Sunday, 30 August 2009

Movie Weekend

Had to do a u-turn this weekend and head back to Ottawa to return my brother-in-law’s keys.  Figured I’d take in a couple movies since a theater isn’t a luxury I enjoy in my current home town.  There were three movies I was dying to see: District 9, Inglourious Basterds, and The Hurt Locker.  I’d heard rave reviews of them all and I was psyched to see them all in one weekend.  I even managed to fit in a rental on Saturday night.  So, here’s my impressions in the order that I viewed them:

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District 9

The computer generated aliens in this movie are amazing.  Not enough has been said about this in my opinion.  The first close-up of a prawn’s face is shocking in it’s realism.  And then you find out that these amazing effects are part of a movie with a $30 million budget?!?  It is staggering.  I hope George Lucas and James Cameron watch this movie and feel it in every square inch of their respective colons.  Why are they spending hundreds of millions of dollars on special effects that look like they came off my Playstation 2?  Peter Jackson started something with the Lord of the Rings trilogy that is paying off big with this movie.

Beyond the special effects, the story itself is unique and intriguing.  The first half is challenging to watch (at least for me) because of the documentary style camera work.  I didn’t really feel engaged in the movie until the pretence of the documentary film was dropped.  But after that, it is a thrill ride to rival any big budget blockbuster of the last 10 years.  I especially like the alien weaponry and the “sploosh” of bad guys getting disintegrated.

Looking back at the story you don’t feel like too much was explained about the aliens’ predicament.  Why are they actually there?  What happened that they drifted to earth and 20 years later the ship can zoom right off?  Why is there no leadership amongst the prawns?  Maybe a sequel will explain more.  I’d certainly go see it.

I’d recommend the movie to anyone.  Not perfect but amazing to watch and the second half is just plain fun.

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Inglourious Basterds

The first movie of the weekend was a solid triple.  I was hoping the second movie would be a home run.  It wasn’t.  A single at best.  I’m happy to see Quentin Tarantino is once again able to tell a story on his own and contain it to a single film.  But this is a Tarantino movie about movies and how much Tarantino knows about movies.  The WWII setting is just a framework for Tarantino to hang all his masturbatory film obsessions off of.

As film critics have noted, this isn’t really about the Inglourious Basterds.  They are a tangential part of the film really despite what the marketing campaign implies.  That’s too bad.  I think I would have liked the movie shown in the trailers.  I like Brad Pitt and his ridiculous affectations.  He and his caricature are cool, slick, and funny.  If they had been the focus of the movie, I’d have left the theatre less educated in German cinema but a hell of a lot happier.

As it is, there are definitely amazing scenes contained within the movie.  The bar scene is my personal favourite.  The fate of Hugo Stiglitz is disappointing after being built up as the bad-ass of bad-ass Nazi killers but that one scene could have been a short film I’d have paid to see.

The actor playing Colonel Hans Landa is getting all kinds of praise for his performance and similarly Tarantino for conceiving and developing the character.  I didn’t buy it.  He didn’t strike me as particularly menacing, intelligent, or entertaining.  He sure likes to talk though.  He likes his cream and strudel too.  That scene was really fucking annoying.  I think Tarantino has found a way to put a microphone right into the dental work of his actors.  Hearing people chew strudel doesn’t really help engage me in your film.  Some critics have said this is really a detective story with Landa as the starring sleuth.  And how did he brilliantly deduce the identity of the traitor working with the Basterds?  There was a note with her name on it at the crime scene.  Wow.  Well done Sherlock.

The rest of the movie is just a series of puzzles for film students to research and post theses on their blogs about.  I don’t mind hidden meanings or tributes or homages or easter eggs but that can’t be the sole purpose of your movie.  Make the movie entertaining first and leave some of those in there to be cherished on repeat viewings.  This movie is for film students and critics and that’s it.

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Blindness

Took a break from the theatre Saturday night to spend some time with my sister and her family.  There didn’t seem to be anything we wanted to watch out on DVD but we rolled the dice on this movie.  The dice came up snake-eyes.

This is a horrible movie.  That’s all I’m going to say.  It is shit.  OK, THAT’S all I’m going to say.  Do not see this movie.

 

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The Hurt Locker

This was a great movie to end the weekend with.  The acting and scenes were intense.  I was actually gripping the armrest through many of the scenes.  The director of Point Break did a surprisingly good job of building tension and getting you to feel how f’d up the situation in Iraq is.  Anything could happen anytime, anywhere.

Not perfect though.  I really don’t think the shakey camera and frequent zooms add anything to the movie.  I had hoped hollywood had progressed beyond this technique of making me want to vomit.  If two people are having a conversation, I’d actually like to see those two people.  Not the nostrils of one and the eyebrows of the other with a little shakey cam in between.

That and a couple plot holes are my only complaints though.  Good pacing throughout while still being thought provoking.  Best movie I’ve seen this year.

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