Sunday, April 22, 2012

War of Arrows (2011)

My favorite movie growing up was The Adventures of Robin Hood, and this South Korean movie places an even greater emphasis on the bow and arrow than that movie did. Set during the second Manchu invasion of Korea, our hero, Nam-Yi, takes out dozens of Manchu warriors as he tries to save his sister. Arrows are flying all over the screen and it ends with a one on one bow and arrow duel. Similar in many ways to Apocalypto, it's a pretty good action/adventure flic.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

I just saw The Hunger Games, and I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't read the book. Knowing what was going to happen really took away from the drama. But I have to say I still think it was a very good movie. In the opening scenes of the poverty of Panem, I thought I was watching Jennifer Lawrence in back in the Ozarks. To live in a world where shooting a squirrel can make your day, or a deer could make your month are something that both worlds have in common.

But there is a difference in the two world's. In the Ozarks the poverty was brought on by dis-functional people clinging to a way of life that should have long ago passed in to history. In Panem the poverty was a conscious decision by those in power to keep down the members of the 12 slave districts.

Is the movie too far fetched? Could there ever really be a world like this? Looking at modern society we see shows like Survivor, Big Brother and Jerry Springer where the audience cheer for their favorites and hope the losers will get embarrassed on national TV.

The parallels to the world of the Coliseum in ancient Rome also are brought to the forefront by the movie. How could 50,000 spectators cheer as people battle to the death or were torn apart by wild animals? But then again how can we explain the Holocaust, or Pol Pot, or Stalin, or Hiroshima, or Idi Amin?

I liked this movie. I think it has the possibility of opening up intelligent discussions with young people about history and about current world affairs. I think the one thing that we have learned from history is that humans are capable of anything, and this is a good movie to remind us of that.

I don;t think Roger like it as much as i did. He gave it 3 stars but he said "The Hunger Games is an effective entertainment, and Jennifer Lawrence is strong and convincing in the central role. But the film leapfrogs obvious questions in its path, and avoids the opportunities sci-fi provides for social criticism; compare its world with the dystopias in Gattaca or The Truman Show. Director Gary Ross and his writers (including the series' author, Suzanne Collins) obviously think their audience wants to see lots of hunting-and-survival scenes, and has no interest in people talking about how a cruel class system is using them. Well, maybe they're right. But I found the movie too long and deliberate as it negotiated the outskirts of its moral issues."

I understand what Roger is saying, but I think that this movie presents enough issues to get young people thinking about history, and poverty and the world in which we live.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Killer of Sheep (1977)

I watched another of Roger's Great Movie picks, Killer of Sheep from 1977. I had seen it before and really enjoyed it , and I liked it even better this time. Roger says in his review : What he captures above all in Killer of Sheep is the deadening ennui of hot, empty summer days, the dusty passage of time when windows and screen doors stood open, and the way the breathless day crawls past. And he pays attention to the heroic efforts of this man and wife to make a good home for their children. Poverty in the ghetto is not the guns and drugs we see on TV. It is more often like life in this movie: Good, honest, hard-working people trying to get by, keep up their hopes, love their children and get a little sleep."
There are so many things I like about this movie. In the way the days just unfold it reminds me of the day in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. But it is even more realistic than that. It almost looks like someone's home movies. The film is grainy and the scenes are true. The movie is well worth watching just for the music alone.
Killer of Sheep is to 1977 Watts what Rome : Open City or Germany Year Zero were to Rome or Berlin in the 1940's. It is a neorealistic look at a society with all the glamour stripped away. But unlike those societies, which were the result of the World War, the society portrayed in Killer of Sheep, is the result of the complex historical and societal events that led up to it.
There probably isn't much of a market for great movies like this. The people who are going through this kind of life want to escape from it, not be reminded of it, and others don't want to admit that it exists. However, the critically acclaimed movies of Ramin Bahrani, (Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo and Man Push Cart) do have the style and feel of Killer of Sheep.
A fascinating movie, really well done movie. Another great pick from Roger.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Leolo (1992)

I watched another of Roger's Great Movies. This was from French-Canadian writer/director Jean-Claude Lauzon and was about a boy Leo Lauzon who preferred to be called Leolo. He lives in a disturbed fantasy world that is shared with the viewers. He thinks his mother was impregnated by an Italian tomato, which makes him Italian too.
The normal things that occur in Leolo's life are not examined, but every bizarre thought that crosses his mind is thoroughly dissected.
The movie is very well done and has an excellent film score. The music is as bizarre as the scenes it complements.
This is not a movie for all tastes. It pushes the envelope way too far for me. Bestiality, insanity, drugs, voyeurism, suicide; you name it, it's in here. Another coming of age movie, Breaking Away, where the main character also has a love for all things Italian, is more my style.
I know that this movie was really well done, and beautifully composed by a very talented writer, but it just made me feel too uncomfortable. But, for those who are a lot more twisted, and enjoy bathroom style humor, Leolo could become one of their "Great Movies."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vengeance is Mine (1979)

I watched another one of Roger's picks for his Great Movies III Book. This was a very, very disturbing movie based a true story about a serial killer on the run in 1960's Japan. the movie is filled with sex and violence.

The movie, directed by Shohei Imamura, is beautifully filmed and has great style. The movie jumps from the present to the past as the serial killer, Iwao Enokizu, looks back at the events of his life with a calm detachment.

One event, when he is very young shows a naval officer embarrassing his Catholic father in from of the village. From then on we see a very angry young man who turns in a sociopath. Is the vengeance he is taking on the world because of the incident involving his father?

