Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Tales from Netflixenstan

It has been less than a month since my last batch of capsule movie reviews! It turns out that when you're paying for Netflix, you find the time to watch more movies! Which is good for everyone.

Blue Velvet: In honor of Dennis Hopper, I finally watched my first David Lynch movie. Kyle Maclachlan finds a severed ear in a field in his idyllic small town, which, like all fictional small towns, has a dark underbelly. With the help of Laura Dern, he investigates the prime suspect, Isabella Rosselini. Then he becomes embroiled in a world of sexual perversion and violence that involves Dennis Hopper saying "fuck" in nearly every sentence he speaks. I had no idea what to expect from this movie, and it turned out to be so family-friendly. Kinky sex! Nudity! Dismemberment! Honestly, the whole ordeal seems like a pointless exercise in being really fucked-up, but it's David Lynch, so there has to be more. Just like Lumberton, there's more beneath the surface. It's a strange world. B/B+

The Thaw: Last year, Seanan was really interested in getting her hands on this movie, so when I saw that it was available on OnDemand, I had to check it out. So you know how An Inconvenient Truth tried to scare global warming into you with PowerPoint? This movie decides that parasites are a better approach. Global warming thaws out a well-preserved woolly mammoth, but Summer Glau isn't involved, so it doesn't hop up and eat people or whatever. The real danger is the prehistoric parasite it's hosting, and renowned ecologist and global warming enthusiast Val Kilmer is on the case! Meanwhile, four college students (including his daughter and none other than Icetwin himself, Aaron Ashmore) find themselves trapped in a cabin with the bugs. There's lots of grossness because this is a parasite movie, but if you can handle that, it's actually a pretty good parasite movie, not necessarily for the horror aspects—which are fine and well done—but for the underlying theme of Scaring People into Action. Val Kilmer's daughter thinks we're incapable of change and the world's going to end, but Aaron Ashmore thinks if you start blowing shit up, people will wake up and Do Something. Who's right? And, more importantly, how many characters will actually make it out of this movie alive? B/B+

Following: I actually own this movie on VHS, but upanashad has had my VCR for, like, two years or something, so I was happy to find it on Instant Watch. In Christopher Nolan's first movie, a writer decides to start following people. Just following them and seeing where they go. Character work, as it were. He has all sorts of rules...which he then breaks. He follows the wrong guy, who turns out to be a burglar who takes him under his wing. Then things get complicated, as the narrative goes non-linear and the plot turns noir. There are several neat twists as the parts of the story start to come together and the missing pieces are revealed. It's a simple film, shot in black-and-white, but it has all the trademark themes and narrative hijinks of Nolan's non-Batman movies. A-

Conan the Barbarian: In preparation for my Agnes the Barbarian audition, I put this movie at the top of my Netflix queue. It's terrible! But it's awesomely bad. I submit to you the scene in which CONAN PUNCHES A CAMEL IN THE FACE. That is one of the more interesting things that happens in this movie, which is surprisingly boring. I couldn't be arsed to stay fully awake and missed an entire subplot. This is supposed to be one of the best sword-and-sorcery flicks there is. Um. Maybe sword-and-sorcery flicks aren't very good? I know I loved shit like Willow and Legend and Krull when I was a kid. But this movie...is not very good. The writing is bad, the acting is bad, everything is bad. Except the production values, which are actually pretty good. And Arnold Schwarzenegger has a lot of muscles and wields a sword quite well. I will give it a point for having Mako. C+/B-

In Bruges: Martin McDonagh, of The Pillowman and The Lieutenant of Inishmore fame, wrote and directed a movie this one time, and it has all of his trademarks. Colin Farrell is a hitman who accidentally kills a boy and hides out in Bruges with Brendan Gleeson, where they play tourist and he hits on a cute Belgian woman. Bruges, which he describes as a shithole, becomes a sort of Purgatory for him, as he struggles with the guilt and what to do next. Meanwhile, their boss, Ralph Fiennes, is not pleased with this turn of events and curses a lot. The film contains the graphic violence and hilarious black humor you expect from McDonagh, but set against the fairytale backdrop of Bruges. Plus, he found a dwarf actor who is not Peter Dinklage. B+

