Monday, July 23, 2007

Movies I watched last week (plus a few I forgot from the week before that), from favorite to least.

While watching the film, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of "holy shit" moments equal to the monster's first appearance on land, and the mix of uncompromising wit and sentimentality made me slightly uneasy (I cared about everyone and nothing could be predicted). In hindsight, knowing the film never devolves into arbitrary cruelty, I'm impressed by how John-Hoo Bong pulled off the co-existence. The family, maudlin when they're not cranky and almost pathetically bound together, makes the stream of metaphors and social commentary emotionally resonant whether or not you know anything about Korean history. And as Joshua Clover notes, the movie makes you want to know more. It's a rare film I like more after watching it, and a rare film I want to see more than once.

Peter Segal and Elliott Gould are compulsive gamblers on a bender, Robert Altman directs. A must-see for fans of the above, though if you're already a fan the pleasures are almost too predictable.

Outcast teenage girls deal with burgeoning womanhood and lycanthropy. In high school, I would have been crushing big time.

Roger Corman obviously felt that Bonnie & Clyde lacked titty, and while I prefer the original, I'm sympathetic to his corrective endeavor.

The references to incest and scatology lose their effectiveness fast, and I'm not sure why Gilbert Gottfried's performance was so outstanding to anyone other than Rob Schneider, but you get a lot of funny from a lot of funny people here, including some comedians who haven't had an act worth a damn in years.

While I enjoyed the comic asides and constant ironies enough to ignore Jeanne Moreau's allegedly passionate wandering, the last scene really annoyed me: how the hell did the scheming lovers take such magazine-worthy photos of themselves traipsing through the woods with a tiny spy-camera? Was there a third person taking the shots and telling them when to pose? Louis Malle wouldn't have made this kind of mistake later in his career.

David Fincher keeps his fetishistic indulgences in relative check (I guess you have to forgive him one slo-mo murder set to "Hurdy Gurdy Man"), but he doesn't replace them with anything other than accomplished digital. His infamous endless takes and re-shoots effectively make the cast look tired, and no one acts below their well-established game (Chloe Sevigny even tries to make the frustrated wife of the obsessive hero less shrill than usual). Still, the emotional toll on the characters is neither as engaging nor as effectively expressed as the true-crime details. 70 takes isn't just a sign of a perfectionist, but of a director who doesn't know how to get what he wants.

It has a genuinely intriguing concept and images that still marvel ten years deeper into CGIety, so its status as a cult sci-fi classic is more than deserved. It also stars Keifer Sutherland as a genius scientist, so the word "cult" isn't going anywhere.

Pretty dry even for a '70s Walter Matthau comedy, but it picks up steam once it focuses on the former company man's sneaky getaways. Both this and The Host feature a character putting a paper clip on the end of a plug to cause a blackout and evade capture, and I swear I've never seen that in a film before this week.

The story's problems are pretty standard Stephen King: corny childhood camraderie continued through adulthood, promising scares that devolve into a cosmically boring battle between good and evil. What makes the film exceptionally batty is that the screenwriter preserved all of King's most ridiculous details, while the director filmed them in the most matter-of-fact manner possible. Oddly, they're both Lawrence Kasdan. Donnie Wahlberg plays a sickly, retarded alien made of pure love, Morgan Freeman has magical eyebrows and Jason Lee tries to reach for a toothpick while keeping a murderous alien worm trapped under his toilet seat.

This trailer features kicking and Paul Rudd's bottle blond mane. They're the two reasons I rented this, and the two things worth seeing it for.

Freddy Rodriguez will someday have a very popular TV detective show and Christian Bale needs to stop trying out American accents, or at least stick to one per movie.

I love Jim Carrey for deciding to make a Joel Schumacher sex thriller at this point in his career (most of his breed just stick to comedies and Oscar bait), especially one in which he plays both a sociopathic dogcatcher and a tatooed saxophonist detective named Fingerling who fucks to She Wants Revenge. Sadly, the twist requires so much exposition that both sex and thrills get lost in the shuffle.

The only theatrical movie Peter Bogdanovich has done over the last decade, and if it wasn't for the celebrities in the wasted cast, you'd never guess it wasn't made for TV.

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