- Death Proof
The easiest way to ignore a Tarantino movie these days is to complain that you were bored by the dialogue. Fair enough. But I admired the symmetry of the movie's seemingly simple structure and the way that the longing and vulnerability of the characters in the first half (an adolescent restlessness that's implicit in the horror movie set-up) is transformed into empowered kick-assery in the second (nuts and bolts film-making being Quentin's skewed version of adult professionalism). In the end, Despair becomes Joy by way of fast cars and another classic soundtrack.
- Kung Fu Panda
Cute. Funny. Short.
- Point Break (1991)
Keanu. Swayze. Busey. There should have been Oscars handed out for this thing, it's so genius. The FBI tracks down The Ex-Presidents, a gang of bank robbers who just happen to also be deeply spiritual surfers and adrenalin junkies. It's John from Cincinnati meets The Bourne Identity meets The Dark Knight with Dr. Perry from Scrubs. Groundbreaking in almost every way. Even the meatball sandwiches sound good. Two.
- Quantum of Solace
An unwatchable blur of burned out images. What should have been the Empire Strikes Back of neo-Bond is so boring and overly stylized that it leaves almost no impression whatsoever. Even Judi Dench's M seems perplexed by the odd turn of events.
- There Will Be Blood
It's sort of a masterpiece, possessing all of the grandeur of The Godfather and, in the character of Daniel Plainview, the tragic monomania of another Citizen Kane. But there's no joy in the movie, and nothing resembling human life in the thinness of the supporting characters. The character of the young preacher is simply no match for the ferocity of Daniel Day-Lewis's oil man.
- Tropic Thunder
A movie that builds all its comedy into the ingeniousness of its many premises and set-ups, but is sometimes too knowing and self-aware to be actually funny. Robert Downey Jr. is genius. Tom Cruise is crude. It's funny to watch Matthew McConaughey play Wii Tennis, but he's no Ari Gold. The manic third act is indistinguishable from a bad Chuck Norris flick.
There is a dulling sameness to the imagery and pacing that ultimately derails the adaptation. When every image is this beautiful and every moment this grand, it leaves you with nothing to hold onto and nowhere to breathe. The movie works best when the flashbacks are able to stall the narrative and restore the episodic feel of Alan Moore's original. The comic, after all, was not just a cold-war story, but a modernist artwork that relied on the accumulation of a thousand tiny details over 12 chapters, the juxtaposition of incompatible images and ideas, and the poetic rhythms of free association.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Stuff I've Been Watching