Sunday, May 20, 2007

2007: The Year of Watching DVDs, Part XVII/XVIII: Today I Became a Man

I did it. I have now seen all 250 movies currently on the Twofifty list, as well as all the movies currently on the IMDb top 250 list (they overlap but are not identical, since Twofifty is rarely updated).

Now girls have to like me.

Here's what I've watched since the last installment two weeks ago (19 feature films, plus some TV stuff):

Filantropica (2002) [formerly on the IMDb list]
Romanian comedy. Loser teacher turns into Fakey McFake to impress model. Watchable but unspectacular.

Angels in America (2003) (6 episodes)
Gayness, pestilence and ethics. It starts badly, with Meryl Streep playing as a male Rabbi for no discernible reason. She's speaking in front of an audience, and I kept waiting for them to notice that the Rabbi is obviously a woman (in fact, obviously Meryl Streep!) in disguise, but no. I don't see the point, and it's distracting. The dialogue is "clever" in a rather artificial way, and it often feels like a filmed play rather than a film adaptation of a play. Luckily, the acting is generally excellent, sometimes the dialogue is actually clever, and some scenes are magical. Synchronicity: The first episode misquotes the last line from Sunset Boulevard.

Prison Break, Season One, Episodes 1-3 (2005)
It's not exactly bad, but the setup is contrived, the dialogue uninspired and the plot developments slightly too predictable. There's little in these three episodes we haven't seen many times before. Plus, since it's on a major network, it portrays a curiously sanitized version of prison life: No nudity, no foul language, "censored" violence. This wouldn't be a problem if the show still gave a feeling of authenticity, but it doesn't.

The Stepfather (1987) (repeat)
Stupidish but mega-fun thriller about one man's futile search for the perfect family. Many laugh-out-loud moments and very suspenseful ending. This is what Terry O'Quinn would be remembered for after his death if not for Lost two decades later. Written by Donald Westlake.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) (repeat)
Reviewed in two sentences in Part XVI. But this time I think I'll give it five Keatons.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) (repeat)
It's sad and funny, mad and sane. Reviewed with the words "Fucking great" in Part I back in January.

Election (1999)
Comedy by Alexander Payne with Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon as highschool teacher and student, respectively. One thing irritates me: Everybody knows you're supposed to destroy the evidence, not just throw it away. Stupid Broderick! But the story is surprisingly realistic and the moral is more applicable to real life than is usual in this kind of movie: If you're gonna cheat, don't get caught. (Incidentally, my personal motto might also have been helpful: Deny everything.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) (repeat)
Yeah, cool design and effects but that's not enough to build a movie on. I like the freeway chase. There's a few interesting scenes and concepts but the dialogue is at best mediocre, at worst piss-poor.

Sabrina (1954)
Lightweight but charming Wilder comedy. Audrey Hepburn is in love with asshole William Holden but he doesn't love her and she can't kill herself so she goes to Paris to learn how to cook. When she returns she is totally changed (no really) so Asshole William Holden falls in love with her as well. But just when he's about to cheat on his fiancée he gets glass in his ass so his asshole brother, Asshole Humphrey Bogart, has to take her out. He toys with her emotions but since he is old and boring she stays with Asshole William Holden. Stupid, expected ending. Fine flick.

Wild at Heart (1990) (repeat)
Reviewed in Part XV. It's uneven and a bit confused, but some scenes approach magic (the car crash scene is devastating).

Dial M for Murder (1954) [Twofifty list]
Stagy and overly complicated but fundamentally good. Ray Milland is a great villain, Grace Kelly is the supreme Hitchy Blonde. Originally shown in 3D but the version I saw is in crappy two dimensions which SUCKS! More dimensions to the ppl! The ppl want more dimensions! More dimensions!

The Final Cut (2004)
Kinda-fascinating concept but the execution is predictable and full of clichés (some of them: angry mobs of anti-rememory protesters, one "client" turns out to be a child molester, main character turns out to have an implant). Robin Williams is pretty good in yet another repressed, non-comedic role. The film never fully degenerates into stupidity, but as science fiction it's pretty crap. The technological advancements on which the story rests would obviously change many parts of society, none of which is in evidence here.

The Conversation (1974) [Twofifty list]
This was the final movie I had left on the Twofifty list. And it's pretty excellent, certainly one of Francis Ford Coppola's five best films. Gene Hackman plays a surveillance expert who gets emotionally involved in a case, which you should never do.

