So here's 90 minutes of verbal masturbation of the work of Bill Watterson. I'm sorry to write that sentence but that's what it is. Occasionally there's some more interesting talk, regarding his anti-commercial stance, but mostly it's just people talking about how great Calvin and Hobbes is because it's so great and subversive. None of the foundations of what make it great are opened up enough to get a grasp on them, and the half-hearted attempt at creating this personal context with like four scenes spread throughout the film are just too little. The sad thing is I too love Calvin and Hobbes and really, really think it deserves a lot better than this documentary.
You know, for a film called Cockneys VS Zombies, this isn't that bad. Only about a third of it really sucks. The film revolves around a group of chavs doing a bank robbery but then zombies, and that is laaame, but every once in a while we get scenes of Alan Ford (Brick from Snatch) fighting the undead with his geriatric friends in a retirement home and it is fucking fantastic. The last third has the two plots coming together, but it never really works too well at that point. I blame the lack of technical expertise in the creation of the film, because seriously, this is some cheap-looking shit but it isn't cheap enough to look entirely crappy. Now we just get weird pacing and sub-par digital effects.
There is a pervasive sense of this dreary, tantalizing sensation throughout L'Avventura. It's as if something was coming to get all these hopeless characters, most of whom might as well not exist. I put the blame for this on the terrific audio of the film. Even when all characters are indoors there can be distinct pieces of ambient audio coming from the outside, often at high volumes. Be it constantly passing cars or people talking in what could only be described as loud whispers, these noises constantly intrude upon the most private of conversations.
And of course all of these noises are ignored by our lead characters, an apt reaction from them all for sure. Because lets face it, for these people the prospect of having to take into notion anything other than their own norms and needs is too much. They sort of wander through this plane of existence that not too many others seem to occupy, wondering whether they should be sad or not about a personal tragedy that occurs in the beginning. By the end, this has been disregarded as the cycle that lead to that initial tragedy has begun again, in an immoral fashion no less. It's a film of complex emotions for sure, however I feel some of it could be voiced with more efficiency to us. As it is, it's more of a bizarre mood piece and definitely falls short of La Notte, its so-called sequel.
There is so much I would be willing to forgive Catching Fire for. I can overlook the occasionally pandering exposition and the over-the-top methods in which THE MAN tries to break Jennifer Lawrence mentally. I can even overlook the fact that the last hour of this movie is a kinda sub-par rehash of the first film. The first 90 minutes are really good. Like to the point where I was willing to put this up as one of the better films of the year. This series continues to surprise me by taking its time developing the characters and events in ways that are most of the time interesting. There's a wonderful scene of opulence where a patron in a party drinks a drink to throw up just to feast more while lower-class folk starve. They explain it to death, but that drink is a real pimpin' idea.
But here's what I can't forgive: This movie doesn't have an ending. It doesn't wrap anything up. I can live with stupid cliffhangers in the story, but because I just spent 2½ hours watching a movie, I want some closure. I don't care if it happens in the story or the characters. Hell, even a single character I could do with. This movie closes absolutely nothing. And heck, I could even forgive that because the final shot is so great. But then comes in the true final shot: a graphic of a burning bird emblem changing form for like a minute. It's fucking awful. Ugly. Something that belongs on the shortbus. This single useless bird leaves a taste in my mouth so horrid I really wouldn't want to see the sequel to this movie. It makes it real hard to give this movie a good rating despite, for the most part, it being totally cool. That's quite the shame.
This movie is some real hot garbage. The concept of a monster under the bed is something classic and under-utilized in horror film, but this is so the farthest thing from what that concept could potentially breed. It's morally reprehensible with the way it portrays it's completely insane and reckless main characters as this cool, serious dude, and the monster design is so ridiculous I find it hard to even laugh at it. It's just sad.
So I like Fright Night. Some might even say I like it all too much. But there's one big thing that separates it from the other horror comedies of the 80s and I'm not sure it's a good thing: The effects. This movie is the type of stuff that will traumatize kids when they see it, and it seems like a conscious choice. The vampires are radically different from classic depictions, behaving as insane beasts with horrific facial mutilations and dying in spurts of bloody guts or melting into horrific goo. This is one hard-R of a silly horror comedy, and I think it occasionally clashes with the tone. Although I'll admit, the climax is very tense because seriously, wouldn't you also be running the fuck away if THIS was coming at you?
The To Do List touts itself as an awkward sex comedy that doesn't glamorize sex while also being a strongly feminine film. I don't think it entirely manages all of that. The message, hamfistedly shoved down everyone's throats in the end, is admittedly admirable, but is generally brought down by the unending barrage of stereotypical side characters. Heck, even the main character, the sex-craved feminist, is a complete nerd stereotype. The message doesn't gel with the rest of the film. Speaking of which, it gets some jokes very right and some jokes very wrong. However I'm disappointed they don't go all the way with the list. Would love a literal sketch about rimjobs.
You know, I just watched The Pervert's Guide to Ideology last month, and the only thing I could think of during the ending of this movie was that Slavoj Zizek would fall into a severe state of depression from the complete lack and supposed existence of the human ideology on display. Which made the scenes even funnier than they really were. However, other than the brilliant third act and the entertaining middle, this film is a bit of a tired flop. The jokes don't come in in the insane pace familiar from Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead or Scott Pilgrim, but instead are doshed out with much more regularity. There's a weird, tamed fragrance to the first third that doesn't work at all. After that it goes crazy, but I still don't think it's crazy enough. Wright has such an insane capacity to do visual humor through camerawork, dialogue and editing, that to see him misuse his talents by not using them is a shame. And that's what the vast majority of this film is. It is very funny on occasion, and Nick Frost being a cool dude for a change is great, but I can't help but be a bit disappointed by it all.
A pre-WW2 Japanese film from Sadao Yamanaka, one of the three that have survived to this day, is a somewhat successful, extremely depressing story about a group of people who live in a housing in feudal Japan. Their landlord is a middle-class man without any balls to do anything of significance, and the tenants range from a ronin to a small-time crook. These people are through several actions offended and threatened by their higher-ups, from local businessmen to leaders of vagabond crews of samurai, until their frustrations pent up to a point where some of them do something about this. The ending, where every single person appears to die, is in all its bleakness borderline comical, however successful in the end due to the way it's pulled off. The best thing, though, is the overall tangible emotion we get out of all these people interacting with one another. The ronin attempting to deliver a letter daily to a local lord, only failing consistently because the man doesn't want to see him, becomes a gripping experience, ending in, what else, but a truth followed by a lie.
This is a dirty comedy in which a drug dealer gets three peeps to pose as his family in an effort to smuggle drugs out of Mexico. He's a selfish ass, and everything goes as you'd expect: They all learn about life and by the end are a single unit, in their own quirky way. But there's an interesting subtext to it: It's a social experiment, underneath all the dirty jokes and incest-filled humor. These people manage to attain, with some credibility, stereotypical roles within their so-called family. Eventually they even realize this, breaking up for a while. It's an interesting progression. It helps that the jokes are pretty funny too.
A diary keeping up with the movies I watch in 2013. Will be writing this in English for a change. Movies arranged from last viewing to earliest. Feel free to disagree with anything I say, or throw me recommendations. Also, beware, I often spoil films while writing about them. Now I don't personally think I spoil anything that's meant to come as a surprise, but I just wrote that so you don't feel offended when I say something that happens in a film you haven't seen yet.