Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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If You Like All Things Mini, You'll Love This Post

So, as none of you may recall, I posted a poll with movies I needed to clear off my DVR. Now, over five months later, I have watched them all! Let's talk.

Howl's Moving Castle (English dub): Nice little fantasy story that reminded me of Princess Tutu (Sophie is Ahiru and Howl is Mytho with more personality). The plot doesn't entirely hang together and I didn't understand the Witch's motivations at all, nor the war, but the titular moving castle is cool enough to make up for it. Calcifer and Turniphead are the best! A-

Monster House: Not bad, but nothing terribly special either. Although the girl in the trio is a redhead, which is unusual. A good kids' movie, but not too much bonus appeal for an older audience. Except that the uvula is a plot point. Now I want to see a Monster House vs. Moving Castle deathmatch. B-

Millions: It's like Shallow Grave for children! I didn't know this movie was so strange and surreal. There are a lot of fun stylistic touches, plus the kid talks to saints. And oh man, the kid (Damian) is awesome. He cracked me up and brought tears to my eyes. Between this and Slumdog Millionaire, I think Danny Boyle is really good with children. Well worth checking out if you like stories about people finding a shitload of money and testing their ethics. Bonus: awesome use of Muse! A

Miller's Crossing: The Coen Brothers do gangster noir. I was bored and confused for the first half an hour or so, but the movie steadily improved as I began to understand who everyone was and who wanted whom dead (although I never quite figured out WHY, exactly, but that's not really the point in noir since the answer is always money, sex, or power [or a combination]). Gabriel Byrne never loses his cool as tough guy Tom Reagan, and Jon Polito is a hoot as the ethical, proud, blustering Johnny Caspar. It's well acted and well made, but it didn't really DO a lot for me. B/B+

A Scanner Darkly: Visually interesting paranoia, and Robert Downey, Jr. and Woody Harrelson are pretty amusing, but mostly, I didn't know what the hell was going on and why I should care. I thought the story was going to be more about dual identities, and instead it seemed to be about drug addiction. It felt ultimately pointless, despite some cool sci-fi bits here and there. C+

Natural Born Killers: My first Oliver Stone movie. Or should I say, my first Oliver Stone mishmash of images. Do all his movies look like they were put together by a crack-addled monkey? The film switches between cinematographies and formats with no abandon and for no apparent reason, even throwing up projections in the background. It's technically proficient and cool, but what's the point? It's supposed to be a satire of the media's obsession of violence, but it's not funny. And the movie seems more focused on showing us that Mickey and Mallory are awesome than seriously criticizing the media culture. It's not subtle or intelligent. It's mostly bizarre and pointless. The best scene in the movie is Gale's interview with Mickey, and the film may have been more successful if it had been more truly contemplative. Props for Nine Inch Nails, though. C+

The Player: I thought this would be a complex, multilayered narrative like Nashville, which is the only other Altman film I've seen and which I really liked, but instead it focuses completely on one unsympathetic protagonist, an asshole film executive harassed by a writer he once screwed over. The story doesn't really go anywhere, and it's amusing at times but not as funny a Hollywood satire as I'd hoped. It seems to be most notable for its impressive opening tracking shot and the string of celebrity cameos. B

Gosford Park: Jesus shit, half of England is in this movie! Plus Ryan Phillippe, who has a date with a hot glass of milk. This Altman film unexpectedly had some pretty funny Hollywood jokes for a movie set in 1932. It's a murder mystery where the murder doesn't occur until over halfway through the movie and is largely beside the point. Because there is a LOT going on in this movie; if you don't listen to everything everyone says, you'll miss stuff. There are a couple dozen characters, and I couldn't keep track of them all. They say a lot of things. Wikipedia confirms that I missed an entire subplot, at least. It's an interesting look at ye olde English class structure. Lords and ladies and servants. Kelly Macdonald is adorable! She was my favorite. B+

The Apartment: Billy Wilder, how are you so awesome? Jack Lemmon is adorable as the nice-guy insurance man who rents out his apartment to executives for their affairs in exchange for a rise up the corporate ladder, and Shirley MacLaine is heartbreaking as the elevator girl whom he dotes on. It's a romantic comedy and a corporate satire all in one. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll play some cards. There is nothing wrong with this movie. A+

