intertribal: (leather)
Oh, and while I'm at it: Godzilla --

-- was not as good as Cloverfield or Pacific Rim.  By a long-shot, in my opinion.  The trailer is a lot better than the movie - there's an apocalyptic solemnity in the trailer that's quite convincing, but lacking in the movie, which feels like a throwback to the 1990s' style of fluffy blockbuster without any of the humor or star power.  I really didn't understand what was going on with the plot, even though I suspect it was very simple - the movie rushed through its clumsily-delivered explanations.

The audience didn't take it too seriously either - everyone could not help laughing when Ken Watanabe ominously intoned, "Gojira," and everyone clapped for Godzilla's power move kill shot at the end.  It was the kind of movie that had L. suggesting that Godzilla should have just gone ahead and done a little salute at the end.  It was corny.

What I love about Pacific Rim is that it's scary, and it builds its world extremely well.  I bought the world of Pacific Rim as a world in which these gigantic monsters keep popping up and destroying cities, for years and years on end, and humanity has more or less altered to live with it.  The indie movie Monsters is the best example of this sort of creativity, but Pacific Rim has a bold, neon, all-in shamelessness in its world-building that I loved.  (Also, Raleigh and Mako ugh I can't)  I mean, for God's sake, the entire Ron Perlman character. Godzilla has none of that. Godzilla is bland - camo-toned and humorless and flat.

And what I love about Cloverfield is its sincere, hysterical emotion.  You hate those stupid yuppies but damn if they don't seem like real people.  Damn if this doesn't seem like what would actually fucking happen if you were living in New York City and a monster attacked.  What struck me about Godzilla was how utterly calm everyone seemed to be.  The military, the civilians - it was almost like people had to be reminded to run, to scream, to act scared.  Bryan Cranston was the only person who seemed to be articulating his emotions, and as a result actually looked a little out-of-place.

In other words, Godzilla didn't seem to believe in itself.  Which is too bad.

I will say, though, I would love to watch a giant monster movie compilation set to Iggy Azalea's "Change Your Life" ("pop out your past life and I'll renovate your future/ yeah I love your hustle baby, just let me add a little bit of muscle, baby").  Seriously, something like this set to "Change Your Life"?  Would be amazing.

iggy muscle
intertribal: (can't look)
Everything good about the Twilight movies goes away in Twilight Eclipse.

Remember those nice little action montages set to Thom Yorke's "Hearing Damage" or the nice little emo sequences set to Lykke Li's "Possibility"?  Gone.  The soundtrack - which, having downloaded it, I know continues to be good - is barely used (they have freakin' Florence and the Machine and don't use it, people).  We just get the generic "score" instead.  And while the action is okay for a teenage vampire movie, the cinematographic flair that made Twilight and New Moon pleasant viewing experiences has been replaced by choppy, rigid scenes with no emotional or artistic texture.  I blame the new director, David Slade, who seems to be trying to make Twilight as generic and simple as possible.  And honestly, I can watch the stuff in the next two paragraphs with a little teeth-grinding if at least the presentation gives me something

The classism-infused love triangle between vampire, human, and werewolf becomes downright intolerable in Eclipse.  I became thankful for the sloppy flashbacks into some of the vampires' early lives just because it meant a cut away from Edward, Bella, and Jacob.  Edward's control-freak-ness goes up a notch in this one, Bella just kind of wanders around looking far more vapid and hapless and dolled up than she did in New Moon, and Jacob is totally masochistically deluded.  Jacob and Edward argue about what's best for Bella incessantly, while Bella either sleeps or says "hey stop" or shoves her fists in her hoodie, looking totally ineffectual.  Bella herself seems totally unable to have a conversation, so maybe I don't blame them, but the entire movie basically depends on all the good vampires and the werewolves risking their lives to protect Bella and why?  At the very end Bella finally gives us some semblance of a sense of self when she explains why she wants to become a vampire, but geez, too little too late.  Bella's previously awesome dad Charlie is reduced to one-liners and hee-hawing about teen sex.  Bella's friends are non-existent.  Maybe this is all supposed to represent her having to say goodbye to her friends and family by becoming a vampire.  Of course, Edward's family continues to consist of boring statues.  None of the villains are scary or convincing or... much of anything.  The Volturi, who I actually thought were pretty ok in New Moon, serve no purpose here, and I actually cringed at Dakota Fanning's delivery a couple times.  All the acting and dialogue is on par with a bad network sitcom.

Then there's the ARRGH social dynamics.  Given the historical record of vampires and werewolves in Washington, I am totally on the werewolves' side.  History: aristocratic (very WHITE) vampire shows up in the 1800s or whatever and kills two or three Indian women.  Werewolves kill the vampire.  The one vampire.  Aristocratic (very WHITE) female vampire shows up to avenge his death by killing the ENTIRE Indian village.  Yes, welcome to the history of the fucking world, thank you so much for showing this to us while at the same time telling us that vampires are awesome, Twilight.  Not only are vampires a symbol of race/class privilege, they're now imperialists as well.  How fantastic.  I cannot wait for Breaking Dawn. 

P.S. My friend, a Twilight fan, really liked this movie, and hated New Moon.  So, FWIW.
intertribal: (stu and tatum; scream)
I'm watching Tooth And Nail, which is one of those After Dark Horrorfest attempting-to-be-indie horror movies.  It's a post-apocalyptic cannibals vs. non-cannibals movie, and it isn't very good or original, except for this: I am totally rooting for the cannibals. 

Q.  Do I fail by default?

kick ass

Apr. 21st, 2010 11:29 pm
intertribal: (if the bible tells you so)
Well, that was weird.  Not too sure what to say because I'm not too sure what the movie was trying to say (if anything). 

The violence is there, in all its Kill Bill-esque gory glory.  People get microwaved, limbs get amputated, bazookas are fired.  None of it is particularly remarkable or horrific, even when it's being delivered by a 10-year-old girl.  I dunno, maybe anime ruined the big "shock" of this imagery for me.  In the beginning I was more squirming out of the discomfort that we basically have a heroic band of WASPs fighting (and beating up) lower-class minorities.

Then there's the sort of... satiric?... aspect of it.  I'm not sure it works because it's kind of lacking in the whole self-reflection thing.  In The Loop is good satire.  Complete, thorough, spare-no-one brutality.  Kick Ass is like... hey, I'm doing this superhero thing tongue-in-cheek, and by tongue-in-cheek I mean I take tropes of superhero movies and turn the dial up from 3 to 5, and then - get this - I don't push it to its logical conclusion.  Oh and, the 10-year-old girl and her revenge-obsessed father's "half" of the movie is pretty... not sarcastic. 

Then of course there's the white-male-dweeb perspective on the whole thing, because what movie is complete without this perspective?  (answer: movies I like).  Unfortunate when the most engaging character is the 10-year-old girl.  This is one reason I stick to mainstream action movies, see, even bucket-o-fail ones like Clash of the Titans.  I don't constantly feel like I'm getting shoved out of the tree house. 

There are some genuine moments in this movie, where it does seem to look back on itself and what "this all means."  Like when the titular hero looks at himself in the mirror and sees that he is utterly bloodied and battered.  Or even the first time he's beaten up.  In moments like that you do see a great, genuinely disturbing and dark movie lurking underneath.  But there's very little commitment to this vibe.  It's kind of like that obligatory moment of silence and then the quick rush back into whatever it was we were doing before.  Hey, since he got beaten up he's got iron plates to make him withstand pain!  Oh.  Well then.