The movie has a Hitchcockian feel and tone. It is disturbing the same way many of Hitchcock's movies were. It is also disturbing because we find ourselves identifying with the psycho killer. We never really find out what makes Enokizu tick. In some ways it reminded me of No Country for Old Men. Evil is out there and you maybe unlucky and run in to it : there is nothing you can really do about it.

A very good movie. One of the "Greats?" Maybe.

Friday, October 8, 2010

After Dark, My Sweet (1990)

I'm watching some of Roger's Great Movies, Book III, that I haven't seen. This movie, with its 6.5 IMDB rating was one of them. I admire Roger for going with a movie that not too many others would consider great.
To me, the movie was just OK, definitely not great. Bruce Dern 's acting was great, however. One thing that bothered me was that in the voice over they made it seem like Kevin was mentally impaired. He came off as a simpleton as he talked about himself.
The plot also moved along very slowly, although I did enjoy watching Bruce Dern, Jason Patric and Rachel Ward eat up the scenes.
I love noir, and this was a good attempt at neo-noir, but overall the whole thing was just OK for me. Well worth seeing, but great? Not in my book.
Great twist ending, almost rivaling 7even, but once again, not consistent with the voice overs.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jason Patric

I noted in some earlier posts that Roger rated his movies 9.2 points higher than the other critics on Metacritic. Now it is up to 11.9 higher but that's OK, Roger loves movies. I also noted that he ranks Angelina Jolie movies 21 points higher and J-Lo movies 19.5 higher than the other critics.

But I have found someone he likes even more - Jason Patric. I was watching a movie from 1990 that Roger had added to his Great Movies list, After Dark, My Sweet. I thought it was a pretty good movie. But great? No way. Just OK. It has a 6.5 on IMDB and it isn't even on Metacritics.

Roger had also given another Jason Partric movies, Speed 2, which was one of the worst movies ever made, a rating of 88.

So I started looking at some of Jason Patric's other movies from the last 15 years and found out Roger really likes Jason.

MovieMetacritic RatingRoger's Rating
The Losers (2010)4488
My Sister's Keeper (2009)5188
In the Valley of Elah(2007)65100
The Alamo (2004)4788
Narc (2002)7075
Your Friends & Neighbors (1998)70100
Speed 2 (1997)2388
Sleepers (1996)4975
That's 34 points higher than the other critics averages on Metacritics. That's 13 points higher than Angelina's movies!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Roger and John Cusack

Roger said in his review of Hot Tub Time Machine : "Hot Tub Time Machine, which wants nothing more than to be a screwball farce, succeeds beyond any expectations suggested by the title and extends John Cusack's remarkable run: Since 1983, in 55 films, he's hardly ever made a bad one. Well, I never saw Grandview, USA."

What is Roger talking about? The last thirteen movies he has made have been pretty weak. The highest rating on Metacritics was Grace is Gone with a 65. Roger gave Serendipity 1 1/2 stars. He gave Martian Child, Must Love Dogs and America's Sweethearts 2 stars. These were part of the "remarkable run?"
In 2000 John Cusack made High Fidelity , which had a 79 rating. I love that movie. But the ones since? A "remarkable run"? I think not.

MovieMetacritic Average ScoreRoger's Score
Hot Tub Time Machine 63 75
2012 49 88
War, Inc. 37 54
Grace is Gone 65 75
Martian Child 48 50
1408 64 ?
The Ice Harvest 62 75
Must Love Dogs 46 50
Runaway Jury 61 65
Identity 64 75
Max 56 88
Serendipity 52 38
America's Sweethearts 48 50
High Fidelity 79 100

2012 (2009)

- 1 1/2 Eberts

If you are going to make a bad movie please keep it short. This disaster of a movie went on for 158 minutes. I was really cheering for the world to end much, much sooner.
I very seldom see a movie with this low of a rating on IMDB (5.9), but Roger gave it 3 1/2 stars so I figured I had to see it.
I like sci-fi and I especially like apocalyptic movies. I also really like John Cusack, so I was hoping to like this movie, but I didn't. It was slow and boring.
In his review Roger said : "This is fun. 2012 delivers what it promises, and since no sentient being will buy a ticket expecting anything else, it will be, for its audiences, one of the most satisfactory films of the year. It even has real actors in it. Like all the best disaster movies, it's funniest at its most hysterical. You think you've seen end-of-the-world movies? This one ends the world, stomps on it, grinds it up and spits it out."
I know I can't get my 158 minutes back, but I wasn't satisfied and I think Roger owes me a $1 for the money I spent at Redbox.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

1 Ebert

I've never been entertained by gross out humor and this movie is filled with it. There were a few clever things, but far too few to make this worth while viewing.
Roger said in his review : "I wasn't disappointed. This is a step or two below The Hangover, but occupying similar turf. It's another guy picture, which is like a buddy picture, except usually without cops. The guys bond, they seek to relive their misspent youth, there are women and even wives around, but they're strictly in supporting roles."
I agree that it is a couple steps below The Hangover, but both of them probably appeal to the same audience that would follow "The Jersey Shore" or the "Kardashians." Sophomoric, silly and poorly written.
A similarly themed movie, which is much, much, much better is Pleasantville. Intelligent, well written and witty- everything this movie is not. Even if you've already seen Pleasantville skip this movie and watch Pleasantville again.

P.S. Don Knotts is much funnier than Chevy Chase