Thursday, September 20, 2007

Busy Movie Watching Summer

I didn't realize how many movies I had seen this summer until I checked my Netflix return info. We've watched a wide variety a movies based on new releases, a friend's recommendations and some that HDNet was showing.

December - I watched this straight from the Netflix site. That is a cool feature that I don't use too much because they don't have many titles that I haven't seen yet. This is my latest viewing in the Wil Wheaton series. It reminded me of Toy Soldiers in it's private school setting and Wil's character being a bit rebellious for a preppy kid. It was a decent movie with interesting view points from high school seniors about to enlist in the military on the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor. I wonder how many of the conversations these young men had in the movie were echoed in the days following 9/11.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle - Yeah, we're late to the party. Man this was funny! The 2 main actors have great chemistry and the supporting cast / cameos are a blast. The Neil Patrick Harris scenes were the best though. They would have been funnier to see before we found out he was gay because then it would make you wonder how many chicks he was really getting. The extras on the DVD were pretty funny, so check those out next time.

Little Children - I know this was a critics' favorite and Oscar nominated, but criminy, it was dark. It probably wouldn't have been so if it weren't for the Bad News Bears kid being so creepy and the ending scenes burning images in your brain. Not a pleasant movie to watch before going to bed. I think we would have enjoyed it much more if just his part of the ending was different. I found the rest of the story to be gritty, telling, and probably occurring quite frequently in real life. If you want to see Kate Winslet getting her freak on, and who doesn't really, then this is the movie for you. Obviously, there is more to the movie than that and it did a good job of telling the story of people who didn't quite feel like they were in the right place or relationship in their lives.

Amelie - Artsy Fartsy movie for the month. It was a fun French comedy. I can't say that I would recommend it nor would I discourage anyone from seeing it. If you want a quirky foreign movie that has some very funny moments in it, go for it.

Joe Kidd - It will take me years to catch up on all of the Clint Eastwood westerns that I never saw as a kid. This was a fun one with Robert Duvall playing a great bad guy. I loved the way he would say the name of his Mexican adversary. He just says it as Anglo / Texas as possible and doesn't even try to say it in the native tongue. It fits his character's contempt for this man and probably Mexicans in general. Clint plays his usual, not law abiding, but not too bad type of character that only kills when necessary.

Apocalypto - This would have been great on Discovery HD. It was like a well produced and beautiful documentary. It is a true to form brutal Mel Gibson directed movie that follows the main character's struggles to return to his family. This keeps the film from becoming more than just shooting beautiful scenery and Mel's ability to do great fighting scenes. It was very well made and I quickly got over the subtitles. It is full of wonderful sets, unknown actors and tons of extras that really made you believe you were with them during the final days of the Mayans.

Grand Prix - This was a great movie for car fans (I'm looking at you Hoff). It has great sound and was filmed on location before and during the real Grand Prix races during the 1966 series. James Gardner is a stud and really knows how to drive a racecar. I think these models of Formula 1 and 3 Ferraris are some of the coolest looking and best sounding race cars you will ever find. The story was OK, but the extras on the DVD are worth watching as much as the movie. The fact that Frankenheimer could even film and create this is impressive. You won't see movies with this much realism any more.

Breach - Chris Cooper was fantastic portraying a real life traitorous bastard. He did such a good job of making you want to understand the character and many times feel sorrow for him.

Cars - Not Pixar's best but still OK. I had already watched about half of it during my nephew's last visit, so I finished it recently. It did some some pretty funny moments in it. My favorites were the Miata twins flashing their "headlights", the "pinstriping", and the tractor tipping.

Spanglish - This was a good date movie and it introduced American audiences to Paz Vega.

The Good Shepherd - We saw this one before Breach and that's probably a good thing. It did drag on a bit, but I still enjoyed it. It was cool to see a fictionalized account of the transition from the OSS to the CIA and I had to Wiki the Skull and Bones after watching the movie.

Night at the Museum - I thought this was a clever and entertaining family movie, just resist the temptation for a sequel please.

Just Friends - We are both big Ryan Reynolds fans and this was a good fit for him. I thought the character of his little brother made for some of the funniest moments. I know JJOK has been recommending Waiting, but I just can't take the subject matter of the movie. I am happy being blissfully ignorant of the possibly gross actions of our restaurant industry.

On Any Sunday - This was filmed by Bruce "Endless Summer" Brown and financed by Steve McQueen. It was a great documentary that showed America that not all motorcycle riders were "gang" members looking for trouble. The main rider, Malcolm Smith, dominated in his field maybe more that Tiger Woods does in golf today. Malcom didn't just win, he would whip your ass by hours in a race. Imagine doing varying types of motorcycle and automobile racing while doing your own financing, transportation, and maintenance. It was cool to see Steve McQueen spending his weekends racing motorcycles just like any other guy in Southern California, and he was very good at it.

Shooter - We really like this one. It reminded me of the old Charles Bronson movies with a little bit of Rambo / Special Forces type of field medic scenes. The story was good, the action was great and Mark was believable in his character. The things that did bother me were Danny Glover's speech in the first half of the movie. Has he recently had a stroke? He sounded a bit slurry. The second was the newbie FBI character.