I don't know.  If you liked Zombieland, you'll probably like this.  I am pretty much totally with Tim Brayton: "the most sickening part of the whole circus is the film's palpable desire to be seen as beyond the pale, just the right thing to shock the squares while all the cool hip kids get to assert their aesthetic superiority over the moralising blue-hairs... If Kick-Ass were genuinely outrageous, that would be something, at least; but by and large, it's just effing dull... It wants to be edgy and nasty and delightfully cruel, but that very certainty in its own cleverness forbids it from being anything else than so much clockwork."
intertribal: (she dyes it black)
All I really have to say is... where the hell has FARGO been all my life?  

I watched this on the plane going to China.  This is the clip where I was like, "OMG, it's Nebraska."  Except of course it's not, and it's not our accent, but whatever.


The whole movie is on YouTube, so seriously, no one has an excuse not to watch this beauty.  It's already vaulted into my top ten.  If I'm not careful my entire top ten will compose of Coen Brothers movies and Apocalypse Now.

I've managed to recently watch quite a few movies that I should have seen long before.  Like, The Matrix.  There are some really neat ideas tucked in here, and great music that I already own.  But damn if Keanu Reeves is not a horrible actor.  I wasn't blown away.  Especially by the climactic events.  This was sort of - worldbuilding = A, plot = C.  I fell asleep watching The Matrix Reloaded, but not before getting creeped out by their future human city.  Another movie I fell asleep watching was The Informant.  Really I watched the first 1/3 and then woke up for the last fifteen minutes.  Which seemed interesting, really, and I want to try to watch it again, but the dialogue was so quiet and I couldn't hear it on the plane.  Don't ask why I could hear everything on Fargo. 

I also watched the entirety of The Shining (Stanley Kubrick) for the first time.  I'm a Nicholson fan, and a Shining fan, so it's not like this could really go wrong.  It's not as scary as the book, and I admit some changed details annoyed me, but uh, I had to look away during Room 217.  That was not good, and it went on way too long for comfort.  I hadn't known much about Insomnia, but I clicked on it because I saw Christopher Nolan and "land of the midnight sun."  It's one of those cops going crazy movies, and it's actually pretty good.  Mostly because Alaska makes for such an intense setting, and it's filmed with aplomb.  Get Carter - Stallone the financial adjuster goes home to the Seattle burbs to find out who killed his brother - is pretty entertaining for the first 2/3 of the movie, all this off-beat humorous violence and stuff.  Then it turns into a rape-secondary-revenge movie and gets all somber and icky.  Still, not bad for a let's-be-criminals movie. 

The Legend of Drunken Master/ Drunken Master II is some seriously good shit, better than the first.  I know some people aren't into kung fu attempts at comedy, but I was literally laughing like 80% of the movie (I mean, you know me).  Anita Mui is just fucking fantastic in it - she plays Jackie Chan's stepmother.  Oh yeah and Jackie Chan.  Basically I wanted to join their family.  And yes, I know - I watched the dubbed version.  My only other language choice was French!  Thanks, Netflix!  I can't recommend Bloodsport, though: '80s Van Damme movie about an underground world fighting tournament.  Yeah, you hear world fighting tournament and you're like, oh man, it's gonna be awesome!  Not really.  More like land o' cliches with no entertainment in sight.

I watched a few of Showtime's Masters of Horror pieces.  They're not very good, in general.  That Damned Thing is under an hour but probably the best, about a monster in a small town in Texas.  The acting is reasonable for a TV movie and the plot feels... I don't know, genuine in some way?  I don't want to totally recommend Dreams in the Witch House, a modern adaptation of the Lovecraft story, but for you horror junkies, it may be worth a view.  It's not only creepy in a fun way but it's highly amusing as well, kind of like a good Tales From The Crypt.  Nightmare Man, about an evil African fertility mask, is very very bad - laughably bad.  Valerie on the Stairs, about a haunted writer's colony, is even worse because you can't even laugh at it.

So many religious horror movies!  I lost interest in The Prophecy pretty much immediately.  Requiem, on the other hand, is a really interesting movie if you want to know the true story behind the "true story" behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  As in, this is what really happened to the girl - epilepsy and intense religious pressure, from within and without.  Depressing movie, but good, with a very retro/antique feel (set in the '70s in rural Germany).  On a similar note, we've got The Woods, a sort of B-movie-trying-to-be-A-movie-or-is-it-really-trying? about a girls' boarding school with a supposed history of witchcraft, and oh, the evil woods.  If you're into that sort of thing, it's not bad.  I can't say it's worth watching though.  Picnic on Hanging Rock is a far superior treatment of the Witchy Boarding School idea.  Hell House, the original Jesus Camp, is a less scathing, more personal documentary about fundamentalist Christians trying to save America - by building "haunted houses" to scare people out of being gay or having abortions.  It really gets in the heads/motives of the organizers, though, with interesting results.  Not a movie, but I also watched an episode of this BBC show Apparitions - about a Catholic priest who exorcises demons in modern London - and quite enjoyed it, particularly the emotional honesty of the characters portrayed.  Plus I'm a sucker for the whole ambiguously "good" versus "evil" fight over some guy's eternal soul thing.  Apparently British people didn't like it, because it got canceled.  C'est la vie.

Oh yeah, and I watched Shutter Island.  I never felt like it was a real movie.  The acting made it seem more like a community theater production.  Like, way below the caliber I expect from all these guys involved, including Scorcese.  A couple unnerving shots, and I will admit the last 20% of the movie felt like a step up from all that came before - ironic given the plot - and of course, gratuitously scary asylum is gratuitously scary.  I'm not going to rec it though.  I have very mixed feelings.  Like disappointment matched with bewilderment.
intertribal: (fuck it all)
Watching Night of the Living Dead (1968) for the first time.  Actually, watching a George Romero original for the first time.  I know it's hard to believe, but I'm one of those people who instinctively gets bored when the screen's in black and white.  It is strange to see such slow zombies, because I've only seen jumping zombies (China) and sprinting zombies (28 Days Later).  Even the zombies in the Romero remakes have some oomph to them, they just lounge around when in mass groups.  It's pretty good, though.  The level of gore is unexpected.  I was really impressed by the opening sequence, because it seemed so much like a genuine nightmare - everything's going along smoothly (at the cemetery), it's daytime, it's quiet, and then suddenly, oh, jesus, there's a dead guy walking around.  Very effective.  Cognitive dissonance accomplished.

I mentioned this before, but I recently realized that my attraction to zombie movies is I used to have recurring dreams, when I was in elementary school, where the entire world had either become zombies or vampires - my parents, my neighbors, every single person I ran across - and I was the only person left.  Like that ad for that BBC show Survivors, except I was being chased.  The first time I had the dream, when I screamed in the dream I woke up.  The second time, I tried screaming, and it didn't help.  The last time I had the dream, I decided to let them bite me and turn me into one of them. 

