Saw CQ at the Alamo last night with Gwen and Jenny. Interesting movie. Visually entertaining, and with enough ideas behind it to make me feel like I need to chew on it some more.
Saw Mister Sinus’ inimitable treatment of that Olivia Newton-John classic, Xanadu. As usual, they put on a wonderful show. The movie itself made me wish I took drugs–some of those fantasy dance numbers probably would have benefited.
Almost everything about the movie was awful. The acting, the dancing, the plot, the continuity. The costumes were very entertaining, but in an unintentional way.
Arguably even more entertaining were the trailers they dug up for other roller-skating movies like Roller Boogie or Skatetown USA (amazing that this didn’t end Patrick Swayze’s dubious career before it even began).
Saw Minority Report yesterday. Good movie, but like it’s spiritual predecessor, Blade Runner, which was also based on a Philip K Dick novel, this one has an obviously tacked-on “they lived happily ever after” ending that needs to be lopped off. Ridley Scott had a chance to do that with his director’s cut; knowing Spielberg, he probably wouldn’t do so.
The movie was especially appropriate at this time in our history, with one of its themes being the government that can’t be trusted. I haven’t read the original book, but I suspect that was played up in the movie.
Went and saw About a Boy at Alamo North with Gwen last night. Good movie. Recalls some of the spirit of that last Nick Hornby-derived movie I saw, High Fidelity, both being what you might call “adult male coming-of-age stories.” Despite being more feckless, rootless, and alone, Hugh Grant’s character Will in About a Boy is in some ways more in touch with reality and has a better grasp of other human beings than John Cusack’s Rob in High Fidelity. High Fidelity was funnier, mostly because it has Jack Black in it.
Went and saw Spider-Man this afternoon. It was fun. Good eye-candy, and a better story than mindless summer action movies are expected to have.
You know how all the big theater chains have these computer-generated animations to let you know the trailers are over, that you should go out ot the lobby and buy junk food, and that the feature is about to begin? Well, the theater I saw the movie at is part of some rinky-dink chain that has pathetic, PlayStation 2-grade computer animation. Playstation 2 animation is impressive when it is rendered live on a TV screen, but not when it is pre-rendered and displayed on a movie screen. I had to laugh, especially given the contrast with the excellent CGI in the movie. This theater is also notorious for its mildewy smell and handmade signage that looks like the manager’s kid did it. But, hey, it’s in the neighborhood.
Saw Hell House last night. This is a documentary about a sort-of haunted house run by the Trinity Church of Cedar Hill, right here in Texas. The church runs this every year, and it’s a huge production all aimed at scaring people into being good Christians.
The movie was fascinating, disturbing, and funny. The documentarian avoided taking an angle, which is probably best. The Hell House project itself was incredibly weird–I think there was some wish-fulfillment on the part of the participants, and there was definitely a lot of cluelessness. One thing that struck me in the Hell House enactment was that the one character who had accepted Jesus was accepted by God into heaven at the end. But God refused all the others, accusing them of taking “the easy way out.” The form of Christianity that these people believe in is all about taking the easy way out.
Watched Shadow of the Vampire with Gwen last night. Excellent movie. In a way, Willem Dafoe was wasted in the role of Max Schreck, because Dafoe is already creepy-looking, but the character had so much makeup on that even Britney Spears would have been creepy-looking. But he did a wonderful job with the part.
And while this is hardly the first movie where the story involves a movie-inside-the-movie, where the movie and the inside-movie have parallel plots, this one seemed to subtly blur the lines in a way that I like.
Chicks in leather hotpants, hotrods and vintage motorcycles, and enough piercings and tattoos to start a sideshow–and that’s just the audience.
The Alamo Drafthouse, quite possibly the most wonderful movie theater ever, held a drive-in double-feature at the defunct Longhorn Speedway. She-Devils on Wheels with Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! With two live bands for entertainment, and Satan’s Cheerleaders to introduce everything. But wait, that’s not even the good part: Tura Satana and Haji were there in person, signing autographs, answering questions, and generally creating an aura of lascivious legitimacy at the event. Did I get pictures? Oh, you bet. Including one that answers the question (in case you’ve ever wondered) “What does a woman with fake tits look like by the time she’s a grandmother? As disturbing as that question sounds, the answer is moreso. I’m not talking about Tura or Haji, by the way (Tura’s gained some weight, but still looks pretty good; Haji just looks great)–I’m talking about a member of the audience.
Admittedly, not all was perfect. They had set up a PA at the front (for the benefit those of us not in cars, like me), and it was getting its signal from the back by low-power FM–but with a useless antenna, so the audio frequently was overwhelmed by static. When Tura and Haji were taking questions, a mound of fire ants got riled up, and I’ve got some bites to show for it. And finally, the second feature hadn’t even started at midnight, so I bailed and came home. I’m not complaining–I had a good time.
Just saw Death to Smoochy. Good movie–clever, sharp dialog, manages to balance sweetness with sharpness pretty well. And I saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse, which is always a plus. As usual, they were playing something weird-but-appropriate before the movie started. In this case (unsurprisingly), it was footage of the Evil Purple One, though mercifully without the sound. I asked the guy who came to take my order if he could perhaps bring some “mild hallucinogens to help make Barney easier to stomach.”
Yesterday was a two-movie day.
First saw A Beautiful Mind with Tracy. Good movie, though a bit schmaltzy. Does a good job of drawing you in and then quietly pulling the rug out from underneath you. The movie does fall into the “heartwarming triumph of the human spirit” category, but that doesn’t make it bad.
Also saw the midnight showing of Mulholland Drive. I’ve decided that David Lynch has become a self-parody. His use of gratuitously weird imagery, situations, etc, is just getting in the way. And am I the only person who thinks the Bum in this movie is a retread of the Man in the Planet from Eraserhead? That said, I do think the movie is interesting. I don’t regret having seen it. Shoot, he could have had Laura Harring just standing there for two hours and I probably would have been entertained.
Saw Black Hawk Down last night. Very intense movie. Very. Although I have one friend who walked out on it, I thought it was very good myself. Hard to watch, but good. I was struck by how, in the heat of combat, the notional reasons for the troops being in Somalia became completely irrelevant. The ways technology would help, and the ways it could be so easily stymied: a field radio rendered useless because its operator was deafened by gunfire, a megabuck helicopter that’s a sitting duck for a rocket-propelled grenade that probably cost $50.
Saw Gosford Park today. Good movie. Like other Robert Altman movies, it involves a lot of really good actors all talking at the same time. In this one, many of them were speaking in accents that I had a little trouble with, and the relationships between the characters were occasionally mystifying, but in the end, the main points came through quite clearly. Ornate plot, ornate settings, lots of layers, and a few interesting twists and turns. Joe-Bob says “Check it out.”
Saw The Man Who Wasn’t There today. Pretty bleak. Like many of the Coen Brothers movies, it had an austere feel to it. The cinematography–all black-and-white–was beautiful. Very subtle shadings. A reminder that we still haven’t figured out color the way we’ve figured out B&W (I say “we” as if I have anything to do with it. Hah.). And while the story had a lot of film-noir elements to it, I wouldn’t quite call it film noir itself. There was a little too much nuance for that, not the cut-and-dry severity I’d expect in real film noir. And just because it’s B&W doesn’t mean its film noir, anyhow. A good movie.