Firewall - I guess Harrison Ford had to start getting in shape for Indiana 4. It had good action and a convincing story. Don't expect too much and you'll enjoy.

Pieces of April - We were trying something different and I was expecting a comedy. It was a little heavy to be called a comedy. It wasn't a bad movie, but I wouldn't call it good either. If you want to see another dysfunctional family movie, then give it a shot.

The Money Pit - This is the first time I have ever seen this. It wasn't worth the 20 year wait. It didn't measure up to the other classic Tom Hanks movies I remember from high school.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - I know this is well liked by some people, but I had to stop watching it half way through it. Maybe it just wasn't the right day for me or something, because I didn't think it was funny at all. This was another case of 2 great comedy actors getting together and it just didn't pan out for me.

Wild Hogs - This was funnier than I expected. Of course, they are going to try and cash in and go for the sequel. I liked it, but not enough to see the continuing saga. It did make me wish I had more time off and I could take a motorcycle trip all the way to the west coast.

Escape From New York - I last saw this movie over 20 years ago, so it was all new again to me. The opening music is the first clue that this is an early 80's movie. It is heavy on the electronica sound that thankfully Vangelis improved the next year in Blade Runner. Other than some of the sound effects, I think it held up very well.

Slow Burn - This one was OK. It tried to get too smart with all of the twists and turns. Ultimately, by the end, you forget how the setup even occurred. And having a Vulcan play a black woman was a stroke of genius! Maybe I'm being too hard on them, I see what they were trying to do with the "trick of light" theme.

Seraphim Falls - I'm a sucker for westerns and this one was a little deeper than what I've seen lately. It is a good tale of redemption and the pain that is suffered on both sides of a war. It shows how things can go wrong in the fog of war and even though the war is technically "over" it will always remain with you.

The Ultimate Gift - This movie was a pleasant surprise. It could easily be shown on regular TV and the whole family could watch it (realize death is part of the subject matter).

Snatch - Stacie and I tried to watch this a few years ago, but just couldn't get in to it. I tried it again when she went out to dinner with friends. I must have been in a much different mood the second time around because I really enjoyed it. I thought the casting was great with Brad Pitt turning in a terrific showing. The story was very good and they did a nice job of pushing everything right to the edge without getting too complicated and losing the audience. it had a great pace and the comedic timing / writing made it fun to watch.

Sunset - I had never heard of this one before, but I came across it on HDnet. I liked the story concept and it was fun to see a younger Bruce Willis. It was rated R at the time, but it is hardly a PG-13 movie with today's standards. I have determined that I am becoming a bigger James Garner fan. It's not that I didn't like him earlier, I just have never seen much of his work. I was too young for the Maverick and Rockford Files days, but I can see how they would have been well received. I may have to put them in my queue.

Lucky You - I got what I wanted out of this movie. I wasn't expecting Rounders, The Sting, or The Cincinnati Kid. It was fun to see all of the pro players with their cameos. I noticed there wasn't too many speaking roles for them. I guess they weren't trying to hand out too many SAG cards or however that Hollywood union shit works. As much as I've seen Daniel N, that was the first time he looked uncomfortable to me. The story was fun and if you know the poker world enough, you know that some of the craziest prop bets are actually based on real ones. I wonder if those that don't follow poker would believe some of the stuff they were showing. It was hard to be sympathetic for the main character after the way he treats people, but lucky for him, he finds Drew Barrymore. I did enjoy watching him play 1/2 to try and grind enough money for bigger games. Maybe that was the bastard that took my money when I went to Vegas ealier this year. Nahhhh, I was just a dumbass.

Pan's Labyrinth - Very good adult fairy tale. Even though the main character is a young girl, it is very dark and not for the kiddies. It is subtitled, but since the film is more visual, you don't have to struggle keeping up with the story. I was very excited to see this movie and it was just a good as I was hoping it would be. I highly recommend this movie if you are not squeamish.

Thanks for enduring this long post. I will try to do these in smaller chunks in the future and maybe do a little better write-ups. I don't exactly want them to be reviews as much as maybe just thoughts with a slant towards recommendations.


At 5:14 PM, Blogger CarmenSinCity said...

Hey Brian!!!! Well, I never actually made any announcement, but basically Doug and I aren't together anymore because he decided there wasn't enough drama and excitement in the relationship to keep him interested. Something like that. I dunno. But, whatever, I never made a formal announcement on the blog, so that's why you are confused - sorry. I guess I've been living in a little denial and unwilling to admit that the relationship is really over. I think it's really is over though.

At 1:06 AM, Blogger meanhappyguy said...

Great write up, I wasn't really sure what to expect with Pan's Labyrinth, but now I'm going to give it a shot. And... you didn't like Snatch the first time?! That is one of the few movies I've watched +3x and enjoyed every time!

At 9:19 PM, Blogger jjok said...

Don't fuck with the people who prepare your food


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