Other than that, I've been disappointed by the recent horror movies I've watched.  Frontiers really tried to add something new to the Psycho Hicks in the Woods genre by making them ~Nazis~ in race-rioting France, but when the neo-Nazis decided that they would add this girl of Middle Eastern descent to their breeding pool because they were too inbred, the movie lost all credibility.  Tried to make up for it with massive amounts of blood, almost as much as Shallow Ground.  I ended up thinking about the final girl again - how violent she's become in recent years.  This isn't Laurie running around stabbing Michael Myers with knitting needles anymore - this is ripping throats out, circular saw through the rib cage.  The more violent she becomes, I have to say, the less believable she is.  Her morality was always specious, but I'm not sure I buy the idea that the average person, even when confronted with the violent deaths of their companions, will be fueled by enough adrenaline and rage to kill so many psycho killer hicks with knives and circular saws and guns and bare hands. 

And then I just stop caring.
intertribal: (yes and)
I recently watched Right At Your Door and Blindness.  The first is about dirty bombs going off in Los Angeles.  The second is about people in some unnamed first-world city mysteriously going blind.  They're both told from the bottom-up perspective of the civilian victims of these plagues, and they both involve issues of quarantine.  That is, the government tells civilians what to do, civilians demand information, government tells civilians what to do louder.  And "what to do" = stay in some confined space for God knows how long.

The actual Quarantine movie had a lot of this too.  Quarantine and Right At Your Door are pretty similar, however.  The governments are both identifiably American and they behave predictably, rationally - they sequester the infected area, send in people in HazMat suits to collect samples in order to figure out what's wrong, and try to keep communication as open as possible.  Of course, people respond to this by screaming their heads off, but what the hell else is the government supposed to do?  It's quarantine.  I always side with the government in movies like this - I just want to tell the hysterical people to calm the fuck down and worry about the zombies/toxic dust, because the government is doing all it can outside and can't help you inside.  The government in RAYD are actually pretty nice, considering a cloud of toxic dust is spreading over the entire American Southwest.  They also turn out to be giving everybody kind of bad advice, but they're trying to act on the information they have.  The government in Quarantine is a little meaner, and when infected people try to escape despite warnings, they're shot.  IMO this is overkill, and it's more likely they'd be shot with tranquilizer darts.  Still, not totally crazy considering these people are in and of themselves deadly weapons. 

Right At Your Door is told entirely from the perspective of the hysterical civilians, so it's essentially a panic movie, except for brief moments of tenderness (like a woman dying in the toxic air listening to her voicemail full of concerned friends and family).  There's a lot of terrible driving and people screaming at each other without listening to each other and conversations like, "I went to the hospital but I couldn't get in!"  "Go round the back before they see you!"  "There were so many people there!"  "GO ROUND THE BACK NOW" "oh my God what is happening to us" "GOOO ROOOOUUND THE BAAACK" and so it's a pretty fatiguing movie that doesn't do anything we haven't seen a million times before.  

The government in Blindness, however, behaves in a way that no first-world government would.  They drop all the blind people in what's essentially a prison block, telling them to find themselves a ward and a bed (THEY ARE BLIND) and then randomly drop boxes of food in the yard, telling them that distribution is "your responsibility" (THEY ARE BLIND).  There's no healthcare, no sanitary conditions (in other words, total quarantine fail), and no effort to examine these blind people because nobody wants to touch them (THERE ARE HAZMAT SUITS IN USE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE.  WHERE HAVE THEY GONE?).  So of course the prison block devolves into a Hobbesian horror show, and Gael Garcia Bernal hoards all the food because he's the only one with a gun.  I'm not going to get into the incredibly pessimistic approach this movie takes toward the behavior of people in crisis situations, but I am going to say that I could not believe a first-world government would do this.  It's about as likely as selling death-row inmates to a TV show that puts them on an island to kill each other for a live audience.  Sorry, but no.  I know you hate the government, but no.  I would buy some overwhelmed third-world governments dumping everybody with a contagious disease in a prison block and not knowing what else to do - I still don't buy the existence of "wards" (why not single prison cells, and have someone shove food in through a slot?) or the air drops of food boxes (they're freakin' BLIND).  I get that this is supposed to be an exaggeration, or even a black comedy (the music gives it a sort of nasty Clockwork Orange vibe - the movie that fucked me up for life), but in the context of a cosmopolitan ultra-city where even the hookers speed around in taxi cabs, this is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously.  If the government truly did not know how blindness was spread or how to cure it, and had no prison cells or hospital rooms to spare, it's more likely that they would just shoot all the blind people and kill the infection dead. 


You see?  HAZMAT SUITS.

I also thought Garcia Bernal's evil deeds were a little too well-organized given the guy has just suddenly gone blind.  They say it's a disease that defies bureaucracy (which is why the government is useless) and yet bureaucracy is exactly what takes place in prison.  But that's just opening a whole big ass can of worms - the good doctor's wife can see, and she does freakin' nothing to take advantage of this once the food-hoarding and gang-rapes start.  She's just like, yes, I will suffer with you.  WTF.  Too much female martyrdom and male cowardice/evil.  Why is everybody in the evil Ward 3 male anyway?  The fact that everybody in all the wards just agrees to Garcia Bernal's demands because he - A BLIND MAN - has a gun (how the hell'd he get that through security?  for that matter, why were these people allowed to take their purses into quarantine?)... Ok, I said I wouldn't get into the behavior of people in crisis situations, so I'll stop. 

If you want to watch a movie about people in the government being wicked in ways that have happened time and time again the world over, watch Death and The Maiden.  If you want to watch a prison horror opera, watch Oz (man I miss Oz).  Blindness is a red herring.
intertribal: (yes and)
Well, I saw Avatar, but at least it was for free. 

And let me tell you, the animals in that movie were so bad ass.  They do all the leg work - those Navis would be fucked without 'em, let me tell you, and they seemed to come and help the Navis out of the goodness of their hearts - and all they get as a reward is death.  This one Navi loses TWO "pets" in like five minutes.  And it's like, oh, you're bonded with the animal now.  If by bonding you mean rape rite, then yeah, sure, you've "bonded."  And now that you're "bonded" with the animal you share its thoughts.  And by "share its thoughts" you mean "take over its brain and tell it what to do."  

The corporate-soldiers, meanwhile, just look at animals and go "omg monster!" and shoot. 

The animals deserve to take over Pandora and kick all the rest of them dumbasses off.

I do agree with some reviews that have pointed out the worst thing about this movie is Jake Sully's character.  Poor Michelle Rodriguez, bless her heart, has a much better character.  Even Sigourney Weaver's scientist woman is better.  I wish I could say there were good characters among the Navis, but they were all awfully drawn.  They were basically just every-non-white-culture-mashed-into-one-super-exotic-culture, and they weren't anything beyond their rituals and animal control.  They're just culture.  No personalities.  Unless you count "jealousy," because one of them has that. 

