Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Year of Definitely Not Watching Any DVDs: May, 2008 (Part 1)

Hello. This time I thought I'd once again write something about each thing I watched, so I did.

Kundun (1997)
Dalai Lama biopic by Martin Scorsese (AKA Skorpan in Swedish). Slightly hagiographic.

Chancer: Series 2 (1991, 7 episodes) (R)
After the events of Series 1 (reviewed in Part 36 of 2007: The Year of Watching DVDs, Clive Owen, post-yuppie ex-con, tries to win back his girl (SPOILER: he fails) and Do The Right Thing. Not entirely believable but still worthwhile. The climax, though it could technically be called a happy ending, is impressively bleak. Moral: You can't escape your past.

Flakes (2007)
Aaron Stanford plays a very punchable hipster who manages a cereal bar owned by hippie Christopher Lloyd. His girlfriend, cute, artistic Zooey Deschanel wants him to rock, but the cereal store needs him. Major flaw: The hipster's punchability does not seem to be intended by the filmmakers. Moral: Cereal isn't food, it's baby food.

Excalibur (1981) (R)
Scenery-chewing Nicol Williamson (who'll always be the Nome King to me) as Merlin kingmakes Uther, then Arthur. Plays fast and loose with the legends, but it's full-blooded and colorful and entertaining. Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson in small parts. Moral: Never trust your best friend with your wife - or Helen Mirren with anything.

Crimewave (1985)
Borderline incoherent Sam Raimi comedy co-written by the Coen Brothers. Uncharismatic loser is scheduled to be executed for crimes he didn't commit. Also, he's in love with April from Dallas. (She played the brainy, wealthy, femme fatale ex-wife of Ewing cousin Jack. As you remember.) Always-awesome Bruce Campbell is a heel who hates guys who hates heels. As evidenced here:

After Hours (1985)
Griffin Dunne has a strange night in New York. Black comedy that was originally supposed to be directed by Tim Burton. One of only two comedies directed by Martin Scorsese. Moral: Don't turn down a chance to fuck Rosanna Arquette 23 years ago.

Criminal (2004)
American remake of some Argentinian movie. John C Reilly is a con man, some Latino kid is his protégé, Maggie Gyllenhaal is the con man's sister. Twists and turns in a fairly satisfying way. Moral: Crime only pays for some.

The Jazz Singer (1927)
Supposed "first talkie" is actually, for whatever reason, largely silent. The only exceptions are scenes in which the titular character, played by disgusting-looking Al Jolson, sings his horrible songs. The central conflict is ripped off from an old Simpsons episode! Biggest surpise: The film is far more offensive to Jews than to Black people. Moral: You can have your cake and eat it too.

Scrubs: Season 5 (2006, 24 episodes)
Still fairly entertaining, but starting to show its age. Repetitive (sometimes knowingly so). Why do American sitcoms have to go on for soooo long?

Kôkaku kidôtai / Ghost in the Shell (1995)
I'm sure this is many a computer programmer's wet dream but I have a low tolerance for the clichés of sci-fi anime. Action scenes and philosophical discussions alike bored me, and I find fan service in general embarrassing. Moral: Machines are people too.

The Evil Dead (1981)
A group of friends decide to holiday in a cabin in the woods. Sadly, they disturb the dead and start to go forest crazy! Moral: Don't raise demons.

Meet Bill (2008)
Aaron Eckhart has a midlife crisis in this promising but ultimately disappointing dramedy. Dumb ending. Moral: You can be whoever you want.

Closer (2004)
Clever infidelity drama. One of Julia Roberts' very few good films. Moral: Lies damage relationships.

Memento (2000) (R)
Fascinating premise and audacious execution. I also watched it in chronological order and actually it works.

Evil Dead II (1987)
Ash, right before chainsawing the demon-possessed decapitated head of his lover: "Oh yeah? Alright! Okay!" Inventive and insane. Who's laughing now? Moral: Stay away from the woods.

Angel Heart (1987)
Mickey Rourke investigates weird disappearance and gets mixed up with voodoo. Moral: You can't hide from Satan.

Army of Darkness (1992)
Though billed as "Evil Dead 3", it doesn't really have very much to do with the previous movies. Very slapsticky. Bruce Campbell is a great action hero but this film is either too silly or too serious, or both.

30 Rock: Season 2 (2007 – 2008, 15 episodes)

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Private investigator is hired to find a missing four-year-old girl. Implausible crime drama that somehow still approaches excellence. Moral: It's hard to do the right thing, but sometimes it's even harder to know what the right thing is.

Happiness (1998) (R)
The ultimate black comedy. Contains the most horrific dialogue scene I've ever seen. Moral: Everybody hurts.

Hairspray (2007)
Moral: Anyone can dance with anyone else.

North by Northwest (1959) (R)
One of Hitchcock's best films.

Gladiator Cop (1995)
Starring Lorenzo Lamas as the reincarnimated Alexander the Great. With a sword! The most boring movie ever - possibly excluding Andy Warhol's Empire, which I haven't seen. Yet.

Enchanted (2007)
Adorable Amy Adams is perfect as a fairytale princess sent to New York in this heart-warming homage to classic Disney films. Either this shit is pretty wonderful or I'm just a total girl. (Well, mostly pretty wonderful. The final confrontation with Susan Sarandon as a CGI dragon isn't great. And the ending is exactly what you'd expect, though still surprisingly affecting.)

To be continued...


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