Syriana: So I basically had no idea what was going on for most of the movie. There was a lot of talk about oil and assassinations and Middle Eastern leaders and corruption and then there were a couple explosions. The movie was oddly riveting even though I couldn't follow it, though. And I really loved the musical score. B

The Princess and the Warrior: It's Run Lola Run 2: The Runnening! Or not. Franka Potente gets hit by a truck, and she seeks out the mystery man who saved her life so they can live happily ever after or whatever. Except it's not that simple. This is a strange movie that doesn't go where you expect it to. I had no idea a mental hospital and a bank robbery were involved, for instance. The movie is needlessly complex for all the wrong reasons, and there is random surrealist bullshit at the end that's confusing until you realize it's a giant anvil. The music is good, of course, and it's strangely compelling anyway, if slow. It could be a good movie if it figured out what the hell story it wanted to tell. Mostly, it made me want to watch Run Lola Run again. C+/B-

subUrbia: I saw the play at Rice and really loved it, so I was interested in the movie, which pretty much feels like an adaptation of the play, so...good for it? It's got a lot of good actors, and every now and then location changes or motion make it feel like more like a movie, but it is essentially still the story of a bunch of slackers complaining about slacking, and I am feeling a lot less aimless than I did in college. It doesn't speak to me as much anymore; mostly, I just want to tell the characters to shut up and get over themselves. B/B+

The 400 Blows: A schoolboy goes to school and goes home and skips school and goes home and goes to school and runs away and goes to school and goes home and goes to school and goes home and goes to school and runs away and then finally the movie gets remotely interesting in the last half hour. Except even then it continues to be so boring. So boring. SO FUCKING BORING. This is one of the GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME or whatever, but it does absolutely nothing for me. I have no idea at all why it's so acclaimed. There were only 2 blows, and I spent the rest of the movie waiting for the other 398. Then there was 1 more, but I was still owed 397. Yes, I now know the title refers to a French idiom, but I reserve the right to rant absurdly. Whatever, French New Wave. Whatever, Truffaut. Now, like my innocence, pie gone. D

Great Expectations: I was only interested in this movie because of Alfonso Cuarón. Apparently, he likes the color green, and the entire movie is almost comically green. Everyone wears green shirts and green dresses and they practically blend into the wallpaper; it's ridiculous. The adaptation focuses almost entirely on Pip Finn and Estella, and it's very sexy (pre-teen kissing should NOT be that hot...) and he draws her vagina and stuff, and you do really feel how goddamn manipulative and awful she is (although she appears to truly like him a lot more than I thought she did in the book, which had less nudity, if I recall) but the whole enterprise sort of feels lifeless, as if it's just running like clockwork. It doesn't help that they gut the convict subplot and take out all the humor. One of the things I love about the book is how funny it is! There are some interesting shots here and there, but as a fan of the book, I was not impressed. B-

Spellbound: Not the documentary about the National Spelling Bee nor the Christopher Pike novel but Hitchcock's psychotherapy flick about a psychoanalyst who falls in love with an amnesiac who may be a murderer. They evade the police and try to figure out his childhood trauma (and his more recent trauma). The big selling point is supposed to be the Dali-designed dream sequence, but it only lasts a couple minutes! The movie is a little slow and not as exciting as other Hitchcock movies, which is understandable and appropriate when the story centers on psychoanalysis instead of psychopaths. There are some weird first-person shots scattered throughout the movie as if Hitchcock was just wondering how they would play to an audience. It keeps bouncing between meh and good, but it ends up more on the positive side, especially if you like Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, of course. B/B+

What movies can you look forward to agreeing and disagreeing with me on? Here's a look at coming attractions. Vote for ones you recommend!

Poll #1426175 Movies I have not yet seen

Which movies do you think make the grade?

The Deer Hunter
Shoot 'Em Up
Edward Scissorhands
The Omen
Almost Famous
Michael Clayton
Shadow of the Vampire
Black Sheep [the one about mutant killer sheep]
Be Kind Rewind
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
A Fish Called Wanda
The Night of the Hunter
Tags: books, making the grade, movies, poll, rice
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