The problem with Jake Sully's character isn't that he's clearly struggling to control his Australian accent, but that he becomes the "bridge" between the corporate-soldiers and the Navis.  Why does he become this?  Because he literally takes on the genetic code of the Navi.  So if you can't literally become the Other, then there's just no hope of understanding them as anything but savages.  I think my favorite part of the movie was Michelle Rodriguez pulling away from bombing the Navis, because "I didn't sign up for this."  She's got no avatar.  She just decides, on her own, that she has a moral objection to what's going on and decides to do something about it.  Jake Sully decides to do something about it because he's become one of them and gets to have sex with one of them.  In other words, vested interest, and whatever it's called when you can only be kind to someone because you directly relate to them.  This is pathetic, useless, dishonest conflict resolution.  And okay, I like Everlast's "What It's Like," but when movies use this trope it becomes Wife Swap, and I'm sick of it.  You shouldn't have to physically become another person to keep from blowing them up. 

This only works - and even then only at a, like, 10% level - in movies like Saw.  Where it's like, haha, you played with the lives of others, now your own life will be blasted out of you.  When it's "poetic justice."  And believe me, I am not sold on poetic justice either, but it's better than use-your-new-outlook-on-life-as-a-playground for your own personal fulfillment.  Cuz then you're just a colonist, bada bing bada boom.

And oh, I know, he's our "avatar."  As far as the writing goes, none of the Navi characters have enough substance to be anything but exotic Others, so yeah, getting the audience to relate to the corporate-soldier-world is mission accomplished, bucko.  When the Navis are written as glorified plants, that's what you get.  When Pandora is just a playground, that's what you get.  Your audience will relate to the humanoids whose attributes go beyond RIDES THIS BEAST and HAS MOHAWK. 

From an Arcade Fire song, "Black Mirror": 
"Please show me something that isn't mine - but mine is the only kind that I relate to."

There are many, many other problems with the story, but this is what immediately popped to mind for me.  Ultimately, pretty forgettable and yikes, way way too long.  I didn't think any of the visuals were worth writing home about - good for the moment, but so is black light - they're goddamn CGI, and some of the early scenes of the avatars looked downright sloppy.  Give it an Oscar in technical achievement if you must, but let's not mistake technical achievement for movie, ok? 
intertribal: (the light and the dark)
I only recently discovered The Sisters Of Mercy ("This Corrosion" was on a rock collection thinga-ma-jig, and I was like, oh, ok, goth choir!) and oh God, they are awesome.  This video for Temple of Love (1992) reminds me of the video for Swans' Love Of Life.  Ok, well, Love Of Life is a lot creepier (and supposedly "Luciferian"! - watch that one at your own risk!).


Sorry in advance, Lindsey. 

This kind of thing always makes me feel bad for not liking The Crow.  I feel like it's my duty to like The Crow.  And it's not that I dislike The Crow, I just can't take it seriously (also, Ebert said The Crow was better than all of Bruce Lee's movies, which I find really hard to believe, but I'm more forgiving of martial arts movies in general I suppose). 

Still, I've actually seen all the sequels on SciFi.  Boy, they are repetitive.  3 out of 4 concern dead boyfriends who come back to life to avenge dead girlfriends.  That is terrible, people.  SAW and Halloween are less formulaic.  The last one is hilarious because Tara Reid is in it.  Oh, and David Boreanaz.  They're both evil Satanists, speaking of being "Luciferian."  LOL. 

ETA: Extra LOL to the still-shot of the YouTube video being Ringu-ish!
intertribal: (subzero mulder and scully)
My Favorite Movies of the '00s: 

10.  Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007).  Exactly my brand of humor.
9.  Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008).  Saddest movie ever.
8.  The Fog of War (Errol Morris, 2003).  The anti-Frost/Nixon.
7.  28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002).  Zombies, the apocalypse, digital video, what more do you want?
6.  Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001).  This was just masterful. 
5.  Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005).  Everything good about Herzog, wrapped into one.
4.  The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008).  Beautiful, harrowing.
3.  No Country For Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007).  Can't stop what's coming.
2.  O Brother Where Art Thou (Coen Brothers, 2000).  My romantic love for this one knows no bounds.
1.  The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (Peter Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003).  Had to do it, sorry.

Honorable Mention Goes To (11-20): Friday Night Lights (All About The Football), Encounters At The End of the World (My Second Favorite Of Herzog's in the 00s), The Departed (Well Made), Hero (Stylish Visuals), Bowling For Columbine (Preaching To The Choir), Zodiac (Creepy, But Long), The Devil's Backbone (The Anti-Pan's Labyrinth), W. (Kind Of Changed My Life), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Great At The Time, But Made Too Little Of An Impression), Tropic Thunder (Hot Fuzzian). 

Wild Card: 4 [Chetyre] (Visceral Reaction, To Be Sure).

Not sure what to conclude from all of that, except that it feels surprisingly America-centric.  Huh.  Keep in mind I have far from seen all the movies of the decade. 

Movies I Really Fuckin' Hated (Not Counting Obviously Bad Movies)

10.  9 (Shane Acker, 2009).  Worst movie I saw this year.  Worse than 2012.  Just awful.  Burn all puppets.
9.  Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002).  I was embarrassed that I made my mother watch this.  Like Crash, but worse.
8.  Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2002).  I think I just don't get Alfonso Cuaron. 
7.  Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2006).  Way too proud of itself, this one.
6.  Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006).  High upon your horse, you preach, preach, preach, preach. 
5.  Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard, 2008).  Tedious, apologist's perspective.
4.  The Good Shepherd (Robert De Niro, 2006).  Boring, ugly.
3.  Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001).  C+ for the first 75% of the movie.  Below F for the final 25%. 
2.  V For Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2005).  There are no words for the terrible quality of everything involved here. 
1.  Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006).  When this one gets top slots on best-of-the-decade, I laugh and then I cry! 

I think you can conclude that I don't like dystopias, boring political movies, movies about the '50s (The '50s part of The Hours greatly excepted - Pleasantville was originally my #4, but then I saw it was made in 1998, and now I can't believe I don't have a single Tim Burton on there, but now I realize it's because I learned to avoid him like the fucking Plague), or Alfonso Cuaron.  I did like his Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban), but that's it. 
intertribal: (fuck it all)
Sherlock Holmes has pretty much convinced me that steampunk is just not for me.  And apparently this is mild steampunk. 

As for the technicalities of the movie - trying very hard to be clever and stylish.  There are light-hearted, pseudo-witty moments.  The planning-out-fight-moves-and-then-doing-them thing got old like soooo fast.  And don't get me started on all the slow motion stuff.  Why people continue to artsify the shit out of fight scenes, I don't know.  Time spent on that could have been spent on making the plot less of a poorly-explained migraine.  Then they had to spend like 20 minutes at the end setting up the sequel (this is TOO LONG in a franchise movie; I was afraid Dr. Moriarty was actually going to fucking appear and I'd be in the theater for another hour), after whizzing through the conclusion of the first (current!) movie.  And LOL to the people that are all "oh, it's so homo-erotic!" Meh.  Not something that's going to stick with me. 

Never read the original, though, so I'm not a fan of the series to begin with (for the longest time I thought Sherlock Holmes was involved in the Dr. Livingstone in Africa thing - British people all kind of blurred together when I was a kid).   And I did have a strong margarita beforehand, so my mental faculties may have been impaired.

