30 August 2013

Four Movies I Saw

 I can't figure out a clever title combination. You're the Next World's Elysium Station? Nah.


Fruitvale Station

So this one is a bit hard to write about. It's based on a true story and contains actual, infamous footage from this story (briefly), and it's the kind of story that justly infuriates. This guy played by that actor from The Wire is a good dude who is trying to get away from his less-than-legal past. He's having some success but it's a hard road. His past unfortunately leads him to a run-in with some very aggravated police officers, and through a lot of misunderstanding and probable incompetence, he ends up dead. Sad stuff. It's well filmed and honest.



Remember when I posted about Only God Forgives? We have a similar situation here. District 9 was Neil Blomkamp's breakout film, and it's great. I love watching it. It has a wonderful old-future thing going, the improvisation makes it super-believable, and even if it does kind of devolve a bit toward the end, the action is fun. Drive was arguably Nicholas Winding Refn's breakout success, and his next was another collaboration with the same people, but it sucked. Blomkamp did the same thing, sort of, in that he made another sci-fi movie in a similar style with at least one actor carryover in Sharlto Copley. Now, Sharlto isn't the problem here. The problem is primarily Blomkamp's dialogue, which is just laughably bad. Sure, the visual quality is still there, the action is mostly fun, but really, this is mostly just the third act of District 9 without all of the preceding excellence. Even Matt Damon's decent performance isn't enough to make it enjoyable aside from a few scenes. Takeaway: Robots are dicks, and followups to great movies aren't sure things.


The World's End

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost have been building their loose "Cornetto/Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy since 2004's Shaun of the Dead. Each film has both blood and ice cream in it. Each film is also hilarious and extremely well-made. Each one employs a different facet of genre filmmaking to give a backdrop to some excellent examinations of friendship, society, and loyalty. This one really hits all three. Much like the first two films, it starts out giving little hint as to what's really going to go down, but is still a very entertaining comedy about old, rather estranged friends gathering around the asshole-leader in order to revisit the time in his life where he last felt happy, drinking their asses off on the Golden Mile. Then shit goes nuts. I won't say anything about it just in case you haven't seen any trailers, but brace yourself for some major fun. It's just great. I'm still wrestling with the ranking, but right now I'm putting it at the top of the trilogy.


You're Next

I don't think I wrote about it, but I watched The Strangers a while back. It's a very good home-invasion horror/thriller movie about a beautiful couple who are attacked in their home for no apparent reason. It's well made, suspenseful, and entertaining, and the simplicity of its execution makes it quite enjoyable without feeling campy. When I saw the trailer for You're Next, I initially blew it off as a Strangers rip-off. It turns out the similarities are only superficial. There's really quite a bit more going on in this one, but I really can't go into all of the differences. The quality of the acting is a bit lower (Liv Tyler's not in it), but everything else about it is quite good. There's a lot of blood but the gore is tolerable. The characters are interesting. It's funny sometimes. I like to think of it as kind of like a combination of Alien and Aliens in a country home. If you like horror, you should go see it probably.

03 August 2013

Conjuring the Wolverine

The Wolverine

Y'all remember X-Men Origins: Wolverine? I do a little. Mostly how much it resembled the innards of my kitchen garbage pail after a few months of neglect, and how Deadpool got painfully violated (and not in a funny way like it might happen in the comics). It seemed that we might get something to help us forget about it when the sequel was announced with Darren Aranofsky attached, but that was dashed when he left after Japan got all scary (what with the radiation and all). Then James Mangold came along, which didn't help my thinking on it much, but eventually word started getting out that this just might not suck! And guess what, it doesn't! Mostly!

It's a very solid, character driven story set in Japan that just happens to star an immortal-type dude with retractable, metal-covered claws. Sure there's action and junk, but it's really quite grounded for the most part, the dialogue is good, and it looks awful nice. The action is great too, which has become more of an unexpected delight in comic book movies. All this can be said about everything through the first part of the second act. After that it gets a bit hairy. The comic-book tropes of a big-bad and boring villains come into play and it just doesn't work. I'm reminded quite strongly of the Iron Man finales, particularly 1 and 2. An ending this bombastic just isn't needed for the kind of movie Mangold was seemingly trying to make, and it suffers for it. Still, as a whole it's a very solid, enjoyable thing, and almost succeeds in wiping away its predecessor's filth.

The Conjuring

I might have talked about my relationship with horror back in my Mama review; in short, I'm not a fan of the dumb stuff that relies on gore and jump-scares to do its job. That's just boring. It would seem I'd be a fan of older, classic horror, because both this and Mama have been described as being old-school in their style. Mama did have a lot of jumps but this really doesn't have many at all, and the gore is basically non-existent. I'm not enthralled by the whole exorcism thing but if it's based on true events as it claims, I'm okay with it.

I can't say I liked it as much as I did Mama. Still, it's nicely made, the cast is great, and it never gets completely ridiculous. In fact it's almost a believable story, which is really what might make it scary for some people. Pretty good.