Feb 20 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Well.... at least it's not "Daredevil."

I walked out of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance not really knowing what I had just seen.  It is a terrible movie, but it is unabashedly ambitious in a way that somehow manages to wrestle from the audience something that resembles respect.  Not actual respect, mind you, and not enough of it to warrant any real praise, but there is something so odd about a film this bad, but made with this much passion.

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Jul 15 2011

Rubber

Weird, original and enticing, but very misguided. 2/4

Rubber is about a sentient tire named Robert that rolls around the highways of the American Southwest, becomes infatuated with a young woman, and blows peoples’ heads off via telekinesis.  Naturally, when word of this film hit the Internet early last year, people were understandably perplexed and excited; it was the right side of bizarre.

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Jul 7 2011

Midnight in Paris

Utterly Charming. A True Delight. 4/4.

Since his cinematic move to Europe, Woody Allen has continued experimenting with a variety of styles and genres, ranging from mysteries to romance to morality tales, most of which were of a much darker tone than what one would expect from the famed filmmaker.  In Midnight in Paris, Allen breaks away from this trend and delivers one of his most charming, optimistic films of his career.

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Apr 29 2011

Jesus of Montreal (1990)

Smart, engaging, funny, thoughtful, and doesn't collapse under its own weight. 4 out of 4.

There is a scene early on in Jesus of Montreal in which one of the characters performs a voiceover to a video depicting the Big Bang, and the inevitable end of the universe.  The presentation is both scientific and philosophical, and all in all, quite moving.  After he is done, the voice over artist turns to the sound technician and says, “Leaves a lot unanswered,” a question that not only addresses the cosmology at hand, but the nature of the human experience betwixt the beginning and the end.  In many ways, the scene sums up the film: curious, introspective, and reverent towards scientific explanations and religious experiences.

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Apr 15 2011

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

With a film like this, why even try? Unrateable.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror has become something of a modern day legend over the last two years.  As a recent submission into the pantheon of so-bad-its-rad films like The Room and Troll 2, Birdemic has made its way through the minds of movie geeks everywhere by way of bizarre online trailers and compilations.  Earlier this year, Birdemic was released on DVD and Blu-ray to packs of curious nerds who could finally answer the question: How bad is Birdemic?

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Apr 8 2011

Lo

Creative and ambitious, but not as engaging as it should-or could-be. 2 1/2 out of 4

The best thing about the “Watch It Now” feature on Netflix is the immediate availability of countless kinds of films.  Anyone can casually surf through the Netflix catalog and find themselves watching anything from a Kurosawa film to any one of Troma’s foul-but-fun exploitation pictures.  Granted, half of the fun of cinephilia is happening on some obscure film by accident, whether it be through catching it on a cable station at one in the morning or rummaging through your local video store, but anything that gets people exposed to films slightly to the side of the mainstream is a good thing.

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Mar 31 2011

Sucker Punch

Yes, you will be unprepared... about how terrible this movie is. No stars- see anything else.

sucker punch (suk’r puh-nch) v.  1. A blow or assault made without warning.  2. A harmful act that comes as a surprise and without provocation.  3. A bitch move.

Oddly enough, this aptly describes the experience of watching Sucker Punch.  Who would have thought that the film’s title was more of a summation of the how one was going to feel over the course of 109 minutes?

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Mar 24 2011

Monsters

It may not be a traditional monster movie, but that is its greatest attribute. "Monsters" is thoughtful, human and beautiful: 3.5/4

Monsters is something of a marvel in filmmaking and genre.  Filmmaker Gareth Edwards shot the film with a shoestring budget and a cinema verite approach, which bleeds into the film’s overall style of subtly over spectacle.  Subtly may be something of a blasphemous attribute in regards to the monster move genre, but then again, Monsters greatest strength lies in its very human story.

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Feb 3 2011

Diva (1981)

Dazzling and Thrilling. 3 1/2 out of 4.

The 1980’s was a time when style superseded substance; music, fashion, television and film all seemed more concerned about the way they looked- which is does not mean they had nothing to say.  Granted, while some mediums of pop culture in this era were superficial, others used visuals to tell the story, but most were a little of both, and unabashedly so.

The “cinema du look” movement in France was a response to the French New Wave, in which filmmakers like Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax favored experimenting with visual spectacle rather than with a film’s narrative.  The result was the creative use of primary colors, lighting and mise en scene to create a world that spoke for itself.  Amongst the first cinema du look films was Beineix’s Diva, which was made at the beginning of the decade and set the bar for the rest of the movement.

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Jan 22 2011

The Mechanic (1972)

Though it lacks some hard-hitting, Bronson-approved violence, it is oddly thought provoking. 3 out of 4

Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner are most famous for their work on the Death Wish series, which set the tone for shoot ‘em up revenge movies for years to come.  The Mechanic, in which Bronson plays a hit man for a criminal organization, may carry similar bang-bang expectations, but many will be surprised that the film is a bit slower and more clever than anything the two did in Death Wish.

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