Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Other 2008 Films I Was Excited To See In February (And Have Since)

Favorite to least.

The 28 Days Later Project, starring Emily Rose and the dude from Hostel. So entertaining that I'm not actually sure the original foreign film would be better! Can't remember when everyone took stupid pills (which always happens in thrillers so the movie doesn't end with someone hiding until its safe), so it couldn't have been that annoying when they did.

In Bruges
We really need to stop making our smartest, most inventive and most colorful comedies about hit men. There has to be a way to make one without shooting everybody in the head. There has to.

Funny Games
Exactly like the original, which I wanted to see again. Now prepared for his cold-hearted didacticism, I appreciate Michael Haneke films for their Hitchcock times Kubrick craft. He's a reliable source of cheap thrills, not unlike John Carpenter. How ironic!

Lakeview Terrace
Not quite absurd enough to do for race what The Wicker Man did for sex, but I hope Neil LaBute keeps trying.

Paranoid Park
An hour-long after school special about a disenfranchised closet case and a half-hour of slow-motion shots of teen boys on skateboards, seamlessly combined by someone who's done this all before.

Josh Hartnett tries so hard.

First Sunday
Katt Williams doesn't need good lines to be funny, but, apparently, Tracy Morgan does.

Rachel Getting Married

It's funny to hear people talk about Rachel Getting Married as Jonathan Demme's comeback: I might have enjoyed the film a lot more if I wasn't familiar with his work. Neil Young, Robyn Hitchcock, Sister Carol and that cross-eyed dude could have come off as inspired quirk rather than self-parody. I might have even credited the wedding's cultural mishmash (like Janeane Garofalo watching Speed, I kept waiting for an Eskimo with a spear) to the underwritten characters ("a bunch of virtuous, good-hearted people who will manage to work out all of their problems, live happily ever after, and vote for Obama," Village Voice), rather than the director. But with no explanation provided, I had blame the film's multi-culti madness on Demme, whose tastes I know more about than Rachel's.

If I wasn't familiar with Melvin And Howard and Married To The Mob, it might not depress me that the director uses cinema verite to cloak the Lifetime melodrama in Jenny Lumet's script - don't give away the shocking family trauma, viewers, or your friends may not enjoy piecing together the clues! My disappointment with Demme is what keeps me from pondering quality performances like Debra Winger's detached mom (even more impressive when you know how easily she can seduce an audience) and instead grumbling about how she's used for a cheap "fight the real enemy," Ordinary People climax. It's hard to accept how dishonest and lazy he can be when ostensibly set free.

Thursday, April 23, 2009