Sunday, September 20, 2009

One-Line Movie Reviews, September 20, 2009

Some more movies I've watched as of late (yes, I've been glued to the TV a lot):

Auto Focus (2002) - a biopic concerning the life of Bob Crane (of Hogan's Heroes fame), it's at once hilarious and disturbing. Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe are unlikely perfection. I understand that those alive when the real events happen might not think the revelations in this film are such a big deal, but for the rest of us... who knew? Verdict: SEE it.

Body of Lies (2008) - a Ridley Scott-helmed spy thriller with Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio. A very solid film with very solid acting (Mark Strong, in particular, steals his scenes - he's fast becoming one of my favorite actors... see Stardust and RocknRolla for more performances), Body of Lies still falls a bit short of Ridley's brother's CIA thriller, Spy Game. Verdict: SEE it.

Changeling (2008) - the first of Eastwood's one-two punch for 2008 (the other being Gran Torino), this film is excellent, if subdued. In addition to being a good movie, it's a refreshing return to the days when historic Los Angeles itself was a character in films and not just a location (something The Black Dahlia tried, but failed at). Eastwood IS one of the best directors of our time, and Angelina Jolie IS a good actress. Verdict: SEE it.

La Fleur du Mal (2003) - a French film very reminiscent of both French aesthetic and, somewhat surprisingly, Edgar Allan Poe. A stepbrother and stepsister fall hopelessly in love, while the stepmother runs for political office and the stepfather tries subversively to derail the campaign. Plenty of tragic intrigue here, and the actress who plays Michèle (Mélanie Doutey) is astoundingly gorgeous... just had to say that. Verdict: SEE it (if you have at least half a brain... otherwise, you'll be clueless, hate the film, and inadvertently admit just how limited your artistic appreciation actually is... yes, I'm insulting stupid people).

Havoc (2005) -a "dark, gritty" film about the real life of privileged teens in affluent Los Angeles. Notable for its popular nude scene feature Anne Hathaway, the film itself is pretty droll. An assault of cliche after cliche, and pretty formulaic for the "wrong side of the tracks" genre. Verdict: SKIP it, unless you really just want to see Hathaway's nipples.

Mamma Mia! (2008) - for whatever reason, I've been imbibing in musicals lately. Mamma Mia!, an adaptation of the stage play, is a charming love story revolving around the music of Abba. Much better as a narrative than Across the Universe (which used songs from The Beatles, often awkwardly so), it's easy to see why Abba is often described as a theatrical band. Fair warning: there's A LOT of estrogen packed into this film, but that's sort of the point. Verdict: SEE it (fans of musicals, ABBA, and/or family films).

Moulin Rouge! (2001) - yes, I am admitting that I've not seen Moulin Rouge! (what's with musical titles ending in exclamation?) in its entirety until recently. I must say, I absolutely loved it. While a bit chaotic, the story does find its pulse and maintains it for the most part. Beautifully shot, the soundtrack works amazingly well, and it's no wonder this one was so critically popular. And Nicole Kidman has never been so enticing. Verdict: SEE it (if you haven't already... I'm probably one of the last on the planet who hadn't).

Quarantine (2008) - this is apparently a shot-for-shot remake of the Spanish horror film, [Rec]. One of the better "first person" entries in the horror genre, it still suffered from allowing itself to rely too much on the "chaos of the moment" aspect that many mock-documentary films allow themselves to rely on. As a result, some of the most tense moments come across as boring and too long. This version also ostensibly fails to properly explain the events that led up to the events of the film. Verdict: SEE it if a fan of horror (particularly zombie films), SKIP it otherwise.

The Secret Life of Bees (2008) - a quiet coming of age film set in the American South in the 60s. A competent film that suffers from its various attempts to "get things out of the way" quickly, leaving us with several scenes with clear intention, but cliche and/or hasty execution. There's nothing spectacular or memorable here, and it's nearly by-the-numbers and rather predictable. Alicia Keys is a pleasant surprise as an actress, however, though I fear Dakota Fanning's days of charming an audience are fading quickly. Verdict: whatever.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) - Walter Matthau in a thriller? Holy smokes. I've not seen the recent remake (starring Denzel Washington), but the original is. fucking. awesome. I must confess that I'm rarely a fan of 70s thrillers (I don't know what it is... the aesthetic, perhaps?), but this one rocked. Rocked, I say. Rocked. Verdict: SEE it.

On a side note, I'm thinking "One-Line Movie Reviews" needs a new title (it's a holdover from my old movie review website, long defunct). Any ideas?


Wings said...

Out of all of those, I have seen Auto Focus (liked it) and Quarantine (liked it, as well).

As for a new title, how about "Cinematic Musings".

Brian Miller said...

Mama mia was okay. saw it with my wife so i got a few points. even she got a little overwelmed with the singing. bodyof lies was a pretty good flick. def want to see pelham and changling now. read the book on pelham, it was pretty good.

movie shorts
reel reviews

ok,, not good at the title game...

Alan Burnett said...

A more accurate title would be "5.37 line movie reviews" Not that I am complaining, I find them invaluable.

Tom said...

I like your title... keep it. Good intelligent reviews, for people who like to make up their own minds. I've seen very few of these, but agree with you about Eastwood; he's a freakin' genius.

Yoork said...

I agree about Dakota Fanning. Did you see her in Hounddog? I think that was her last best.

Kate Hanley said...

Agree with most of your reviews although I didn't really care for Body of Lies. As for a new title, I'm not so good at titles myself but I like One Line Movie Reviews....

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