23 August 2011

Attack the Block


I must be a hipster or something, because this seems to be pretty underground. There were only seven other people at the theater. Granted, it was a Monday, but still; this movie needs to be seen. I guess it doesn’t help that it’s only in like 10 theaters in the country and isn’t being advertised as far as I can tell, but whatever.

It’s produced by Edgar Wright, features Nick Frost, has aliens, and contains tons of British inner-city slang that can be found in things like Misfits, one of my favorite shows. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. Much like Super 8, it stars a youthful cast of exciting characters and features fantastic visuals. Unlike most US summer blockbusters though the visuals do not take the forefront. They’re certainly well done, and almost entirely with practical effects, but the greatest things are the characters and the dialogue. Almost every sentence ends with “innit,” which is a strange perversion of “isn’t it” but doesn’t mean that anymore. People say things like “believe, bruv,” and “allow it” to mean things that we would say completely differently.

There’s tons of movement. Very little sitting around. It’s all entertaining, gripping, funny, touching, intense. Some of the characters’ decisions don’t make too much sense, but that’s okay. They’re just super cool people, unlike those (as I’m led to believe) in movies like Skyline or Battle LA. Certainly cooler than in Cowboys and Aliens.

Most of the reviews or mentions of this movie I’ve read or heard have been painstaking in leaving out as many details as possible, and I’ve tried to do that here. Just know that it’s a pretty fantastic movie and you should definitely see it if you get the chance.

15 August 2011

30 Minutes or Less


Alright, time to crap out a review before bed.

I like Jesse Eisenberg, and Aziz Ansari is pretty cool too. I haven’t seen much with Danny McBride but I know he’s funny. I don’t really know anything about the rest of the actors in this movie, but the trailer looked funny and I was hearing some good things here and there, why the hell not. Monday night theater run it is.

The gist of the story is that Jesse is an asshole pizza delivery guy, and some other assholes strap a bomb-vest on him in order to force him to rob a bank so they can set up a tanning salon slash bordello. As you can imagine things don’t really go quite right, although it seems to be working out well for the bombers for longer than I expected it would.

Anyway this is a comedy, so there’s lots of funny. It tends to be pretty raunchy comedy given that it’s an R, which also allows for a respectable amount of boobs, but it doesn’t rely entirely on that freedom and has some genuinely funny stuff in it dealing with friendship and whatnot. I think Danny McBride is the funniest of the bunch here, with Aziz in a close second. Jesse isn’t really a funny guy, just super intense. He works well enough. I’m not sure whether I liked or disliked Danny’s penchant for wearing heavy metal shirts; I liked seeing them in a movie but I don’t really like seeing them associated with being a psychopath. The media does that enough.

There are some really good jokes and a pretty awesome chase scene, and it’s definitely entertaining all the way through; I don’t think I laughed as much as I did for Horrible Bosses (which I forgot to write about, it was pretty darn good). It was solid though. I think I should probably watch Point Break sometime so I can get some more of the jokes.

14 August 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


The trailer for this movie made me laugh. It looked kind of terrible. The CG apes were completely unbelievable, Franco’s delivery of the “Cure” line was awful, and Charleston Heston was nowhere to be seen, removing all credibility. I had mostly written it off even though it prompted me to finally watch the original film to see what the big deal was. Turns out that it was an excellent movie, sadly followed by quite a number of sub-par sequels, and a reboot by Tim Burton that sucked; I vaguely remember watching it but I can’t bring up any details. So anyway, the critics started lauding this one and I was mildly surprised. I’m still a week behind on movies though, so I didn’t see it until today.

As you probably all know, this is a prequel to the original movie that tries to explain how the apes replaced man as the dominant species. The original didn’t really go into depth about that at all; it just presented the situation as it would be and allowed the viewer to draw their own conclusions. Supposedly the same task was handled in one of the old sequels, but I don’t care to find out how similarly. In this one, James Franco is a scientist trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, seemingly prompted by his own father’s (John Lithgow’s) illness. This leads to testing on apes and eventually to the miracle of Caesar the intelligent chimp, who through a series of events becomes a leader of the new primate race and begins something of a rebellion against humanity.

It’s very much an action film, I’d say quite a bit moreso than the original movie, which dealt mostly with theology versus science and stuff like that, with only a few chase scenes among the dialogue. There’s plenty of good dialogue here too but the advances in special effects allow for a much more visually immersive experience. Andy Serkis’ mo-cap performance is pretty great as usual, and although at the start the CG apes look a bit wonky, I mostly got used to it by the end. The relationship between Franco and Caesar is handled pretty well. I almost teared up in a couple spots.

It’s very obvious that this is only the beginning of the story, and it’s been confirmed that it’s planned to be a trilogy. It should be interesting how it plays out, and how much is done to make it line up with the ideals of the first movie. I’d like to see a bit more of that philosophical stuff rather than ape-war.

Not a great movie. A very good one though.

07 August 2011

Cowboys and Aliens


As I said last week, I had been pretty excited for this movie until the reviews started coming in, and felt a bit betrayed. As such I didn’t go to see it. I wasn’t sure if I’d see it in the theater at all, especially what with the Revenge of the Rise of the Fallen Planet of the Apes movie getting all that praise and whatnot. Then the new Half in the Bag review came out last night, and I felt compelled to see the film before I watched the review. So I did.

This movie is about James Bond and Indiana Jones killing some frog men and learning about tolerance while the hot chick form House does weird stuff with fire, Wild Bill Hickok gets yanked into a spaceship, and one of those pesky moon clone-workers tries to shoot a gun. All in all, it’s pretty cool.

But seriously folks, it ain’t half bad. There’s at least an honest attempt at characterization for the main characters and even some of the less prominent ones, the visuals are awesome, and you get to see Olivia Wilde’s back. I wish this were an R. Some of the story elements aren’t really explained very much or seem a bit too convenient, but overall it works well enough as a Western will. I have to say I’ve been pretty spoiled by Deadwood as far as Westerns go, so this didn’t wow me as much as it could have. I’m not entirely sure what I was looking for in it that wasn’t there; I think I just assumed the combination of the two genres would be awesome no matter what.

It’s good acting all around, and the setting was very nice. Not the best movie ever or anything, but it couldn’t hurt to go check it out.

01 August 2011

Another Earth


I meant to see Cowboys and Aliens this weekend, but the middling reviews it’s getting and the abundance of other real-life fun-things I had the opportunity to do pushed it out of frame. I would have also liked to see Attack the Block, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be showing anywhere near me. Thankfully though the trusty old Landmark E Street cinema was showing another film I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about.

From the title and the promotional photos, most people (including me) would mark this as a sci-fi film in which another planet shows up in the sky, leading to a lot of space travel and physical effects of such close proximity, boring stuff like that. One would also expect that much of the film would take place on this other earth; however, that is not the case at all.

This is a movie about a girl who makes a horrible mistake and spends the majority of the movie trying to fix it. The whole planet thing is related but not the focus. There’s a ton of emotion, heartbreak and awkward love interspersed with a little thought on the implications of alternate timelines and duplicate people, and some brief but beautiful meanderings on the allure of space. It’s a very good story and acted extremely well, except for one moment that just didn’t seem to happen in a way that made much sense.

The camera work is a bit shaky at times but it’s nothing like the Blair Witches and their ilk. The quality of the picture varies with the mood to great effect; sometimes it looks like a home movie and others like a big-budget sci-fi film. The visuals aren’t what make this movie though. It’s definitely the story.