The Untouchables (1987) (repeat)
De Palma melodrama with script by David Mamet about Super Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) struggling to bring down Original Gangsta Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Sean Connery plays a wise old Irishman who [spoiler alert!] gets killed to motivate Ness - "this time it's personal!". There's little to no connection with reality (perhaps the most historically inaccurate bullshit is the death of Frank Nitti, which for me is on part with [spoiler alert!] Fred Abberline's overdose in From Hell). Very, very Hollywood, but rather enjoyable.

The Zodiac (2005)
Here's why the Internet is dangerous and should be banned: I was going to download the 2007 movie of the (almost) same name and subject matter, but accidentally got this one instead. It's a competent but boring adaptation of the real Zodiac murders in California in the late 60s. The biggest problem is that the main character, an investigating policeman, is duller than a sack of dull. Features Ethan from Lost (William Mapother) and the girl from Prison Break (Robin Tunney) in supporting roles.

Blood Diamond (2006) [IMDb list]
Leonardo DiCaprio is South African diamond smuggler, Jennifer Connelly is an American journalist, and Djimon Hounsou is a black guy. Takes place during the Sierra Leone civil war in 1999. Leo is quite good. As I dissed The Untouchables for historical inaccuracies I should mention this, from IMDb's Trivia section:

The song "Bling Bling" did not come out until 1999 and was not yet a major staple of the slang lexicon, therefore it would be unlikely that Danny Archer would mention the phrase.

Bad Santa (2003) (repeat)
Unrated version ("Badder Santa"), not that I noticed many differencies. A couple of scenes are a little longer, and suffer for it. I already own the theatrical cut on DVD so I downloaded this just because I thought Sarah Silverman was in it, but she isn't. So fuck. But still, it's Awesomeness incarnate. Few people could do Willie as perfectly as Billy Bob Thornton. (Well, perhaps Bill Murray, who apparently was signed on, but dropped out to do Lost in Translation.)

Zodiac (2007) [IMDb list]
I couldn't tell you much about this, since what I saw was a crappy cam version, and anyway I wasn't paying attention. But I already know most of the story since I watched The Zodiac just the day before. Here's the amazing thing: Philip Baker Hall is in BOTH. And I also noticed Christian Shepherd (John Terry) from Lost in it. That's something.

Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967)
AKA Bring On The Dancing Girls AKA I Call First AKA J.R. Scorsese's feature debut, which started as a school project. Keitel is a jerk and an asshole in this semi-autobiographical story of Catholic guilt. Includes a lengthy discussion on The Searchers (dissed in Part XI) and mentions Liberty Valance (reviewed in Part XII). I hate John Wayne. Anyway. Who's That Knocking at My Door is nice-looking, but this is the first Scorsese film I've seen where I've been bothered by the absence of a plot.

Matchstick Men (2003)
Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell are con men who con people. Good-natured until it turns evil. Good script but Ridley Scott's direction is slightly irritating at times. It's weird to see super-cute Alison Lohman convincingly portray a fourteen-year-old girl at 23. She's like the female Michael J Fox or something.

Letters from Iwo Jima
(2006) [IMDb list]
WW2 Alert! War film by Clint Eastwood showing the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese soldiers' POV (his previous Flags of Our Fathers showed it from the American perspective). It's sentimental and overlong and doesn't have much to say but I'll give it three Keatons just to end on a positive note.

So that's it. I've done it and there's no need to see any more movies ever.


spidercrazy said...

Prison break gets better (read: more entertaining, but still without authenticity) in the following episodes.

Koala Mentala said...

Yeah, I know you're a big fan - that's the main reason I gave it a shot. But don't worry, I hate everything. Next week, I'll dis Heroes completely.

Goo said...

Congratulations KM. You must be very satisfied with yourself right about now. So... what's next? The Olympics?

Uncle Sammy said...

I'll watch Heroes s01e23 now. It will be very entertaining.
Koala is very unathletic btw but I play squash sometimes.

Koala Mentala said...

I am in excellent physical shape. Sammy is a fat old man.

Koala Mentala said...

Also incontinent.

Uncle Sammy said...

That's true (some of it) but I do play squash sometimes. And I became a man in the 80s when the music still was decent.

Goo said...

Depeche Mode!!!

Koala Mentala said...

I'm sure he meant "decadent".

Everything sucked in the 80s except me.

Cindy-Lou said...

Thank you. I will cancel Netflix immediately. Thank goodness I don't have to waste any more time on movies. Now I will have more time for important things like my salt shaker collection and my Sit and Be Fit workouts.

Afe said...

Next you must read BBC's top 100 books and give us a score out of five George Orwells.

Do it, or else I will slap your bottom.

Koala Mentala said...

I may just do that, Mister Afepants.