Also, Rachel McAdams cannot act, sorry.  There was a time when I mixed her up with Amy Adams and believe me, I make that mistake no more.  Amy Adams needs to GTFO of the movies she's always in but at least she can act.
intertribal: (subzero)
WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END



A Uwe-Boll-directed sequel to a The Hills Have Eyes ripoff, so I came in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised.  The Too Dumb To Live young adults are competing in an "apocalyptic survival" reality show that for some reason takes place in the West Virginia boondocks.   All the deranged cannibals have the same pathetic mutant-jello-mold face and do cliched deranged cannibal things, but they also say grace before meals.  The two survivors, angry blonde girl and black guy, are actually fairly likable, and A. J. "The Racist Rapist" Weston from Sons of Anarchy plays a hoo-rah military guy who dies Boromir-style.  Recommended (If You're Into Deranged Cannibal Stuff Like Me).

JOY RIDE 2: DEAD AHEAD

A psycho trucker menaces four traveling youngsters.  He kidnaps the tough guy of their ranks and then makes demands of the others: plz to be cutting off one girl's finger, making the other girl get naked, getting the Hot Topic guy to dress up in drag and ask for crystal meth.  The acting and dialogue are passable, which is almost too bad since the characters aren't engaging and the plot doesn't hold attention.  It's not even scream scream scream, just blah blah blah, the trucker is God on meth and where the fuck are the police.  I got bored with this one.  Not Recommended.

100 FEET

The heroine has just been released from prison, where she was serving time for killing her abusive husband in self-defense.  She has to wear an ankle collar because she's under house arrest.  Too bad her husband's ghost is still hanging out, throwing plates at her.  A bland and dreary movie despite the inventive premise of the ankle collar as obstacle-to-escape.  The only un-bland part comes when the ghost kills the heroine's new boytoy in the most grotesque and poorly special-effected death scene ever, and even then you're puking more in disdain than wonder.  Not Recommended.

* Of course, I mean SyFy.
intertribal: (readin about it)
When I first watched War of the Worlds - midnight showing (2005) - I wasn't too fond of it. I didn't like that all the main characters somehow miraculously survived, in spite of the world totally going to shit. It's very Hobbesian, which I don't enjoy. I thought the ending was too convenient (obviously I need to write to H. G. Wells about that one).

Watching it again now, after having seen 2012, I feel bad. Because despite having pretty much the same cast of characters (deadbeat dad, older son, younger daughter, ex-wife, ex-wife's new husband - latter two not really involved in War of the Worlds) and the same basic situation (mass destruction), War of the Worlds is a much better movie. It's better-acted, better-written, better-directed. Tom Cruise is a way better actor than John Cusack. Dakota Fanning is a way better actress than, fuck, anybody in 2012. As nauseating as Hobbesian situations are, Roland Emmerich's better-angels-of-our-nature transcendentalism is more annoying and less realistic. If War of the Worlds is a manufactured blockbuster (which it is - Spielberg, after all), then 2012 is as manufactured, as artificial and plastic, as an amusement park ride.

So, sorry, War of the Worlds. I gave you a bad rap. I still think your ending is a pathetic 180-degree emotional cop-out. I completely agree with this review by Rebecca Murray:
Unfortunately the movie’s 117 minutes long and those last 17 minutes are just plain horrible. Spielberg delivers a dark, sinister sci-fi story and then screws the whole thing up with an ending that doesn’t fit. In fact, the ending’s so out of place it almost ruins the whole experience. You’ve got to wonder if the ending that’s included in the theatrical release is the only ending that was shot. It actually feels like an alternate ending that was tacked on when a test audience vetoed what Spielberg really wanted to show us. If this was in fact Spielberg’s first and only choice for the ending, then jeers for not sticking with the tone of the film through its entirety.
But, you know, other than that.
intertribal: (so fuck this shit)
- Man, there were a lot of monsters in 480 B.C. Like, serious, Rawhead Rex stuff.* Fangs and goat heads and all that. Look cool though. I'd probably be creeped out in a theater.
- The Persians are definitely way more interesting in design than the Spartans. They've got all the monsters and exotica. Nice fancy bull-head thrones. The Spartans are, well, spartan.
- Yeah, this is pretty racist. Especially considering Frank Miller's comments, yowza. Frank Miller, a black mark on your name. Now I feel bad for liking Sin City.
- Leonidas is definitely a basket-case. Somebody's got a little General Ripper in 'im.
- Was I supposed to find the whole Gorgo stabbing Rapist Guy empowering? I must have missed it.
- The political ideology presented in this movie kind of defies reason. I'm with Roger Moore. This is pretty much the definition of fascist art.
- Cool fight scenes? Sort of.
- Oh fantastic. Now I get to watch Mission Fucking Impossible III.

*: Of all the Clive Barker stories I've read, how is RAWHEAD REX the one I can't get out of my head?
intertribal: (things i put myself through)
So, I went to the midnight last night. Wasn't my idea, but I enjoy midnight showings (except for the tight-asses that want everybody to be quiet so they don't miss a line in the oh so majestic movie). And here's the thing about the Twilight movies: I don't dislike them.

I know that's scandalous. This doesn't apply to the books, I should add. Never read them, don't want to try. I suspect what I like about the movies would not be present in the books. But I went to the first one as a joke, just to laugh at it, and I actually ended up enjoying it somewhat. I wonder if I would like it more if I was still in high school (or better yet, middle school).

A. New Moon: Demographics

Most of the people at the midnight showing fit a certain type: the tween-girl Hot Topic shopper (when I was a tween-girl, I should add, I found Hot Topic too scary and edgy, though appealing). They're not cheerleaders. They're too "intense." They dye their hair. They under-achieve. They all showed up to New Moon wearing horrific overstretched Twilight shirts, and they sit with a couple friends, probably the only friends they have, and drown in the wish fulfillment of this movie. People make fun of them, but people have probably been making fun of them their whole lives, so they're used to it. Twilight is a franchise for them, and part of me wants to say that that's great, because everybody else ignores them. They don't have any other franchises. Gossip Girl is not for them. Harry Potter has too wide of an appeal, and Harry Potter is pretty damn hegemonic anyway. A lot of movies pander to outcast boys (Zombieland being the latest I've seen), because outcast boys can grow up to be smart or secretly cool, but outcast girls have no value in society, and they don't get movie-candy. Except for Twilight. Both of my friends who unabashedly like Twilight were loser-outcasts in high school. So was I.

B. New Moon: Aesthetics

Gloomy and angsty is the vibe Twilight goes for. It's the only teen franchise that does, really. And I'm all about that shit. Bella, the heroine, mopes 24/7. She also screams in her sleep and drives a beat-up truck and slouches. She walks awkwardly, arms crossed over her stomach. She doesn't do a lot of smiling - laughs are even rarer. Her eyes never quite seem to be totally open. And because she's played by Kristen Stewart and this is a movie about wish fulfillment, she's pretty, but not jaw-droppingly so. She isn't sunny, that's for sure. Her make-up's done to make her eyes look sunken in and her face unhealthily pallid.

The landscape - a gorgeous, misty, rustic town in the Northwest U.S. - is equally morose. The sea thrashes violently, the beach consists of hard pebbles. The roads are all hair-pin curves surrounded by dense woods filled with monsters. Honestly, I would go to these movies just to see Forks, because it's one of the richest movie landscapes I've ever seen, and definitely somewhere I wouldn't mind living.

