August 2013 Movie Journal - Xanadon't
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At the Movies
Not a bad film, but there was a lot of missed opportunity here. The scope of the film is severely limited when it comes to exploring the world(s) the movie inhabits, and as the movie boils down to "Die Hard in Space" meets a somewhat blandly predictable "aw, shucks" martyr story, the unrealized potential for more really became glaring.
No one ever emerges as a satisfying antagonist, and consequently the second half of the film is faced with yet more troubles. But, uh... the special effects look pretty good. Damon showed up for his role. And... well... no, the movie isn't very special, is it?
It's a horror movie that isn't laughably bad, and is even a bit creepy and once in a while frightening. Which apparently is enough to make it the most talked about horror film of the year so far.
I didn't anticipate it going in, but The Conjuring feels like a bid to become this generation's The Exorcist or Amityville Horror. Part of me admires this level of ambition, but another part felt the movie failed as often as it succeeded in it's attempt to become a big important horror event.
Also, The Conjuring just got too damn religion-y for my taste. I get that movies that deal in the supernatural are naturally inclined to delve into spiritual territory. And spiritual stuff, afterlife stuff, etc. is a-ok by me in the horror genre. I just get tired of priests showing up, holy water being splashed about, and "the power of Christ" compelling things left and right. At that point there's not much scary left in store for me. Mostly just eye-rolling, boredom, unintentional humor, or disappointed groans.
Also, I felt that daughter #1 did a mediocre job, daughter #2 was pretty strong, daughter #3 was better yet, daughter #4 was fucking terrible, and daughter #5 was uneven and ultimately unimpressive. I'm fucking lying of course. I don't remember a damn thing about any of the five daughters a week and a half after seeing the movie, because there are five of them and how could that ever work in a movie's favor? Answer: it couldn't. So no, probably The Conjuring isn't an instant horror classic, for starters because instant horror classics very rarely (never) have 5 members of one principle family that are all entirely forgettable or underdeveloped as characters. Imagine if the Torrence family consisted of 5 young children. Now imagine how much shittier The Shining would've been.
I really hope (and cautiously expect) that the Insidious sequel does more for me than this one did.
The Kings of Summer (2013)
I liked this movie even better than my rating would suggest. What I mean is that it has sufficient "inadequacies" from a cinema/story telling standpoint to warrant an 8, yet the movie feels in my heart like a 9.
Essentially a series of rich people dying bloody deaths. There really isn't much more to it than that, despite a couple of limp "twists" that simply aren't anywhere near smart or powerful enough to lend the film an interesting dimension. In fact I kind of wish they had gone with the title, Rich Folks Eat Shit. Certainly this would've prevented any of my local theaters from picking it up, and then I'd have been free to watch the new Woody Allen movie instead.
This is a grisly affair and most of the gore and kill scenes are impressive from a technical standpoint, but it's all just nihilism without a brain. The corny synthesizer score is more memorable (and maybe agreeable) than any of the under-developed characters, but the camera work is often a jumbled and shaky mess. While some people might point to the dark humor that is supposedly present as one possible avenue for appreciation, I didn't observe much that passed for morbidly funny or particularly clever. And there isn't much evidence that any supposed instances of comedy are necessarily intentional-- sometimes a clumsy line of dialogue is simply a clumsy line of dialogue and you can just leave ideas about self-awareness in the can. Of course, none of the arguments for or against the movie much matter if you simply want to turn your brain off for 90 minutes and count how many badass-looking throat slashes can be achieved on a 1.5 million dollar production budget. And really this is about the only approach the film deserves.
The World's End (2013)
The Spectacular Now (2013)
Nice performances from the two leads, but a number of shortcomings in the script kept this from striking me as the truly special movie it's been hyped up to be.
I was charmed hear and there while watching it, but more and more things keep creeping up and pissing me off since.
Off the New Release Wall
Drinking Buddies (2013)
Coffee Town (2013)
Sleepwalk with Me (2013)
West of Memphis (2012)
I didn't bring as much to the table as I'd hoped, so I don't think it's "required viewing" if you've already seen the Paradise Lost series...
The Imposter (2012)
Totally fucking bizarre story-- almost unbelievably so. Leaves many questions, but in the satisfying kind of way.
The Other Dream Team (2012)
A little bit all over the place, and ultimately not structured in a way that adds much interest to whatever level the viewer so happens to bring along on their own.
I was forced to split this into two separate viewing sessions which really pissed me off since I found the film delightfully moody and mesmerizing. I already want to watch it again.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Fell asleep. Which was exactly the idea, so this is not a judgement against the movie.
See above. Also, wouldn't be opposed to giving it a try at a "decent hour".
The Taste of Others (2000)
The Loneliest Planet (2012)
Put me to sleep.
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