Thursday, April 24, 2014

Movies of 2013, Uncategorized

            Cause nothing gets the blood going like a category with no uniting theme.  Or for that matter anything that was strong enough to merit its own entry... Well, "Rush" was pretty good.

Admission, or "This is really not as humor centric as the advertising led me to believe."
Overall: 5/10
I like all of the actors.... What happened here?
            This seems like two script ideas that were welded together because they have a common underlying theme, that of "admissions" both in the sense of admitting things to oneself, to others, and the most literal of students being admitted to college.
            The main character played by Tina Fey, being Tina Fey (that is not a complaint) works on the admissions staff to Princeton.  Her life is thrown into disorder when Paul Rudd (playing an optimistic Paul Rudd, not complaining) shows up and tells her that he knows the son she gave up for adoption when she was very young.  The rest of the movie is about the characters admitting things to each other, paralleling Tina's attempt to get her son into Princeton without telling him why she is going thru such great effort.
            The funny parts of this movie are not funny enough, and the heartfelt parts are heartfelt enough.  Overall it hangs together as a forgettable paycheck for all involved... Hence why I have so little to say about it... I mean, most of this was just me recapping the plot.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, or "*Sigh*...  I guess I laughed at something."
Overall: 3/10
I like these actors too.  What the hell?
            This movie kind of, sort of, really sucked.  It is not funny enough because they can't commit to one tone.  Sometimes it seems like it will be a dark parody of performers with ballooning egos, which would be fine.  Then it seems like a comeback story of a guy who lost his way, but since the main character is too much of a dick you can't really cheer him to victory.
            There is some competent direction.  Set up and pay off works in the movie (as it should, if it hadn't that would be an unforgivable irony considering the subject matter is magicians which are all about set up and pay off... they made a movie about how important that is to magic, "The Prestige").
            "It should be better" is the quickest summary I can give.  The jokes miss more than hit, the magic is not all that magical, and as I said, the tone is uneven.

Rush, or "The word Rush mostly sums it up honestly."
Overall: 7/10
I had never even heard of the other guy.  Why is this so much better?
            I really like Ron Howard as a director, most of the material he is working with is only 'meh' (like, "the Grinch Stole Christmas" or "A Beautiful Mind" which have issues that go beyond the role of a director).  But when you look at the amazing classic "Apollo 13", or the by-the-numbers sports picture "Cinderella Man" it is clear he knows what he is doing.  I actually want to go back and find a copy of "Frost/Nixon" to see how it worked out, I had no interest before, but now knowing that it was Howard that did it I will give it a go.
            "Rush" is another historical movie with elements of a standard sports story.  And I think the best comparison is to the movie "Warrior".  In "Warrior" there are two protagonists, one is the A-wall marine who suffered trying to take care of his insane and dying mother and now must win big to support the family of his friend who was lost in the war, the other is a well meaning but broke physics teacher past his physical prime that must fight to save his house from foreclosure and gets a big break.  The twist being that they are brothers.
            This movie has that similar modern sports movie feel, it is no longer good enough to have one guy going through an arc to win the prize like Rocky and Daniel-San, instead you need two guys.  Each needs quirks, personality, and a past, preferably all of these things clash, that way the audience gets the added personal drama of cheering for both even though they know only one can win.  And so it is in "Rush".
            Chris "The Son of Odin" Hemsworth, featured prominently in the marketing because he is a big star and looks good naked (ladies and gay men who read this, he gets 99% naked in this movie, you can bet which 1 percent is missing), but he plays the less interesting character.  The brazen daring maverick of the track, the playboy who seeks glory because he wants to be a star at a sport that is dangerous, fast, and thrilling.
            On the other side is Daniel Bruhl, playing the odd looking, nerdy, technical mastermind who sees racing as what he is the best at (he is right) and pushes himself to be the best while at the same time being a dick to every other racer.  He doesn't go to parties, he goes to practice.  Eventually he is badly hurt and his inability to compete becomes Hemsworth's opportunity to step up and become a champion.
            The movie has its fun moments, its drama moments, at a certain point I would have loved to learn more about the various formulas of racing and the how and why they function the way they do, more talk about how engines work, how to steer in turns or use your opponent as a means to save fuel.  I would have liked more technical aspects... I guess that explains why I thought Bruhl had the more interesting character.
            It is a very good movie about a sport I have no interest in.  I actually learned more about it through the movie, and the short burst of curiosity that made me tour Wikipedia than all other instances in my life.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poem, "Ghastly Biz"

4 Shiver shiver
5 up and down my spine
6 message came by river
7 as opposed to a phone line

6 message was wet and smears
5 these bring spirits down
4 but here no tears
5 in this little town

6 Anonymous and lost
7 There will be a handling cost

6 dispose of this garbage
5 that is all she is
4 disregarded,
5 why is this my biz

3 make her gone,
3 from my eye,
3 was pretty,
2 now dead,
2 goodbye

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Movies of 2013, Crime, pt5

Mud, or "Talented child actors?  The hell is this?"
Overall: 9/10
Oh for the halcyon days of McConaughey being in nothing but shit.
            Perhaps the most misleading trailer I have seen since they jokingly recut "Game of Thrones" as a romantic comedy.
            Kind of dripping with visual personality, especially Matthew McConaughey.  The whole movie explores with subtly this small southern town, how complex family dynamics can be, romance, crime... This movie has depth and pacing and is really cool.  There are clever things that show you exactly where the characters are and what they do.  Characters have clever little ideas, like in one scene kids are trying to find a lady in a motel, so they go door to door selling fish so nobody knows that they were there looking for her, that is a simple and clever little plan.
            I don't know why this is so hard to do, but I am giving this movie credit for just being clear and explaining itself well.  Why is that something that deserves an accolade?  Just the idea that a character has a cool name, "Neck Bone", and when he meets someone new they compliment him on his cool name.  You would compliment a kid named Neck Bone, cause that sounds hardcore.  But in a way you have to give credit when a movie does that (some movies... *cough* "Mortal Instruments" *cough* can't do the simple task of just having the characters talking civilly about what the hell is happening).
            The teenage actors act and talk like teenagers, Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland deserve credit in that regard.  Reese Witherspoon plays an emotionally destructive cock tease well, and Michael Shannon plays a nice and laid back guy (complete opposite of General Zod) showing his range of being curious but not having the gall to actually question the kid he is responsible for.

Prisoners, or "I actually did not call the ending.  Good job movie."
Overall: 10/10
There is a thing with Mazes in this movie.
            This is my movie of the year.  It has the look and feel of a David Fincher movie, with a dark and oppressive atmosphere and a plot that unfolds to tension and more mystery rather than just tidy little answers.  It makes good use of foreshadowing, has visual motifs, and themes about cycles of violence and acting with certainty on imperfect information.
            Everyone involved does an excellent job with their parts, and they have a lot of visual personality, you can tell things about them just from a glance and listening to them enriches their characters rather than just confirming what you can tell from looking at them.  Gyllenhaal had a hard time growing up and enforces rules in his adult life, Jackman had a hard time growing up and commits to the ideas of self reliance.  The ending is also really good, with a good bit of ambiguity as to what will ultimately happen.
            There are things in it, like police procedure, that are not by-the-book, and from your personal perspective that would make them more real or less real.  I just thought it just got the story moving well and having everything play out in a not-wholly-procedural-not-wholly-loose-cannon way made things a little more dynamic.  I also can't say the movie was fun, it is about missing children, torture, and murder, it is a less boring "Zodiac" not "Sherlock".

            If you like the HBO series, "True Detective" then watch this movie.