Then of course there's all the brooding. Vampire boy broods, Bella broods, werewolf boy broods. The only one that doesn't brood is my favorite character, Bella's long-suffering, clueless cop father, Charlie. Charlie (played by Billy Burke) is just a great character - essentially, a single dad who doesn't know what to do with a moody teenaged girl, but he sure tries his damn best. Back to the teenagers: there's a lot of dramatic talk about not being able to live without so-and-so, and suicide, and not talking and not eating, and running away. But teenagers - especially this subset of teenagers - are dramatic and they do talk that way. The franchise becomes laughable when it actually takes this teenaged angst seriously - but let me make a distinction here.

1. Bella's vampire boyfriend, Edward Cullen, decides that he's a danger to her and moves away. Bella goes into a very deep depression. This part of the movie is pitch-perfect. I've read a lot of complaints that Bella is pathetic and a "bad role model" for going into this depression, but seriously, I've had friends react to break-ups like this. It's not unrealistic and quite frankly it's a very honest portrayal of something that a lot of teen movies ignore. And as someone who was clinically depressed for a few of my tween-years, I found it encouraging that a movie can be honest about depression in teens. Then Bella starts hanging out with werewolf boy, Jacob, and things look up, sort of. But Jacob wants to be more than friends and Bella is just using him as a crutch; when Jacob pulls away to join the werewolf brotherhood, Bella freaks out. Is it selfish of her? Sure. Is it realistic? Absolutely. So this isn't what I mean by the movie taking teenaged angst too seriously.

2. What I mean is the ultimate plot of New Moon, which is a slipshod version of Romeo and Juliet: Edward jumps to the conclusion that Bella is dead, and then goes off to Italy to kill himself in dramatic fashion. Bella has to go and stop him. This leads to a confrontation with the vampire aristocracy and basically, the teenaged doldrums turn into something much larger and more consequential than they really are. Thankfully they don't involve saving the world, but it's still far too extreme. Edward (who is 109) tells Bella that leaving her is the hardest thing he's done in a hundred years. Seriously? Geez. The only good part about this plot line is that you get to see Dakota Fanning as an evil preteen vampire, a la Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire. Hopefully they won't share a career trajectory, because Fanning makes a good baddie.

On a couple other basic movie-review notes, the acting is shit except for Dakota Fanning and Billy Burke and to some extent (when the material gives her something to actually do), Kristen Stewart. The non-romantic dialogue is passable, but the romantic dialogue is total tripe. The pacing is poor. The narrative arc is non-existent, as is the tension. The only things the movie succeeds at are song choice (but not musical score), and landscape. But we all knew these weren't going to win any Oscars.

C. New Moon: Social Implications

The biggest problem that I have with the Twilight series: Edward and his vampire family. Bella is believable as a human girl, and Jacob is believable as a werewolf boy - by which I mean, their actions and reactions ring true. But the Cullens are these opaque monoliths. They literally look corpse-white, all have extremely vacant, stony expressions, and when they say cheerful words to Bella it's just creepy as all fuck. They certainly don't act like hundreds-of-years-old, wise-but-jaded vampires (I'll give it to Anne Rice that she makes a convincing vampire of this type). Edward is totally unreadable, and the things he says are unbelievable. I hate the Cullens. They're unattractive and snobbish. Edward looks like a cross between Edward Scissorhands and The Crow, except in chest-revealing, expensive clothes. The werewolves, by contrast, are clannish but relaxed and homey. They're clearly flesh and blood, vivacious, adventurous. Bella's healthier with Jacob than she is with Edward. I could believe that all of this is done consciously, because vampires are supposed to be undead and icy and soulless. Except the movies make it obvious from the get-go that we (the audience of Bellas) are all supposed to swoon over Edward. We're supposed to want to become a vampire, like Bella does. And I'm like, why?

The worst part of the entire franchise, in my opinion, is what it contributes to race and class issues. Here's what I haven't said: the werewolves are all Indians. The Cullens, and 99% of the other vampires (there's one evil black vampire) are white. The werewolves are, as follows, also poor. They do things like drop out of school and fall in with "bad crowds." The only example of domestic violence here is attributed to the werewolf clan. The vampires, by contrast, are extremely fucking loaded, zipping around in expensive sports cars - Bella knows that one of them is at her house because she recognizes the fancy straight-from-a-car-commercial car - and living in a huge glass mansion, something out of the special Aspen edition of Home & Garden. They're also, you know, wise beyond belief and have refined, classical European tastes. They can do a bunch of fancy tricks like flying and Matrix acrobats and memorizing Shakespeare, while the werewolves are pretty much just very strong, as Bella remarks over and over. Like they're "on steroids." All this is made painfully obvious when Jacob and Alice, Edward's sister, confront each other at Bella's house. There's Jacob, in his (sort of) ratty clothes, and then there's Alice, in her very expensive-looking white coat and professionally-rendered hair and make-up. She tells Bella that she'll come back to talk, "once you put the dog out."

Yet we're all supposed to conclude, at movie's end, that the werewolves are well-meaning but crass (and perhaps violent?), while the vampires are cool and sexy and everything-you'd-ever-want-to-be-and-more. Incidentally, Bella's awesome dad fits right in withe the werewolves, personality-wise and socio-economically, meaning to join the vampires Bella also has to cut off her own family. This is where Twilight becomes shameful and nasty. The vampires are the plasticized, photo-shopped, megamillionaire celebrities - or, if you'd like, the cold carcass of capitalism - that we as the masses are all supposed to fellate, while the werewolves and humans are all the real, normal people (like friends and neighbors and family) that we're all supposed to trample in our hurry to dote upon the vampires.

And that's shitty and stupid and has nothing at all to do with being an angsty teenager.
intertribal: (so fuck this shit)
I like Independence Day, a lot. A lot of people think it's kitschy, and I think Roland Emmerich tried to listen to them. So he tried to "grit up" his disaster movies. The Day After Tomorrow was the new standard for disaster, and 2012 very much follows the standard. That is:

1. Scientists in Not-America discover Something Terrible that will destroy All Life On Earth.
2. A broken, white, middle-class family in America is set up as the movie's protagonists/heroes/every-men.
3. The government worries about how to tell the public and evacuate people.
4. Horrible Things start happening around the world. These are shown in 5-minute snippets ending in impersonal destruction.
5. Evacuation begins. Scientists in Not-America and secondary characters in America die, Tragically. Masses and masses and masses of anonymous people also die. Monuments, religious and political, fall.
6. Protagonist Family has to Band Together to Survive. Leaving anyone in your party behind is, always, not an option.
7. Some Books are preserved as cultural artifacts/cultural templates. This is Meaningful.
8. A Beloved Dog associated with the Protagonist Family Survives.*
9. Horrible Doom approaches. It must be outrun or otherwise avoided.
10. All Life On Earth besides the evacuated Survivors is pretty much dead.
11. Against All Odds, Protagonist Family Survives, Stronger Than Ever, and re-joins the other evacuated Survivors. Other evacuated Survivors rejoice at this news, because Protagonist Family is seriously the most important thing, ever.
12. A 2-minute explanation shows that things aren't actually That Bad, and there is some promised hot, dry land in Not-America that will be used to support the evacuated Survivors.

*: This is a trope from Independence Day, not Day After Tomorrow.

