Saturday, February 06, 2010

Movies: January

Surf's Up is a surprisingly enjoyable animated film. It's a story about a penguin trying to win a surfing competition, and the film takes advantage of the fact it's shot in a handheld reality TV style to create a relaxed (almost-improvised feeling) series of jokes.

Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a film I remember as being long and dull. I was wrong - this time round it played out as a fun romp with engaging characters.

Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest is a film I remember as being long, dull and overly-complicated. I was mostly wrong - it is extremely long, but I think my two main problems when I watched this in the movies in 2006 were (i) I'd completely forgotten who all the characters were in the two years since I'd seen the first one (like, who is this 'Norrington' guy, again?), and (ii) in the cinema this played out like an ADD assault on my senses with a volume at somewhere around 120dB. Both Dead Man's Chest and its sequel play better watched as part of a trilogy - they play even better when viewed as a single epic fantasy film that you can break up into easily digestible pieces on your computer.

Avatar was good.

I watched Mike from Milwaukee's video review of The Phantom Menace. It's a 70 minute long work of incisive, cruel comedy gold. Among the many highlights, a two minute explanation of why Qui-Gon Jin's strategy to free Anakin Skywalker from slavery makes no sense whatsoever. It also spends a lot of time pointing out the biggest flaw of the movie for me: that it lacks a main character, and that the most obvious choice for a main character (Anakin) doesn't show up for 45 minutes and then proceeds to do basically nothing for the rest of the story. What I hadn't noticed before was the story potential to be mined from amalgamating Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's characters. Anyway it's great: here's a link to all seven parts of the review. I've embedded the first part, below.

Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End. Again, I enjoyed this, breaking it up into smaller chunks. (Perhaps I have become influenced by watching too much TV on DVD, and 45 minutes seems like a natural amount of time to sit down to watch something.) Particularly liked spending alone time with Jack, and the battle at the end.

Inglourious Basterds doesn't actually feel like a Tarantino film to me, and I think that's a good thing. I suppose what I mean by that is that there's a focus on the story that I appreciate (as opposed to focusing on making sure that you'll perceive that the story is being told in a way that's cool). As a script, I guess the main character is Shoshanna, the protagonists are Shoshanna and Aldo Raines, and the antagonist is the German education system - which seems to produce perceptive and resourceful soldiers. I broke this in a multi-day viewing - because the film itself is broken into chapters - and I found it immensely satisfying.

Watched Reincarnation at Chris' recommendation. An excellent J-scare by the director of the Grudge, involving a movie being shot about a horrible slaughter at a hotel 35 years ago. Past lives, repressed memories and multiple timelines ensue. What's great about this film is that it slowly trains to you keep looking into the backgrounds of shots, because weird and disturbing shit keeps happening there in really subtle ways. After about 25 minutes of that, the movie had me on the edge of my seat without really needing to do anything scary at all - it had made the ordinary terrifying. Bonus points for NOT playing out a twist with one particular character, and for having a very very appropriate ending. I, too, now recommend this film.
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