Monday, October 06, 2008

Movie Mon. - Your Mileage May Vary

Eagle Eye: Thriller about a slacker (Shia LaBeouf) and a single mom (Michelle Monaghan) who are coerced into helping a mysterious figure who is practically omniscient thanks to a mastery of electronics. Enjoyable enough as long as you don't think too hard about the plot holes; luckily the movie moves along at a fast enough speed to make shutting your brain off and enjoying the ride fairly easy. Liked it, although I didn't really care for the cop-out ending.

Student Bodies:
Early 80s horror movie spoof that I saw countless times as an adolescent thanks to it playing ad nauseum on It, the only pay cable channel that ever made it all the way out to our farm in Wyandotte; I recently learned that it had just been released on DVD not too long ago and was curious to see how it held up to the span of years since I last saw it approximately 25 years ago. The answer? Some parts kinda, others not so much; can definitely tell you that there were several bits I got this time around that were totally lost on 8 year old me.

Horror film about a group of sociopathic med students who play a "game" where they murder people and challenge the others to figure out the cause of death. Really didn't like this one at all; couldn't really stand any of the characters who were all too horribly obnoxious for my tastes.

Set in the 1920s, this romantic comedy follows the misadventures of "Dodge" Connelly (George Clooney, who also directed), a professional football player during the time when professional football was a joke, and how he tries to save the sport he loves by recruiting Carter "Bullet" Rutherford (John Krasinski), a war hero college footballer to his team, a move that's complicated by the presence of Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger), a female reporter who has been sent to dig up dirt on Rutherford and who, naturally, is wooed by both men. As a paean to screwball comedies, this film is at times frustrating as the rapid-fire dialogue that typified the genre is all too rare in the script, and even then it falls short of the mark set by such classics as The Philadelphia Story. However, while it might not quite be able to recreate the magic of the older films, the movie managed to create a charm of its own for me. I do wish that they had managed to develop Krasinski's character a bit more; while not quite a cipher, he was more of a plot device than a full fledged character. Still, every time Clooney and Zellweger were engaged in their verbal sparring, I was totally sucked in. All in all, one I would recommend.

Run, Fatboy, Run:
Touching comedy about a inveterate slacker who, years after leaving his pregnant girlfriend at the altar, tries to redeem himself by competing in a marathon to prove that he can get his life together. This Simon Pegg vehicle is a bit of a departure from his collaborations with Edgar Wright, and not just because Nick Frost isn't along for the ride; a bit more slapstick, a lot less pop culture references, and a much more earnest tone. Now, while I would never suggest that this film could compare to the comedic masterpieces that were Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, I will say that managed to make me both laugh quite often and tear up a couple of times. Outside of the always enjoyable Pegg, the best moments of the film had to come from Dylan Moran of Black Books infamy as his best friend. Liked this one a lot.

Chapter 27:
Drama that follows Mark David Chapman through the three days leading up to his assassination of John Lennon; the title comes from the fact that at the height of his psychotic delusions Chapman thought he was turning into Holden Caulfield, the lead character in The Catcher in the Rye, a novel that had a total of 26 chapters. The film is probably most notable for the fact that star Jared Leto, the former teen heart-throb from My So-Called Life, gained 67 pounds to play Chapman; less notable to others, but definitely notable to me, was that Judah Friedlander shows up in the film minus his trademark glasses and trucker hat. An okay film that managed to hold my interest, but just barely.

Supernatural film from Hong Kong that is billed as a horror film about a writer who is terrorized by strange occurrences straight out of the new book she is writing, but which feels much closer to one of Neil Gaiman's dark fantasy stories like MirrorMask than out-and-out horror as the writer finds herself trapped in a dimension that houses all discarded things, be they characters or toys or, in the film's most horrific sequence, aborted fetuses. Slow moving int he beginning, and a kind of pointless ending, but from the moment the protagonist gets sucked into the other world, it's the visuals which rule the film; you can get a pretty good sense of them from this trailer.

Felt like there was some wasted potential here, but the other world created by the Pang Brothers did make the film worth my while.

The Foot Fist Way: Low budget comedy starring Danny McBride (best known for his supporting roles in Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder) as an arrogant, oblivious Taekwondo instructor who finds himself hurtling out of control after he finds out his wife cheated on him. This film has already developed a bit of a cult following, but I'm afraid it just didn't do it for me; yeah, there are some pretty funny moments here and there, but overall, just didn't gel for me. Think a big problem was that McBride's character was incredibly unsympathetic for the bulk of the film; I have a hard time enjoying films with such blatantly unsympathetic characters as the main focus -- your mileage may vary.

Mildly entertaining film about a man who goes on a vigilante rampage against what he sees as the scourge of modern civilization: car alarms and other noise pollutants. The opening ten minutes or so showed great inventiveness and potential, but after that it devolved into just an ordinary film; couple of flashes of interest here and there

but all in all, the opening sequence drew me in so well that everything after it felt like a let down. Again, your mileage may vary.

Burn After Reading: Coen Brothers film that's probably closest to Fargo in its dark and twisty sensibilities; the plot follows a disgruntled CIA agent (John Malkovich) whose memoirs are found by a couple of gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) who are convinced they've stumbled across some top secret stuff -- mayhem ensues. I know a lot of people let down by this one for some reason, but I liked it a lot. And Brad Pitt is freakin' hilarious throughout as the dim-witted physical trainer. Now, here's some really vague and ambiguous comments that are designed to be spoiler free while still allowing me to discuss something that really struck me in the film: There's at least one scene in the movie that reminded me of a very similar scene in a move from the early 90s that had generated a huge debate in my film criticism class about whether the scene was funny or not, and why or why not. And, much like with that earlier film, the scene in question had me rolling; also, much like with the earlier film, I'm sure there are scores of people who would have looked at me with confusion in their eyes as to why I found something like that so hilarious. Is it any wonder that I saw this one with Li'l Random?