Same Shit, Different Day.
intertribal: (there's a she-wolf in your closet)
I saw the following 3 movies in theaters over the past week.  Blame Christina, not me.  Obviously, I recommend none. 

THE STEPFATHER

Five-Word Summary:  Single mom marries family annihilator.
Take-Home Lesson: Remarriage is EVIL. 
Laughability: 5
Sex: Underage
Violence: 1

LAW-ABIDING CITIZEN

Five-Word Summary: Grieving dad destroys justice system.
Take-Home Lesson: The justice system is EVIL.  Real men KILL.
Laughability: 3
Sex: Rape
Violence: 4

SAW VI

Five-Word Summary: Dead psychologist's torture campaign continues.
Take-Home Lesson: Health insurance companies are EVIL.
Laughability: 4
Sex: None
Violence: 6
intertribal: (the truth about that bitch)
I mean, arguably they're doing different things.  Shaun of the Dead is - comparatively - a realistic account of what would happen to most people if a zombie plague suddenly swept through their little world.  You scream, you throw anything, Zombieland is like all those people who have totally bought into the zombie fad because zomg, it would just be so much fun to run around killing monsters especially when everyone else in the world is dead and then we can take their stuff.  All the characters are expert survivalists - I guess because they did survive "this long" - who have loads of guns and vehicles (Hummer, Cadillac, unnamed SUVs...) and literally just kill everything.  Oh yes, there is the whole "emotional triumph" bullshit that feels like the ABC Family version of 28 Days Later: "without other people, we may as well be zombies" (?!!!) and I mean, the dorky guy-protagonist totally gets the hot girl (who always wears make-up) in the end so yayz zombie-killing time!  But there's nothing to relate to here.  It's hero worship.  And this sort of zombie-apocalypse fantasy - speaking from the perspective of someone who was into zombies and apocalypses way before pop culture's current obsession with them - has absolutely nothing to do with zombies or apocalypses.  I mean, this could be Transformers.  You know?  It's like... Transformers does Neon Genesis Evangelion. 

[There's this part in Zombieland, where the survivors are happily smashing things in a little store - and this is "enjoying the little things" - where I thought, "Ah, here it is.  The American zombie-humor movie.  What matters is destruction."]

And look, I am not allergic to destruction in movies (hello, I only started watching Battlestar Galactica because it promised destruction).  But this was just a little too I-can't-wait-for-the-zombie-apocalypse-so-I-can-blow-shit-up(-and-I-actually-have-no-clue-how-to-blow-anything-up-or-survive-any-kind-of-apocalypse), and it really doesn't move beyond that.  Hot Fuzz - which strikes my sense of humor perfectly - is full of destruction, but at the same time moves way beyond that, partly because it knows what the fuck it's doing ("Well, I won't argue that it was a no-holds-barred adrenaline-fueled thrill ride, but there's no way you could perpetrate that amount of carnage and mayhem and not accumulate a considerable amount of paperwork").  It's conscious of the tropes it's using and actually ends up achieving emotional resonance.  Same with Tropic Thunder, actually, so I know this isn't something all American movies fail at.  Shaun of the Dead also achieves emotional resonance.  But that, see, actually deals with certain givens of apocalypses: losing friends and family, losing all that is familiar and comfortable, losing safety, losing sanity, losing contact.  And it does this while remaining funny and entertaining!  Yes, people, it's possible!  In fact, consciousness of the tropes you're using actually makes the movie funnier!  Full disclosure: I didn't find Zombieland funny.  

Woody Harrelson was the best part of the movie.  Which isn't saying much except that, like Ron Perlman, Harrelson makes any horrible movie tolerable.  In this one, he was the only character/actor (God knows) willing to be flawed and not just TOTALLY ZOMG AWESOME/COOL, which of course means he's the comic relief.  Oh well.  With movies like this, collect all the comic reliefs, put them in a new movie, and then you'll have a good movie.  Every single character in Shaun of the Dead would be comic relief in Zombieland.  That's how straight this movie plays its tropes. 

And yes, I have taken those "would you survive a zombie apocalypse" facebook quizzes.  I got 90% likely to survive.  Take from that what you will.
intertribal: (don't you want to bang bang bang bang)
I managed to see three - yes, THREE - horror movies last Sunday.  It was a crazy day.  And now I shall write belated, sloppy reviews of them. 

1.  The Burrowers:  I rented this from Netflix on pgtremblay's recommendation.  And it was sitting on the microwave unwatched when my mom said, "I'm going to start putting dates on how long you can not watch these..." (it wasn't disinterest!  but sports have been intense lately, and that tends to put a damper on watching DVDs) so I put it in.  The Burrowers sets itself apart from a lot of horror in a few ways: a) an Old West setting (specifically, the Dakotas in... um... the 1800s), and b) quite an artistic little camera.  Moody looks through the grass, sensitive and subtle flashbacks.  All very nice.  And when the monsters first show up - it's "burrowers" killing and kidnapping settlers, not Indians - they are very creepy.  They've got an unusual hunting style and an interesting ecological history, and they've got people pretty much outsmarted.  The melancholy, brooding-in-the-wilderness tone persists until the final act, when the filmmakers remembered they were making an action-horror movie and went all SciFi Saturdays on me.  Suddenly this clever little gem is making two big mistakes: a) showing the monster full-on when the movie did not have Jurassic Park's budget, and b) making the monsters VERY easy to kill.  That said, this is an atypical horror movie - it is very unkind to its characters (especially the sympathetic ones).   I actually felt it was so nasty to these people that the ending felt abrupt and unsatisfying.  I know, I know.  I usually reward bleakness in horror movies.  Maybe the risk/reward ratio in this one was too high; or maybe the characters were well-developed and real enough that I felt bad for them being sloughed off by the narrative for no apparent reason.

2.  Sorority Row:  I went to see this with friends later that afternoon.  I had very low expectations for this one.  But you know, it surprised me.  I mean, the acting was pretty bad.  There was, of course, gratuitous sorority-related near-porn.  I found the initial set-up - sorority sisters trick another sister's ex into thinking his roofies killed the sister, while the prank's still on he kills her for real, they dump body down a mine shaft - damn ridiculous.  The murderer, who runs around silently in a hood, is pretty generic and stale.  But the sisters are actually pretty entertaining - a nice blend of bitchy and justified - and aren't nearly as annoying as you would assume they'd be.  In order to explain what made this movie so different, however, I must supply spoilers - sorry.  The killer isn't a victim.  The killer isn't out to revenge some wrong.  All the bad guys here are male.  We've got: a) the original guy who killed his girlfriend - the fact that he thought she was already dead makes his stabbing her through the chest even more psychotic, b) the snotty and artificial senator's son, who berates and cheats on and hits his girlfriend (who finally realizes it's not worth marrying into this family), and c) the valedictorian and main character's boyfriend, who's the real killer.  He's just trying to keep his girlfriend away from her trashy sisters, and is furious when she chooses "her girlfriends" over him.  I won't say this is a feminist tract, because you know, it's not - but I do appreciate the Hos Before Bros gesture (so to speak), and the fact that all the "psycho killers on the loose" here are the people with all the privilege. 

