Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

Category: movies (page 2 of 12)

The Constant Gardener

Saw The Constant Gardener yesterday. Excellent movie. This was a thriller, and felt like the movie that The Interpreter was trying to be, only moreso. Much more sinister, topical, and frighteningly believable plot.

Ralph Fiennes played his usual forlorn, understated character; in this movie his character seemed a little bit disconnected. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not. Excellent cast for the secondary characters, including Bill Nighy (from Sean of the Dead!) as a lubricious foreign-service aristocrat and Pete Postlethwaite as a Big Pharma stooge / relief-worker missionary.

40 year-old virgin

Saw The 40 Year Old Virgin recently. Hilarious. The title gives away the premise, which sounds suspiciously thin, but the story and Steve Carell pull it off. The movie manages to make fun of and sympathize with the eponymous dweeb all at the same time (much the way Galaxy Quest did).

One nitpick (as a friend pointed out) is that Andy Sitzer, Steve Carell’s character, rides a bike, the implication being that bike riding (like everything else Andy does) is juvenile. Feh. Catherine Keener was great as always. The first few movies I saw her in had her protraying a cast-iron bitch of one variety or another; she’s good at that, but I like her as a sympathetic character just as well.

Revenge of the Sith

Yes, I finally saw Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I wasn’t in a hurry, because I knew A) it would be around for a long time in theaters, and B) it would be bad.

It was bad. Good points: A) Lots of excellent eye-candy–enough to justify sitting through the movie many times over just to catch it, if you’re into that sort of thing; B) No speaking role for Jar-jar Binks.

But the dialogue was so awful that I was rewriting it in my head as the movie went. Darth Vader is made out to be nothing more than a punk-ass whiny kid who gets all Columbine on the galaxy. The whiny schtick actually worked for Hayden Christensen in the only other movie I’ve seen him in, Shattered Glass. Here, no.

It would have been easy to add nuance to the story, to make Anakin Skywalker less annoying, and to make the movie as a whole less disappointing. In fact, it seems as if it would have taken a positive effort to make it as bad as it is. I see that George Lucas has the writing credits. He’s fine with the scissors. Not so good with the pen.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory recently. Like everyone my age, I have strong memories of seeing the first movie–though I read the book, I don’t remember it as well–and I watched this with a critical eye, constantly asking “I wonder why they did it this way?” and so on. It was interesting to observe how some bits of dialog were preserved intact, while large swathes of the movie were completely new.

Like almost any movie where he’s the star, this movie largely revolves around Johnny Depp, and his pallid, quirky character in this movie is a little hard to figure out. I couldn’t quite piece together what he was going for here, but he created an entertaining character nonetheless.

To the extent that it revolves around anything other than Johnny Depp, it’s the macabre-whimsy world that Tim Burton creates, which is a visual playground, as usual.

While both versions of this movie had sharply moralistic themes, this movie was even preachier than the first–the children who misbehave are permanently transformed because of it. Charlie (unlike in the previous movie) does not misbehave at all, and so gets his reward. Willie Wonka develops a new backstory (which is entertaingly told) that creates an excuse for more homilies on the importance of family.

Land of the Dead

Yes, I’m catching up on a backlog of movie-blogging, why do you ask?

I always like a good zombie movie, and I liked Land of the Dead. As always, George Romero works in some social commentary along with his cerbrophagous fun-fest, in this case, about class conflict. What more do you need to know? It’s a zombie movie.

Murderball

Although we had to go without my friend Drew, who sounded appalled at the very idea of it, we saw Murderball the other night, a documentary about the sport of quad-rugby. This is one of those documentaries that gives you a window into a world you had no idea existed.

The movie followed the American quad-rugby team, which had built up an almost unbeaten track record, for about a year and a half, through international competition in 2003 and at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The guys are all a bunch of characters. Joe Soares, a former member of the U.S. team who decided to take his trophies up to Canada and become their coach when he got cut, comes off like a towering asshole despite his seated posture. He also looks uncannily like Mussolini. Mark Zupan (of Austin!) seems like a custom-designed ambassador for the sport–heavily tattooed, prickly personality, passionate about what he’s doing. The other guys seem much more laid back, but all of them completely obliterate any impression you might have that guys in wheelchairs want or need to be coddled.

Mysterious Skin

Saw Mysterious Skin recently. Tough movie to watch, but good. I was always under the impression that Gregg Araki’s movies tended to be a little more lightweight, but this was some heavy shit, about young men who had been molested as boys, and how they had grown up. When I see a movie like this (or, say, Bad Education), I wonder how they handle the child actors in these portrayals of shocking acts. It was also interesting to watch, with the part of my brain that maintains detachment, how the scenes were filmed to almost, but not quite, depict the children doing something that children shouldn’t be doing.

There seemed to be something autobiographical behind the story, which makes it all the more sad.

March of the Penguins

Saw March of the Penguins recently. I was vaguely aware of the arduous incubation process for emperor penguins, but this was both educational and absorbing. I didn’t realize how arduous it is, and how much the odds are stacked against successful reproduction.

The narration toned down the harshness–the death–for the benefit of the peanut gallery, but the viewers get the idea.

Also interesting to contemplate was the making of the documentary. How the hell do you sit around in -60° weather, through the monthslong night, to film a bunch of penguins without A) your equipment breaking; B) losing any toes; or C) going insane?

War of the Worlds

Boffo.

Batman Begins

Saw Batman Begins a few days ago. Although previous movies in the Batman franchise have certainly had their good points (anything with Tim Burton visuals can’t be all bad), this is the first of the lot that I’d say is actually good. This was also the least cartoonish of the lot, by a longshot–very gritty, with an attempt to make the subject seem real.

Lots of action, very energetic and chaotic fight scenes. Very loud. I suspect a sound engineer spent a solid week coming up with the sound of the tank-like batmobile’s engines, which sound more like a lion’s roar than a mechanism. The movie’s also noteworthy in that both Christian Bale and Gary Oldman play good guys for a change.

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