Sunday, August 02, 2009

Movies: Some capsule reviews

My consumption of feature-length media continues.

Beetlejuice is a movie I haven't seen since it came out in 1988. It's far more incoherent than I remembered, but I totally forgave it because of its great over the top performances and production design. Weird that Beetlejuice doesn't actually show up as much as I remembered, though.

Knowing is the movie that taught me it now costs $16 to go to the movies. Way freaking darker than I expected, but lacking in psychological plausibility and possessing a cringe-inducing epilogue.

Paprika is an anime about dreams, movies, and weird surreal parades filled with fridges and frogs. For me, this was an almost great movie, despite its repetitive scenes and frequent incoherence. Here are the opening credits (which I fell in love with):



Shortbus is a movie about people trying to overcome sexual problems in their lives. It may have kicked off the Bex/Steve breakup via a pretty intense discussion about pornography and morality, but I thought this movie was fantastic.

Snakes on a Plane has an unexpectedly lame opening credit sequence, but is pretty much utterly ludicrous fun for the rest of its running time.

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor was quite fun, with the best giant robot threatening London since Steamboy, and I found the ending moving and affectionate.

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead was great; the storyline had a clarity to it that I appreciated. Nice dread at the end, too. Michelle Ryan would've been an excellent on-going companion but I can see that she might have overshadowed the new Doctor as he finds his feet in the role.

The Frighteners is a nice companion piece to Beetlejuice. I'd forgotten how it descends from frivolity into darkness. The Director's Cut makes a whole bunch of stuff play better too: Jeffrey Combs delivering the classic line "My body is a roadmap of pain", and the murder-spree flashbacks in the hospital. Overall: PG for Pretty Good.

Snatch lacks a compelling central story or characters to focus on, but it's got a nice, ironic big-picture view of seedy London. I particularly liked this guy:




Layer Cake, on the other hand, has a clear focus and a taut, political view of epic-level criminal London while still remaining filled with the potential for brutal violence. This and Shortbus are the best movies I've seen recently.
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