3.  Clive Barker's Book of Blood:  Apparently this is a movie-that-never-found-a-home that eventually got aired by SyFy, based off "The Book of Blood" in Volume 1 of Books of Blood, and some other "postscript" story in Volume 6.  I haven't read the second story, so suffice it to say I was totally confused by the fact that this movie - which should have been a 30 minute Tales From The Crypt episode - was 2 HOURS LONG.  They dragged the first story out to about 90 minutes, embellishing wildly and adding unnecessary subplots and taking away scenes they didn't want to try and film, and then added another 30 minutes that looked like pure overkill.  Apparently the extra 30 minutes is truly based off of "On Jerusalem Street (a postscript)."  I kind of can't believe Clive Barker wrote this unnecessary addendum to the first story, but I guess I can't fault the movie producers for that one.  The thing is, I don't think even "The Book of Blood" is THAT great of a story.  It's about how this one house is a big intersection of the dead, so it's filled with ghosts, and the ghosts are all about telling their stories - on whatever surface they have.  It all just feels kind of pointless and even contrived.  Clive Barker's opening for the whole volume is way better: "we are all books of blood... whenever we're opened, we're red."  That's all you need.  You don't need two hours.  You especially don't need two hours of weak characterization and painfully slow and laughable ghosts (a park fountain of blood, with blood ghosts a la The Invisible Man dancing ring around the rosy?  really?). 
intertribal: (don't you want to bang bang bang bang)
I know, I know.  Worst movie ever?  Is this worse than, say, the Sci Fi originals Rock Monster and Ice Spiders?  In terms of production values, well, obviously not.  They clearly spent a lot of time and effort on 9.  It's also no G.I. Joe, happily basking in its own popcorn stupidity.  No, 9 takes itself seriously.  That's what makes it so dangerous.  It's not "ha ha" bad.  It's "tearing the arm rest off the theater seat so you can throw it at the screen" bad.

First off, I have a bad track record with Tim Burton, who produced this movie (it's directed by some film school protege, Shane Acker).  I have seen, not including this one, five Tim Burton movies.  I have only liked one, and that was Mars Attacks, which I will always defend as brilliant.  This is what Mars Attacks did not suffer from: preciousness.  There's no other way to put it.  Tim Burton's movies are "precious."  Just because your characters don't have eyes and you dress them in black clothing and you talk about "being dead," does not mean you are not still "precious."  You know.  Like Hot Topic.  Precious Moments in goth clothes.

So when I was on my way to the theater and was reminded that Tim Burton had something to do with 9, I was like, "fuck." 

And 9 sure is precious.  It's the sappiest movie that Tim Burton has ever produced.  Like, I'm talking Disney level of sap.  It even has a "princess" (the "doll" with the whitest skin, she's the only girl), and because this is a nice modern movie, she's even a warrior-princess!  OOOooOOOoOOh.  No, there's no lovable pet, but there are two child-like dolls that don't talk and seem to just exist for the sake of generating "aw"s from the audience.  And of course, there's the hero, the boyish and courageous 9.  Spoiler that shouldn't really need to be a spoiler: the princess, hero, and lovable pets all survive.  So no need to be scared here, kids! (although I'd be seriously surprised if kids form any attachment to the little burlap fuckers - yes, all the good guys are three-inch voodoo dolls, except not really, because that would have been cool)

The kids can be scared of other things, like the evil monster-robots left over from the big humanity-killing apocalypse, alternately named "The Beast" and "The Machine" (as my friend said, "subtle.").  There's also a bird monster-robot and an ultra-scary zombie slug monster-robot (has to be seen to be believed, but I think this thing actually gave me nightmares).  These evil monster-robot designs are really very good (though in a few cases clearly "borrowed" from War of the Worlds), and it's a shame that they're wasted on a movie this bad.

The design of the little burlap fuckers, however, is not so good.  Acker calls them "stitchpunks."  I just call them FAIL.  And I can kick anybody's ass at anthropomorphizing, okay?  If they had been telephones with faces I probably would have felt more for them.  As it is I think they fall in that deep dark Uncanny Valley.  Either that, or we're just never given a reason enough to care what happens to them.  This approach is validated as the movie goes on.  The movie really tries to import to you that these characters are your lovable friends, your heroes, and gosh-aren't-they-so-cute and aren't-you-gonna-miss-'em-when-the-movie-ends, and it's like, no.  No, I am not going to miss any of them.  They're one-dimensional pastiches.  They're like walking prototypes of the Five-Man-Band that people laugh about in shitty epic fantasy.  I'm talking zero character development, possibly even negative character development.  It's worse than Disney.  It's worse than NEW Disney.

Then there's the humans.  Well, there's only two, really, and they're both dead and only appear in convenient antique film reels and narrative flashbacks.  First there's the scientist that made all the little burlap fuckers and the main monster-robot (though why he thought that thing could be used for progress, I will never understand; it hardly looks like usable equipment).  He's Ye Olde Mister Nice Crazy Scientist Whose Inventions Are Used For Ill, you know, see, oh, EVERY MOVIE EVER.  Then there's the evil politician who fucks it all up, and he is literally an Evil Communist Nazi.  He's "the Chancellor" and he calls people "Comrade."  It was when they introduced Mr. Evil Communist Nazi that I could no longer take this movie seriously.  I was surprised they didn't throw in that he was Muslim just to accurately complete this profile of Being Evil In America.

But the worst part of the whole thing is the plot, or lack thereof.  In the trailers, and even in the movie, there's a lot of talk of "joining the fight" or "saving the world."  This is false advertising.  Here's the real plot: 9 (the little burlap fucker, not the movie) is a dumb fuck, over and over and over and over.  If he had never woken up, the world would be better off.  His big accomplishment at the end?  Wouldn't even be necessary if he hadn't done a certain something in the beginning.  And yet - and yet! - he's the unambiguous hero, and everybody that opposes him is "stepped on or cut up, or simply disappeared," to take a line from Evita.  The ending plot arc is a totally asinine plunge into metaphysical gobbledy gook in which the characters spend even more time and energy trying to "set free" the souls of their dead friends - who would not even be dead if not for 9.  And of course somebody who hates 9 sacrifices himself for 9, because 9 is just that awesome, I guess.  So anyway, it's the classic "oh, it doesn't matter that they're dead, because they are happy in the afterlife" claptrap that makes me want to vomit all over the theater.  And what do we end up with?  Some garbled message about life continuing on, because apparently plants and water grow from souls.  Listen, I am all for metaphysical gobbledy gook if it's done well.  A lot of anime is actually really good at metaphysical gobbledy gook (you know, the classic power of love stopping the force of entire armies, etc.).  It can work.  But not with something this shallow, this unsympathetic, this un-emotive. 

There's no ingenuity here.  The "important messages" of the movie are nullified by the movie's own narrative.  People who think the apocalypse scenery is somehow worth praising have clearly never seen any post-apocalyptic anything.  The characters are unlikable cliches.  The obligatory laughs are totally forced and awkward, as is the sadness and grimness.  The only good things about it are the evil monster-robots, and please, do not pay $10.50 to watch monster-robots.  Not when you have to suffer through so much crap to get glimpses of them.  If this passes for dark and edgy these days - and I assume it's supposed to, since it is a Tim Burton movie after all - we are all doomed.

Do not see this movie.  Also, I'm apparently allergic to Tim Burton.  I can't wait for what he does to my poor Alice in Wonderland.
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