to a little girl in order to get her to steal morphine for him

Definitely my favorite of all the films I watched this week, well worth watching for the visuals alone.

That particular column, "The New Cult Canon" is one of my favorite weekly features of the A.V. Club, and has given me much in the way of fodder for Odd Squodd movie nights.
**If this sounds familiar but you don't recognize the name, it's probably because the movie was originally released in the U.K. and U.S. not with the English translation of its original title --
¿Quién puede matar a un niño? -- but under around six different titles including Death is Child's Play, Island of Death, Island of the Damned, Lucifer's Curse, Trapped, and The Killer's Playground. Out of all of the titles, I think the original works best


Starrlett said...

Heh, heh--I was just about to post a comment asking if you watched "The Fall"--we saw it last night. Pretty darn awesome, and I'm glad the visual style of the "The Cell" finally got a better story to showcase.

I actually liked "Be Kind Rewind" quite a bit, although I read a review beforehand saying it was good but disappointing--so perhaps I was prepared? Or more likely, no one is as ridiculously big a Jack Black fan as me. sigh.

Is the kid in "Forbidden Kingdom" as distractedly annoying as he appeared in the trailer? If not, I might be willing to give it a try...

Cap'n Neurotic said...

I came across The Fall strictly by luck; was looking at a site with new DVD releases and the cover caught my eye; looked it up and saw that it had Tarsem and Lee Pace involved and thought "interesting"; watched the trailer and immediately moved to top of my queue. Would have been the Odd Squodd movie this week if Li'l Brother hadn't been drafted into disaster work. And yeah, The Cell had some really striking imagery at times, but the story was so bleh that it was hard to care.

I'm generally a pretty big J.B. fan, but for some reason I found him off-putting in this one; plus, Mos Def's character seemed to go back and forth between moderately intelligent and unforgivably stupid, which bothered me.

I wish I had better news for you regarding the kid in Forbidden Kingdom, but sadly he a distraction more often than not.