Dog Soldiers: Since I loved The Descent, I wanted to see Neil Marshall's first movie, which I'd heard was like a male version of The Descent with werewolves. Basically, you have a team of soldiers being hunted by a pack of werewolves. That's...pretty much the movie. The werewolves are large, looming beasties, and they're men in suits rather than CGI, which is always refreshing, if somewhat cheesy. It's a good horror movie, and the one female character is not just a useless love interest, but it lacks the interesting character dynamics of The Descent. As I said, there just isn't much else to the movie besides Soldiers vs. Werewolves, which was disappointing. But it's a well done horror flick, if you don't mind entrails. Inappropriate Matrix references for the win? B/B+

Toy Story: Like most people, I had a favorable impression of this movie in my mind, but I hadn't seen it in forever. In preparation for Toy Story 3, though, I wanted to see how it held up. And, you guys? It is still totally great. Hell, even the animation still looks impressive. The motion is a little jerky at times, and the faces are a little weird, but Pixar came out of the gate pretty awesome. The movie is stupid clever, the characters are well defined and interesting, and the kiddie existentialism actually works. There is practically nothing wrong with this movie. A

Toy Story 2: This movie, like the previous one, has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, except with twice the reviews. Is it really that good? Yes. Yes it is. It has all the strengths of the first movie, plus it manages to be more emotionally affecting and thematically rich. Pixar makes you care more about fucking toys than you care about some human characters in other movies. Holy crap, "When She Loved Me" is like the precursor to the Up montage. I...I...something just got into my eye, it was weird. I can appreciate how smart the movie is now, as well as how it uses toys to comment on life, loss, and loneliness. A+

Josie and the Pussycats: Rachael Leigh Cook (vocals, guitar), Rosario Dawson (bass), and Tara Reid (drums) are pretty and adorable as Josie and the Pussycats, a rock band rocketed to stardom by Alan Cumming and Parker Posey...as part of a secret conspiracy to brainwash the teenagers of America with subliminal messages forcing them to consume, consume, consume! It's an extremely over-the-top and obvious satire of consumerism and the music industry: there is product placement UP THE ASS (it's your backdoor lover), even though they didn't take a cent for it. It's also the first movie I've seen in a while that passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. Parker Posey doesn't even try to act and instead has way too much fun playing the villain. This is a silly, campy, frequently hilarious movie, and as a bonus, the songs are actually good. B+/A-

Team America: World Police: This is one of those movies that's really popular in that "What? You haven't seen it? It's so great!!" kind of way. But, given how brilliant the South Park movie was, I was pretty disappointed. As a satire of American global policy and Hollywood actors, it's pretty funny. Just the very idea of the movie—that America goes around policing the world, fuck yeah!—is a good one that's taken to proper extremes. There are several pretty good jokes and running gags. But as a parody of action movies, it is much less successful. Everything is played far too straight so that the only joke is that they're puppets. I kept waiting for the undercut, but it rarely came. A lot of the movie seems to be "Oh, look, it's puppets! That's funny!! And gross!" But yeah, the songs are pretty good. B

Adventureland: This movie was hyped as being "From the director of Superbad," but it has pretty much nothing in common with it. It's not really a comedy, even; it's more of a coming-of-age drama. Jesse Eisenberg (less Michael Cera-esque here than he is in Zombieland) has to work a summer job after college at Adventureland, a crappy amusement park where his bosses are Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig doing their usual thing. He has a sweet, complicated romance with Kristen Stewart. Plus, Martin Starr basically acts like Roman from Party Down, and Ryan Reynolds...is Ryan Reynolds. It's kind of slow, but it's very sweet and honest and it treats its characters like people, for the most part. B+

I am totally addicted to Netflix, you guys. I keep rating movies and adding movies to my queue and rearranging my queue and I could spend, like, an entire week just watching shit on Instant Watch. THAT IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION.
Tags: making the grade, movies, pimpings
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