Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Year of Watching DVDs, Part 30: Dick

I watched the entire IMDb top 250 list and now I'm watching everything else. All reviews so far.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) (26 episodes)
Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (1995)
The End of Evangelion (1997)
A disappointment. Interesting story, but too many genre conventions for my taste, and I couldn't care whatsoever about Shinji, the main character. He was underdeveloped and just boring. And while I often enjoy "controversial" endings to TV series (cf. The Prisoner, The Sopranos), I thought it was a mistake to follow 24 episodes of plot, plot, plot with a sudden switch to psychoanalysis. (The end of End of was better, but not enough to change my perception of the series as a whole.)

Single White Female 2: The Psycho (2005)
This is one of those direct-to-DVD "sequels" that has nothing to do with the original aside from being a retread of the same basic plot. Dig that superfluous subtitle! Anyway: Not as bad as might be expected - in fact, solidly mediocre. And I've always been deeply in love with Kristen Miller, by far the hottest girl in shitty comedic action series She Spies.

The Office, Series 2 (6 episodes)
Speaking of hot, there's not a character in The Office I wouldn't nail. And that includes Chris Finch. It's brilliant. Painfully funny.

Arrested Development, Season 1, Episodes 1-4 (2003)
Very good American sitcom. Well worth the 1 SEK I spent on the sampler DVD.

8 Mile (2002)
By Curtis Hanson. Eminem as a white ghetto boy who wants to be a rapper, Brittany Murphy as his trashy sexpot love interest, Kim Basinger as his over-the-hill-but-still-milfy mom.

Rope (1948) (repeat)
Hitchcock version of play based on Leopold and Loeb's famous murder. Gimmicky and flawed, and the gay subtext is buried a bit too deep. But still worthwhile.

The Hidden (1987) (repeat)
A young Kyle MacLachlan plays an unconventional FBI agent, a couple of years before Twin Peaks. He's on the hunt for an extraterrestrial killer. Awful 80s music, impressive bodycount, thrilling end chase, and an ending that's both poignant and slightly creepy.

Magicians (2007)
Amusing British comedy starring Jessica Stevenson from Spaced and some other Brits I recognize from stuff.

Scanners (1981)
Boring and pedestrian. I'd got it into my head that it was a PKD adaptation (stupid me, I'd gotten it mixed up with Screamers, reviewed below). Instead, it's a Cronenberg flick, with perhaps the least expressive leading man ever captured on celluloid. On the plus side: Patrick McGoohan is in it, and everybody loves Patrick McGoohan. And I've had a soft spot for Michael Ironside ever since he was the "cool" good guy in V. And the gory psychic duel at the end is kind of fun. But no, on the whole it's shit.

12:01 (1993)
Director Jack Sholder (The Hidden) made his own Groundhog Day for TV at about the same time as the Bill Murray film. This is basically action with elements of sci-fi and comedy. The appeal is mainly in the concept, not in the execution. But the resolution is very satisfying. Danny Trejo in a small role!

Screamers (1995)
Co-written by the guy who wrote Alien, Dan O'Bannon. Then again, he also wrote Alien vs Terminator. (Both are reviewed in Part 11.) Starts with an enormous infodump, many paragraphs of text, which is never a good sign. Decent mid-level budget, okay acting, and so on. But the movie seems bored with itself. Or maybe I'm projecting. It's not offensively bad or anything. Just... uninspired? I have a hard time imagining anyone who was involved in the making of this movie really, you know, cared.

Armed and Dangerous (1986)
Action-oriented comedy with John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Meg Ryan. Stupid and unfunny, but at least it's short.

Impostor (2002)
As in Screamers, the film starts with an infodump. But this one's handled a bit more elegantly, via voice-over by Gary Sinise. I had some hopes for the film early on, since it fairly competently invokes questions of identity and paranoia. But it soon turns into just another chase movie. And given that the major "plot twist" is screamingly obvious within 15 minutes, it's probably not a good idea to save "the big reveal" until the very end. Apparently, there's a 37 minute short version (with most of the chase excised) and I can imagine it working much better. This long version is not even Okay.

The Apostle (1997) (repeat)
Robert Duvall plays the titular character, a Southern preacher cast out from his church, in this Robert Duvall-penned drama directed by Robert Duvall. (Executive producer: Robert Duvall.) Luckily, Robert Duvall is an exceptional actor.

Paycheck (2003)
Interesting PKD concepts, not very interesting execution. Lots of running and shooting and fighting, some fast driving. An explosion or five. Mediocre for about two thirds, then just plain Bad.

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) (18 episodes)
Watching Undeclared made me seek this out again. Heartwarming and real.

The Final Programme (1973)
AKA The Last Days of Man on Earth. Based on Michael Moorcock's first Jerry Cornelius novel. Cool and fun.

Dexter, Season 1 (2006) (12 episodes)
Good Showtime series.

21 Grams (2003)
Hit-and-run organ donor drama. Strong performances by the leads, especially Naomi Watts.

Apt Pupil (1997)
Bryan Singer's adaptation of the Stephen King novella. The premise is interesting, and Ian McKellen is good (of course), but the movie is formless and ultimately kind of pointless. At 106 minutes, it's at least 50 minutes too long.

Spider-Man (2002) (repeat)
Unsubtle to the point of stupidity (and the dialogue is purely perfunctory) but it's also pretty fun and very well-cast. My fave actors: James Franco from Freaks and Geeks, and JK Simmons from Oz.

Oz, Season 1 (1997) (8 episodes) (repeat)
Previously reviewed in Part 12. Elegant, economical storytelling. Perhaps the first truly outstanding HBO series, paving the way for The Sopranos and others. "I shat all over a man. That's not normal." Where else can you get that kind of poetry?

Oz, Season 2 (1998) (8 episodes)
The poignancy reaches new heights when a menacing yet pathetic Adebisi implores Shirley Bellinger: "Suck my dick now. Suck my dick." Great stuff.

American Splendor (2003)
Based on Harvey Pekar's comic book. Uplifting and strangely affecting.

More soon.


Moocko said...

>"Suck my dick now. Suck my dick."<

But... you're a nigger?

Goo said...

I started watching Dexter recently and it's amazing so far. I'm four episodes in. I hope it doesn't disappoint me further into the series.

Matthew said...

Evangelion was the shizzle. THE shizzle. The last two episodes were a complete letdown, but had some interesting ideas. We have to create boundaries to have freedome ? (!) I would like to know who killed mr. ponytail. The movie was cool. Sad tho about Shinji's mom drifting through space for all eternity. Come on, dude, that has to worth more than 2 michael keatons.

Koala Mentala said...

Goo: If you like Dexter so far, you'll probably like the rest.

Matthew: 2 michael keatons is plenty, a lot of GREAT movies don't even get 1.

It's true, though: we DO have to create boundaries to have freedome.